Choosing a bank account
Tips on finding the best account for your money
Most of us have bank accounts since we were children and don't really think about the nitty gritty of what our bank offers us. However, when you hit 18 and plan to join the workforce or become a third-level student, mysterious offers and letters about credit cards, overdrafts, loans, interest rates or mortgages are sent to you. Sometimes unasked for credit cards appear in your letterbox.
Here we take a look at the basics of choosing the right bank services for your needs.
- When choosing a bank think about where it is (so you can call in if there are any hassles), what they offer (low interest rates, phone and Internet access, special student services) and how good their bank machine (ATMs) service is.
- Make sure to check out credit union accounts as well as bank accounts.
- Don't choose a bank because they're offering you a student card, phone, or any other freebies! You're going to have to rely on that bank for a long time so do some research into what's really on offer.
- Decide if you want to open a savings account or current account.
A current account allows you to:
- Receive payments such as your salary, social welfare or pension income
- Get cash from your bank or by using an ATM
- Pay bills in your branch or by direct debit or standing order
- Bank using the telephone or internet
- Get an overdraft (loan) facility
- Pay for things when abroad
Choose the right current account for you by:
- Checking the costs involved for the services you use most
- Convenience and opening hours
- Internet and phone banking
- Cards that are provided with your account
- Interest rate on overdrafts and any related fees
- Penalty charges on unpaid direct debits and standing orders.
A savings account will mean you have a bankcard and interest on money in the account.
If you have savings or the opportunity to save you can always open a savings account as well as a current account so that you're savings stay separate from your day-to-day spending.
- Always read the small print: you might be offered a credit card with no interest in the first year but huge interest rates after that and very high penalty charges if you can't make payments.
- Don't sign up for credit cards, shop cards or high interest loans that you don't really need. Just because someone is offering money doesn't mean you should take it!
- You can find lots of useful information on the National Consumer Agency website.