Every pay period, your paycheck is automatically deposited in your bank. Every pay day, you check online to make sure it’s there, then use the money to pay bills, go shopping or, perhaps, enjoy a night out on the town.
You rarely even go into your bank except for the rare occasions when you need cash, and there’s no ATM nearby.
You may be losing out on free services at your community bank.
Are you taking advantage of all the services your bank offers?
Here are 10 services you may not realize your bank offers:
- Advice. Probably the most important service your local bank offers is free advice. Need help budgeting? Your community bank either has a blog on their website or a brochure about it or you can walk in and ask for a bank officer’s advice. Bank financial officers are experts in small business loans, mortgages, savings, and more. Why not take advantage of it?
- Notary Public. If you are selling your car, you can get the title notarized so all the buyer needs do is present it at your county title department. If you need to send government documents, your bank’s notary will notarize your documents, usually for free. Most other notaries charge close to $5 per signature. You may not realize the value of your bank’s notary until you really need those services.
- Saving. Your local bank offers many ways to save—IRAs, savings accounts, and Certificates of Deposit. Bank officers can advise you on which is best for your particular circumstances, but here are some rules of thumb:
- Savings account advantages are that you receive interest, and you can transfer funds into checking easily online, depending on which type of savings you have.
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are low-risk accounts for your cash if you don’t plan to spend it soon. Most banks offer terms as low as 6 months. CDs earn greater interest rates than your savings. Shop for the highest Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and Annual Percentage Yield (APY).
- IRAs help you save money for retirement, your kid’s college, or a new home. You open the account yourself and specify which investments you want. Two basic types of IRA are traditional and Roth: Traditional IRAs are charged tax on withdrawals, while Roth IRA deposits are taxed, so withdrawals are not.
- 401K retirement savings are usually offered through your employer unless you are self-employed. If you work for yourself, consult with a bank officer to set up your own 401K.
- Payroll Deductions. Money is already deducted from your paycheck for taxes, but you can also deposit part of your paycheck into savings. When you fill out the direct deposit form at work, you should be able to specify that a percentage or specific amount from each paycheck be deposited into your savings account.
- Mortgage Loans. Many community banks have online loan applications to make your life simpler.
- Commercial and Agricultural Loans. Not only is your community bank more likely to qualify you for a commercial or farm loan, rates are likely to be lower than at other institutions.
- Credit Card. Check out your bank’s rates on credit cards. Credit card rates may be lower at your community bank than larger institutions, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- Debit Card. You usually receive a free debit card with your checking account, eliminating the need for bulky checkbooks and cash and offering the option of checking your spending online at any time.
- Free credit report. Bank officers can give you advice on how to get a free annual credit report. Ask how.
- Safe Deposit Box. Use a safe deposit box for expensive jewelry, rare coins, and important documents, because it keeps them safe from criminals and natural disasters.
Need advice? Stop by Mercer Savings for financial information and advice. We’ve been advising customers for more than 125 years.