There are certain times you just know it’s time to change the shampoo you use or the grocery store you frequent. Similarly, there are specific signs for when it’s time to switch banks. What bank you choose to do business with can have a great effect on your financial health … and mental health. The logistics and paperwork of switching may be a temporary headache but here are a few key times when you should make the switch.
The FDIC Does Not Approve
To ensure your bank is holding up financially, make a habit of checking the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s website. This bank regulation agency insures financial institutions covering all deposit, checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. If your bank is not maintaining this insurance, this is a problem because if the bank goes under, your money is at risk. (Federal credit unions have their own insurance fund, which is run by the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA.)
Fees, Fees, Fees
When you feel like your money is just plain disappearing, it can sometimes be nearly true. Fees are an often un-budgeted leak and your bank just may be the culprit. As the economy struggles and regulations have gotten tighter, banks have increased fees for their products and services. Between debit card or checking account maintenance fees, ATM fees, online banking fees, transaction fees and overdraft fees, customers are taking a big hit. Take some time to identify what you are paying for by looking over your statements and asking questions. It’s important to check that new fees haven’t been added since you chose the bank, especially for services you use regularly.
You’re Moving On
As your lifestyle changes, your banking needs do, too. Shifts in your working responsibilities, marital status, location, working hours and online presence are all factors. If you are traveling a lot for work, a bank with national presence may hold importance, whereas if you operate in a high-tech world, online or mobile banking opportunities may matter more. Be sure to manage your accounts wisely and assess which bank features matter the most to you because convenience is a key factor in where you bank. Then re-evaluate every so often to make sure your needs haven’t changed and that the bank is still meeting them.
Customer Service Is Poor
When the wait to speak to a representative is longer than the last installment of Harry Potter, you know there’s a problem. It’s important to remember that you are bringing your business to a bank and, like any other business, it should work for you. If you find the tellers, loan officers and help representatives are making your life more difficult instead of easier, you may need to choose another financial institution. Identify your expectations and check for institutions that offer online tools, 24/7 help lines, customer service lines that lead to real representatives in a timely manner, and in-bank workers that provide what you need.
Time Isn’t Money
When the interest rates drop too low on a checking and/or savings account, it may be time to make the switch. Perhaps when you chose your current account, it offered the highest rate. It’s a good idea to periodically check and make sure that is still true. If not, it may be worth switching. Between checking and savings accounts, products you may want to utilize — like CDs, mortgages and loans — there are many avenues to make money from money. Identify all the services you currently use and what you plan to use in the near future. Look for banks that reward you for using all of these services.
Finding the right bank for you is an important step in taking control of your finances. Be sure to thoroughly investigate all options before you decide if and where to switch. Look into online banks and credit unions as well. The bank that is best for you may be completely different than the one that works for your sibling, your best friend, and even your co-worker because it all depends on what you need.
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