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Optimize Your Bank or Credit Union Accounts

better checking savings accounts

One of the best financial decisions my husband and I made was getting joint accounts for checking and savings. It has helped us to be on the same page with our money and has helped us communicate better. Unfortunately our first bank didn’t work out for us, so we decided we needed to look at other options.

If you’re not happy with your bank/credit union or you want to optimize your checking and savings accounts, here are some tips to help. I’ve also included some alternatives to big banks.

Bank Features That Keep More Money in Your Pocket

A good starting point is making sure that your bank or credit union helps you to either earn more money and/or keep more money. We were tired of getting nickeled and dimed so we came up with a general list of what we needed and wanted.

Here’s our list:

  • FDIC/NCUA insured
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • $0 required minimum balance
  • Free online billPay service
  • Conveniently located ATMs
  • Earn some interest rate if possible

Simplify Your Bank Accounts

Keeping it simplified means you’re more aware of where your money is going and you can keep track of all of your financial accounts. I’ve wrote about automating our finances, which is huge help, but it’s not the end all solution.

Being conscious of your money can help you make the change that you need with your finances. He argues that sometimes by just making it more convenient, we’re not solving the root of the problem, just putting a band-aid on it.

Click here to start saving with ING DIRECT!

Want Better Banking Alternatives?

If you’re not happy with your current bank or credit union, than you  may want to consider some of the following options for you and your family.

Capital 360: Our Choice for Checking and Savings

Our personal favorite is Capital 360 (formally ING Direct) which we currently use for most of our banking needs. We were a little hesitant at first since it’s an online only bank, but we’ve been extremely pleased with their services. We started a savings account to try it out, but quickly added an Electric Orange checking account with it.

You can open a checking account with Capital 360, simply click here to get started!

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 works through Bankcorp Bank, anFDIC 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.

Perspectives About the Best Banks and Credit Unions

Joe D., a Couple Money reader, shared his take on ING Direct:

Our favorite bank is ING Direct, the online bank. We have one master account online, but we can break that account down into individual “envelopes,” allowing us to earmark funds to specific things. We have virtual envelopes for mortgage, car payment, vacation fund, gift fund, home repair fund, etc. So we can easily keep track of our budget!

I’m glad we’re not the only ones who love that feature!

Glen from Free From Broke offered his take on Orange Savings:

Even though rates are much lower these days they are still MUCH more than what my other bank offers.  Everything counts and everything earns more interest.  What I would get in cents with my other bank is dollars with ING Direct!

I completely agree with Glen’s observation – we’ve noticed the difference ourselves between our other bank and our savings at ING Direct (now Capital 360).

While we don’t have an account from them, I’ve heard some great things about USAA from a few bloggers. I thought it would be beneficial for readers to hear from customers.

Jesse at PF Firewall had a lot of wonderful things to say:

They offer full banking services including tons of investment options, their banking interface is modern and easy to use and their customer service has gone way above and beyond what my previous bank was ever willing to do, and it seems like the people at USAA actually care about me as a person, and my financial decisions.

I believe USAA’s biggest fan is J from Budgets are Sexy.

I recently rang them up to check on a pending transaction, and not only did they give me clear and concise answers, but they looked at my accounts and hooked me up w/ a little financial advice that i cold actually use! Remember how i’m trying to get my Emergency Fund back up and running? Well…I have been putting the $ into my savings account and was planning on hosting it there, but USAA recommended using a Money Market account for my Emergency Fund. They have a “Financial Advice” dept. which advised me of the easy online deposits, unlimited withdrawals (unlike savings), and currently the 3.35% yield (also unlike savings). How awesome is that?

They very well could have answered my original question and quickly got me off the phone like any other place…cough cough COMCAST..cough cough…DMV…haha… but they didn’t. Their service reps are knowledgeable and intuitive when “selling” their other services. But more importantly, they make my life easier.

How can you not get excited when a bank’s service creates a fan like J?

Who you decide to bank with is a personal one; I just want you to be happy with their services. You’ve no doubt worked hard for your money and want to build your net worth. Make sur ethat your bank or credit union is on the same page as you.

Thoughts on the Best Banks and Credit Unions

I’d love to hear your feedbacks and thoughts on where you bank and where you don’t. Which bank or credit union do you use for your checking and savings account? What are some of the perks of your financial place?

Photo credit: LendingMemo.com

by Elle Martinez

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..

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. Great write-up! Thanks for including me in such an informative article!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on USAA – I like to share other takes on banks and credit unions.