Ask an Expert: Alma Bank on New York Checking Accounts and Savings Accounts
With so many fees and charges from national banking institutions weighing down on depositors’ finances, researching the best New York checking accounts and New York savings accounts can be your best bet for higher yields and more money in your pocket.
Alma Bank, a community bank serving the city of New York, shares their expert thoughts on how local checking and accounts can help your customers’ bottom line.
New York Banking Rates: Why should a person in New York choose New York checking accounts over one from a national institution?
Alma Bank: At Alma Bank we offer the highest level of service to our customers. We are committed to building relationships and helping individuals and businesses succeed. Having a personal relationship with a local bank can also help resolve money issues and allow customers to plan for the future, far outweighing the benefits of a national bank. Also, another important feature at Alma Bank is having the convenience of check cashing services and change redemption.
NYBR: What should a checking customer consider before choosing a local checking account?
AB: For a customer, quick and easy access to their money is always a big concern when it comes to choosing a local financial institution. There are many banking options to look into. At Alma Bank, we offer a wide range of New York checking accounts for every customer’s needs. We have convenient banking services, which include 24/7 telephone banking, internet banking, bill payment services, electronic statements, debit cards and credit cards. Checking customers will have access to hassle-free services and the features and benefits that come with each account.
NYBR: What advice do you have if a person in New York wants to switch checking accounts, but is concerned about the hassle of transferring direct deposits and automatic payments?
AB: We understand that transferring your checking account can sometimes be a tedious process, but at Alma Bank we make this process as efficient and less time consuming as possible. We encourage customers to take advantage of direct deposit and automatic payment systems, which have become more user-friendly. Our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives help walk customers through the process. This is part of our commitment to the highest level of service.
NYBR: New York checking accounts aren’t investments, so what are the benefits of a high-yield checking account as compared to one that doesn’t earn interest?
AB: Some customers may prefer the option to earn interest on an Alma Bank checking account — especially a high-yield account. At Alma Bank, our interest bearing checking account “Premier Plus Checking” pays a variable and competitive rate of interest with unlimited check writing privileges. There are no monthly fees by simply maintaining a minimum monthly balance of $1,000.00 in this account. When a customer meets certain criteria, a high-yield checking account is an excellent investment that is risk free. Detailed information on fees and restrictions are available upon request by calling our Customer Service representatives at (718) 267-ALMA (2562). We also ask that customers stop by any of our 10 branch locations during normal business hours.
NYBR: Do you offer any online or mobile checking services?
AB: Yes, Alma Bank offers access to your Alma Bank accounts no matter where you are. With online banking, customers can bank anytime and anywhere there is internet access. Using online banking, depositors can access their Alma Bank checking, savings and loan accounts and it’s all FREE.
Alma Online Banking can simplify your life and save you time by:
• Linking all your Alma Bank accounts and letting you enjoy 24/7 access
• Transferring funds quickly and easily. Make transfers between accounts and even transfer funds from your checking account to make payments to your Alma Bank loans.
• Quickly and easily paying bills online with online bill payment
• Getting statements online with e-statements to reduce clutter. Receive and view your checking, savings and money market account statements — all neatly organized in online banking.
• Viewing the front and back of your processed checks online. There is no need to wait for monthly statements or shuffle through messy stacks to find a processed check when you need it.
• Contacting us securely by e-mail
NYBR: How do checking rates in New York compare to the rest of the country?
AB: Alma Bank’s interest-bearing New York checking accounts are competitive with national rates. We advise customers to do their research and compare deposit rates to suit their individual needs. We are always willing to listen and offer the best possible banking options.
NYBR: Is it more important for New York residents to save money or pay off debts first?
AB: Alma Bank will work with its customers to determine if prioritizing debt payments is better than building up a savings fund. There is no one set rule on this and it is entirely based on personal circumstances. Sometimes we gain more by getting rid of debt than by starting to save. Focusing our efforts on paying off high-interest debt is a way to gain more control over finances and put an end to debt worries. For people with no savings, however, it might be best to build up an emergency cash fund before going after their debt.
NYBR: Is the interest rate the most important feature of New York savings accounts?
AB: A competitive interest rate is important for customers, but there seems to be a misconception and overvalue on interest rates. A higher interest does not necessarily make one bank better than another bank because of a 0.50% APY difference. At Alma Bank, we believe our excellent level of customer service and our array of personal and business banking services is worth much more. For example, for savings options, we offer Personal Money Market , Personal Savings and Premier Personal Savings accounts.
NYBR: For a customer who is new to saving money, what are some tips for getting them started?
AB: Alma Bank is here to help with the highest level of service and convenience. We provide flexible accounts and services that make banking faster and easier. Whether you are just starting out, nearing retirement or somewhere in between, our brand of personal banking gives you a little more time for yourself. We help individuals create the right financial strategy every step of the way.
Saving money can be a challenge especially in these tough economic times. It takes discipline and financial savvy to keep money in the bank, but with the right savings plan in place, you can achieve your financial goals and save money for a “rainy day.” We suggest looking into New York savings accounts or certificates of deposit where money will have the chance to earn interest over time. Direct deposit is also a good option since you are less likely to spend money if funds are automatically deposited into your savings account.