How to Choose A Bank that Fits Your Lifestyle
Consumers may not view the experience of choosing a bank as a “lifestyle” issue, but in reality, that’s exactly the chief ingredient in choosing a financial institution.
Think about it. Your consumer banking experience revolves around your personal banking experience – having a bank close to home, choosing a bank that allows you to pay bills and save money, and having a bank that allows you to leverage technology to manage your money on the go.
So, which bank fits those unique needs more than any other?
That’s a tough question, but one we’re tackling here at MyBankTracker. Just like choosing a doctor or joining a fitness club, selecting the right bank is a uniquely personal choice, and it’s a choice that should be vetted thoroughly.
A Closer Look at Major U.S Banks That Aim To Meet Lifestyle Needs
Let’s vet some of the larger banks and see how they meet unique customer needs:
Banking customers who don’t want to be hammered with excessive fees should take a closer look at TD Bank. TD Bank doesn’t charge fees for out of network ATMs, even as 87% of big banks do. Additionally, TD bank branches offer more business hours than most big banks, at 63 “open” hours a week. They also offer interest rate upgrades on their CDs when customers clear account minimum balance and transfer hurdles.
At TD bank, you’ll need to maintain minimum balance requirements to avoid checking account fees.
This online-only bank enables customers to benefit from higher than average interest rates while keeping fees low – a win-win that most brick and mortar banks find difficult to match. Most of Ally’s checking accounts don't have fees and Ally’s checking and savings account interest rates are higher than industry average.
Since Ally is online only, you can’t walk into a branch to correct an account issue.
Financial giant JPMorgan’s retail banking arm is a major player. It boasts assets of over $26 trillion and has offices all over the globe (a major perk for frequent travelers). Chase has 5,300 branches, 15,500 ATMs, and one of the most extensive mobile banking app lineups in the industry, with positive customer reviews. If you’re looking for a “one stop shopping” banking experience with a wide menu of account options, Chase may be the bank for you.
Chase’s savings and checking account rates are below industry average.
Bank of America
Like Chase, Bank of America is a banking industry colossus, with 57 million consumer and small business relationships, about 5,800 retail banking offices, and over 18,000 ATMs. Its online banking arm services 29 million users, vaulting BofA to the front of the line in retail online banking services.
Bank of America has branches in 37 states, making it one of the most easily accessible “walk-in” banks in the U.S., although BofA has indicated it will close some bank branches in the next few years.
Bank of America also boasts a distinctly small town banking experience. It offers only two basic checking accounts, three basic savings accounts, and a limited amount of CD and money market accounts. Bank of America can be great for consumers looking for an accessible banking experience with a solid digital presence, blended with old-fashioned walk-in branch access.
At an average of $35, Bank of America pins a stiff charge on checking account overdrafts. Also, its savings account yields are among the weakest among major U.S banks.
For a global “brick and mortar” bank, Wells Fargo is growing a reputation on the digital side. The bank’s website is among the most comprehensive in the retail banking sector, with a highly popular rewards presence online. Wells Fargo’s mobile banking arm offers bill payment, peer-to-peer payments, and easy-to-use mobile banking deposits.
Wells Fargo offers 24/7 customer service and a solid online web forum where customers can find answers to banking questions without having to call customer service. Wells Fargo has tailored its social media (especially on Twitter) to provide quick customer service responses as well. The bank also offers 6,200 U.S. branch offices in 39 states and more than 12,500 ATMs in its U.S. network.
Wells Fargo only offers half the ATMs as big bank rivals like Chase. That opens up higher out-of-network ATM usage fees. Also, at $35, overdraft fees are a burden to customers.
Making the Decision
Choosing the right bank for you is never an easy decision, but picking the right one could lead to time savings, money savings, and even cash and travel rewards. In order to understand what'll work best for you, focus on what you want the most from your bank.
Do you want convenience? Look for the bank with the most ATMs and the best online presence. Do you want a personalized experience? Opt for a bank with the best customer service. Do you want to make more money off of your savings? Find the highest yield savings rates. Or would you be happiest with rewards? Decide what kind of rewards you want (cash, travel, etc.) and choose the bank with the best products that pay out those rewards.
There's no right or wrong answer to which bank is best for you. As long as you focus on your priorities, you're sure to make a choice you can be happy with for a long time. And don't forget to re-evaluate your bank as your priorities change.