Commercial Banking vs. Private Banking: What’s the Difference?

Are you stuck between choosing a private bank or a commercial bank? There are so many options and services to sift through when you’re considering the kind of bank that you want to give your business to.

If you’re feeling confused, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to tell you the differences that you need to know between private banking and commercial banking. We’re confident that you’ll be able to choose the perfect bank for you after reading everything we have to share.

Commercial Banking vs. Private Banking

There are a few main categories that we’re going to discuss when it comes to the differences between commercial banking and private banking:

  • Deals
  • Lifestyle expectations, hours you’ll put in
  • Popularity
  • Money

We’ll discuss other, smaller details as well, but we note these categories to hold the main differences between the kinds of banks.

What Is Commercial Banking?

Commercial banks offer loans, investment opportunities, deposit services, and more to businesses and individuals. In addition, commercial banks serve governments and other entities. 

Many commercial banks function as chain locations, meaning that a commercial bank may have locations across the world. Others may stick to certain regions.

The banks are considered commercial because they are publicly traded and they are required to be chartered by the state and/or federal authorities.

Commercial banks offer personal and business trust services as well. This means that they will be able to provide extra services that you might be looking for in a bank.

Some commercial banks dabble in private banking, which we’ll discuss later. By having a section or branch of private banking, commercial banks can reap the benefits of the private sector and expand their reach to those consumers who are better fit for the world of private banking.

Who Should Use Commercial Banking?

Commercial banks are more targeted towards the general population. If you consider yourself to be just another citizen in terms of wealth, you should look towards a commercial bank for your banking needs.

A commercial bank will give you everything you need while catering to your needs and the needs of just about everyone else.

Commercial banks conquer in terms of numbers because of how many people they are built to service. Commercial banks are made to take care of most of the consumers in an area, meaning that they are likely to handle anything that you may want or need to do with your money.

How to Choose a Commercial Bank

If you think commercial banking is for you and you’re looking to choose a commercial bank, you should focus on the services they offer. The commercial bank that you’re looking at may offer loans, investment opportunities, credit accounts, and more.

Plus, you might find that your commercial bank has a special savings account with a great interest rate or a checking account that you can open for your child.

Before you go to choose your commercial bank, you need to look at what kind of services and offers you want from the bank that you’re using. Talk with several different representatives about what the best services are and what kind of services you can take advantage of as a customer there.

What Is Private Banking?

Private banking is a whole new world to those of us who have only been involved in commercial banking.

These kinds of banks focus on wealth management for the extremely rich. This means that they’re more focused on growing money and ensuring that money is kept safe.

While a commercial bank does keep your money safe, private banks are famous for being locked down at all times when it comes to the money in the back.

Who Should Use Private Banking?

Those who have high net worths should invest in private banking. Yes, we do mean it when we say “invest.” Because private banks work with customers who are more likely to pay more fees and keep more money in the bank so that they can get the services that the private bank offers.

If you’re a high-net-worth individual who wants a bank that has estate planning, personalized banking, tax services, and money advisory services, the world of private banking is for you.

How to Choose a Private Bank?

If you think that you would fit into the world of private banking and you’d like to join a private bank, you should focus on the services they have and the money that they want in the bank. In addition, you might want to keep an eye on the fees even if you don’t care for tiny charges like those.

When you’re choosing your private bank, you should talk with several different places and talk about what kinds of services they have as well as how much it would cost to have those services available to you.

Your bank may charge a membership fee for access to these kinds of services, but they may also charge in addition to an already existing membership fee.

The banks that you’re considering should have a full list of any fees that they have. Be sure to pick this up or look this up when you’re considering joining a bank. Even if you don’t care about small charges, you should watch out for large charges that may come your way.

More on the World of Finance

Whether you think that you’d thrive more in the world of commercial banking or the world of private banking, we’re confident that you’ll be able to choose the right bank for you if you focus on your personal financial needs. By looking at what you need and what services you’d like, you’ll be able to find a bank that works the best for you.

If you’re looking to learn more about banking and finances, we invite you to check out the rest of our blog. We have a plethora of information about banking and everything you need to know about it to thrive and succeed.

7 Benefits of Digital Banking

If you’re still writing paper checks, waiting in line at the bank, or meeting with banking associates in person in 2021 and beyond, you’re missing out.

In recent years, digital banking has exploded in popularity, with research suggesting that nearly 70% of people in the UK use mobile banking, with 86% using it as their primary banking channel. If you’ve noticed this growing trend, it may leave you wondering, “Should I start digital banking?”

If you’re unsure about making the leap, it’s time to learn more about the benefits of digital banking—and why you should take advantage of this new technology.

1. Simplified Onboarding

Online banking makes the onboarding process much easier for new customers. With a virtual process guided by the latest technology, applicants can provide required documents to open an account in no time at all—with no need to spend time on a face-to-face meeting with a bank associate.

Of course, it’s still important, both now and whenever you access your digital bank account, to follow through with basic online security practices. Be sure to look for the lock symbol in the address bar, avoid using public WiFi, and use a strong password to keep your data safe.

2. Higher Interest Rates and Lower Fees

This benefit, of course, can vary from bank to bank.

However, in general, you’ll find that online bank accounts tend to have higher interest rates than traditional alternatives. A high-yield online checking account, then, can earn you a little more in interest per year than an account with a traditional bank.

