11 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Bank

When choosing a bank for yourself or for your business, finding the right long-term fit is likely to depend on a range of finance-related factors — and at least a few personal preferences. But with a bit of research, a dash of know-how on how to pick a bank and a touch of trusting your gut, you can find a financial institution that meets all of your banking needs and checks all the boxes for what you favor in a financial services provider.

Looking for a little guidance on how to choose a bank? Consider these 11 leading factors to consider when picking the perfect bank for you:

  1. Account offerings — One of the most important things you should consider when choosing a bank is your financial needs and goals. While most banking customers are simply seeking checking accounts and/or savings accounts, other consumers may be in need of personal loans, mortgage solutions or other personal banking services. And for those who own a business, business banking solutions such as a business checking account or a business loan may be required. Whatever your banking needs, make sure that the financial institution you’re considering offers the account type(s) and other financial services required to meet them.
  2. Convenience — While various common banking transactions can be conducted remotely/digitally in the modern era of banking, there are still occasions when you may need to visit your bank or one of its ATMs in person. So to add convenience on these occasions, look for a bank with branches and/or ATMs in locations near where you live and work, as well as in areas that you may visit frequently.
  3. Customer service — Especially when it comes to your money, being able to get fast, helpful and responsive customer service is crucial. So you’ll want to ensure that any bank you’re considering offers several ways to get assistance when you need it, including in person and via the phone, email and online chat — especially if one or more of these is a fit with your banking-communication preferences.
  4. Reasonable fees — Many banks charge fees for certain services, with common items on the list including overdraft fees, charges for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, wire transfer fees and account maintenance fees. It’s a good idea to investigate, understand and be comfortable with any of these fees your bank of choice may charge, especially for any fees related to services that you expect to use frequently.
  5. Security measures — Of course, it’s important for your money and your personal information to be well protected. So you’ll want to choose a bank that puts a heavy focus on implementing and maintaining the latest, most powerful security measures. Look for financial institutions that use state-of-the-art protective technologies such as encryption and multi-factor authentication to keep your assets and personal information safe.
  6. Online and mobile banking options — Today’s banking consumers have grown accustomed to having their account details, as well as a range of everyday banking services, available at their fingertips via online and mobile banking. With access to these modern-day capabilities, banking customers can quickly and easily perform tasks such as depositing checks, transferring funds, paying bills and managing their accounts — all with just a few swipes and clicks of their smartphones, tablets and computers. Especially if these capabilities are important to you, look for a bank that offers a robust and easy-to-use set of online and mobile banking tools, as well as a dedicated smartphone app for banking.
  7. Attractive interest rates — For those who’d like to see the savings they set aside grow, choosing a bank that offers competitive interest rates on its savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit and other interest-bearing savings offerings will help their funds grow faster. Before choosing a bank, especially for a savings-focused account or financial product, be sure to check to see what interest rates your leading candidates are offering. Even a small difference in the interest your savings are accumulating could add up to substantial growth of your funds over time.
  8. Financial stability — The financial health of the bank you choose can have a significant impact on the safety of the money held there. When narrowing down your candidates, look for a bank that has a strong record of stability and is well capitalized. Bank ratings offered by independent agencies such as S&P Global and Moody’s can help you make this evaluation.
  9. Value adds — To help their customers make wise decisions with their money, many banks offer added services that go beyond traditional banking, such as insurance, financial planning, and trust and wealth management. If you might be interested in procuring any of these services from your bank, look for candidates that offer the ones you’re interested in, and compare their options and rates to help you determine the best fit.
  10. A good reputation — Maybe more than with any other enterprise you’re considering doing business with, it’s important to choose a bank with a good reputation of serving its customers well. Look for banks that have been in business for a long time and that have a history of satisfied account holders. It may also be helpful to read online reviews and ask your friends and family members if they have any recommendations for a bank with which they have been pleased.
  11. That fitting feeling — In addition to seeking out all the characteristics outlined above, you should find a bank that simply feels like a fit for you. From the friendliness of the bank’s personnel to the bank’s community involvement, the causes it supports, its social-responsibility efforts and any other factors that may be important to you, seek out a banking partner that aligns with your preferences and beliefs.


Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.

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Man doing his banking online

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.