6 Reasons to Love Your Bank

by Elizabeth Lang on 27 May 2013 1 comment

No one likes banks these days. The media is telling us that they are charging more fees and are to blame for the financial crisis. But the reality is that now is the time to love your bank more than ever.

Imagine that a security company guarded your house around the clock. If a burglar ever broke in and stole something valuable, like the family silver or your TV, your security company would replace them, no questions asked. You can come and go into your house as you please and even contact the company guarding your house around the clock — in person, by email, by phone. And sometimes, the company will even pay you for the privilege of guarding your house. (See also: Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank)

This is similar to what a bank does for your money.

1. Your Bank Keeps Your Money Completely Safe

The nuts and bolts of banks, as the average consumer uses them, is that you give your money to your bank, and your bank protects it. The very best reason to use a bank is that you don't have to worry about your money getting lost or stolen. Keeping it under the mattress is not the best bet. In the unlikely event your bank fails, the government insures your deposits up to $250,000. If you like any other company that provides similar services (insurance, for instance), then you should like your bank.

2. Your Bank Provides Amazing Services

Besides just protecting your money, your bank also provides amazing services. Your bank gives you the ability to pay for something nearly anywhere you want by using a debit card. You don't have to carry around cash (and risk it getting lost or stolen). If you need or prefer cash, you can use an ATM to retrieve your money on nearly any street corner. And with ATMs you can even deposit checks, so you don't have to go to the hassle of waiting in line.

But let's say you want to talk with a real person about your money. You can go to a bank branch and get personal service. You can sit down with a banker and have them help you customize your accounts. Just today, I walked into a branch of my bank, and within two minutes a banker helped me close a business account that I no longer needed. He was extremely friendly and asked me if there was anything else he could do to help me. Previously a banker set me up with a permanent fee-waiver for my ATM card. That's great service.

Your bank likely allows you to transfer money online, get your account balance from anywhere, and track your spending and savings. Depending on the type of account you may even earn interest on the money you keep at your bank. And these are just the basic services your bank likely provides. Every day banks are rolling out more features — like banking apps — all for free.

3. You Can Often Get All of a Bank's Services for Free

All of the services I listed above? Many banks will give these services to you for free. Even if your account is listed as having a fee, walk into your bank and ask a banker if there is a way to waive it. Often, if you "bundle" services, your bank will waive the monthly charge. For example, see about opening a deposit account, setting up recurring transfers, or enabling direct deposit. Or maybe it's worth refinancing your home with a mortgage from your bank.

4. If You're Paying a Fee, You're Likely Getting Great Side Benefits

If you are paying a fee on your account, you are likely getting some additional benefits. Some fee checking accounts pay interest, provide free checks, or give you a cash rebate for the amount spent on your debit card. (If you're paying a fee and aren't getting any benefits, ask how to get a fee waiver or see point six below.)

5. Banks Are Subject to More and More Governmental Scrutiny

Every day, banks become subject to more and more governmental scrutiny. Some of these regulations may be warranted, but for the most part they are harming the community bank down your street. (That's the bank where not only will they be more likely to know your name, but you're most likely to get a loan if you want to start a business.) And these regulations are costing banks money to comply with. But banks are still passing very few of these costs onto the average consumer. And that's another great reason to love your bank.

6. You Can Change Banks

If you don't love your bank, you should switch. It's that simple. Every other bank wants you as a customer and you should make the most of that situation. If you don't feel that your bank is giving you the services and support you need, find another bank. Consider an online-only bank or the community bank down the street. There are thousands of banks. Think of the services you need, and find a bank that meets your criteria. If you were trusting the safety and security of your home to a company, you'd spend some time ensuring that it's the best fit for you. Do the same with your money and find a bank that you love.

What's great about your bank?

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L. Ann

Two little-known benefits offered by many brick & mortar banks is free or very low-cost notary and wire (money) transfer services. I have saved literally hundreds of dollars.