It’s all too easy to fall into a banking rut. That’s unfortunate because banks love to compete with each other for your business. You could miss out on a better deal unless you occasionally check the banking scene. Plus, you may be due a banking change for various other reasons. Let’s take a closer look.
Maazel Tov! If you’re the average age of American newlyweds (between 27 and 29), chances are that you and your significant other already have bank accounts. They could be at the same bank, but the odds are against it. In any event, you may want to consolidate your accounts. Joint accounts are simpler to manage, make it easier to respond to emergencies, and may be healthier for your relationship. It’s as easy as a spouse closing an account and becoming a joint owner of the other’s bank account.
It makes sense to bank where you live. It helps keep the local economy humming when you use a community bank or credit union. They often compete by charging lower fees, paying higher interest rates, and offering better customer service. The big Wall Street banks don’t need your money. Put it to better use in your own neighborhood — it’ll feel good.
When was the last time you spent some quality time with your monthly bank statement? Most folks have better things to do, but that can mask a problem — high or unnecessary fees. Are you paying for your checking account? If not, what’s the minimum balance you must keep? Do you have to satisfy direct deposit requirements? Are you paying ATM charges? The point is that you owe it to yourself to see if another nearby bank can give you a better deal. Also, check out online banks, which are usually the least expensive.
Sure, big banks usually have large ATM networks. But so do many small banks that give you access to large independent networks. More importantly, you want an ATM conveniently located where you live, go to school, work, or shop. If you can’t find one nearby, check which banks have ATMs near you and see if they would be a better fit for your lifestyle.
We mentioned that online banks are usually cheaper than their brick-and-mortar cousins. They also pay higher interest rates on savings and charge less for loans. All that money they save on physical locations gives them a way to cut costs and improve benefits. Best of all, you can bank online or via a mobile app anytime, anywhere, without stepping into a bank lobby.
You can probably think of many other reasons to test the banking waters. Remember, you aren’t married to your bank. Make it work hard to keep your business. And here’s a tip: Tell your local teller that you’re looking around for a better deal – that will keep them on their toes!