A Complete Guide to Banking

Perhaps you have just started your first career, or perhaps you have had a job for a while and want your checks cashed without the obnoxious 3 dollar fee, your coworkers or parents might tell you consider using a bank. But you’ve heard things about evil banks, predatory loans, and high credit card fees. So you are unsure and wondering, how do you find a safe bank that is right for you? Here we’ll explain how to find a bank, how to open your first account, how to use debit cards, and how to establish safe lines of credit.

The first thing you’ll notice when looking for services that banks offer is that they are very hard to find. Most banks expect you to ‘as if by magic’ know what kind of account you want to open and what bank to use. For first time bankers, you generally want to go to a bank that is close to where you live and work. Think about ATM locations that are close to you and will be easy to use. You can cash checks and withdraw money from an ATM for free, if it is with your bank. Otherwise banks will charge you a fee (2-5$) to use an ATM that does not belong to your bank. If you have multiple ATMs close to you, consider joining a credit union, usually credit unions will let you use other credit union ATMs for free and are less predatory than banks. Once you have a bank you can proceed to open an account.

To open an account at a bank, you will need several things. First, get several forms of ID together, usually you’ll need a photo ID, (a driver’s license or passport will work) and a proof of residence, this is some document that shows the address you reside at. If you cannot provide this, some banks are flexible if you can provide proof of employment. When you started your job, you probably received some amount of paperwork, this can serve as proof of employment. Next go to a branch, a branch is usually near places of work or residences, such as a grocery store or a main office in the city where people work. If you chose a big bank there are probably several close by. Be ready to deposit at least $25 when opening a bank account, usually a $20 fee and a $5 dollar deposit. While this might seem like more upfront, you will make it back in the long run. You will tell the teller you want to open a checking and savings account and would like a debit card. Also, consider opening a high interest savings account if you think that’s something which may be right for you. Eventually when you have some money saved, a credit card will be right for you as well, and can be handy from the bank you deposit your money into.

When you finish opening your account you will receive a debit card. Once you set up a PIN (by calling the number on the card) your card will be activated. You can use this card to pay for things, as long as there are funds in your account.  If you go over the amount, you can be charged $30 or more for an overdraft fee. Setting up overdraft protection or asking them to deny purchases when enough funds are not available can help avoid these charges. You can also use it at ATM machines or banks to withdraw money and deposit checks. You go to an ATM, insert your card, enter your PIN and then follow the directions on the screen. Remember to use ATMs from your bank.

Once you’ve had your account for a while, and you’ve managed to save up a little money you might want to open a credit card. A credit card lets you borrow money. This money has to be paid back at the end of the month or you will get charged a fee. Credit cards are useful because they let you build up credit which will help get a less expensive loan when buying a house or card. Look for a credit card with no yearly fees, and don’t get a credit card with too high a limit. Imagine in your head, if you had to pay back the whole limit, would you have those funds? Get a card that is only slightly terrifying. If you can, get a card with rewards which pay you a small percentage of each purchase back. But again, if it comes at the cost of a yearly fee, don’t do it. Follow this guide and you can bank safely with low or no fees. Banking can improve your life as long as you are careful and don’t fall for sales pitches.