A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought about which bank they should use. While I have already talked about the best place to open an online bank account, this doesn’t include the every day uses. A high-interest online bank account may be beneficial for an emergency fund, but you still need a physical building to for your day-to-day cash management. If you are wondering what type of bank to use, you should consider the pro’s and con’s of the different forms of banking.
I grew up with my first savings account at a credit union. A credit union is a member-owned bank that is controlled by the members of the bank. Often times membership is restricted to employees of a certain employer, or even limited by geographical location of residence. I remember growing up and receiving some of the best customer service at my credit union. When I needed to deposit checks, I would simply walk up to the teller, hand him/her the checks and tell the teller my account number (I had it memorized). When I say the best service, I mean the absolute best! They didn’t require me to fill out any unnecessary forms or go through steps A, B, and C. It was simple and aimed to keep it convenient. To my surprise, they even offered competitive interest rates. Talk about service!
Yet, banking at a credit union that was restricted to my home state after I moved across the country was not a legitimate option. I was forced to find another bank. This time, I knew that I wasn’t guaranteed to stay in one spot for a long period of time, so I decided to go with a large, national bank. While I am not usually a fan of corporate banking from large institutions (like Lloyds Bank), I know that by banking at a national bank, I can access my money almost anywhere. The bank that I chose has branches in almost every place in the U.S. and is one of the most well-known banks. So, if I choose to move in a couple years, I won’t have to go through the hassle of changing banks. Plus, when I am on vacation within the states, it is easy to access my money.
Yet, what I gain in convenience and numerous locations, I lose in the customer service. I lost the personal feel, being greeted by my name and am known only as an account number to the teller. I am always required to fill out the annoying form. It often leaves me wondering what form of business model America is moving towards when we lose all sense of personal interaction and respect, and instead focus on efficiency and inflexible processes.
Deciding where you should bank should be a decision that is taken carefully. It is necessary to weigh the options and find out which benefits are most important to you. It’s doesn’t mean it will always be an either-or situation, as has been my experience.
What’s important to you when you are choosing a bank?
photo credit: Brian Giesen via Flickr