by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Feb. 20, 2020
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Breaking up is hard to do. Still, breaking up with your bank can put money in your pocket.
Most of us have sat across from a friend and said, "You can do better." The truth is, if we look closely enough at our own lives, there are a number of things we could do better. Personally, I could eat more vegetables and nag a little less when my husband is driving.
One thing I never imagined telling anyone they could improve on is where they bank, but then again, that was before my husband and I moved more times than I care to count. I haven't always changed banks following a move, but there have been occasions when I wanted a hometown financial institution. It was during these times that I learned to comparison shop.
I'm here to tell you that if any of the following situations apply to your bank or credit union, it is time to move on. You can do better.
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Banks make money when you deposit money, borrow money, or conduct any other business through their establishment. In other words, they need you -- even if you're not a billionaire and don't take out many loans. Your business combined with the business of other customers is their bread and butter, and the only way they keep their doors open.
If you spend an hour in the lobby waiting to speak with someone about your account, get put on hold any time you call, don't receive a promised call back, or are in any other way treated rudely, you deserve better. Bank employees don't have to be your best friend, but they do need to treat you with the dignity you deserve. After all, you are part of the reason they're still operating.
Do you dread going into your bank or calling them for any reason? It's time to look for a place where you are more appreciated.
I never know whether to laugh or cry when I see the interest rates some banks offer on products like savings accounts, checking accounts, and certificates of deposit. Some banks actually seem proud of their embarrassingly low interest rates. The thing is, if you take the time to look around, you will see that you can earn far more elsewhere -- check out the rates on some of these online savings accounts if you're in any doubt. If you're going to put money into a savings instrument anyway, why would you leave interest on the table by staying loyal to a bank that is proud to pay you less?
Fees can eat you alive. Monthly maintenance fees charged by U.S. branch-based checking accounts average between $10 and $15. While it may not sound exorbitant, fees add up -- especially when there are plenty of ways to avoid checking account fees.
Let's say your monthly fee is $13 per month. That's $156 a year. Again, it doesn't sound like a huge amount of money. But what if you invested that $13 per month in an investment account averaging 9% interest? After 10 years, you'd have saved $2,401. After 20 years, you would have an extra $8,054. And after 30 years, $21,436. That's money in your pocket instead of your bank's.
If you're charged a fee any time your balance drops below a pre-set minimum balance, or you find yourself paying for a hard copy of your statement, returned deposit, or ATM use, it's time to look for a new place to bank.
The name of the banking game is convenience. You need to be able to get up in the morning and check your account balances online, even while eating your yogurt. You should be able to snap a picture of a check and make an automatic deposit, easily pay bills online, and move money from one account to another. If any of these everyday activities are a hassle, you need to find a financial institution that's operating in the 21st century. Life is too complicated to settle for a banking system that's stuck in a time warp.
Whether you choose to go with a local banking establishment or transfer your money to a checking account with an online bank, the goal is to be treated with respect, earn as much interest as possible, score the best interest rates on consumer loans, pay little to no fees, and be able to do it all in your favorite pajamas.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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