You may not have considered this before, but you have a relationship with your financial institution. And, like any relationship, you have to ensure you are maintaining this relationship with a partner that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Breaking up with your bank can be just as disruptive as severing other relationships, so when you find the right one you want to stick with it.

Consider what you want and need from the relationship. Do you enjoy being able to visit the local branch and speak with a person when you make transactions? Or, do you prefer a long distance relationship primarily through electronic communications? If you prefer live interaction, it’s important to find an institution that has branches not only where you currently live, but also where you’re likely to be when you PCS or transition back to civilian life. If you prefer electronic interaction, you’ll need an institution that has an extensive suite of online services and a very secure interface. If you aren’t getting what you need from your financial institution, maybe it’s time to find one that better meets your requirements.

Compare features. Military members travel frequently. Does your bank offer free ATM transactions or reimburse you for transactions at other bank ATMs? With military direct deposit you should never have to pay a monthly fee for your checking account. It does pay to shop around. Consider the full suite of products and services offered by the institution and then determine the best fit.

Finally, remember that banking is a relationship. You build trust in a relationship over time. While you may only need a checking account with your bank today, in the future you may need to borrow money. An institution with whom you have an established relationship may be more likely to extend credit at more favorable terms than an institution with whom you don’t have a relationship.

Still searching for more in-depth assistance with your personal finances?  Contact your installation’s Personal Financial Management staff.