One other money-saving perk is the lower fees. Because online banking demands less overhead than the brick-and-mortar alternative, many online banks pass those savings along to customers. This means that you’ll find lower (or no) monthly maintenance fees, minimum account balances, and even transaction fees, depending on the bank you use.

3. 24/7 Banking From Anywhere

There are few things most of us hate more than a lengthy queue—especially when we only need to take care of a quick transaction.

With digital banking, it’s possible to take care of banking tasks from anywhere and at any time, which opens up a world of convenience. Most banks offer mobile apps that allow you to access your accounts even when you’re out and about, allowing you to double-check your transactions in real time. What’s more, your easy banking pairs well with any budgeting apps you already use for extra convenience.

4. Easy Check Deposits

Most mobile banking apps will save you the trouble of heading to a brick-and-mortar bank each time you need to cash a check. The process is simple: using the camera on your phone, you’ll need to take pictures of the front and back of the check. Certain banks may have additional requirements when you cash checks online, like writing a specific phrase in addition to endorsing the back of the check, but the process remains fast and easy no matter where you bank.

5. Online Bill Pay

For easier bill pay services, digital banking is a must. With most online banks, clients have the opportunity to set up payees in their account, allowing you to send a payment to the company or client in question whenever you need to. This ensures that you no longer have to worry about checks getting lost in the mail!

In addition, automation can make regular billing tasks even easier. Setting up recurring automatic bill payments can help you stay on top of your cash flow for regular expenses, like car payments or subscription services.

When needed, you can also authorize providers to automatically remove money from your account when your bill is due. This can be helpful for providers like electric companies or mortgage lenders. To do this, you will need to provide the company with your bank’s routing number as well as the checking number of your account.

6. See Transactions at a Glance

When you bank online, all of your past transactions are easy to access and view at a glance. This makes it more convenient to check your account history on a regular basis, especially at a time when many of us worry about unauthorized transactions and identity theft.

If you are more accustomed to traditional banking, you may also catch sight of a feature exclusive to virtual banking: pending transactions. With pending transactions, you’ll be able to see transactions that a merchant hasn’t yet processed. This helps you see and understand the full context of your spending, even when a charge hasn’t been authorized yet.

7. Transfer Money With Ease

Whether you’re transferring money to your own account or paying back a friend for those concert tickets, money transfers are easy when you bank online.

Instead of visiting the bank in person, you can start an online transfer and input the details of the account you’re sending money to. Once your request is complete, the transfer may take up to three days to move to the receiver’s account, though it’s often far less if the receiver has an account at the same bank.

Harness the Power of Digital Banking

Given these benefits, it’s not hard to see why digital banking is poised to grow in popularity in the next few years. With added convenience and quick transactions, it’s easier than ever to make the most of your money with an online bank. Consider opening an account today to see the difference it makes!

For more of the helpful banking and finance guides you need, CFI.co has you covered. Check out our related posts for more insights.

What Are the Different Types of Credit?

You got to give credit where credit is due. And sometimes, credit is due to you. Credit allows you to pay back your debts and get loans. Millions of people in the United Kingdom have credit cards and use them wisely. But the average credit card debt per household still totals over 2,100 pounds.  Many people assume that all types of credit are alike.

But there are some significant differences among the types of credit. Understand how credit works and you can reduce your debt. Here is a quick guide. 

Revolving Credit

If you have a credit card, you probably have a revolving credit account. Revolving credit provides you with a maximum credit line. 

Once you hit that line, your creditor assigns a payment you must make. You cannot use your credit line until you pay your payment in full. Most creditors allow monthly payments, but plans can differ. 

If you cannot pay your monthly payment, it will roll into the next month. Your creditor will charge that payment with interest. Some creditors charge very high rates of interest, so you should try to pay in full every month. 

The more on-time payments you make, the higher your credit scores will be. You are more likely to receive approval for loans and advance payments. Using less than your credit limit will also assist your credit scores. 

Some creditors charge additional fees on top of interest rates. You may have to pay a cash advance or foreign transaction fee. Read the terms and conditions of your contract carefully before signing. 

Instalment Credit

If you take out a loan, you probably have instalment credit. Instalment credit lets you borrow a set amount, which you pay off with fixed monthly payments. 

Your contract determines the amount you will borrow and the time period of the loan. Even if you make on-time payments, you may have to pay interest. Keep a close eye on what the interest rates are through time. 

Some contracts do not allow you to pay your loan off early. They may charge you a penalty for doing so, which can be higher than the amount you pay over time. 

Several factors determine the terms of your contract. Your credit score is a major determinant. If you have paid off your loans on-time, your terms will be more lenient. 

Your debt-to-income ratio is almost as important. If you have little debt on hand, your payments will be lower. The bank may make your payments higher if you have a high income. 

You should show a stable history of employment, with no long gaps between jobs. You should also display any additional sources of income you have. The more sources, the more likely you will receive a strong line of credit. 

Open Credit

Open accounts are rarer than revolving or instalment accounts. But some utility and cell phone companies do offer them. 

An open account provides a balance that you must pay in full every month. Open creditors do not charge interest, but they can charge penalties if you don’t pay. In exchange for your regular payments, you receive services. 

