Selecting the right bank for your personal and business needs is a critical decision. There are many banks which offer a range of consumer, as well as business products, to their customers. Gustavo Dolfino, an investment banker by trade said- “it’s important that you choose carefully, as every product is different, and every bank is different. What matters most, is the type of relationship you are able to develop with the bank in the long run.”

Interest rates.

A small difference in interest rates can add up to a lot of money over time, regardless of which type of loan you are in the market for – auto, mortgage, and payroll to personal credit cards. Don’t fall for the “skip a payment this month” trick. What actually happens in the month you skip a payment, is the outstanding amount gets compounded, and so does the interest amount you end up paying. It will add up in the long run.  Avoid excessive debt at all costs; servicing that debt is one of the main reasons people file for bankruptcy.

Electronic services

Know what services and operations can be done through online banking, if there is a charge associated with them, and what level of sophistication they entail. Ideally, this service should be an essential part of your relationship, should not cost extra, and should be available to you 24/7.

Trust and Security

Even though US banks are insured by the FDIC, this federal form of insurance is capped at 250K per account, and applies only to non-interest bearing accounts. In addition, you should note the credit quality of the bank, as well as its stock price, should it be publicly traded. Assuming the bank offers a debit or credit card, you should investigate their policy regarding fraud, and your liability should it occur.

Commissions and fees

You should check what fees and/or commissions, if any, apply to the use of the bank’s debit or credit cards, when those fees apply, for example, by using a non-bank ATM, or when used in a foreign country. Do not ignore in your analysis, charges for wire transfers, checks, minimum balance or insufficient funds fees.

Loyalty points

This is an aspect that can be misleading and should be treated with caution. Not all purchases will earn you loyalty points; should they, verify when, where and how they can be used, including blackout periods.