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Compare Financial Service Providers

The financial marketplace is very competitive. Once you’ve decided what kind of financial product or service you need, you’ll likely have to choose between different companies that provide it. When possible, talk to more than one provider and shop around until you find the one that best meets your needs. This could mean it’s the one closest to your home or workplace, the one that offers the lowest fees, or a combination of many different factors.

Getting answers to common questions about things like fees, services, and convenience from several companies can help you choose the best option for you.

What to do

  • Choose at least two companies to evaluate
  • Read through the list of questions and identify the ones most important to you
  • Make notes about how each company addresses these questions
  • Compare the companies and pick the one that best meets your needs

Topics and questions to ask

Accounts with debit cards
Accounts with debit cards
  Questions to ask

Fees and other costs

  • Are there monthly fees for the account? How much? Can they be waived?
  • Is there a fee for going below a minimum balance in the account?
  • Is there a fee for using checks? How much?
  • Is there a fee for making a deposit? How much?
  • Is there a fee for inactivity on the account? How much?
  • Will I earn interest on the account? What is the interest rate?

Services offered

  • Do they offer check cashing, money transfer, or bill payment services? How much does each cost?
  • Do they offer “second chance” or “lower risk” accounts that don’t offer overdraft services?
  • Are there convenient, free ATMs located near where I live, work, or shop?
  • Can I pay my bills and check account balances any time of day by phone, online, or with a mobile app? Is there a fee for this? How much?
  • If I get a checking account, will I also get a debit card?
  • Can I link my checking account to my savings account to avoid paying overdraft fees?
  • How often will I receive account statements? Can I choose between paper and electronic statements?
  • Do they offer additional services like notary services or safe deposit boxes? How much do they cost?

Security

  • Do I get my money back if someone steals my debit card information and uses it without my permission?
Credit cards
Credit cards
  Questions to ask

Fees and other costs

  • What are the fees associated with the card (annual fee, late fee, etc.)?
  • What is the APR, or annual percentage rate, on the card? Is it a promotional rate? If so, what will the new APR be after the promotion ends?
  • Are there fees to use the card in another country? How much?

Services offered

  • Are there limits on where I can use the card?
  • Can I check my balance any time of day by phone, online, or with a mobile app? Is there a fee for this? How much?
  • Can I choose my own due date for the bill?
Loans – including mortgages, personal loans and other loans
Loans
  Questions to ask

Fees and other costs

  • What are the fees associated with getting the loan?
  • What is the interest rate on the loan?

Services offered

  • How long will it take before I find out if I'm approved for the loan?
  • Can I choose my own due date for the loan payments?
  • Can I choose the length of the loan? How long do I have to repay the loan?
  • If I make all of the payments on time, will I still owe any money at the end of the loan?
Money transfer services
Money transfer services
  Questions to ask

Fees and other costs

  • How much are fees, taxes, or costs for exchanging currencies?
  • What is the total amount that the person I am sending money to will get?
  • What ways can I pay for the transfer?

Services offered

  • How convenient is it for the recipient to receive the funds?
  • How fast will money arrive?
Prepaid cards
Prepaid cards
  Questions to ask

Fees and other costs

  • Are there monthly fees for the account? How much? Can they be waived?
  • What are the ways I can add money to the card? Are there fees for each of those ways? How much?
  • Is there a fee for inactivity (or “dormancy”) on the account? How much? How often do I need to use my card to avoid the inactivity fee?
  • Are there any per-transaction fees on the account? Would a monthly account fee be cheaper than per transaction fees?

Services offered

  • Are there limits on where I can use the card?
  • Can I use the card at ATMs that are convenient for me? At what ATMs will I be charged a fee?
  • Are there limits on how much I can spend or withdraw in a day, or in one transaction?
  • Can I check my balance any time of day by phone, online, or with a mobile app? Is there a fee for this? How much?
  • Does the prepaid card have a savings wallet feature that would allow me to easily save some of my money for my goals? Is there a fee for this feature? How much?

Security

  • Will I get my money back if someone steals my prepaid card information and uses it without my permission?
Friendliness, convenience and access
Friendliness, convenience and access
  Questions to ask

Friendliness

  • Do they treat me with respect?
  • Are the people I've dealt with friendly to me?

Convenience

  • Do they have locations close to where I live, work or shop?
  • Is it open at convenient times for me (such as during lunch, after work, or on weekends)?

Access

  • Can I get information in my own language or in a form that's accessible to me?
  • Are there people to answer my questions in person, by phone, or via text, email, or online chat when I need them? Is there a fee for this? How much?

 

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