Open lines of credit don’t appear initially on your credit report. Companies may refer your information to credit bureaus if you are late on your payments. 

An open credit account is the simplest kind of credit. As long as you pay every month, you should not run into difficulty.

Secured Business Line of Credit

If you are looking to start a business, you may receive a secured business line of credit. This is a special type of loan that is similar to a revolving line. 

A secured business line sets a maximum amount that you can borrow. However, you can keep borrowing past your line. You need to make a payment, but you can break your payments up so you can keep borrowing. 

To receive a secured line, you need to provide collateral. The most common types of collateral are property and equipment. Banks usually do not accept stocks for secured lines.

Real Estate Line of Credit

If you want to invest in real estate, you need to have some money upfront. A real estate line of credit can get you the resources you need. 

Home equity determines many real estate lines. An investor exchanges equity they have in their house for money from a creditor. They can use that money to purchase a property, usually to renovate or flip the property. 

Their line of credit is limited to what the investor receives from the creditor. But an investor has no restrictions on how they can use the cash. The credit line requires no other financial statements besides a personal credit report. 

A real estate line is the best line of credit for a quick payment. But it requires a high credit score.

You can use the equity in your house as collateral and pay the loan back through monthly payments. If you default on your loan, the creditor can place a lien on your house. 

The Five Different Types of Credit

Many people struggle with credit. They don’t understand how payments work, let alone that there are multiple types of credit. But you can distinguish amongst them. 

A revolving credit line charges monthly payments. These payments can incur interest if they are not paid off. An instalment line provides less interest but sets firmer conditions for when you make payments. 

Most utility companies use open lines of credit. Secured business lines are good if you want to start a business, while real estate lines are good for real estate investors. 

Get the facts you need to strengthen your finances. Capital Finance International provides premium reporting on business and economics. Contact us today. 

Investing in Stocks vs Bonds: A Comparative Guide

Are you interested in investing your money into stocks and bonds? You often hear those two items paired together in a sentence, but what do they actually mean? They are both a form of investment, but the similarities stop there. Both of them have a different level of risks, levels of returns, and daily behaviours that you need to be prepared for. Before you invest, it’s important to know these differences to pick which ones are the best course of action for you. See below for an in-depth guide on stocks vs bonds and how they fit into your investment plans.

What Are Stocks?

Imagine, if you would, that someone brings you a pie they made and sets it down in front of you and 2 of your friends. Let’s say the pie is cut into 8 different slices.

The maker of the pie tells you that each slice is £1 each. So you choose to buy 3 slices, one of your friends buys 3 slices, and the other buys only 2. This is essentially the concept of a stock. 

When you buy a stock, you purchase a small piece of ownership in that company. The more shares that you have in the company, the more ownership that you have over it. 

The goal is to buy shares, wait for them to rise, then sell your investment to turn a profit. 

For example, let’s say you decide to buy £100 worth of shares in Callaway Golf Company (ELY). For the sake of simple math, let’s say that Callaway shares are going for £20, so you end up with 5 shares.

As Callaway grows, so too will the value of your shares. Let’s say that over time, they end up experiencing a 50-per cent. So now, each share is worth £30 apiece. You decide to sell all of your shares for £150. 

By buying your stocks low and selling high, you’ve turned a profit of £50. You bought them for £100 and sold them for £150. You can scan the stock market however you so choose, buying any stocks that you envision a legitimate return for!

What Are Bonds?

Instead of purchasing a piece of the company as you would with a stock, a bond is when you loan out your money to a business. This can help them grow and expand their business, getting their hands on the money they’d need (from you) to do so.

In return, the company you lent the bond to will pay you back the full amount with interest. Unlike stocks, bonds are more of a long-term play. They’ll help you make a bit more money over time. The more bonds you invest in, the more you’ll gain in return.

So let’s say that you buy a bond for £1,000 (just for the sake of simple math). Let’s say it pays you back 1% annual interest over the next 10 years. With that bond, you would make £10 in interest over the next decade. 

When the 10 years has concluded on that bond, you will have made £100 in interest payments that you wouldn’t otherwise have made. 

There are many variables to bonds. You can purchase ones with a duration of only a few days or ones with a duration of several decades. The interest rate varies as well, so be sure to find a balance that you’re comfortable with.

What Are the Risks Involved?

As you’ve already seen in this article, both stocks and bonds can have tremendous payouts for those that invest in them. However, there’s always a potential that either one does not do well, and you lose money on the whole deal. Here’s a bit more insight on that:

The Risks of Stocks

Earlier, we highlighted a scenario in which you would make money investing in shares from Callaway Golf. However, every stock that you purchase has risk involved, some more so than others.

All it takes is one setback from the company you’ve invested in to incur a loss. Back in April 2010, BP was flying high. They were seemingly doing everything right and their stocks climbed up to $60 in US Dollars (approximately 44 British pounds).

Then, almost out of nowhere, the deepwater horizon spill occurred. Over 3.19 million barrels of oil were spread throughout the Gulf Coast. As a result, their stocks fell 55%, meaning that investors lost over half of what they paid to buy BP stock in April.

Granted, most losses are not that significant. By educating yourself and reading investor books, you can limit your losses when you invest.

The Risk of Bonds

The ideology of bonds is sound. You lend a certain amount of money to a growing company, then they pay you back over time with interest. All is fair in the world.

