Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

How Do I Choose A Financial Institution?

With the turmoil in the world and in the economy right now, many people are moving their money out of the big banks. However, how you decide where to move your money? Here are a few things you should be looking at before you change banks:

  1. Fees. I hate fees. I personally use a small local bank and credit union, and neither of these charge fees for the majority of their services. According to, about 3/4 of large credit unions offered free checking with no strings attached! I also don’t want a bank that charges me to talk to a teller or to use a debit card. You have to ask yourself how important fees are to you.
  2. ATMs. If you use your debit card to get cash, you need to make sure that you have access to your money where you are. For us, our small bank has joined an ATM network, so we can access our money nationwide (without a fee). Some online banks will even reimburse you for fees incurred at bank machines. All of those non-network ATM fees can add up very quickly, so if you use an ATM card, you need to make sure you are taking your money out of an in-network bank.
  3. Branches. If you like face-to-face service, you are going to want to pick a bank that is close to you. However, if you do most of your banking online, this may not be a deciding factor.
  4. Customer service. For me, this is a make or break service for a bank. If you treat me horribly, I will move all of my money. I remember several years ago where a bank blamed me because their online bill pay service was not paying my bills on time (yet, everything was set up correctly and should have been issued on time). Needless to say, as soon as we could, we moved everything out of there.
  5. Technology. Most banks offer online accounts and bill pay. However, you have to do a little more searching if you want a bank that has mobile banking if that is important to you. Some of the bigger banks even let you scan a check in with your cell phone for a deposit!
  6. Ownership. Right now, this is a huge sticking point for a lot of people. Many big banks are owned by shareholders. Their main goal is to make as much money for them as they can (which means that money is coming out of their customers’ pockets). Many people also blame the big banks for the financial crisis we are in right now. Nonprofit credit unions are owned by the customers and give back to their members with consumer friendly products and services.
  7. Financial Products. Most banks/credit unions offer saving, checking, borrowing, and online banking. However, depending on what your current situation is, you may need more than that (for example, a mortgage loan or a small business loan).
  8. Rates. You want your money getting the most interest as possible. Also, you want the lowest rate on your loans. We belong to the credit union we do, because they offered us an interest rate that was 4% lower than what Toyota did when we bought our Prius! As you can see, comparing rates is very important!
  9. Safety. Most bank and credit union deposits are deposits are federally insured to $250,000. However, if you are making deposits in larger amounts than that, this is something you need to look into.
  10. Communication. How do you want to reach the bank? Online? By Phone? Chat? In Person? Make sure that your bank has a way to reach them that you are comfortable with.

Everyone has different wants and needs. There is no single answer that works for everyone. You may need to use several institutions or maybe one big bank depending on what your situation is.

How do you choose where you do your banking? Do you have any advice you’d like to add?