At first thought, picking a bank might not seem like a big deal. All banks are the same, right?
Actually, not really.
I think part of the problem is that we’ve gotten fairly used to banks not offering us much. We hold an account while paying a small fee every month and then hope we don’t get charged more fees without knowing it. In return, we get little to no interest on our money and questionable service if we have a question or issue.
While this may be what most of us experience from our bank, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there are tons of banks that offer no-fee accounts, high interest rates, and awesome customer service. (For example, some banks are even offering the option to video chat with a teller!)
In the end, you can definitely find a bank that offers you more – you just have to know what “more” you want. Here’s how to find the right banking relationship for you.
How to Understand What You Need from a Bank
As with all things, you’re probably not going to get everything you want from a bank, though you might get close. That’s why it’s important to prioritize.
Banks are upping their games in a variety of ways these days: increasing APYs on deposit accounts, releasing cutting edge mobile apps, adding personal finance tools to help you manage your money, making it possible to send money via things like text message, and doing things to make their customer service more available to you.
Knowing that, which of these things is going to make a big difference in your life?
- If all you want to do is earn more on your checking account, then online banks like Ally and Radius offer accounts that earn far more in interest than most savings accounts even do.
- If what you want is straightforward, no fee banking, then online bank Simple could meet your needs.
- Or, let’s say you want customer service to be available in person or online, while offering accounts that deliver on great features. In that case, BBVA Compass could be perfect for you (although it’s currently available mainly in the South).
These are just a few examples. The point is, if you know what’s going to make your life easier or better in some way, then it’s not so hard to find a bank that can deliver on that. But the first step is being willing to walk away from a bank that offers mediocre products and services.
How to Find the Bank that Will Meet Your Needs – and More
Once you understand which priorities are most important to you, take a look at top banks nationally, online, and in your area. Peruse their websites to see if they offer what you’re looking for – or use a quiz like this one to get personalized recommendations.
I’m lucky that my job at MyBankTracker forces me to go through bank websites on a regular basis. Doing so has taught me about a ton of different bank features that I never would have known about otherwise. It’s a shame that some really awesome features are not well known (and that some banks don’t even market their best features that much). But that doesn’t mean you should miss out.
And when you find the right bank (or banks, as the case may sometimes be), don’t be scared to make the switch. Yes, it can be a pain to change your banking routine, but if changing that routine means you get a banking relationship that gives as much as it takes, isn’t it worth it in the end?