Consider changing banks if your current bank no longer meets your needs and expectations. As your finances change, your banking needs change. If your bank no longer fits your lifestyle and financial goals, it’s time to consider changing banks. After all, you are growing, and your bank needs to grow with you.
When Should You Consider Changing Banks?
Here are some common reasons to make a change.
1. You’ve Moved
Even if you are currently using a national bank, you may find that it is not accessible in the area you are moving to. If that’s the case you may need to consider changing banks. Here are some location considerations:
Does It Have Local Branches?
If in-person banking is essential to you, check to see if your current bank has staffed branches in your area. Be careful; some bank branches listed in online search results do not have staff, but instead, only have ATMs.
Search for a bank with a branch near your new location, and visit that branch. Meet with a representative. Having an actual person to speak with can make your bank visits more productive and friendly.
Are There ATMs In Your Area?
Since banks often charge you a fee for using a competitor’s ATMs, make sure your bank has locations where you can deposit and withdraw cash. Many banks put their ATMs in retail stores, so you should look for those. You may not need a staffed branch nearby if your only concern is being able to get cash.
Tip: Banks tend to limit the amount you can withdraw at an ATM. Find out the limits and see if that will fit your needs.
2. Your Bank’s Fees are Too High
Banks make a lot of money from the fees they charge you.
You may pay fees for checking accounts and charges for checkbook refills. Some hidden costs can include overdraft charges, penalties for failure to maintain a minimum balance, and money transfer charges.
This is one area where banks can be competitive. Many will lower or eliminate fees as a way of attracting new customers. Look at the types of fees you are paying and see if another bank charges less or even nothing.
Check whether the bank charges fees if you use your debit card to withdraw from a bank other than your own. Many banks are waving this fee, but it is more common to charge you extra for the transaction.
If there are no ATMs for your bank in your neighborhood, consider changing to a bank that offers ATMs near you. This can save you a bundle in fees.
Fees can be a significant cost, and looking for a bank with competitive fees is an important part of changing banks. Be sure you fully understand the fee structures of all your candidates.
3. Poor Customer Service
Some bank representatives can be helpful when opening accounts, but you may find that customer service falls off after you have been with the bank for a while.
How do you make sure a new bank offers better customer service?
- Ask if you will have a relationship banker, also called a personal banker. This person will help you when you have problems or want to make changes to your accounts. You should receive a business card from this person and be able to call or set an appointment when you want to talk.
- Review the bank’s website to see if there is a chat feature. See if you can talk with an actual person.
- Again on the website, go to the section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and see if there is a place to send a question. See if you get an answer within 24 hours.
These are clues that the bank cares about the customer. If you find it hard to contact the bank and don’t have a personal banker, you may need to keep looking for better customer service.
4. You’ve Outgrown Your Bank
You may need more services if your finances have become more demanding and complicated. Banks do not offer a standard set of financial products, so you must assess your needs before evaluating your current bank and its competitors.
Here are some banking services to consider when changing banks. You may not need all of them. Identify the ones that are important to you and look for a bank that offers them.
Online banking enables you to carry out banking transactions through the internet on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. It’s faster and allows you to do specific tasks without visiting your bank.
These online tasks can include things such as checking balances and transferring money from savings to checking. You may also be able to set up automatic payroll deposits and automatic bill payments.
If online banking is important to you, check a bank’s app and website to see if they provide the services you need. Check reviews online and look for indications of problems with online services.
Don’t confuse telephone banking with smartphone banking through an app. Telephone banking means calling and speaking with a bank employee to transfer money, check your balances, pay specific bills, and question transactions.
This service means you don’t have to wait for email responses or risk chatting with a bot online. You can talk to a real person in real time and get your answers immediately.
A savings account allows you to deposit money and earn modest interest. A savings account lets you differentiate the cash you want to save from that you intend to spend.
Most banks offer savings accounts but check to see if you are getting the best interest rate. Many online banks offer high-interest savings accounts, and it’s entirely possible to have accounts at more than one bank.
Money Market Accounts
Money market accounts provide higher interest rates than savings accounts. The more money you put in, the more you earn. However, you may be limited to a certain number of monthly withdrawals.
See if the bank you’re considering limits withdrawals. Check the interest rate you will earn and see if it beats your current bank.
A money market account can be a great place to keep your emergency fund. You’ll have access when you need it and earn interest at the same time!
A debit card allows you to deduct money from your checking account when you use it for online purchases and store transactions. You can also get cash from an ATM with it. This is a basic service that should go with any checking account, but you’ll want to check for potential fees.
A credit card allows you to borrow money to pay for goods and services with merchants that accept cards for payment. This is different from using a debit card because you will pay interest on the amount you borrow if you do not pay the balance in full each month.
See if your bank can qualify you for a credit card. Also, check the interest rate you will pay on your credit card to see if it is competitive.
You can always apply for a card online, but there are potential advantages in holding a card through your own bank.
A wire transfer transmits money electronically. You may pay a fee for this service, but it is a reliable and secure way to transfer cash. If you use wire transfers or think you might compare the rates at banks you’re considering.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
CDs let you deposit money for a set amount of time, often ranging from six months to five years. The longer the deposit, the higher the interest rate you receive. You can decide to withdraw your money earlier, but there will be a penalty for early withdrawal.
CDs are a great way to save for a specific event, like a vacation or a down payment. Check the offers at several banks to see who has the best deal.
Some banks offer discounted fees for joint accounts as a way of attracting new customers. If you’re considering a joint account, compare offers at multiple banks.
The rise of specialized online lenders has led many people to forget the possibility of borrowing from their own banks. Many banks offer preferential interest rates for existing customers, and your bank is an ideal position to assess your creditworthiness.
If you see a house, car, or other major purchase in your future, check with potential banks to see what loans they offer and whether they offer special deals for established customers.
As with loans, many people are so used to online discount brokers that they forget the possibility of organizing investment services through their banks.
Suppose you invest in stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and retirement accounts. In that case, you may want to look for a bank with an investment division. This function is generally separate from retail banking (your checking account and so forth).
If investing is vital to you, especially if investment guidance is essential, look for a bank that offers investment products. You will pay for this service, but the advice you receive may be worth it.
How to Change Banks
Choosing your new bank is the most important part of changing banks. Identify the features and services that are most important to you, check online reviews and word-of-mouth reputation, and choose carefully.
Once you’ve made a choice the process of changing banks is straightforward:
- Open a new account with the bank of your choice. The most common way is filling out an online form. You can also go to the bank and open an account in person.
- Set up automatic bill payments at your new bank.
- Redirect direct deposits to the new bank
- Keep both accounts open, as it may take several days to activate your new account, or direct deposits may go to your old account for a while.
- Finally, close down your old account once you are sure that the new one is fully active.
If you make changing banks an orderly process, you won’t miss any deposits or payments, and you can access your cash without disruption.
Consider Using Two (Or More) Banks
There is no law that says you have to keep all of your accounts at one bank. For example, you may have a checking account at a local credit union. They know you well and the service is great, but you feel that you need some services that they don’t provide.
Consider keeping that account and opening other accounts at institutions that meet other needs, for example, a high-interest savings account with an online bank.