Five signs it's time for a new bank
Switching to a new bank can offer better service, convenience, and fees. Check this list to see if its time for a new bank.
No one likes switching to a new bank. After all, it takes effort to close one account and create another. But if your bank is nickel-and-diming you with fees, or if it's closing so many locations that banking is becoming inconvenient, it might be time to make the switch.
"To me, it's all about convenience when it comes to switching banks," said Wade Barnes, senior vice president and director of retail banking with Baltimore-based 1st Mariner Bank. "Maybe just 10 years ago, we'd be talking about how many brick-and-mortar locations a bank has near you. Now, it's more about online banking and having connectivity to your bank 24 hours a day. But you want your banking relationship to be an easy, convenient one. If it's not, then you might consider making a move."
Here are five signs that it's time to find a new bank.
1. Maintenance Fees
Some banks will charge your checking account a monthly fee if you don't make a certain number of payments or withdrawals per month. That fee might only be $10. But if you don't use your checking account often, you could pay $100 or more each year in fees.
The better choice? Find a bank that doesn't charge such a fee. You want your free checking account to be really free. (See also: Banks Still Offering Free Checking)
2. ATM Fees
Using an out-of-network ATM can add up, with the fees charged by these cash machines coming in at $2, $3, or more. You can avoid these fees by only withdrawing cash from ATMs affiliated with your bank. But if you do take out money from an out-of-network ATM, your bank should refund you this fee.
Many banks reimburse customers for all the out-of-network ATM withdrawals they make, basically making all ATMs free. If your bank doesn't offer this service, it's time to make a move.
3. Paper Statement Fees
Most banks will provide your banking statements online. It's a great way to reduce paper. But maybe you're old-fashioned, and you want your bank to send you a paper statement each month. That's fine. Just make sure that your bank doesn't charge you for this service.
Many banks, in an effort to persuade consumers to receive their statements online, are charging customers $1 or $2 every time they send them a paper statement. If you insist on a paper statement, there's no reason to pay this fee. Find a bank that doesn't charge you for this service.
Maybe your bank was just bought up by another financial institution. That's usually fine, unless the new bank institutes changes that make being a customer there less convenient for you.
Maybe your newly acquired bank is closing all the brick-and-mortar branches near you. That can be a hassle, even if you do most of your banking online. Maybe the bank is reconfiguring its ATMs, making it so you can only withdraw cash from them but can't make deposits into them. Or maybe your bank decides to reduce some of the services it offers online.
Banking shouldn't be a hassle. If your bank is becoming one, you need to start looking for a replacement.
5. Bad Customer Service
What if you have questions about your mortgage loan, but your bank's home loan experts are never available to speak with you by phone? What if you call your bank and the phone just rings forever, with no one picking up? Maybe your bank doesn't hire enough tellers, and every time you need to see one, you have to wait in line 20 minutes?
These are all examples of the bad customer service some banks provide. If you're not satisfied with the service your bank is providing you, you're ready to move on to a new financial institution.
This article first appeared at Wise Bread.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.