But what if that company goes under before they’ve paid you back? What if they go bankrupt during the term of your bond? You may never get back your full investment entirely.

As you can see with both stocks and bonds, there are risks. However, you can minimize the risks of both by performing thorough research.

In the case of bonds, do your due diligence on any company you lend money to. If they’re shooting for the stars too quickly, they might overextend themselves and leave you to suffer a loss as a result.

Stocks Vs Bonds: Invest Your Money in Both

Now that you’ve seen a comparison of both stocks vs bonds, as well as the differences between the two, it’s time to use that information effectively.

For more financial advice, make sure to read this article on the 5 things that you need to do with your money once you’ve turned 20.

Be sure to circle back on our blog often to receive more information and guidance on economics, finance, banking, and so much more.

5 Things You NEED To Do With Your Money Once You Turn 20

When you’re young and carefree, it’s easy to neglect your finances. A lot of young people don’t know how to manage their money and end up getting into debt.

But as a young adult, you’re actually in a great position to set good financial habits for life. Making savvy decisions from when you turn 20 can build solid foundations for a financially healthy future. 

Let’s dig a little deeper. Here’s our list of top money management tips to consider when you’re 20 years old. 

1. Get Into Good Habits With Your Money 

You’re only going to be able to start saving once you’re spending less than you earn. So the first step towards financial security is setting up a watertight method to track and manage your expenses. 

You need to have a clear view of your fixed expenses such as rent and council tax, and also a firm grip on your variable expenses such as fuel, food shopping, and utility bills. Then you can set a budget for discretionary expenses like nights out with friends and clothes purchases. 

After you have a system set up, you can manage your cash flow and track your spending, to ensure you’re staying within your budget. A popular method to manage this is by setting up a zero-based budget, where you allocate every penny of your income to a specific expense or savings goal.

By adopting this method, you should prevent yourself from getting into debt. But if it’s too late for that, you should focus on clearing your debts. Limit your credit card spending; you should only use your credit card enough to establish a decent credit score. Once your short-term debt is clear, you can make a start on clearing your student debt. 

A final good habit to set up is to automate all your payments. It’s good to set up your direct debit payments to go out near the beginning of the month, so you have a clear view of what you have leftover for discretionary spending, once all the bills are paid. 

2. Start Saving Now! 

You’re never too young to start thinking about savings. You should start out by building an emergency fund, then work towards having 3-6 months of expenses set aside. Having a reasonable liquid cash reserve will prevent you from getting into debt in emergency situations. 

You might want to set up separate savings goals for big purchases, such as your first car, so you have the money upfront rather than having to take out a loan. Longer-term savings goals are also worth considering, such as a deposit on a house, paying for postgraduate education or saving for your children’s future. 

In terms of saving for retirement, the earlier you start, the more benefits you will reap. You should aim to be putting at least 10% of your income into a pension fund.

3. Protect Yourself 

You should make sure that you have all the insurance you need to protect yourself from future problems. Car insurance of course is a necessity if you have a car, but you should also consider pet insurance if relevant, as vets’ bills can be very high.

You may want to invest in health insurance and also income protection insurance. If you have children, you’ll also want to look at life insurance. It’s not the most exciting topic to be thinking about, but there are benefits to setting up insurance policies while you’re young and insurers see you as less risky. 

4. Invest in Yourself 

When you get your first job, it’s easy to just feel grateful to have found employment, especially in today’s challenging economic circumstances. But you should still negotiate your salary to make sure you’re being paid what you’re worth. 

You might also want to plan for further education and training. Lifelong learning has many benefits, not just for your career but for your own happiness and sense of fulfilment. 

You could also look into setting up a side hustle to earn some extra money to put against those savings targets. Perhaps you have a hobby that you could make some money out of? Maximizing your income is a great way to grow your savings. 

5. Think Long-Term

There’s never a better time than what you turn 20, to be thinking long term. Establishing your wealth goals and prioritising them when you’re young is critical to long-term financial security.

Once you’ve paid off your debts and you have enough liquid cash saved up to pay for any emergencies and planned future purchases, now’s the time to think about investing. It’s a good idea to start investing as early as possible, by putting money into something other than your retirement plan.

But perhaps you don’t really know what to do with your money? It might be wise to hire a financial advisor to help you choose the right kind of fund to invest your money in. It’s sensible to get some advice about the best investment bank options before you decide where to put your hard-earned cash. 

You need to make sure that your money is working for you, wherever you choose to keep it. You could see which providers have won banking awards, to help you choose the best banking services. 

The longer your money is in an investment fund, the higher the returns are likely to be. So choosing the best bank while you’re young is a good long-term strategy to build wealth. 

Seize The Moment!

The sooner you take control of your finances, the better. Your 20s are the perfect time to establish good habits and routines around money to set you up for long-term financial security.

Building wealth takes time, so starting young will reap long-term benefits. It’s never too early to educate yourself. Check out our informative articles on wealth management to expand your knowledge and help you to make the best decisions about how to manage your money.   

Why You Should Join A Private Bank

The number of mobile wealth management accounts rose from 22% in 2018 to 40% in 2019. They allow users to manage their wealth remotely and effectively. A private bank helps with wealth management but provides a range of other services and benefits as well. They offer personalized service at all hours and let you enjoy exclusive perks.

