If you’re thinking about leaving your current banking institution, you’re not alone. Surveys of American consumers show the numbers of people making the switch are on the rise. Many people are evaluating their budgets and finances and one area we all look at is if our current bank meets our needs and helps us take our money further. The reasons you may feel it’s time to leave your current bank could be one of many, from a marriage to a household move.
We all want our money to be secure, we don’t want to pay more than we have to, and we want to be treated like a valued customer. But with all the hassle involved in changing, many of us may procrastinate. There are some signs, however, that it’s time to leave your current bank and fast.
First of all, it’s important that we all understand we are paying for a financial service, so some fees are to be expected. Financial institutions across the world are changing their fee schedules and practices to increase how efficiently they operate, and – let’s face the truth – to make more money. Changes in the economy, credit card write-offs, bankruptcies, etc. – all these things impact a bank’s bottom line. And, they are in the business of making money. But, when fees are high or even unnecessary, it’s time to consider if you should leave your current bank. Think about these points where you could be paying too much.
- Minimum account balance fees. Many banks and credit unions have no minimum account balance fees. If you’re paying a monthly charge to keep your funds in a bank, shop around and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
- Live Teller Fees. This is just ridiculous. When I found that a bank I was using charged me for walking in, I moved my funds right away. Yes, it was buried in the agreement, but live teller fees are a reason to leave your current bank.
- Overdraft Charges. It is our individual responsibility to track our spending and avoid overdrafts, but there are many banks that charge huge fees for this. With some research, you can find a lower fee schedule. If a bank is really good, they should be willing to reimburse a one-time mistake that result in overdraft of your account. Fair warning: you’ll only be able to play this card once – it’s part of the agreement you signed.
- ATM Fees. Every financial institution has a network of ATMs. You can expect to pay a fee if you access your funds on a machine that is outside that network. Pay attention to how much these are – they are sometimes as high as $4 per transaction. If you find that your bank charges too much, or doesn’t have ATMs that are convenient where you live or work, leave your current bank and find a better option.
- Other Fees. Take a good, long look at the fees you are being charged for things like paper statements, inactivity and any variety of services. You may find you are paying a large amount of money over a year’s time, when another institution may offer the same services at no charge.
Financial experts recommend regularly visiting the FDIC website and checking up on your bank. You can find out if your bank is keeping up with its insurance that protects your money. This FDIC insurance is in place to protect all depositors’ account, up to $250,000. What this means for you is that if the bank goes under, all your funds up to that amount will be issued to you. Leave your current bank if they are not insured.
What worked for us at one point in our lives may not work at a later point. When life events such as marriage, changes in employment or moving happen, our banking needs change. When you have to adjust your routines to avoid banking costs, you should leave your current bank.
- If newly married, you may want to merge the two accounts to save money. It’s a great time to evaluate which bank to use.
- If working hours have changed, making it difficult for you to get to a branch, look for a bank with online access or more convenient hours.
- If you have been using a community institution, their limited availability can cost you money. This is particularly true if you are required to travel a great deal. Leave your current bank and opt for one with a nation-wide presence.
For me, customer service can be a deal breaker. I expect the staff to be pleasant. It’s also important, with today’s hectic pace, that I be able to reach a person by phone rather than an automated system. If the customer service is lacking, leave your current bank.