I've been with schwab for about 1.5 months now, and I've been extremely impressed.
I was reluctant to go with such a large corporate institution, but my experience has only been positive. I don't know what a guy has to do to get charged a fee at schwab, but, I haven't been charged one yet. In addition to the niceties you'd expect from a well rated online bank (free atm use at any atm, no maintenance fees, free online billpay, etc.) there are things here you simply can't find anywhere else:
1) Free checks. I don't mean you get your first 100 checks free. I mean free checks. Always.
2) ATM fee reimbursements. I don't mean, reimbursement of the first $5 per month. I don't mean only in your state, or even your country. I mean, reimbursement of ALL ATM fees, everywhere in the world. That's right. I can take money out of an ATM in Thailand and they'll reimburse the fee.
3) Speaking of Thailand, no currency conversion fees. Other banks, in addition to not reimbursing international ATM fees will also charge you a percentage of your withdrawal just for 'converting' it to the local currency. Schwab does not charge this fee.
Aside from that, I've had to call customer service a few times. Awesome. It's not farmed out to India. It's not some stoner playing angry birds while he's talking to you. I'd swear I was talking to a real bank manager everytime. I generally hate calling customer support but, everytime I've hung up the phone with a schwab representative, I'm downright ecstatic that they are my bank.
You know, the concept of a bank fails without depositor accounts. I don't mean they'd do less business or make less money. I mean there simply would not be banks without depositor accounts. So, it's really nice to finally find a bank that 'gets' that and treats depositors as they should. Which is to say: grateful to have your money in their bank.
Dissatisfied with the soon-to-be fees at Wells Fargo, (I had been a customer for 10 years) I switched to Union Bank several months ago... lo and behold last month I received a letter from Union Bank informing me that they too would no longer be offering free checking and savings. I felt frustrated and immediately starting researching other financial institutions. I am self employed, so many fee wavers available with direct deposit are not an option for me. Charles Schwab was appealing because they recently started offering the option of depositing checks via an iphone app. In 3 separate phone calls with a Charles Schwab representative, I reiterated that opening an account with Charles Schwab was contingent on this feature. After installing their iphone app, I was surprised to learn not only that I was not approved for the deposit feature, but that this feature was only available to account holders that meet certain criteria. A few days later I received a letter stating that I had been denied based on my credit score, (a not so great, but not terrible 700) and the amount of recent inquires (I'm assuming that this is from having to open so many accounts recently). I am in good standing with ChexSystems, I have 2 credit cards with zero balances and zero overdrafts in 2 years. Apparently Charles Schwab is happy to take my money from other accounts but I'm still not good enough to use an online deposit feature? I find it appalling that I was not advised that my credit score would be a factor and that Charles Schwab will not actually release what the criteria are. This financial institution is pretty slow moving too, it took me nearly 3 weeks to open an account with them. Obviously each bank has the right to conduct business as they see fit, but by deliberately withholding this information they wasted weeks of my time. If you have mediocre credit like me and many others these days, do yourself a favor and open an account elsewhere.
My wife and I tried to set up a mortgage on our property through Schwab late last year. We went through the entire process only to have them at the last minute tell us they had erred and could not get the mortgage underwritten. They therefore offered a HELOC at a reasonable rate, which, after going through all of the paperwork, appraisals etc., we agreed to do simply for the ease. However, no further offers of anything other than a half hearted apology were forthcoming.
Once the HELOC was in place, the communication and setting up of the direct deposit payments was an issue. I followed up with Schwab with all of this and they said they could compensate by negotiating the rate of a fixed term motgage after a period of 6 months. We followed up on this recently and the rate offered was uncompetitive and I have ended up fixing a 15 year fixed rate mortgage with my local credit union at a great rate. This CU transaction has been smooth, fast and extremely professional. Even now, as I want to stop my direct debit to Schwab now that the payoff is agreed, Schwab are putting up unreasonable arguments. Bottom line is if you are looking for a mortgage with a good rate and with professional, efficient service, do not look to Charles Schwab. I have mortgaged four properties and this by far has been my worst experience.