Our banking relationship is incredibly important, but it is often one of the most overlooked. Your bank not only holds your money and issues you a card, but it can serve as your first line of protection should you have fraudulent charges on your account and will be in a position to offer you deals on products such as home loans, home equity loans, and car loans.
Banks come in many different sizes and varieties, ranging from single branch credit unions to online-only banks to regional banks focused on customer service to international behemoths.
Which bank is right for me?
The answer is it depends on what is important to you. If you want the highest interest rates then online banks with low-overheads are often the way to go. However, some of them can have high fees for out-of-network ATM usage and can be notoriously difficult to contact should you have a crisis. And if you are currently unbanked, meaning you don’t have an account, but are instead keeping your money in cash, you need to change this immediately. Banks provide a valuable service, and starter/introductory accounts often mean you can get this service at no charge.
Credit Unions often offer a combination of great customer service and good interest rates, but are usually local. Furthermore, many have membership restrictions, meaning you can only join them if you meet a requirement like working for a certain company or having gone to a particular university.
Regional Banks often like to tout themselves as having all the benefits and the range of products that you get with large international banks, but with better customer service and an understanding of what is important to you. Their scale usually allows them to have a very good regional network of ATMs and branches, and usually better rates than their larger competitors.
Too Big To Fails
The Bulge Bracket Banks, such as JP Morgan, Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others are not only nationwide, but international and can handle a wide variety of circumstances. However, this comes with a trade off. They are often policy driven, and are not able to offer flexibility and can be tough with the fees, account minimums, and overdraft fees.
Recommendations and Tools
We are currently building out a suite of tools to help you find a bank that meets your needs. Check back soon.