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How to Choose a Checking Account

Looking for a new checking account? Here's what to look for in a new checking account and how to choose the best checking account for you.

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Finding the right financial solutions is an important part of your money management. From loans to everyday saving and spending, it can be difficult to know where to start. And if you’re one of nearly 6 million Americans who are currently “unbanked”, or don’t currently have a savings or checking account, the challenge can feel even greater.

Whether you’re simply looking to switch to a new account option with better benefits, or you’re learning how to open a checking account for the very first time, we’re sharing everything you need to know about finding the best checking accounts for your situation.

What Type of Checking Account Do You Need?

Before you start comparing different checking accounts, there are a few important questions you need to ask yourself. The first place to start is deciding what you value most in a checking account. Do you need something that matches your particular stage of life if you’re a teen or a senior? You should also consider if you need special accommodations due to bad credit, especially if you’ve had trouble opening a checking account in the past.
Are extra perks a must-have for you, or are you happy with a basic checking account? You should also think about whether annual or account minimum fees are a dealbreaker.
Once you have an idea of what matters most to you right now, you can start looking at your different options.

Standard Checking Account

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the banking world and you’re ready to open your first account, a basic checking account like FNBT’s Standard Checking Account is the perfect choice.
This type of account is low cost and has basic benefits—you’ll only need to deposit $25 to open the account and there’s no monthly fee if you opt into electronic statements.
While this isn’t a youth-only checking account, this is one of the best options for teens who want to start managing their own money. The debit card that comes with the account makes it easy to make purchases or enjoy time out with friends. Parents can also use this account to help their teen or younger child learn how to save and budget effectively, an essential skill as they transition to college and their adult years.

Second Chance Checking

When you’re trying to move past a bad credit history, there can be significant financial roadblocks in your way. But “second chance” or Renew Checking accounts are specifically designed to help you turn your money situation around.
Like most basic checking accounts, the Renew has a $25 minimum deposit requirement to open the account, but there’s no monthly minimum balance to worry about, and low, or no monthly service fees if you sign up for online statements.
Most banks like FNBT will also upgrade you to either a Standard or one checking account after a year of your Renew Checking being in good standing.

Rewards Checking

As people look for more benefits that come with their checking accounts, rewards accounts are becoming more popular. Typically, these checking accounts will offer rewards like cash back or interest on your balance.
While most banks offer this type of account as a standalone option, FNBT allows all checking account customers to earn rewards simply by using a debit card with any checking account option, except the Renew account.
As soon as you open a new checking account, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the rewards program and can start earning points as soon as you use your new debit card. You’ll be able to login to your account to check your points balance at any time and redeem them for perks like gift cards at your favorite retailers and restaurants.

Checking With Benefits

Privilege Plus Checking

For high-wealth individuals or people looking for additional benefits from their checking account, the Privilege Plus is a great choice. It’s ideal for anyone who carries a higher balance in their accounts.
With a minimum $10,000 balance requirement across all FNBT deposit accounts, this is also a good option if you have multiple accounts with FNBT or plan to open additional ones in the future. Due to the higher balance needed, account holders can enjoy a large number of exclusive benefits as a result. The Privilege Plus earns interest on your current balance, with overdraft protection available, free cashier’s checks and money orders, along with health savings discounts.
There’s also discounts available on FNBT residential mortgage loan closing costs, along with consumer loan discounts when automatic loan payments are made from your Privilege Plus account. On the deposit side, customers can enjoy periodic bonuses on certificate of deposit (CD) rates.

One Checking

If you want a checking account that comes with a range of benefits, but don’t meet the $10,000 balance requirements for the Privilege Plus, the one checking account is an excellent alternative to consider.
This account features many of the same benefits as the Privilege Plus, like:
  • Interest earnings on your balance
  • A rewards debit card
  • Free online banking and bill pay
  • Free mobile banking and app support
  • Consumer loan discounts
  • Discounts on FNBT residential mortgage loan closing costs
Like FNBT’s other checking accounts, the minimum opening deposit is $25 and there’s no minimum balance requirement month-to-month. There is a small monthly fee for this account, but the perks are hard to beat.

BaZing Benefits

Both the Privilege Plus and one checking accounts are eligible for FNBT’s BaZing Benefits. In exchange for a small monthly maintenance fee on your account, you’ll enjoy a number of extra benefits including:
  • ID Theft Aid1,2 & ID monitoring3
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Cell phone protection1,2 if your device is lost or stolen
  • $10,000 travel accidental death coverage2
  • A health savings card with pharmacy, vision and hearing discounts
  • Grocery coupons
  • Shopping and dining discounts at local merchants

What Benefits Do You Get with All Checking Accounts?

With every FNBT checking account, you’ll have access to online and mobile banking, including online bill pay and eStatements.
If you choose to use a debit Mastercard® with your account, you can also enjoy contactless debit card payments with merchants across the country and mobile wallet features for digital payment.

What is Required When Opening a Checking Account?

To open a checking account with any financial institution you’ll need to have:
  • Your social security number - this is used to verify your identity and obtain credit history for processing your application
  • A government issued ID like a passport or driving license
  • A valid email address - you’ll use this to login to your online banking
We’ll need to verify your identity whenever you start a new application, but you can apply online and in a short time have your new checking account open.

Questions About Finding The Best Checking Account For You?

If you’re still not sure which checking account is the right option for you, or you’d prefer to speak with an FNBT representative, visit us in-branch at one of our 16 full-service locations throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. You can also contact us online or call 1-800-667-4401.
1 Cell phone protection and personal identity theft benefits are subject to additional terms and conditions.
3 Identity Monitoring requires additional enrollment on