Basics of Banking

Tips to Bank with Confidence

Which bank is right for you?

Location is one of the most important aspects of joining a bank. Do you want a bank that is walking distance or one that you can drive to? When thinking about what bank is right for you, it is important to keep in mind the location of the bank and its' ATMs, what kind of account you are looking to open, and what services will be offered to you. Pictured above is a screenshot of CEO's Oakland location in Google Maps with a variety of banks situated around it. Additionally, you can search credit unions in Google Maps on your mobile device or on a computer to find those that are in your area.

Opening a Checking Account

Explore a bank's webpage and navigate to checking account options or set up an appointment with a bank teller

Explore Account Options

Most banks have a variety of checking account options to choose from

Fees and Requirements

Pay attention to the monthly fees and account requirements

Schedule an Appointment

If you have questions, schedule an in-person appointment either online or on the phone

Opening a Savings Account

In order to open a savings account, you are going to want to choose a reputable bank, as most banks offer a savings account option. Once you have chosen a bank, you will want to choose a savings account option that is right for you. If you have questions regarding the specifics of the account, be sure to call the bank to obtain more information. You will need a few things to open a savings account: full name, social security number, birth date, street address, and transfer of funds information (if applicable). Often times, the bank will require you to maintain a minimum balance in the account or will ask for an initial deposit. It is important to abide by the minimum deposit or you may be charged additional fees.

Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them

overdraft fees

How do I avoid this fee?

  • Check your balance regularly

  • Install the Mobile Banking app on your smartphone and turn on low balance alerts (via text)

  • Having Overdraft protection can link your the overdrafted account to other accounts to cover the overdraft fee (and the fee will often times be lower)

What are Overdraft Fees?

  • Fees that occur when you withdraw more money than you have in your account

  • Range in the $30-40 range

  • Your account balance will dip into the negatives

minimum balance fees

How do I avoid this fee?

What are Minimum Balance Fees?

  • If you have a checking or savings account, many banks will charge you a fee for having an open checking or savings account

  • Charges range between $5 and $25 per month

  • If you keep the minimum balance required in the account, most banks will waive the monthly fee

  • Continually check your balance online to ensure you will not go below the minimum

  • Install low balance alerts via text on the mobile banking app

ATM Fees

How do I avoid this fee?

What are ATM Fees?

  • Search your bank on Google Maps to find out where your closest ATM is

  • If you are near your bank’s ATM, it may be a good idea to withdraw a large amount of cash to avoid continually withdrawing from other ATM providers

  • These are fees that occur when you withdraw money from your account at ATM’s that are not your home bank (for example, using a Bank of America debit card at a corner store ATM)

  • You can be charged both a fee from your bank and a fee from the ATM provider

  • Fees can range from $2 to $8


What is ChexSystems

ChexSystems is a verification service used to determine whether your application for a bank account is denied. A ChexSystems Report, (also known as a Consumer Disclosure Report), contains information regarding the misuse and fraudulent account activities. It contains a listing of your past overdrafts, any accounts banks have closed on your behalf, and more. The information contained in the report may or may not directly impact your credit score.

Addressing your ChexSystems Report

  1. Request a free copy of your report via telephone or online


    2. 1-800-428-9623

  2. Check your report for accuracy

  3. Dispute or settle

    1. Reach out to the original creditor, and pay owed amount

    2. Once paid, request the original creditor remove the item from your report

Making sure your name is not in ChexSystems is a key factor in building your credit.

tips for using a debit card

WHy a Debit Card?

Now that you have a debit card, it is important that you know how to use the card. The card is tied directly to a checking account, so unlike a credit card, you are paying for the transaction right away and money is taken out of your account. If you are concerned with accumulating debt on a credit card, a debit card is a good option.

Account Balance

You need to know your account balance and how much available money you have (to avoid overdraft fees). You can check your balance online or by going to your bank’s ATM and checking the balance. (*NOTE: if you are checking your balance on your Skylight Card, make sure to do it online. If you check it at an ATM, it will charge you a fee for checking your balance).

Transaction History

Keep track of transactions that you make. You should check your transaction history weekly to ensure that you don’t have any phony activity on your card.

4 digit pin

You should never give out your PIN code to anyone. When creating a PIN for your debit card, avoid using numbers like your birthday or address. Choose something that you will remember, but that wouldn’t be relatively obvious.

Spending and Withdrawing Limits

Many banking institutions have limits on debit cards, which could include spending or withdrawing. If you are unsure what those might be/if they apply to you, it is a good idea to call your bank. Sometimes banks will lock your card and cause it to decline if you have exceeded your withdrawal or spending limit.


When you encounter fraudulent activity on your card, you should let your bank know immediately. They will refund all transactions that you did not make. Federal law requires financial institutions to refund all losses within 10 business days of notification. You also have a right to dispute purchases if you see them on your transaction history. The bank will often reimburse you for the dispute.

Your checking account

Enroll in Online and Mobile Banking

Why should I enroll in mobile and online banking?

How do I sign up for online and mobile banking?

You gain access to a variety of services including:

  • Transaction history

  • Balance check

  • Security and Fraud alerts

  • Locking cards if lost/stolen

  • Depositing checks online

    • Go to your bank’s website and search for online/mobile banking

    • You will need to create a username and password online to sign up

    • Sign up online and then download your mobile banking app on your smartphone

Sign Up for Direct Deposit

What is Direct Deposit?

How do I sign up for Direct Deposit?

  • Direct Deposit allows you to receive paychecks from your employer straight to your bank account - this avoids any paper check issues, which can be lost or stolen

  • You will need two items to sign up for direct deposit, your account number and routing number - these can be found on your mobile banking app or online

  • Once you have located both of these numbers, you can use your bank's direct deposit form or this generic form to fill out the information for your employer (only if they have not given you a form to fill out)

  • The generic form is located here:

Automatic Transfers and Payments

What are Automatic Transfers and how can I sign up?

What are Automatic Payments and how can I sign up?

  • Automatic Transfers allow you to transfer money automatically at a certain date each month from your checking to savings account

  • You can set up this feature to deposit a certain amount depending on how much money you have in your checking account - for more information, go online or call your bank

  • Automatic Payments can help you pay bills on a recurring schedule so that you don’t have to worry about paying them every month

  • To sign up for this feature, you should search automatic payments on your bank’s website or call your bank to find out more information

Setting Up Alerts

What kinds of alerts are available for my checking account?

How do I sign up for alerts?

  • Alerts that are available to you include (which can all be sent to your phone):

    • Low balance alerts - every time your money drops below a certain amount

    • Mobile deposit alerts - every time you deposit checks on your phone

    • Fraudulent Activity - every time suspicious activity occurs on your account

    • Purchase Alerts - every time you make a purchase

    • Overdraft Alerts - every time you overdraft your account (you should do this even if you have overdraft protection)

  • Log in online on your bank’s website to your account

  • Search ‘alerts’ or ‘sign up for alerts’

  • From there, you should be able to enter your mobile number to request alerts via text