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How do you Choose a Bank?
Old 11-01-2011, 12:31 AM   #1
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How do you Choose a Bank?

I went to the B of A website to download my recent transactions, so I could balance my checkbook and pay my bills. There is a new service agreement I would have to read and agree to before I can access my account. About a third of the way in, I just snapped. This is the bank that wants to charge me $5 a month to make transactions via debit card with my own money. Well phooey on them!! As of now I've decided to close my B of A account and take my business elsewhere. I'm also reading Locavesting, and that has me leaning toward going with a smaller, regional bank rather than a huge national one. I've already opened an account at a credit union that serves the area I plan to move to after retirement, which I use for occasional transactions only. Unfortunately they don't have any branches near where I live now, or I might just switch everything to there.

OTOH, I really like the convenience of paying my bills online, so maybe an internet bank is what I should do. Now I come to think of it, I already have an account at Ing bank that I started when they had a good offer for new accounts.

Last time you switched banks, how did you decide which one to move your account to?
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:40 AM   #2
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I think I read that B of A is having second thoughts about charging for their debit cards, and may not do that after all.

As for how I choose a bank? Not very intelligently. Usually I just go with the flow and choose the bank that has the most customers in my area, and lots of branches. But don't copy that approach since I know you can do better. Probably one should look at interest, fees, and so on. If you want a bricks-and-mortar branch in your location (not everyone does), then you might want to see what banks have a branch both where you are, and in your planned retirement location.
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Old 11-01-2011, 01:21 AM   #3
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Yes, they were talking today on CNBC about BAC having second thoughts.

Anyhow, if you go to www.bankrate.com, they have a section where you can find the rating of your bank or credit union.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:16 AM   #4
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A fair number of retirees have accounts with a handful or more banks. Having accounts at several banks expands FDIC coverage and gives you hands on experience to form your own evaluation. The principal accounts in our family have been with the same institution, or it's predecessors, for over 60 years.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:29 AM   #5
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Well there is a BoA branch located a couple of minutes away walking from where I live, which is very convenient. So I have decided to stay with BoA.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:12 AM   #6
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I recently moved most of my money from BOA myself as well. I chose TD Bank for multiple reasons: moral reasons (they did not accept government bailouts, did not buy any toxic falling knives, nor are in bed with any Big Fishes, as far as I know), convenience ereasons (they open 7 days a week, sometimes 8 to 8, and even though they are not a national bank, they have many branches in my area), and also for $$$ reasons (they pay me twice what BOA paid me in my "high yields" savings account). Plus, they are owned by a Canadian bank with a house that's in order, have a AAA rating and offer terrific costumer service. The second time I went in to my local branch they were calling me by my name and they introduced me to the manager without me asking. A few days later, I received a "thank you" card in the mail, hand-written by the person who opened my account. I never got anything of the sort with BOA after being with them for years...
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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First -- FDIC insured accounts.


Then it is features, cost, and convenience! Since the features are almost indistinguishable from bank to bank... I am not tied to my bank.

Any fee increase for our existing services would motivate me to switch banks.

We use a large bank that is local. However in a world with the internet, I am not sure that matter much.

We do use a safety deposit box... location matters for that. They seem to keep increasing the fee for it.

IMO - One easy way for banks to distinguish themselves would be to eliminate charges for foreign transactions and improve money exchange feature... after all, it is a global society. I think many of them look at it as easy fee money. Smart bankers would look to minimize cost and take customers from their competitors by minimizing that cost or charge and equivalent in a different way and add other features to the account... like a credit card company does. They could do it and make the same money... through packaging value proposition for travelers and expats. It seems that Capital One has done that with one of their credit cards. I am surprised that USAA has not done that... but they seem to charge fees for foreign transactions. They are all about being location independent... you would think they would add that type of feature.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:52 AM   #8
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I'm not to pleased with a Capital One checking account that's giving me too many 'image not available' messages for cashed checks.
It's bad enough to get stiffed with a rubber check without being charged a fee by some banks for depositing such a check.
I've done business, on and off, with Citibank for 50 years and they have rarely failed to disappoint me. Our experiences with Bank Of New York have not been particularly stellar either.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by justplainbll View Post
I'm not to pleased with a Capital One checking account that's giving me too many 'image not available' messages for cashed checks.
It's bad enough to get stiffed with a rubber check without being charged a fee by some banks for depositing such a check.

Do you think this is because the company you paid (e.g., credit card company) submitted the check electronically to the banking system? More and more companies do that now and destroy the check. The service company may image it for their records.

As we move more to electronic transaction oriented services... paper checks will become less used. Plus companies want the credit quickly and do not want to handle paper. So (IMO) you will see more conversion of a paper check to an electronic transactions going forward. Some stores just scan the check and hand it back to the customer.... I have wondered if the image ever makes it to the bank.

We use duplicate checks (sort of like a carbon copy in the check book) so we have a copy of what was written at home.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:16 AM   #10
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Do you think this is because the company you paid (e.g., credit card company) submitted the check electronically to the banking system? More and more companies do that now and destroy the check. The service company may image it for their records.