There are several private bank options, and choosing one can be difficult. There are certain factors to look for before putting your money in their hands. It can also be difficult to begin a career in this field, but the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be.

Read our private banking guide to learn the benefits it provides and how to enter it as a client or account manager.

Private Bank Benefits

A private bank’s primary purpose is wealth management. It helps keep money in the right place and makes investment easier.

These are not the only benefits that private banking provides or the only reason you may choose to join one. There is a range of other benefits offered as well.

When you join a private bank, you’ll get connected to a skilled account manager. They can handle all your financial assets while providing personalized service.

The account manager can also easily connect with other professionals such as wealth management specialists, investment analysts, and tax attorneys.

A private bank also allows you to diversify your investments. Your account manager can put your wealth into ESG or Environmental, Social, and Governance investments. They can also manage your non-financial assets like real estate and natural resources, negotiate leases and contracts, facilitate inspections, and communicate with tax, accounting, and/or legal professionals.

A private bank gives you access to your banker at any time and place using apps and chat services. They also keep your assets private.

A private bank may also include concierge and premier travel services. They can educate you and your heirs and make business travel less of a hassle.

Private banks offer price reductions that can save you a great deal of money. These discounts include free checks and savings of up to $300 per year on a safe-deposit box.

Most private banks offer a range of other perks such as:

  • Loans with low annual percentage rates
  • Savings accounts with higher annual percentage yields
  • More commercial financing options
  • Senior underwriting support
  • Priority loan processing

These benefits and more explain the rise in private banking.

Starting a Career in Private Banking

Working at a private bank offers several benefits over other financial careers such as stockbrokers and investment bankers. These include high income potential, shorter hours, reduced stress, and stronger professional relationships.

Remember that most clients who join a private bank have a great deal of wealth. They are typically classified as either high net worth or ultra-high-net-worth.

You’ll also have to have a range of skills to begin a career in private banking. You should be familiar with wealth management, estate planning, taxes, portfolio management, and any other tasks your client requests.

There are also several steps you must complete to begin your career. They include education, experience, networking, certifications and licenses, and getting a job.

Education

The first thing you’ll need is an undergraduate degree, preferably with a focus on finance. Options include business administration, economics, and other related degrees.

Experience

Follow up your education with experience. Look for internships in a private bank and get all the experience you can in banking, investments, and related fields.

Networking

Networking is another important task. Meet up with potential clients, bankers, professors, and anyone else who can help you advance your career.

Certifications and Licenses

Certifications will make you a more attractive candidate, and there are several options to choose from. T

The Wealth Management Institute or WMI offers a 10-week Wealth Management Private Banking Programme and an associated certificate. The Globecom Institute offers a 9-month course and certificate in Private Banking and Wealth Management and a 3-4 month certification in Operations Investment Banking and Securities Markets.

You’ll need to get licensed before you can begin a career in private banking. You can obtain a Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, or Series 65 license by passing an exam. They differ in the services they allow you to perform and how much you can charge for them.

Finding a Job

Find a job by sending out as many resumes as possible and networking with professionals in the field. You can also start your own firm if you already have a large client base.

These steps are the basics of beginning your career, but you may be able to break tradition. Try moving from another financial field into the private banking industry.

Finding The Best Banking Services

There is a range of private bank options to choose from. They differ in the services they offer and the fees they charge, which can make choosing the best bank difficult.

When deciding where to invest your money, you should look at a variety of different factors. Look for proof of quality, past experiences, and the services offered.

The experiences of past clients can help you choose the best private bank. Look for testimonials that suggest clients have had positive experiences with qualified account managers in the past.

There are also ways to find proof of whether or not you’ve found a high-quality option. Look for things like bank awards and stay away from banks with blemishes like lawsuits.

The best investment bank offers the full range of services you require at the best possible price. Compare all the options and see where you can get everything you need at the most affordable price. 

How Can I Join a Private Bank?

Everyone wants to keep their money safe, especially those with plenty of wealth and investments. This is where a private bank comes in.

Joining a private bank gives you access to a qualified account manager at any time of day. They’ll manage your assets, keep them secure and private, and offer several other perks.

If you’re a high-income earner with a large portfolio of investments, a private bank can provide an account manager to look after them for you. If you’re a qualified financial expert, you can begin a career in private banking to help others manage their money.

The more you know about the private banking industry, the better you’ll be able to enter it or use it to manage your wealth. Contact us for more information today.

Are New Checking Account Offers Really Worth The Switch?

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has created a financial crunch for just about everyone. As you look for ways to make your money stretch further, you might have started looking at various bonus offers and considering switching some of your service providers.

Nowadays, almost every bank is advertising new checking account offers, and that “free” money sounds pretty good. But, is switching bank accounts really worth it?

That’s a good question! Stick with us as we explore the pros and cons of taking advantage of new checking account bonus offers.

3 Ways to Get a New Checking Account Bonus

Before diving into the things to ask before switching banks, it’s important to note that there’s more than one way to take advantage of new checking account offers. Most offers don’t actually say that you have to close your old account.

