Choose a Bank?
From Rutgers GSA Wiki
When Choosing Your Bank...
- Consider features of the various accounts and services offered.
- Is there a special account for students?
- What is the minimum balance that should be maintained?
Be careful: you may start losing money from your account if your balance goes below a limit (overdraft), or if you do not make deposits or withdraws over a certain period of time. Is there overdraft protection?
- What kind of service is available online?
Online Banking enables you to access all your account information and use bank services via the Internet (e.g.: on-line bill pay: enables you to pay your bills using the Internet). Is there a fee for that service?
- Is there a 24-hour phone service?
- ATM and agency locations: some banks have more ATMs in specific states and cities than others.
- Is the bank a member of FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)?
- Your account is protected up to $100,000 dollars if so.
Ask about fees (a big source of nightmares)...
- For ATM service if you use one of your bank's machines?
- What is the debit card monthly fee?
- How many withdrawals will I be able to make at other bank.s ATM without incurring a fee?
- Is there a fee for visiting a teller, phone service, or online service?
- Is there a charge to use it?
- How often can I access that information without charges?
- How much do I have to pay for printed checks? How many checks can I write per month?
- Interest Rates (for loans and savings)
- Credit Card and Debit Card Policies
- Is there a charge for loan (money the bank lends you) applications?
- Can I rent a safe deposit box for free?
Main Banks Available in The Area
When you go to one of the local banks in downtown New Brunswick make sure you have your passport and other ID (e.g.: drivers license) with you. Banks with branches in downtown New Brunswick:
- Wachovia 120 Albany Street
- PNC Ferren Deck Mall, 1 Penn Plaza
- Bank of America 410 George St.
- Rutgers Federal Credit Union has branches on College Avenue and Busch Campuses
- Commerce - 70 Bayard Street
Remember to ask about their student accounts.
It's often a good idea to go to a bank with someone who has an account there already. Some banks give referred new clients $10 to $25 just because they came via an old account owner. Sometimes the refering account holder would get the monetary perk too!
In the modern internet age, you may opt for banking online solutions such as those provided by ING Direct. While these companies often offer substantially better interest rates (around 4-5%) than conventional banking, the cost is you lose instant access to your money. Funds can take 3-4 days to clear.
You may want to consider opening a checking account with a local bank and a savings account with one of these providers. Also with the modern internet age, be carefule to check reviews and that the online bank you are dealing with is completely legitimate.
Most internet banking sites these days will have secure sites that you will login to. Internet Explorer 7 also has an anti phishing filter that can be switched on which will prevent you from accessing unsecure and unknown banking sites. With phising being such a major threat in the world at the moment make sure that you know exactly which site you're logging into these days before giving your username and password out.
New digi tags have also been developed to assist clients in securing their internet banking. Digitags will assign you a randomly generated keycode that you will need to type into your online account before being able to access it. This random number expires ones used or after a certain amount of time has passed.
One of the main advantages of having a credit card in the United States is to help build a credit history (which has several benefits like getting a phone number or a student loan). Unlike in many countries, paying in cash and avoiding installments does not help improving credit history, but using credit cards does. A very common problem with credit cards is that people end up overspending. When applying for a card, look for the best combination of: (1) Annual Percentage Rates (APRs), (2) Annual Fees, (3) Repayment Period, (4) Credit Limit, (5) Interest rate on balance transfers, and (6) Rewards or Fringe benefits.
If you are an international student, it is likely that you do not have a previous credit history here, which paradoxically may prevent you from getting a credit card! However there are special credit cards for students, to help building a credit history, such as: (1) Student Platinum Card form Chase, (2) Citi Cash Card for students, (3) Discover Student Card, and (4) American Express Blue for Students. Here are some websites where you can apply for them: Credit Card Catalog, Student Credit, Credit Cards, Plastic Rewardsand CC Online Guide.