This is a guest post by Elizabeth Roque. You can also write about saving money at banks.
Ugh. So you got an overdraft fee... again. And then you spent half an hour on the phone line waiting for customer service to pick up only to have them tell you that no, they won't remove the fee and no, you can't prevent the 'extended overdraft fee' either. What? Well, why not? You were only in the hole for a total of 12 hours and it was only .50. Why would you ever have to pay $30 to borrow .50? I'm terrible at math so I couldn't even begin to tell you how much interest that is, but it's well over 100%.
Then there's the part where you have no idea what to do when you don't have any cash in your account at midnight because customer service all went to sleep and you have an emergency and need to transfer money (and don't have a handy smartphone yet, because being young is usually synonymous with being incredibly poor). Well, uh...I guess you're heading towards another overdraft fee.
And another thirty minute call.
Or, you could, you know...switch banks.
Believe it or not, not all banks are like the insane brick and mortar superpowers you see on business streets every day. Some of them are actually kind of nice, and kind to their customers, because they like them and want them to stick around. You could be one of those customers, and that would make you a lucky soul.
So how do you go about choosing a new one, anyway?
Figure out what's important to you. Banks like Ally offer free checks and reimburse all ATM fees – yes, even the ones charged by the ATM – but you don't get to have a teller to greet and smile at you when you walk in the door of the bank because they don't have any physical locations. Not having any physical locations means they don't have that crazy amount of overhead that they then have to take from your pocket, but if you need to talk to someone face to face, that's likely not happening either.
The good news is that these banks usually provide 24/7 phone customer service, and the wait time for Ally, as I type this, is literally 30 seconds. Yes, 30 SECONDS. The average wait time for Ally, ING, and Charles Shwartz banking accounts is two minutes...total. Whenever you call them, even on weekends.
Check out your extensive options. If you decide you want to do an 'online only' kind of bank, check out your massive amount of options. You can do a bank that is attached to an investment account if you'd like, or maybe you like free checks more than you like the ability to pay every single one of your bills online (though this is usually available at all online banks). Some banks even have the ability to scan checks from home via any scanner to deposit them neatly into your checking or savings account, and all banks have a slightly different idea of 'benefits', though they're all good. You just have to decide which features are most important to you and which you're willing to sacrifice.
If you don't want to go online, don't fret. There are plenty of brick and mortar banks to choose from, and some of the best options lay in local chains. There are these lovely banks called credit unions, and while they're still playing catch up with the online part of their services, their customer service and support is excellent, and they'll always bend a few policies here and there to make you happy – partially because a loss of one or two customers to them is quite a large cost for poor customer service.
So changing banks? Not such a big deal – and trust me, you're unlikely to ever see an overage fee. Ever. Again.
Elizabeth Roque is an in-house writer for Franklin Debt Relief. She presents information about debt relief programs, credit card debt reduction and getting out of debt on a variety of financial sites online.
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