Finding the Right Bank for Your Needs – 5 Things to Look For
Most of us know what to expect — more or less — out of a romantic relationship. We might not voice all these expectations in polite company, of course, but we know.
Can most of us say the same about our expectations for our banking relationships? If we’re being honest, probably not.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For better or worse, the average person devotes plenty of mental energy to money matters. But much of that energy is reserved for actual dollars-and-cents decisions, not seemingly abstract concepts like which bank to choose for your day-to-day financial needs.
In point of fact, choosing a bank isn’t an abstract proposition at all. Your choice could have significant ramifications for your personal finances and overall sense of financial well-being.
How do you know you’re making the right call? While there are no sure things in life, these five strategies should point you in the right direction.
- Mind the Independent Rankings
Banks that perform well on independent ranking lists clearly have more credibility than those that lag. Should that be your difference-maker? Perhaps; top-ranked banks tend to get high marks from real customers, too.
- Dig Into the Account Disclosures
Talk about a fun way to spend the weekend, right?
Yeah, not really. But carefully reviewing account disclosure is important, all the same. Call it a necessary evil, one that you should always take the time to do before opening a new account.
When you’re thinking about inking an entirely new banking relationship, poring over account disclosures takes on special import. There’s no rush; the bank will still be there when you’re ready to make your final decision.
- Review Legitimate Customer Feedback
While it’s important not to put too much stock in any given customer review, your peers’ opinions really do matter. Use reputable sources to find objective reviews and ratings from people who’ve actually patronized the banks you’re considering; discount anonymous reviews, which are more likely to be biased.
- Spend Some Time on the Website
If you’re serious about reviewing prospective banks’ account disclosures, you’ll find your way to the bank’s website sooner or later. Why not linger a little? You can learn a lot from a bank’s website — not least, the quality of its IT operation. That’s an important consideration if you plan to do much online or mobile banking.
- Walk Into a Branch (If There’s One Nearby) and Talk to a Banker
If you’re considering a bank with brick-and-mortar locations in your area, block out part of your afternoon to walk into a branch and speak with a real, live banker. First impressions really matter; if you get the sense that the bank won’t appreciate your business or adequately serve your needs, you may want to consider other options.
What Do You Look for in a Bank?
Most American consumers — at least, those who don’t work in finance — have little idea just how diverse American banks really are. There’s a bank (or credit union, but that’s another story) for just about everyone.
Ultimately, where you decide to bank depends on your personal needs and preferences. Do you appreciate the scale and technological capabilities of a major national bank? The accessibility and personal touch of a small-town financial services provider? Or something in between?
It’s your call — because, after all, it’s your money.