While stashing money in a piggy bank may work for children, a personal safe or hiding place might not be the best place for an adult to store hard-earned cash. Bank accounts are insured by the federal government to up to $250,000 per depositor, making them one of the safest places to keep your money. It generally doesn't cost anything to open a bank account, though you may have to meet deposit requirements and pay fees to keep one open.
Generally, there is no cost to open a bank account other than the required minimum deposit. There may be, however, fees to maintain the account after it has been established.
Banks usually don't charge customers to open accounts for a simple reason: they want clients to deposit cash so they can use it to make loans. Charging people would make it harder to attract the money they need to operate, which is counterproductive to a bank's desired bottom line. However, banking institutions will typically require a minimum deposit in order for you to open an account with them. For instance, a bank might require you to put at least $100 into a new account. Those requirements help ensure banks don't waste time and resources dealing with very small accounts. But, you often are given time to come up with the deposit, and this varies by bank.
While it doesn't cost anything to open an account, a bank can charge fees once you've done so. Some charge maintenance or account fees which are monthly costs you have to pay for having an account. Savings accounts often don't have maintenance fees, though many banks have maintenance charges for checking accounts. Some banks let you avoid monthly fees if you meet certain requirements, such as keeping your balance above a minimum level, or utilizing direct deposit.
Banks may use a variety of fees above and beyond normal maintenance fees. These may include extra costs for canceling an account too soon after opening it and for receiving paper statements instead of opting to have them delivered via email. It's important to read the terms and conditions carefully to understand the fees that apply to your account. Always ask if you're not sure.
Banks usually pay interest on the cash you put into an account, which allows your balance to grow over time, even if you don't make more deposits. For instance, if you put $1,000 in an account with a 3 percent annual interest rate, you'll receive $30 in interest over the first year just for letting your cash sit in the account, which can help cover the cost of any fees.
Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.