Many of us are already very familiar with the dos and don’ts associated with credit cards. You probably already know the importance of using low interest rate credit cards and practicing smart spending and budgeting habits as they relate to credit. But how many people are really familiar with the ins and outs of their own personal checking account(s) and the financial institution with which they maintain that account?

Just as credit cards vary by APRs, minimums, and various payment options, checking accounts similarly are not created equal. If it’s been awhile since you last thought about your checking account, here are three tips you should sincerely consider that could save you money and have you reconsidering your options soon.

– Read the Fine Print

You might find it surprising how little you actually know or remember about the particulars of your checking account. Many accounts carry with them a minimum balance requirement that folks often forget about. In some cases, if you’re not careful, you could be paying monthly maintenance fees associated with these minimum balances for a long time before you even realize that you’re paying for them.

Many accounts also offer some type of savings program in which they actually offer cash incentives for joining, without charging you anything at all. Why not save some extra money if it costs you nothing? Again though, it’s important that you read the fine print and make sure you won’t eventually be charged for joining certain programs. By reading the various account options though, you may very well find that there are other account types within your own financial checking institution that offer better services for your particular needs. Switching account types is usually as simple as making a call to your bank, and it could save you tons of money in the long run.

– Compare Other Banks

Although switching banks may seem like a hassle, if it can save you money, it’s a hassle that’s well worth it. First of all, if for some reason you’re paying for a checking account, seriously reconsider. There are tons of banks and financial institutions out there that offer free checking accounts, so paying for one is a real waste. In general though, comparing other banks and their particular types of checking accounts is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most buck for your bang, and vice versa.

As stated in the beginning of this article, all checking accounts are not created equal. Similarly, all financial institutions are not created equal either; some banks offer great, unique deals that are just too good to pass up. Do your homework and make sure your bank is the right one for you.

– Go Paperless

Switching to a paperless banking option is not only good for the environment; it can actually lead to some personal savings too. In switching over to paperless statements, bank users are far more likely to monitor their spending online more closely. Not only is it much more time efficient to view your statements online, you can do so as frequently as you’d like, making the chances of catching an erroneous charge or unnecessary maintenance fee that much more likely. Going paperless helps both you and the environment, and can lead to some great savings also.

While saving money with a checking account is something that often goes overlooked by many bank users, it’s actually one of the easiest things to do when it comes to personal finance. Banks generally want to be as easy to use for their clients as possible. That doesn’t mean that they’ll go out of their way to save you money and make sure you’re using the best account for your needs, but it does mean that by doing just a small amount of research, you will likely find easy to use, great account options for your personal banking needs.

Alex Summers is a recent graduate from the University of Arkansas and is entering the foray of the world of writing.

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