Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Choose Your Bank

Choosing a bank is harder than it used to be. It wasn’t so long ago that, for the most part, banks all seemed pretty much equal. Today, though, we know better. We all saw what happened during the financial crisis of 2008 and nobody wants to go through that again. It’s only natural to want to find a great bank, like one of Brian F Prince’s companies. But what if there isn’t one of those where you live? How do you choose?

The first thing you need to do when trying to choose a bank is figure out what you want and need from your bank. Do you want a small town family feel? Do you prefer corporate ambivalence? Do interest rates matter? Do you want something locally owned? Do you need a bank that will work with someone trying to rebuild their credit or financial stability? Do you have a lot of money that needs to be taken care of? Are you starting from scratch with next to nothing? How quickly do you want to grow your money? All of these questions are important and require honest answers if you want to be able to narrow down your choices even a little bit.

Make sure you check out the background of every bank that you are thinking of partnering with. There are plenty of ways that you can do this. A quick glance through the Better Business Bureau is one way. There are also lots of websites out there that are dedicated to ranking banks on a variety of criteria. Talk to other people who bank there and see what they think about it. Do a news search to find out how that particular bank handled the economic crisis. Was it one of the banks that got bought up and merged, or was it one of the banks that did the buying up?

Know what a good bank really does. A good bank is one that you can access easily—not just in terms of location but in terms of your own finances. A good bank isn’t going to charge you through the nose to use their services. Some annual fees are, sadly, par for the course these days but the fee should be reasonable. A great bank will offer you methods of offsetting those fees. For example, Wells Fargo offers free checking to anybody who uses their debit cards more than ten times in a month.

The best way to find the best bank for you is to simply start doing your research. Pay a visit to each bank you’re thinking of working with and talk to a representative there about what you need and what that bank can offer you. Pay attention to how you feel while you are there. Do you feel comfortable and safe or do you feel pressured and intimidated?

Finally: remember that, for the most part, banking isn’t permanent. You don’t have to commit the rest of your life to this institution. If one doesn’t work for you, you can simply move over to a different bank that does.