Personal finances can easily entail a web of accounts at this bank and that financial institution. In contemplating the thought of bringing all financial accounts under one roof, what are the pros and cons of such an overhaul?

Like many American consumers, my finances are comprised of different types of accounts at various financial institutions.

I have primary checking, savings, and retirement accounts at Chase, ING Direct, and Vanguard, respectively. What would it be like if I consolidated my entire financial kingdom at Chase?

The Perks of Relationship Banking

Right off the bat, it would be a major convenience to have a single place of interaction – offering a more comprehensive view of my money. Without an aggregation tool such as Mint, one is easily susceptible to tunnel vision when finances are separated.

Another little benefit is the expedited fund transfers between accounts. Moving money from my Chase checking account to my ING Direct savings account takes roughly 3 business days but I can’t touch those funds for 10 days. It would not be surprising for that transaction to clear in one day if the transfer recipient was a Chase savings account.

The biggest advantages of the all-in-one banking approach are: account upgrades/enhancements and ease of waiving account fees.

With checking, savings, and retirement accounts at Chase, total linked account balances would be enough to meet the fee waiver requirements of higher tier checking accounts. For example, I could upgrade to a Premier Plus Checking account, which has a $25 monthly fee that can be avoided with an average daily balance of $15,000 in Chase accounts. Enticing perks of this account include the ability to earn interest, free checks, a free safe deposit box, and four non-ATM fee waivers per month.

By having a higher tier checking account, I can avoid the monthly fees on Chase savings accounts. And, I’m entitled to relationship rates for a little boost in interest earnings.

Furthermore, the Premier Plus Checking account automatically helps to waive the annual fee on a Chase IRA. Though, the fee could also be waived with annual contributions of at least $1,000, by being at least 70 ½ years of age, or have an IRA balance of at least $10,000.

Hindered Growth

Despite the many Chase bank reviews that carry a negative tone, my personal experience has been flawless. However, moving all my money to Chase is not in the cards because of the stunted growth potential of my money.

Sure, all-in-one banking package eliminates pesky monthly accounts and offers some attractive perks. Cutting costs are important but several traits of Chase accounts (and of most major U.S. bank) are worthy of concern.

ING Direct also charges no monthly fees but doles out a savings rate of 0.80% APY while the relationship savings on the Chase Plus Savings account peaks at 0.45% APY (rates as of 1/18/12). And, the interest rate on Chase’s higher tier checking accounts is only at 0.01% APY. Rarely, if ever, do national brick-and-mortar banks offer rates higher than online banks.

The JPMorgan U.S. Equity Fund (JUEAX), which closely resembles the S&P 500 Index, carries an expense ratio of 0.97% and has no trading commission fees in a Chase IRA. The Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX), which also tracks the S&P 500 Index, has an expense ratio of 0.17% and also comes with no commission fees in a Vanguard account.

In 20 years on a $10,000 balance at an annual 6% return rate, that is a difference of $4,373. That’s enough of a reason to stick with Vanguard for the low fees.

And the final point against having everything in one bank: I can easily leave if the bank does me wrong – something that many Americans couldn’t do during Bank Transfer Day because their finances were too intertwined at a single institution.

Luckily, I am able to use automatic transfers and Mint to keep everything in order.

Right for Some

The all-in-one style of banking does cater to certain consumers.

Those who prefer the convenience of a single destination to manage finances, the perks of relationship banking, and the face-to-face customer service may be encouraged to have one bank hold all their money.

Just make sure that the products and services assist in achieving financial goals and be mindful of the FDIC deposit insurance limit of $250,000.

Do you have all your money at one bank or institutions? Tell us the pros and cons of your experience.

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