Choosing a salary account bank is one of the most important and sometimes difficult decision most new employees could probably face. It can be a bit tricky as all banks will promise to deliver excellent services. My question is:
What are the key factors one should consider when opening salary account with a bank?
In no particular order, here are 10 points you should consider.
1. Location and Hours – How close is the bank to your office, house or any other public place you frequently visit? Sometimes, you may be required to visit account branch to update your information, collect new ATM card, pick cheque book etc. If the bank’s branches are very far from your common visiting place, it will cost you more to see them. The opening hours of the bank should also be considered.
2. Information Security and Confidentiality – The biggest challenges any one can face with banks is the information security. Banks have lots of information about their customers. Imagine the information they usually request when you want to open an account. For example date of birth, tax number, address, employer, copy of valid ID card, sources of income, nationality etc. You want these information to be protected and avoid identify theft issues. Your salary account bank may also give you an access to their online platforms such as internet banking, online payments and cards, of course with many disclaimers on their forms. You have to be confidence about the bank and its security platforms before you sign up.
3. Asset Protection – Possibly the number one thing you need to know about your deposit in any bank is the protection. The basic and clear way of asset protection is the deposit insurance. In many countries, deposit taking financial institution are required to buy insurance for deposits on their balance sheet. For example Nigeria’s NDIC protect depositors and guarantee payment of insured funds in the event of failure of an insured bank. Other indirect ways to check asset protection include credit rating, customers’ perceived value, governance (closed or publicly listed bank; family managed bank etc.)
4. Competitive Interest Rates – Assuming you plan to open a savings account in addition to your salary account, it is important you also checked the bank’s saving account interest rate before opening the salary account. In most cases, highly rated and corporate banks usually offers low interest rate compared to the new comers or small banks who are looking for more deposit.
5. Investment Products – Your accumulated funds in a savings account can be invested for a better return or to match the saving objective. The potential salary account bank should be able to help you invest the funds with a competitive return and less hassle. The investment products should not be limited to the bank’s own investment products alone but access to other markets such as treasury bills and bond market. It can also include the mutual funds or list equity market where applicable.
6. Low Service Charges – My dear, banking service is never free, however some banks charge more fees than the others. So ask your potential salary account bank about the list of possible charges that could be levied on the type of account you plan to operate. For example monthly account service charges such as commission on turnover is charged on current account withdrawals. Other charges may include: ATM, internet banking, local and international bank transfers.
7. Availability of ATMs – I guess some readers may think that all the banks have ATM. Hey, some banks still do not have ATM card or machine. Automated Teller Machine (ATM) allows you to withdraw funds from your account using plastic card with a secret code. ATM cards like Visa, Master card can even be used within and outside the country of issuance. Today, ATM machines perform much more functions than ever before such as utility bill settlement, purchase of phone credit or internet data.
8. Online Services – The use of internet banking and online payment platforms have increased over the past decade. The concept of real time settlement or even the digital world cannot be completed without the involvement of financial institutions. Within an online banking access, you can perform many activities such as transfer funds, buy tickets, pay all sort of bills and even receive funds from others.
9. Easy Borrowings – In case of an emergency, can this potential salary account bank help you a salary advance? I am not suggesting that you should make consumer debt as your key factor to choose a salary account bank but rather a more value adding borrowing such as mortgage loan or student loan. Some of these banks charges many fees with higher interest rate on their loans. The other challenge could be the list of requirements or the turnaround time on loan.
10. Alternative Service Channels – Call center, mobile applications on Andriod or Appstore can be very convenience. Example when you lost your ATM card or cheque book, most banks accepts call centers to block the account at your request. Some of these activities can also be done via mobile applications,
These are the ten list I gathered , what are the factors you would consider when choosing your salary account bank? Drop your view in the comment box.