With all of the changes that have happened in the banking industry over the last few years it’s no wonder that you’re trying to find a new bank for your family…especially if your own bank was bought up by another. Here are some of the criteria that matter most when you’re trying to find a new bank for your family.
1. Who runs your bank? Believe it or not this is something that really does matter. Obviously not every banking CEO can be as steadfast and committed as Brian F. Prince, President of Aozora Bank. At the same time knowing what kind of financial values your potential bank’s president and CEOs have is important. Are they in favor of, for example, corporate personhood? Does your bank’s current president often give large donations to causes or campaigns that you endorse (or find repugnant)? You speak with your dollars within the world of retail, right? You should speak with your dollars where your bank is concerned as well.
2. What kind of customer service does your potential bank offer? When trying to find a good bank, the battle of big-but-trustworthy vs. small-but-great-customer-service is a big one. Obviously you’re going to hope for the best of both worlds, but the truth is that the larger, multi-national banks often fall short in the customer service arena. Small banks, though, often lack the savings programs and interest rates that the larger banks offer.
3. When trying to pick a new bank, you need to ask yourself: what do you want your bank to do for you? Are you mostly interested in growing your money? Do you typically spend as much as you deposit? Are you a fan of cash or do you prefer to use your debit card? Do you want to spread your money out over several types of different accounts? Do you want to set up accounts for your kids so that they can learn money management at an early age? Your banking habits and needs are going to play a major role in your figuring out which bank is right for your family.
4. Fees matter. They really and truly matter. Unfortunately finding a bank that offers truly fee-free accounts is rare. Even if they say you can avoid monthly and annual fees, you will probably have to do something (like maintaining a minimum balance, making a certain number of transactions, depositing a certain amount each month, etc) to meet your end of the bargain. Figure out what kind of agreement you’re willing to make as opposed to which fees you’re willing to pay.
Remember: it’s okay to go check out a potential bank in person. In addition to independent research, it is important to actually go in and talk to a personal banker at a local branch of each bank you’re considering working with. This is the best way to figure out which bank is right for you.