Ask a Nerd: What Are the Signs I Need a New Bank? | Smart Change: Personal Finances
My favorite emails over the past few months have been from my bank letting me know that the annual percentage return on my savings has increased and overdraft fees have been waived. If you haven’t received one recently, it may be time to open a new bank account with another financial institution.
You don’t have to give up your current bank if it’s useful to you. As a banker and heavy consumer, I find it helpful to have accounts at several different institutions: a traditional bank, a credit union, and an online bank.
Each account gives me something the others don’t. A traditional bank offers products or services that I cannot find in my online bank, while my online bank pays much higher interest rates. So using a mix of institutions can help you keep – and earn – more money.
Here are some clear signs that you may need to choose a new bank, or at least open a new bank account.
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You pay unnecessary fees
What was once a rare phenomenon – a bank account with low fees – is becoming more and more common. “There’s just too much competition in the neo-banking space and even in traditional banking these days to really pay fees – especially overdraft fees or fees just to have the account,” says Ramona Ortega, Founder from My Money My Future, which focuses on closing the racial wealth gap and providing quality financial advice.
There are many no-fee accounts available with no hurdles to jump through to waive the monthly fee. And more and more banks are eliminating or at least reducing overdraft feesso you definitely shouldn’t pay them.
Your APY savings have not increased recently
Even if you weren’t able to increase your savings contributions this year (thanks, inflation), you should see some more money added to your account. As we have seen many times this year, when the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, the banks usually raise their rates as well. If your bank account hasn’t increased the interest rate on your savings this year, that’s a red flag (and a green flag for switching banks).
The national average savings rate fell from 0.06% at the start of 2022 to 0.13% in August 2022, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but the best interest rates are now more than 12 times higher ( i.e. around 1.65% and above).
Your bank’s customer service is not accessible enough
You should be able to get help with your banking problems easily, through a customer service channel that you like to use. Prefer to communicate online, but your bank or credit union doesn’t offer online support? Look for a bank that answers questions and provides quick help on social media. Or, if the thought of tweeting a bank makes you cringe, many financial institutions offer more and different options. I prefer live online chat, in-app messaging, or a quick phone call after work. So I make sure my bank offers all three options, along with extended customer service hours.
If you feel more comfortable speaking in a language other than English, shop around to find one where the reps speak it, says Elena Fairley, director of programs at nonprofit Mission Asset Fund. San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps financially excluded communities access mainstream financial services. If you prefer to speak in Spanish, for example, consider a Hispanic American bank or credit union.
You will need a loan
If your financial institution doesn’t offer the loans you’ll need at competitive rates, that’s a good sign that you should consider opening an account with a bank or credit union that does.
Don’t think you need a loan for a while? Take this step now as it can be useful to have an account in good standing with a financial institution for a while if you ever need to borrow money.
“You usually get a better rate when you have a banking relationship with the institution,” says Ortega.
Opening a new bank account can take just a few minutes and the payoff can be priceless: time saved, better bang for your buck, more accessible help, and peace of mind when it comes to your finances. .