Typically, they’ll require you to make a minimum deposit and perform specific tasks, like completing a certain number of transactions, setting up direct deposit, or using their app. It’s important to read the fine print carefully and understand exactly what you need to do to get your bonus. Once you understand the requirements, you’ll likely have three options:

  1. Keep your current checking account exactly as it is and open an additional account with the new bank
  2. Make a partial switch, moving certain payments and deposits over to the new account
  3. Close your old accounts and move everything over to the new bank

Most people choose the third option because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing multiple accounts. However, there are pros and cons to each approach. It’s a good idea to consider the following questions before you decide.

Questions to Ask Before Making the Switch

Sometimes, it’s clear that you need to switch to a new bank. If you’re having problems with your current bank – like ridiculously high fees or poor customer service – then it makes sense to take advantage of a new checking account bonus.

However, if you’re thinking about making a change purely for the extra money, there are some important things to consider.

1. Is the Bonus Really Worth It?

How much money do you need to make it worth your effort? Do you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it?

If you’re really cash-strapped then even a small bonus might sound appealing. If the bank is offering something else, like rewards points or a charity donation, you’ll have to consider whether you’ll receive a sufficient benefit to make the change a smart move.

2. Are There Any Drawbacks?

Be careful not to let the bonus offer distract you from the potential drawbacks of working with the new bank. If there are monthly fees or high minimum balance requirements, then it’s likely you’re going to be unhappy in the long run.

You’ll want to look at the new bank’s maintenance fees, ATM fees, and overdraft fees. Also, consider the new bank’s opening hours and whether the website and app are user-friendly. Do they offer other services you need like mobile deposit, easy transfers, and plenty of ATM machines?

Compare all of these things to your current bank and make sure that making the change won’t end up being a downgrade.

3. How Much of a Hassle Will it Be?

To make the switch, you’ll need to open a new account, initiate a transfer, and make sure you meet all of the bonus requirements. Transferring all of your auto-debit bills is usually the biggest hassle.

It’s easy to make a mistake and you could end up missing payments or bouncing checks. This can lead to late fees, damage to your credit rating, and more. 

If you’re going to make a full switch it’s in your best interest to make sure the bank you choose is one you’ll want to stick with for the long term. Bouncing from one checking account to the next is rarely worth the trouble, even if you do get a bonus each time.

4. How Much Do You Really Like Your Bank?

Are you at your current bank because you really like the services they offer? Or is it just a matter of habit? If there’s nothing special about your bank and you’re comfortable with the answers to the other questions above, then now might be the perfect time for you to make a switch.

Tips for Finding the Best New Checking Account Offers

Doing a bit of research online will help you find out which banking institutions are offering checking account bonuses and exactly what they’re offering. However, it’s important to consider which offers are most valuable to you.

For example, if you overdraft your account frequently, then switching to a bank that’s offering fee-free overdrafts might be a great move for you. However, if an offer requires a large minimum balance that you don’t think you’ll be able to maintain, then moving to this bank will likely end up being a waste of your time.

Remember, in most cases, looking for a long-term partner instead of just a quick cash bonus will bring you the greatest benefit.

Making Smart Financial Moves in a COVID-19 World

Taking a close look at new checking account offers and other bonuses is one way to give your finances a boost, but that’s certainly not your only option. If you want to keep your finances on track, knowledge is power. We suggest taking some time to browse through more of our financial articles

We’ll help you stay up to date with all of the latest financial developments and provide you with tips you can start implementing right away.  

6 Helpful Tricks To Avoid Paying ATM Fees

Are you tired of getting hijacked by ATM machines with big charges when you want some cash? Do you find yourself paying 25 percent or more of the amount you want to get out? Want to know how to avoid those fees?

There are many tips and hacks you can use to stop being hit with big fees just to get at your money. We’ve given this some careful thought because we’re also tired of the insane charges ATM operators put on using their machines.

So, read on to learn about six of the best ways to avoid ATM fees. From research and planning to choosing the right account, we’ve got your back so that you don’t pay for your own cash anymore.

1. Use ATMs for Your Bank

Using ATMs that are part of your bank’s network is the best and easiest way to avoid ATM fees. Big, chain banks have a lot of fee free ATMs to use, especially in larger urban areas. These ATMs won’t cost you anything when you withdraw cash from them. 

You can search your bank’s website or mobile app for no fee ATM near me to find ATMs run by your bank. However, if you do use an ATM that isn’t run by your bank you could incur a fee from your bank as well as the company that runs that particular ATM.

So, always try to search for an ATM that is part of your bank’s network if you can.

2. Open an Account at Banks with no ATM Fees

If you are considering opening a new bank account, do some research to find banks with no ATM fees.accounts. Or, if you find yourself always having to pay for cash from an ATM, it might be time to think about switching banks. In that case, look for a bank where you can get an account that doesn’t charge you ATM fees. 

Many online banks have agreements with ATM networks that mean you don’t have to pay the network’s ATM charges. These online banks will usually have an ATM finder service as part of their website and app. Use this service to locate the nearest no fee ATM when you need cash quickly.

3. Get Cash Back at the Grocery Store

Another great way to get cash for free is to ask for cash back when you make a purchase at a grocery store or other shop. This works best if you pick up cash as part of your regular shopping trip. Then keep that cash handy in your wallet.

However, if you need cash quickly, you can still use a store as your ATM. Simply make a small purchase at the store. Because ATM fees are usually three pounds or more, buying a chocolate bar or bottle of water, for example, will cost you far less than the ATM fee. 