As we move more to electronic transaction oriented services... paper checks will become less used. Plus companies want the credit quickly and do not want to handle paper. So (IMO) you will see more conversion of a paper check to an electronic transactions going forward. Some stores just scan the check and hand it back to the customer.... I have wondered if the image ever makes it to the bank.

We use duplicate checks (sort of like a carbon copy in the check book) so we have a copy of what was written at home.
Three weeks ago we paid a plumbing bill for $700+ by mailing a check. The bank statement gives me an 'image not available' and no payee information. I have nothing to show if the plumber complains he was not paid.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:16 AM   #11
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We have USAA as our primary bank, and it provides most of our banking needs. Its online services are competitive and they are easy to get along with. We also have a brick and mortar bank for some very specific needs which we chose based on specific branch locations. We have changed this bank 4 times in 15 years because of lousy service. First Citi, then BoA, WM and Wachovia, now WF. The Wachovia to WF transition was bumpy.

I would stick just with USAA but DW is not comfortable with online banking so we need to keep a brick and mortar option if she should suddenly find herself single...
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:23 AM   #12
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WM = Washington Mutual - WAMU?
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:25 AM   #13
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I changed banks twice in the 1980s. The first time was before I started college, when I wanted a bank which had a branch near my college (NYU, in Manhattan) and my parents' house on Long Island. Back then, ATMs were pretty new but were a big improvement in convenience, even with Citibank which was not part of the NYCE which allowed customers to use (without fees) other bank's ATMs.

The second time was after I moved a few miles to where I live now. Citibank had raised its minimum balances a lot in the few years before I moved and I had little money after I paid all the closing costs. Changing banks (to NatWest) did 3 things: No more monthly fees for low balances (they had much lower minimums), NatWest was part of the NYCE network (Citibank still wasn't yet), and NatWest had a branch walking distance from my new residence (and one near where I worked, as Citibank did). NatWest became Fleet which became Bank Of America.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:28 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I went to the B of A website to download my recent transactions, so I could balance my checkbook and pay my bills. There is a new service agreement I would have to read and agree to before I can access my account. About a third of the way in, I just snapped. This is the bank that wants to charge me $5 a month to make transactions via debit card with my own money. Well phooey on them!! As of now I've decided to close my B of A account and take my business elsewhere. I'm also reading Locavesting, and that has me leaning toward going with a smaller, regional bank rather than a huge national one. I've already opened an account at a credit union that serves the area I plan to move to after retirement, which I use for occasional transactions only. Unfortunately they don't have any branches near where I live now, or I might just switch everything to there.

OTOH, I really like the convenience of paying my bills online, so maybe an internet bank is what I should do. Now I come to think of it, I already have an account at Ing bank that I started when they had a good offer for new accounts.

Last time you switched banks, how did you decide which one to move your account to?
GOOGLE "Matthew Shinnick BANK of america" we canceld them after that.
We went to another bank that had something we liked that they do not have anymore. If they add any fees we are leaving them.
If we change again we will go with a credit union. good luck
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:18 AM   #15
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I don't usually chime in when it comes to money matters, because you guys are so far out of my league...but we are happy with our bank.

It's Arvest....tied in with the Walton family. "Free checking" for 55+, free debit card, free online banking (very easy bill-paying). I think their overdraft charge is something around $13.50.

Three times they have called (from some office in OK, i think they told me) because something triggered an alert for debit card use. While i usually use a credit card when dealing online, i have used the debit card here and there. One time it was because i was purchasing trip insurance and it was about 1AM, another time it was for an online game for our son, and the third really was fraud...but they caught it within 15 minutes of the first transaction. The $800 was replaced in 24 hours.

There are many branches around central Arkansas. The employees are very friendly. There is a local credit union that I want to check into, but we have been content with Arvest.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:30 AM   #16
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Didn't BOA just buy ING online?
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:22 AM   #17
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I am starting to use my Schwab account more and more as my primary checking, but I will still keep Bank of America for convenience. The Schwab debit card is reimbursed for ATM fees, there are no foreign transaction fees if I use it when traveling, and they have the super fabulous mobile deposit feature.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:46 AM   #18
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Read the news 'JP Morgan and These Big Banks Back Down on This Revenue Stream' and you will see banks charge to compensate for lost half of revenus (up to $6 billion) annually because of the political outcry forced by BOA last year.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:15 AM   #19
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Moved from BofA to USAA this year. It was an easy decision.

  • Good references from family and on Bogleheads.
  • They are my insurance provider so I already have experience with them
  • No minimum balance (I don't hold cash)
  • They reimburse ATM fees anywhere in the US.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:17 AM   #20
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I have used Schwab for my main checking/bill pay account for years and have been extremely happy with them. I keep a free checking account with a small local bank in case I need to deposit a check, get something notarized, etc. For deposit-type accounts I use Pen Fed, Navy Fed and Cap One since they offer competitive rates (from time to time).
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