An increasing number of consumers are convinced by checking accounts: Payment processing is fast and uncomplicated; moreover, the account can be used flexibly and at any time. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when opening a checking account to avoid falling for hidden costs.
How to find the right current account
With the help of the current account you can easily manage all banking transactions. However, it often happens that too high fees are paid for account management or additional conditions are agreed, which lead to significant costs. Therefore, pay attention to these aspects when comparing current accounts:
Account management fees
Nowadays, many current accounts are offered with free account management - but this is often linked to certain conditions. For example, some institutions only waive the fee if a minimum amount is paid into the account each month or if there is a continuous credit balance. Check whether you can meet these conditions regularly - and whether both EC card and account statements are free.
To ensure that you have sufficient opportunities to withdraw cash, there should be quite a few ATMs of the respective institution in your vicinity. Alternatively, the chosen bank may be a member of a banking association - such as Cash Group and Cashpool. This means that you do not have to pay any fees even at ATMs not belonging to the bank. Some institutions also allow fee-free withdrawals via credit card. In addition, it is important that the cash supply abroad is just as smooth.
Online banking security
You should clarify in advance how secure online banking is: While receiving TANs via SMS is popular, the chip TAN procedure using a small generator is more secure. You should also find out whether there are any additional costs for the transaction numbers (TANs).
Service quality of the bank
Use comparison and customer portals to check which services the respective bank or savings bank offers you and how well they are rated. It is worth reading test reports as well as customer opinions to get an impression of how well the account opening as well as the account management work.
Check whether there is interest on credit balances for the current account and how high it is. In most cases, however, the interest is linked to a combination of current and call money account. However, some institutions offer interest on the current account itself - interest is paid annually, quarterly or monthly. As a rule, however, overnight money and time deposits are higher-interest investments.
Dispo & overdraft interest
Checking accounts can be equipped with an overdraft facility: This allows you to overdraw your account each month up to a certain limit. If this is likely, you should look for a favorable provider in any case - because overdraft interest rates are usually high. If you do not need the overdraft facility, you can also agree with the banking institution not to set a credit limit.
Other interesting aspects
Some conditions should not be the biggest decision criteria when choosing an account, but it can still be interesting to compare them.
Branch or online banking
When opening a current account, you can choose between direct and branch banks. Direct banks allow you to conduct all banking transactions online only - contact forms and hotlines are usually available for advice. At a branch bank, you can open an online account, but also conduct banking transactions at the branch counter. There, you will also usually be assigned a contact person who can advise you personally.
Credit card included?
In addition to the current account, you will also receive a credit card at many institutions - both the conditions and the costs for the card depend on the respective bank. Therefore, you should find out how high the costs for the credit card are and whether additional fees are due for payments abroad.
Rewards and welcome bonuses
Many offers include a welcome bonus when you open an account. Typically, these are credits or low overdraft rates - but in almost all cases, there are strings attached to these gifts. Similar to the free account, minimum deposits are often required.
Moral reason for decision
Not only conditions and fees are important - it is also worthwhile to find out how the bank handles your money. Find out whether the institution operates according to ethical principles and whether it invests in various projects that do not meet your moral standards.
What you should pay attention to when switching accounts
If you want to switch your current account, you should compare the conditions of both accounts:
Can you save money by switching while using the same account?
Will you get additional benefits from switching, such as more ATMs in your area?
Are there any conditions attached to any bonuses?
In any case, make sure that the switch does not entail any hidden costs. This may be the case, for example, if you have to pay for the SMS through which transaction numbers are sent. It is also important that you can switch between accounts free of charge.
Step by step to your top checking account
From the initial desire for a new checking account or the intention to switch to the opening, there are only a few steps. We explain the exact process to you.
- Compare providers
Before you get angry about expensive account maintenance fees or high overdraft interest rates later on, you should first weigh up the offers of the different banks in a current account comparison.
- Fill out online application
With both direct banks and branch banks, you have the option of simply applying online to open an account. To do this, fill out the online application of the respective bank, then print it out and sign the application. You also have the option to request the application from the bank and receive it by mail.
- Prepare required documents
Depending on the bank, additional documents are required to open the current account. These are usually a self-disclosure, which can be obtained from Schufa, as well as bank statements and salary statements. These documents should be sent to the bank together with the completed application.
- Postident procedure
Even without personal contact, identification of your person is necessary for your application to be accepted. For this purpose, you will need the Postident coupon, which you will find in the application for opening an account, and your identity card or passport. You can use this to carry out the Postident procedure at a post office.
- Receive account data
The banking institution will send you all important account data by mail. The pins for online banking and the EC card will be sent separately. If necessary, you will also receive a list of TANs and the credit card.