(Money Noob is a series of posts targeted at those of you who recently graduated from college and have little to no clue how to properly take care of your money. Yes, I’m looking at you. Don’t be shy)
If you are reading this, chances are you are using a checking account from Bank of America/Chase/Wells Fargo/TD Bank etc. And in the last 12 months, I bet there’s at least one time when you want to withdraw money and couldn’t find an ATM of your chosen bank. There are four ways to deal with that:
- Suck it up and pay the ATM fee. If that doesn’t make you wince then this blog is probably not for you. #2rich4me
- Withdraw a lot of money from your chosen bank’s ATM beforehand so it will last you a while. This is pretty dangerous for obvious reasons
- Get checking accounts from as many banks as you can and carry half a dozen debit cards. Too much trouble to be worth it.
- Get a Charles Schwab checking account. This is THE answer.
Here are the reasons why Charles Schwab has the best Checking Account
- Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement. That means go take out money from any ATM you want (even the sketchy ones embedded into the concrete walls outside your local biker bar)
- No foreign withdrawal fees. Chances are your checking account charges you 1-3% forex fee if you try to use it to withdraw money while traveling. That’s in addition to any ATM fees. Charles Schwab doesn’t charge you any of that.
- No minimum deposit requirements, no monthly fee. So that means you can use this exclusively as our travel debit card if you want, only load money in there if you are going abroad. But why limit yourself? This card is so good domestically too.
- Free checks. Noice.
But nothing is perfect, so here are the drawbacks of the Schwab checking account:
- No physical branches. That means if you want to deposit checks, you gotta use the app. If you want to deposit cash, you gotta mail it in (terrible idea). If you really need teller service, you could keep your old account and open up a Schwab one to supplement it.
- Charles Scwab automatically opens up a brokerage account when you sign up for a checking account. They are hoping you would be tempted to move money in there and give them business, but if you have no interest just leave the brokerage account alone like I did. Minor drawback.
Having a good checking account is only a half of the equation though, since a good Savings Account is important too. My criteria for picking a savings account is the interest rate and the ease of use of their website, and I’ve been preeeeetty satisfied with Ally bank. Their interest rate is 1% which is on the high end (way higher than whatever you’re using probably), and their website is great. If you have an Ally checking account, the transfer of money between them is instantaneous which is fantastic. This way, you can access your savings account extremely quickly in dire situations (zombie apocalypse anyone?). The downside of the Ally checking account compared to the Charles Schwab is that it has a maximum ATM fee refund of only $10 a month when out of network, so that’s around 3 ATM withdrawals. It also charges foreign conversion fee so never use it abroad unless it’s an emergency. That is why Charles Schwab should be your main card, and ally is your backup for rainy day access to your savings account.
TL;DR Get a Charles Schwab checking account, an Ally Savings account, and maybe an Ally Checking account too.
Disclaimer: I made $0 from writing this post. No referral bonuses, no cash moniez, nada.