Banking Articles

An Introduction to Banking Services

When first opening a bank account, there can be a number of choices and factors to consider that will make the process seem daunting. With time and patience, however, it becomes clear that the basics are actually fairly simply. A bank, in short, is simply a place to store one’s money, while offering access to it through a number of methods and from a variety of locations. Described below are a number of account types and services that are offered by most banks. One institution may offer a slightly different service than another, so the descriptions below are fairly general. It is important to research all of the available financial institutions in one’s area to determine which one offers the best services for your situation.

Checking Account
The primary purpose of a checking account is for paying bills and making purchases. There are a number of different types of checking accounts, including Free, Basic, Express, Interest-bearing, and others. The services offered for each account depend on the type. It is a good idea to research what each account type has to offer, and to see if it will meet the needs of your own situation. When choosing an account, look at the services offered with each type, not at the benefits offered by opening one.

Savings Account
The main function of a savings account is to save money for the future. A savings account is basically a risk-free investment for your money. There are also different types of savings accounts, which offer a variety of interest rates. The interest rate usually depends on the amount of time money is kept in the account. Short term and long term accounts are two of the main types of account. Compound interest savings accounts are particularly desirable. With these, the interest from one financial term is added to the previous principal. This total is then used as the principal for the next term, so the amount increases exponentially.

Certificate of Deposit (CD)
A CD is a long-term bank account. This type of account offers higher interest rates then a normal savings account, but will change fees if funds are withdrawn before a set time. CDs can run from a number of months to years. The length of CD has a direct impact on how much interest is offered.

Safe Deposit
Safe deposit boxes are offered as a secure storage option at many bank locations. For a small fee, a variety of sizes are available to store items such as vital paperwork, family heirlooms, or other valuables. The boxes often are accessible during bank lobby hours.

Check Card
A check card is available to basically make life much easier. From ATMs to shopping, daily banking becomes much faster and more convenient with a check card. For shopping or gas station purposes, simply swipe the card at the checkout line. For ATMs, a personal identification number, or PIN, is required for the transaction.

Credit Card
A credit card functions much like a check card, except instead of withdrawing money from your account immediately, it allows one to pay off the expenses at a later date. If managed efficiently, a credit card can be a safe and secure way of handling money, and can help build one’s credit rating. One must be cautious to stay up to date on credit card payments however. If funds are allowed to accumulate and left on the card for long periods of time large interest rates may apply and end up costing you even more.

Youth
For teenagers that are looking to get into banking early, or for parents that want them to, many banks offer services that will help. A bank will work with parents to explain to the younger crowd how to read statements, how to make deposits and withdrawals, and how to balance an account. Gaining good financial habits early in life will help set up youth with knowledge and skills that will benefit them for their lifetime.

Online Banking
With Internet access available almost anywhere today, online banking is offered in order for people to bank on their own schedule. It can sometimes be hard to make it to the bank during business hours, so many services are offered online, including paying bills, reordering checks, viewing account balances, transferring money between accounts, and many others.

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Sterling State Bank in Minnesota provides personal and business banking solutions, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and certificates of deposit.

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