4. Keep More Cash on Hand

Although you can’t always plan ahead to know how much cash you’ll need and when, a little forethought can go a long way to reducing the chances of unwanted ATM fees. When you do get cash out, try to get more than you need right then. Having some extra cash at home or in your wallet or purse will reduce your ATM fees.

Taking larger sums out of the ATM when you do visit also means that if you do have to pay a fee, you’re getting more cash for the charge. So, you’re cash costs you less if you have to pay for it.

Putting together a home budget for each month will give you a sense of how much cash you generally need. With your budget in mind you can go once a month to the ATM and withdraw what you need all in one go. Then, just keep your wallet or purse topped up with the cash you’ll likely need that week.

5. Find Out Which Other Banks Your Bank Has an ATM Fees Agreement With

Many banks have agreements with other banks or ATM operators. These agreements let you withdraw cash from those ATMs without a fee. Check with your bank or search online to find out what other ATMs you can use.

The ATMs that are part of your bank’s network agreement might also include non-bank ATMs. These ATMs are the ones you find in shops, bars, or petrol stations. Those ATMs are often the most expensive to use for cash withdrawals. 

6. Go Cashless

A really easy way to avoid ATM fees is to try not to use cash. Fortunately, this is becoming much easier. Mobile apps, debit and credit cards, iPay and equivalents, Venmo, Paypal, and so on, all offer the opportunity for cashless transactions

With the exception of some entertainment options and small shops in out of the way locations you can often choose not to spend cash if you really don’t want to. Some shops and services still have a minimum transaction amount to use your card. But those minimums are often still less than an ATM fee.

Reducing the amount of times you need cash means you won’t need to hit the ATM very often. The fewer times you have to go to an ATM the less you will spend on those pesky fees. 

Stop Wasting Money on ATM Fees

ATM fees can quickly add up. If every time you use an ATM you pay three or more pounds for the privilege of taking your own money out, your monthly costs will soon make getting cash out not worth it.

As you can see from our list of tricks to avoid paying ATM fees, though, there are plenty of ways you can reduce the chance you’ll get stuck with those charges.

Plan ahead and have ecash on hand. Get a bank account with a large network of ATMs to use for free. Use your bank’s app to find free ATMs near to you when you need one or try to use less cash in the first place!

For more money-saving tips, insights on the economy and your finances, or business news and more, check out our blog. We’ve got you covered with insider hacks and business news and ideas. 

Is A Fixed Rate Personal Loan The Best Option For Financing A Big Purchase?

People take out loans for many reasons. Some people take out loans for a house remodel, a new computer for work, or a wedding. Whatever the reason for taking out a loan, it’s always a big decision. 

When making a big purchase, you want to consider every option so you get the best rate possible. Many vendors provide their financing solutions. However, it is in your best interest to consider other options. 

One of the best options for purchasing is a fixed rate personal loan. But what is a fixed-rate loan, and why are they better? 

What Is a Fixed Rate Personal Loan? 

Many people prefer fixed-rate loans because the interest rate and monthly payment of the loan are consistent throughout the loan’s life. That’s ideal for people on a tight budget who need to plan for a specific amount each month. 

One common example of a fixed-rate loan is a thirty-year mortgage. With these kinds of loans, purchasers keep the same fixed payment amount for the entirety of the loan until it is completely paid off. The loan doesn’t have to be for a house, though. You can take out a loan on just about anything. 

Most banks will require a statement of what the loan is for before they give you the money. As long as it’s for nothing illegal, and you have the income that shows you can make the payments, you should be good to go for whatever it is. 

Interest rates depend on the loan amount and your credit score. As a rule, the larger your monthly payment, the lower your interest rate. In other words, the quicker you pay off the fixed-rate loan, the less interest you’ll pay in total. 

Fixed-Rate Loan vs. Seller Financing

Many vendors will offer in-house financing for their items. This is tempting because you don’t have to wait for loan approval and experience that instant gratification. 

However, before you commit to seller financing, it is in your best interest to explore other loan options. With a personal loan, you will get a better interest rate. That results in a lower overall purchase cost. 

 With a personal loan, you can decide how much money you need to make the purchase. Instead of financing the entire purchase, you can finance only part of the purchase. 

Seller financing typically has much higher interest rates. So, if you do not plan on paying off the loan within a short amount of time, you will end up paying more in the end. 

With a fixed-rate loan, you know exactly how much you’ll spend overall on the purchase before you sign the contract, no matter how long it takes you to pay the loan. 

What to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

Before getting a personal loan from a bank, it’s a good idea to determine a few things. First, figure out how much money you need to borrow. Most lenders have a minimum requirement for personal loans. Some minimums are as low as $500. However, others are twice that. 

You don’t want to take out a loan that’s bigger than you need. If your loan is under $500, consider other options.

Before you qualify for a loan, consider how long it will take to pay off. Some loans can be paid off in a matter of months, others years. Depending on your monthly payments and the loan amount, you have to decide how long you’re willing to take. 

Finally, the most important factor to consider is whether or not you can afford the monthly payments. No matter how big or small the payment is, you have to pay it every month on time to avoid extra fees. 

