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What You Need From Your Next Bank

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Consumers aren't above grumbling about their banks  high fees, low returns on savings and investment accounts and fewer bank branches are all popular punching bags for frustrated bank customers.

But getting the most from a bank is a responsibility for bank consumers too. When different banks offer different levels of products and service, it's really up to the customer to do the digging and choose the best bank for them.

"Consumers should investigate what options are available to them," says Ryan Bailey, executive vice president of deposit and payments at TD Bank. "For example, certain checking accounts waive non-bank ATM fees and some accounts offer a low minimum balance. By doing a little bit of homework, consumers can choose a product and an institution that matches up with their banking needs."

Here are some strategies, offered by TD Bank, that should be on your checklist:

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Check your checking account. Consumers should take some time to dig up any "extras" making up a good checking account. That means asking about benefits such as free debit cards, free direct deposit, "no fee" checking accounts and other services that align with your unique requirements. Make sure these services are offered online and are available on mobile phone apps. If you can get all of the above from your bank, you've really done your homework.

Look for ATMs that return money in more ways than one. Bank consumers should be on the lookout for banks with automated tellers that waive usage fees and reimburse fee costs from non-bank affiliated ATMs. Banks may ask you to adhere to a low minimum balance to get those reimbursements, but it's worth it to save some cash on ATM fees.

Keep your money safe. With news from big retailers including Target and Michaels Stores that customer payment cards were involved in data theft, you'll definitely want a bank that knows how to look after your money.

TD Bank advises consumers to always be aware of how much cash is in your account and the balance on your credit card statement. A good bank will offer customers a way to monitor accounts on a daily basis (if needed), either via computer, laptop, tablet or phone.

These aren't the only critical items banking consumers need from their financial institutions, but they belong on the list, TD Banks says. Make them a priority when choosing a bank or looking for new services from your current one and your banking experience should improve immediately.

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