July 19th, 2011
5 Reasons to Love Your Bank
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The blog lately has been spreading a lot of credit union love. And now I’m here to spread a little bank love. I think everyone should choose the financial institution that’s right for them. Here are five reasons why I’m sticking with my big bank and not jumping on the credit union bandwagon:
1. Location, Location, Location
One of the main reasons I picked my bank is that it’s accessible in any part of the country. When I graduated from college in my home state, I knew I’d be attending graduate school out of state. And I hadn’t a clue where I’d be going after that. It made the most sense to begin banking with an institution that would be available all over the country. My bank has 5,900 banking centers and 18,000 ATMs nationwide, so I’m all set whether I’m at home or traveling.
2. Open Membership
Unlike credit unions, banks don’t require that you fulfill certain membership prerequisites to join. You’ll likely be required to have a minimum deposit for a bank checking account, usually between $25 and $50 which is higher than the credit union norm, but once you have that, you’re good to go to open an account with a commercial bank.
3. Efficient Customer Service
What I like about my big bank is that, if I’m in the mood to just have an automated customer service phone menu, it’s there. But if I need to talk to a human being, I can. Each customer service representative I’ve spoken with has been incredibly helpful, such as this one time when I left my wallet on the train. I didn’t want to cancel my credit card and bother with replacing it before I had checked the train station’s lost and found, but I also didn’t want anyone finding and using my card. My bank let me put a freeze on my accounts so that when I found my wallet, I could simply call them up and get my accounts reactivated. It was easy and efficient.
4. Innovations in Banking
Banks are getting more and more tech savvy. Bank of America has the largest “Talking ATM” network and is testing video-enabled ATMs where customers can talk to remote bank tellers. Most big banks have a mobile banking app. And because banks have larger assets, they’re able to develop technology quickly.
5. A Sustainable Business Model
This might be a bit of a stretch, but stick with me. Although credit unions have typically boasted higher savings rates and lower loan rates, it may not be historically true when you take into account operating expenses. This Financial Brand article talks about how a comparable cross section of credit unions and banks proved that banks truly yield more to customers and will likely continue to do so unless credit unions change the way they do business.
What does this mean for consumers? It might mean that those great rates that many credit unions can offer now may gain them membership at first. However, if they can’t continue to offer those low rates, they might find themselves losing membership soon.
Bottom Line: These are just a few reasons why I’m sticking with my bank. Banks aren’t perfect, and many of them charge inconvenient and unnecessary fees. But I’m able to avoid them if I keep on top of my finances. My bank suits my needs perfectly, as well as the needs of 57 million other customers. I won’t be switching to a credit union, as some have done, because the hype may one day die down and level the financial playing field.
Have a Karmic day,
Bethy Hardeman, Social Media Maven
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