One of the first things every couple should do is to make sure they have a bank or credit union they are happy with.
Yeah I said it – happy with.
There is no reason why you two should be working hard to pay the bills and save to get ahead just to have your bank drain your accounts with fees and needless services.
I know it can be hard to switch your bank, especially if you’ve used them for years.
You worry about what could go wrong and you don’t want to deal with the hassle. Trust me, though, you want to make the switch now. We unfortunately had to find out the hard way before we made the switch.
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Needing a New Bank for Our Joint Accounts
When my husband and I first got married in 2006 we decided to open joint checking and savings accounts and keep most of our money there.
We both had free checking with two of the big banks (Bank of America and Wachovia at the time) that we opened when were in college.
Since they were student checking accounts they had no maintenance fees which was a plus. However they didn’t offer much else so neither account stood out.
Because I would be taking care of the day to day budget and bills, we opened our joint accounts with Bank of America.
I never had a problem with them so I figured it would be alright to use them.
I was wrong.
Within 6 months of opening the joint accounts, we were having problems with them.
Besides getting hit up with bank fees (now we had a monthly minimum to keep), wrong accounts being debited (bills came out of my account instead of the joint), and rude customer service (don’t even want to talk about that).
We just weren’t happy to see our savings grow by pennies each quarter. Pennies!
When you take into account the maintenance fees, we were losing money. We finally decided this was enough and we started looking at other options.
Finding the Right Checking & Saving Accounts
We started by asking around with friends, family, coworkers, and other students to see if anyone recommended their bank.
I was a bit surprised to see that most people weren’t that enthused about their own accounts.
I did find a few for a local credit union that I already had a savings account with.
The problem was that we wanted a bank or credit union with plenty of ATM access and at least a regional presence.
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Bank Features We Needed
We were on the lookout for a FDIC (or NCUA) insured checking account that would do the following:
No monthly maintenance fee
$0 required minimum balance
Free online bill-pay service
Conveniently located ATMs
Earn some interest rate if possible
We considered both national banks, regional banks, online banks, and local credit unions in our search. We also wanted a savings account that would earn more interest than what we were getting.
We also were looking for a reputation of good customer service since Bank of America left a bad taste in our mouths.
We definitely had a big wishlist for banking, but we figured if we found what we were looking for we could move the money there and not stress about switching for awhile.
Looking at Online Banks
After researching a bit, we finally decided to go and open accounts with Capital One 360 (it was ING Direct when we signed up).
After opening a savings account to try it out, we then moved to their online checking account.
Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..