How do you know you’re getting everything your bank has to offer? Whether you’re seeking a new financial institution or want to get more out of your current one, it’s important to know what the total value of your relationship is with this organization — and view it less as a space merely for transactions.
What Can I Expect From Your Products or Services?
Jacqui Kearns, chief wellbeing officer at Affinity Federal Credit Union, uses the example of deposit accounts such as checking, savings and certificates of deposit. Do you need to proactively contact a bank or credit union to receive the best rate? Or does the institution automatically give you the best possible rate?
Kearns said to think not just about the rate but about the overall reward. As a customer or member of the financial institution, you need to know what the true reward looks like.
Do You Offer High-Yield Savings Accounts?
This is an important question for customers to ask their banks, as interest rates have shot up over the past year. Kurt Heineman, financial planner at Vision Casting Financial Planning, LLC, said one strategic way to keep up with inflation is to make sure your cash is kept in a high-yield savings account.
“These accounts are typically yielding 3.5% to 4% right now,” Heineman said. “Make sure to ask your bank if they have one of these accounts and if you can open one to take advantage of the increased interest rate environment.”
How Flexible Are You About Loan Payments?
This is a concern for many banking customers who are feeling the impact of rising rates. Many individuals are still paying back holiday debt and experiencing rising rates on adjustable loans. These loans, which Kearns said are most often tied to the Prime Rate, mean many will owe more money each month and need help figuring out how to budget.
As a result, Kearns said, your financial institution should act as a true partner you can turn to when you’re feeling the impact of rising rates. Customers need to be able to work with a financial institution at every step.
“Remember,” Kearns said, “a true partner is there when you need to ask questions about flexibility in the payment — how to pay over time and are the rates negotiable?”
What Are My CD Terms?
If you have a CD, Kearns recommends asking about any auto-renewals.
Do CDs automatically reset after the term to a lower rate? If you don’t know, try to get the best rates available.
“You should earn on every dollar,” Kearns said, “not just high balances.”
How Can I Earn Money on My Money?
This question goes deeper than asking about special deals or promotions currently available. While Kearns said there may be an initial offer that persuades you to become a customer, you need to know what happens after making the initial switch.
Kearns recommends looking at the products your credit union or bank offers. Do they pay you or themselves first? If there are low interest rates on savings products but high rates on loans or a lot of fees, the answer is they are paying themselves before you.
Aim to partner with a financial institution that has your best interests in mind.
Kearns said, “Put yourself first by finding a financial partner which offers great rewards programs, has cashback on their debit cards as well as their credit cards and offers other perks and benefits.”
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