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This is a money saving (and earning) tip for the 50/50 Challenge.

Credit unions have seen a boost in new accounts (around 650,000 in about a month) recently and many are giving credit to the Bank Transfer Day movement.

We didn't participate because right now we're really happy with where our money is deposited for our joint accounts. However we did have our own bank transfer a few years ago when we switched from Bank of America to ING Direct (now Capital One 360).

When we had our accounts with Bank of America we had problems with bank fees, wrong accounts being debited, and rude customer service representatives to name a few issues.

Winning Bank Features

After being fed up with our old bank, we started looking around to see what options were available. We were on the lookout for a FDIC insured checking account that would offer:

  • No monthly maintenance fee: I understand banks have the right to charge what they want, but I expect something in return. with most banks the fees offered no extra service or benefits, so we wanted no fees for our checking account.
  • $0 required minimum balance: If the interest rate is pathetic, why would we want to keep a larger balance with our checking account?
  • Free online BillPay service: This is a must as we prefer to handle our bills online due to its convienence and control.
  • Conveniently located ATMs: Whether we went with a bank or credit union we needed a way to access our money after bank hours. Having ATMs nearby is important as we're trying to avoid fees from out of network ATMs.
  • Earn some interest rate if possible: Not necessary, but a bonus.

Capital 360: Easy to Save, Easy to Bank

Basically, we signed up with Capital 360 (formally ING Direct) a few years ago because they offered what we were looking for in a bank.

They also have over 35,000 in their free ATM network which makes it incredibly convenient to access our money. 

They’re now offering paper checks with their 360 Checking accounts. While the paperless checking account takes care of 90% of our banking needs, some situations require a physical check.

It’s been a few years since we made the switch to Capital 360 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.

You can open a checking account with Capital 360, simply click here to get started and get a $50 bonus!

Nearby ATMs

With unlimited access to over 40,000 free ATMs, you can eliminate ATM fees and still have easy access to your money.

Debit Card Rewards

With  PerkStreet Financial’s SMVisa® Debit Card you can get 2% cash back during the first 90 days or if you maintain a $5,000 balance. After the first 90 days you can get 1% cash back (2% if your balance is $5,000 or higher).

This can be a fantastic deal for families. It's also a bonus for those who are avoiding credit cards yet would like to get some rewards for their monthly spending habits. 

I think if you’re already going to spend the money, getting a bit of it back is a good thing.

Unlimited Cash Back

Some cards have caps on how much you can earn in cash back rewards, but you don't have that with Perkstreet. 

Open an account at Perkstreet and see if you can earn money with your checking account instead of getting fees.

Credit Unions: Local Service

Before we moved to North Carolina I did my banking at a local credit union and enjoyed it. I received great service and I wasn't getting fees with my account.

The downside for credit unions is the fact that they tend to be local.

If you're staying in your area for most of your time and your credit union has wonderful services, including online bill pay, that credit union can be a great choice.

I recommend checking out credit unions as thoroughly as your bank options. They could be a practical solution for you.

USAA: J Money's All-Time Pick

While we don’t have an account from them, I’ve heard some great things about USAA from a few bloggers.

J from Budget Are Sexy highly recommends them. Don't believe me? He has 16 accounts with them!

Choose What's Best for You

Where you bank is important, so make sure you look at everything before you switch your money over.

If you want to test the waters before making the big leap, you can link new bank accounts with your current ones.

We’re curious to hear your take on banking. How do you feel about your bank or credit union’s service?

How did you decide on which one was right for you? What is the best bank out there right now? What’s the worst?

Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino

About 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..

9 comments add your comment

  1. I had a PerkStreet account but I just opened my account at Ally. I got my debit card today 🙂 Their presence at FINCON was so awesome.

  2. I was a long-time Citibank customer, choosing them back when they were one of the only online options. My credit card gradually worked up to a $30k limit, when I got another card through my mortgage provider that gave me 2% across-the-board toward mortgage payments, so I did not use my Citi card for over a year. Then I received a notice that they had dropped my credit limit to $100, which would have wreaked havoc with my credit rating were I not frugal (paying balances in full each month) and had not built up the limits in my other credit accounts. When I called, I was told, “It has something to do with your credit report”, which was bogus, as there are no dings on the report (I checked). And a month later, they offered to increase it to $5k, again. I only keep the card because the account is over 20 years old and does wonders for the “average account age” in my credit report, and charge one small bill on it each month to “keep it active”. I’ve been pulling accounts from Citibank over time, and will drop my remaining checking and savings accounts this month, as they will start charging fees if I don’t keep a combined balance of $15k. I will be using my ING and Scottrade accounts for my banking once I finish moving automatic deposits and payments over.