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.
Needing a New Bank
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.
It was not alright.
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 maintence fees, we were losing money. We finally decided this was enough and we started looking at other options.
Finding the Checking and Saving Accounts We Needed
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.
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 billPay 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. It offered interest on both its checking and savings account and it had free online bill pay.
It’s been a few years since we made the switch and we have been very happy with the level of service they have given. While they do not have the highest interest rate now compared to some other online banks, the customer service has been great and we’re still getting a high yield savings account.
You can open a checking account with Capital One 360, simply click here to get started and get a $50 bonus!
Ally and Other Online Bank Options
If you don’t like Capital One 360, but are looking at online banking as an option, here are some popular ones right now:
Besides Capital One 360, we’re using Ally Bank for some of our savings. They currently have a higher rate than Capital 360 and so far their service has been great. We love having no hassle options. If you want to take advantage of their rates for check AND savings, open an account with Ally today.
Perkstreet Financial: Best Debit Card Options
Another option is PerkStreet Financial’s SMVisa® Debit Card. With unlimited access to 37,000 free ATMs, you can eliminate ATM fees and still have easy access to your money. Perkstreet isn’t a bank; it work Bankcorp Bank and FDIC insured bank with its accounts.
What I really like about Perkstreet is the fact that you can earn rewards with a debit card. For those who are avoiding credit cards yet would like to get some rewards for their monthly spending habits. For example, if you’re a coffee lover, every $100 you spend at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts can get you $2 back. I think if you’re already going to spend the money, getting a bit back is a good thing.
Thoughts on Finding the Right Bank or Credit Union
We’re curious to hear your take on banking. How do you feel about your bank or credit union’s service? What is the best bank out there right now? What’s the worst?
Photo Credit: nikkinoguer
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links.