You have to make a lot of financial decisions in your life. With so many big decisions to make, you might give little thought to your checking account. That, though, can be a mistake. Bank checking accounts are rarely alike, so it's important to choose one that meshes with your spending habits and financial lifestyle.

Do you write dozens of checks each month? 

If you write many checks, you will want to open a checking account that allows you to write an unlimited number of checks each month. Some checking accounts even offer free checks. If you use checks to buy your groceries and pay all of your bills, you will want to avoid accounts designed for limited check writing.

Do you avoid writing checks and prefer electronic methods of payment? 

If you are a heavy user of online and mobile banking, debit cards, direct deposit and other means of electronic payment and account management, look for a checking account that provides the convenience you need and rewards you with lower fees for writing fewer checks. You will also want to consider the availability of other digital services, such as mobile deposit (the ability to deposit checks from your smartphone) and digital wallet (which allows you to add your debit card to your mobile device and use that for payment).

Are you a frequent user of ATMs?

If you travel a lot or are a college student living away from home, you may rely on ATMs to access cash. In that case, consider opening a checking account with a bank that has a large network of ATMs. This can help you avoid ATM fees. In addition, look for ATMs that will enable you to deposit cash or checks directly into the machine.

Do you prefer to receive other value-added checking benefits?

Consider extras that may come with an account that may be important to you. Could you benefit from a loan rate reduction if you make the payment from your checking account? Do you prefer to earn interest? Could you benefit from special offers at local businesses tied to your account usage?

When you are deciding on a checking account, take the time to determine what is important to you, look at account features and benefits and match them to your specific needs. Nowadays, most banks offer simple ways to compare their accounts right on their website.

What's the best checking account?

That depends on what account features fit your specific needs. Whatever your life stage – from student to senior – and whatever your financial goals, we have an account for you. You can even compare accounts and open one online.

This content is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice or indicate the suitability of any product or service for your unique circumstances. You are encouraged to consult with a qualified legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professional based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.