Credit Scores and Loans

Your credit score determines the kind of rate you get on the loan. It could also determine what kind of loans you have access to. If your credit score is too low for the kind of loan you want, you have two options. You can wait to make the purchase and build up your credit in the meantime. Or, you could have a co-signer on the loan. 

Another thing to think about is how the loan will affect your credit. If you don’t have much credit, having a loan and paying it off may improve your credit.

As long as you pay the monthly payments every month on time (or if you pay the loan off early), your credit score shouldn’t be negatively affected. 

Paying Off Credit Card Debt With a Personal Loan

If you have several maxed-out credit cards, you can use a fixed rate personal loan to consolidate the debt into one payment. Since fixed-rate loans have better interest rates and lower fees than credit cards, this can save you some money as well. 

Some loan companies will pay the loan money directly to the credit card company. That way, you only have to worry about paying the one fixed-rate payment a month. 

Other people choose to refinance their student loans into fixed-rate personal loans. This is an option for people who cannot afford their previous monthly rates. However, this keeps you from taking advantage of any government assistance with your student loan.  So, whether that is helpful to you or not depends on the amount of student debt left on the loan. 

Find More Finance Advice

If you’re thinking about making a purchase, consider all your options. Before you go through with seller financing, look into your fixed-rate personal loan options. That could save you money and hassle in the future. 

Before settling on a loan, make sure you can afford the monthly payments, check your credit score, and ensure you have a regular, reliable income. If you do those things, a fixed rate personal loan is a good option for you. 

If you found this article helpful, visit our blog for more financial advice. 

5 Painful Bank Fees You Might Not Know About and How to Avoid Them!

If you have a checking or saving account with a bank, you may know something about bank fees. Yes, those dreaded fees that come up ever so often. They are pricey and bothersome as they tend to come up in times that you may not have money in your account to pay for them. 

It seems that nowadays banks have a fee for everything. These fees can certainly add up fairly soon. Too many, and you might end up having to close your checking or saving account as you will find yourself having a low account balance or, even worst, find yourself in the negative. 

It is important to be familiar with the bank fees that are imposed by your bank. You can avoid many annoying fees that arise when using your bank. We all know that saving each penny matters, so learn how not to fall victim to charges.

1. Overdraft Fees

Bank fees can hit you from the left and right. One of the most common is the overdraft. You may be familiar with this fee if you have withdrawn more money then what you had available in your account. 

This is a bank fee that one can find themselves paying if they have purchased something that cost more than the money they have in their account. In the case of an emergency, you may find yourself having to pay for this fee if you end up buying something and you don’t have the money for it. 

The amount that you are charged for an overdraft depends on the bank. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid overdraft fees. Contact your bank associate to inform him or her that you want to opt-out of the overdraft service. This will prohibit a transaction from being approved if you don’t have the funds available in your account. 

2. Monthly Maintenance Fees

One of the most dreaded bank fees is the monthly maintenance fee. This is like a fee that you can expect to see every 30 days. Some banks have it in writing that they charge a fee to maintain your account. They inform you of this when you open the account. 

In most cases, monthly maintenance fees are avoidable. You have to meet certain criteria to avoid monthly maintenance fees. For example, if you have a large balance in your account, you may not need to pay such fees. If you have direct deposit, you may not need to pay for monthly maintenance fees.  

3. Card Replacement Fees

Card replacement fees are what you have to pay to the bank if you need to order a new debit card. If you lost your debit card or accidentally damaged it, you may have a double whammy. Not only do you no longer have a debit card, but you must also pay the bank to receive a new one. 

The bank will charge you a fee for this service. The new card may take about a week to be mailed to you. If you want it to come faster, some banks give you the option of expedited service. Pay a little bit more for rush delivery.

Yes, this is like rubbing salt into your wounds. 

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do this avoid this bank fee. If you lose your debit card, you will need a replacement one. You need to keep your debit card safe so you do not lose it or damage it. 

4. ATM Fees

There are fees that you may have to pay for if you use an ATM that is out of your bank’s network. If you find yourself in an area where there are no ATMs sponsored by your bank and you have an emergency, you may have to withdraw from an out-of-network ATM. 

This is a bank fee that can cost you double. The owner of the ATM may charge you a small fee, and your bank will charge you another fee. 

To avoid this type of bank fee, make sure you carry money, especially in the case of an emergency where you may need to pay with cash as credit cards may not be accepted. If you are looking to open a new bank account, make sure to open an account with a bank that has a large network of ATMs.

Also, consider asking your bank if they can reimburse you for the ATM fees. This is a service that some banks may provide you. 

5. Inactivity Fees

You may be asking yourself, “Why do banks charge an inactivity fee?” Quite shockingly, many banks do charge inactivity fees. If you have a bank account and have not used it in a specific period, expect to see this type of bank fee in your bank account statement. 

Banks do not want to have customers who have inactive bank accounts. It is not good for their business. You may find yourself having to pay for this fee if you have not had any activity in your account in a year. 

These Bank Fees Can Add Up 

No one likes to lose money, especially if they have to give it away to a bank. Bank fees can add up. And for the most part, they can be avoided. 

Make sure that you are aware of the bank fees that your bank charges. This information you can find on a bank’s website. Take the actions that are necessary to avoid bank fees. 

Consider joining a private bank that may not impose these charges. If you would like to read more about private banks or finance-related topics continue to explore the website