Why I Like Big Banks
With the mortgage crisis, housing bubble, bailouts, and record bank profits (and losses), big banks have made people really, really angry. Lots of folks are ditching their major banking institutions for credit unions. But not me. (See also: Credit Unions vs. Banks: What's the Difference?)
I love my big bank. Here's why.
Big banks have branches and ATMs everywhere. When I moved cross-country I didn't have to open a new bank account because there was a branch already in that city. When I need some cash or have a check to deposit, I can find an ATM close by every time.
Even though there are thousands of branches, my branch still has a local feel. For instance, one banker knows me — even if I only go in once a year. Last year, I opened up a business bank account at my local branch, and when I returned this year, she remembered me. I would have never thought that this would be the case, but banks are inherently local — it's your neighbors who are working at them, and your neighbors who are visiting that branch.
Big banks aren't necessarily known for their customer service. And truthfully I haven't always had the best of luck with my bank. But the vast majority of the time, the person on the other side of the window, phone, or email has helped me promptly, warmly, and with correct information. (And going back to convenience, it's super convenient to have all these service options available 24 hours a day.) One time, a banker from my local branch called me to tell me about some upcoming fee changes that could occur and to let me know how I could avoid those.
Big banks are stable. Sure, there's always the possibility that the bank will fail, but such an instance wouldn't go unnoticed. There would be lots of press (and government assistance). I've been a customer of my bank since I was 7, and I'm confident my bank will still be around when I'm 77.
Big banks have a huge number of banking options. From various types of checking and savings accounts to loans and mortgages, every banking option you would need is under one roof. When you log on to your account, you have a complete picture of your finances (and the ability to contact one customer service number) all in one place. Plus, the bank website and app offer all the features you could ask for, from auto bill-pay to remote deposits. Many small banks can't afford to offer this many features because there isn't enough demand.
Ability to Negotiate
Large banking institutions are often perceived as being difficult to negotiate with, but I've found my big bank to be flexible. Because the bank is bigger, they have greater ability to make adjustments that might temporarily hurt their bottom line in order to keep you as a customer. For instance, I've easily had fees reversed by my bank. And most notably, when I was moving across the country for an internship one summer, I went to my local branch to find out what my options were. The banker told me that they had no branches in that particular city, but he was happy to waive the non-bank-associated-ATM fee from my account. A fee that is still waived to this day.
There are lots of reasons to dislike big banks, but I love mine (it happens to be Wells Fargo), and I'm not ditching it anytime soon.
Do you bank with a big bank? Do you love it or hate it?