Thinking About Changing Banks? Consider These Factors

From online-only financial providers to global banks with a branch on every block, consumers have countless choices for their everyday financial needs. Most banks and credit unions offer similar services and products, including online access to accounts, ATM availability, deposit products like checking and savings, and options for borrowing money. But not all financial institutions are created equal. Every now and again it makes sense to review your current standing with your bank or credit union, and evaluate if a change to another financial institution is necessary. If you’re considering changing banks, here are a few tips for making the most of the move.

Account Minimums

Every financial institution differs in terms of what it offers to customers or members, especially when it comes to account minimums. While some banks and credit unions have no minimum dollar amount required to open or maintain an account, others charge fees for missing the minimum mark. Be sure to evaluate the account minimums for checking, savings, money market accounts, or other deposit accounts before making your move.

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Fee Schedules

Account minimum fees are the most common charges to customers with large financial institutions. These can range from a few dollars per month to several hundred each year, simply for having an account that doesn’t meet the minimum deposit requirement. However, account minimum fees are not the only expenses that come with some bank or credit union accounts. Customers may also be charged for statement delivery (when it isn’t electronic), overdraft fees, ATM fees, or return deposit fees. There may also be charges associated with foreign transactions for debit or credit card purchases made overseas. It’s important to ask for a full fee schedule from a bank or credit union before establishing an account, and understand how these extra charges can eat away at your account balances.

Additional Account Features

The good news that comes from having so many options of financial institutions is that competition breeds creativity in terms of features and added benefits. Some banks and credit unions will offer extra perks, like shopping discounts at certain retailers, or rebated ATM fees, to customers who make the switch. Account holders may also have the opportunity to earn sign-up bonuses for switching financial institutions or have access to free resources and calculators through the institution’s online platform. One financial institution may also offer a more robust menu of accounts than another, potentially meeting financial needs more comprehensively. All of these added features can add up to a significant value-add to your banking experience.

The Ease of Switching

Above and beyond account minimums, fees for using an account, and added no-cost features, those looking to make a banking change should be aware of how easy – or cumbersome – the process is. In some cases, financial institutions will put together a switch kit that provides all the forms to change direct deposits, link checking and savings accounts, opt for electronic statement delivery, and even overdraft protection in a single shot. But its just as common for financial institutions to leave customers on their own when changing from one to the next. Be sure to search for or ask about switching assistance, and use it if it’s available!

Making a change from one financial institution to another can ultimately save customers from unnecessary fees for account use or maintenance, as well as provide a more positive experience when managing their day to day financial lives. However, before pulling the trigger on a bank account switch, do the research on minimums, fees, features and accessibility, and the help you can receive when making the move.

Posted on February 9, 2018 by in Personal Finance

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