How to Choose the Best Bank Accounts for Seniors

Elderly woman writing in a checkbook

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Whether you’re looking for a new checking account for yourself or a loved one, checking accounts for seniors are sometimes different than other accounts. However, just because it’s labeled as a “senior” account doesn’t mean that it’s the better option. Sometimes a bank’s regular offering is a better deal.

Why Get a Bank Special Account?

Because some banks offer special perks and pricing for seniors—often defined as people 55 and over. Banks live and die in the senior age group. In fact, three out of every five depositors was born before 1964. That’s 70 percent of bank balances. Every bank is highly motivated to load their books with senior customers. Look at some of the perks offered by well-known banks:

  • US Bank: If you’re over the age of 65 the monthly fee is waived. You also get free personal checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks.
  •  TD Bank: The 60 plus checking account offers free money orders, and cashier’s checks and the $10 fee is waived with a minimum daily balance of $250.
  • BB&T: If you’re 55 or older, you also get free personal checks, and your $10 fee is waived if your monthly average is more than $1,000 or you have more than $500 in direct deposits.

Other banks and credit unions offer perks, too. Wherever you decide to shop for a new account, don’t forget to ask about any senior discounts.

What Should I Look For?

Assessing your needs isn’t much different than when you were younger, but you might have different answers for some of the questions.

  • Are you looking for a bank with physical branches?
  • Are there branches close to you?
  • Are you a snowbird looking for a national bank vs. a regional?
  • Do you write a lot of checks?
  • Is a high interest rate on deposit accounts important to you?
  • What’s the fee structure?
  • If you use ATMs a lot, what is that fee structure?
  • Is their online portal easy to navigate and understand?
  • How does the bank compare to a local credit union?

Is a Senior Checking Account Really the Best Option?

Just because a bank account is marketed as ideal for seniors doesn’t mean that it’s a better deal. For example, you might find a senior checking account offered with a $10 maintenance fee when their fee on other accounts is only $5.

In other instances, you might find that a checking account of any sort doesn’t make sense. If you have to keep $1,500 in the account to qualify for a dividend, you might be better off keeping the money in a savings account or in a Certificate of Deposit where interest is paid regardless of the balance.

Also, look at which fees are waived and if that is a perk for you. If you don’t send cashier’s checks or money orders, the perk of getting those for free isn’t a perk for you.

Other Bank Accounts to Consider

Even if an account isn't labeled as “senior” or “retiree” doesn’t mean it’s not a good fit for that age group. Here are a few of the best as of late 2018:

Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking: No opening balance, no monthly fees, and an interest rate of 0.15 percent. No account is going to pay you much in interest, but the $0 fees and opening deposit amount is the best we’ve found in this category.

M&T Bank Classic Checking with Interest: You only need $500 to avoid the $4.95 monthly fee and $25 to open the account. At 0.01 percent interest, that’s not going to do much for your balance, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

E*TRADE Bank: If you’re looking for a savings account, for just a $100 minimum balance, you can earn a 1.9 percent interest rate.

Watch out for Bonuses

Keeping with the theme that sometimes the best checking accounts for seniors aren’t labeled as such, watch for signup bonuses. Chase bank offers up to a $300 bonus. Same with TD Bank, KeyBank, and SunTrust Bank. HSBC Bank offers up to $750. The more you deposit, the higher your bonus. For example, to get that $750 HSBC bonus, you need to deposit at least $100,000. These bonuses change rapidly so check the websites as part of your research.