Most people like switching banks about as much as they like going to the dentist. People often consider changing banks only when they are moving or when something happens at their bank that causes them to be truly dissatisfied. Choosing whom to trust with your finances is a big decision and since you’ll probably stick with the same financial institution for a while, it’s a decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. The following are a few things to consider when the time comes to pick your next bank.
Convenience: This used to be a matter of where the branch was located and what its operating hours were. However, banks today offer their services through numerous channels, including online banking, phone banking, mobile banking and ATMs. It’s not uncommon for people to go months without setting foot inside their bank’s lobby, so location and the physical branch footprint may not be quite as important as it once was. Be sure to consider your preferred method of interacting with your bank and make sure any potential banks meet your needs.
Deposit Interest Rates: This has been a smaller consideration for most people over the last several years because most banks have been paying virtually no interest on deposit accounts due to weak loan demand. In periods of higher loan demand, some banks will pay a premium on deposit accounts to attract more funds to lend. If you keep high balances and don’t mind the potential inconvenience of switching banks, it may make sense to periodically shop for better interest rates. However, the balances most people keep don’t typically justify the inconvenience of switching banks just to pick up a fraction of a percent of interest income.
Fees, Fees, Fees: What fees does the bank charge and when will you be subject to paying them? Common fees include monthly service charges, ATM fees, debit card fees, overdraft fees, fees for wires and fees for cashier’s checks, among many potential others for other specialized accounts or services. These fees can often be waived or offset by keeping a certain minimum balance in your account, combining services, or by having regular automatic deposits. Keep in mind that minimum balances are calculated differently from bank to bank and while some use average monthly balances, others might use minimum daily balances, which increase your likelihood of falling below the threshold and incurring a service charge.
Loan Offerings: Does the bank offer all of the loan products you are likely to need? Does the bank appear to have competitive terms? What is the approval process? Does the bank have local loan officers with the ability to influence the loan decision process? If you operate a business or otherwise have frequent borrowing needs, the value of having a local loan officer that understands your business and can be responsive to your needs can be a very valuable asset.
Other Services: Some banks offer other financial services not directly related to banking, such as financial advising, trust services or insurance. If you require these ancillary services, it might make sense to consider a bank that can offer them as part of your overall banking relationship. However, it’s prudent to exercise caution when signing up for other services to be sure they are in your best interest and that the bank is really the best avenue to obtain the service.
Referrals and Opinions: Most importantly, you should solicit opinions from others in your community about their experience with their bank. Every bank you encounter will tout their great customer service, but the truest test is what people who have dealt with them say. It should become apparent pretty quickly which banks provide the best service.
Giving careful consideration to choosing your next bank ahead of time will go a long way to ensuring your bank will be able to meet your needs for a long time and help you avoid the inconvenience of switching banks because you are dissatisfied. QCBN
Country Bank is a full service community bank serving Yavapai County with offices in Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Cottonwood. Ryan Glennan, NMLS # 478327, is a vice president of Country Bank specializing in commercial lending and residential construction loans. Please visit www.countrybankaz.com or call 928-443-9595 for more information.