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I think it’s fair to say that most readers are looking to get better results with their finances.

One of biggest changes you can make with your money is optimizing your banking system.

Why Your Bank Matters

If you ask people about their banks I think many would either be apathetic about the no frills of their accounts or upset about being nickeled and dimed with fees.

I understand that banks are a business. They need to make money. On the hand, they are handling our money and we will act accordingly.

When we first got married we opened a joint account at one of the big banks. It was convenient and while the we were going to earning much money, we had a way to pay the bills.

If you read some of my earlier posts you know that we had a horrible time with their customer service and we were getting fees left and right.

Nothing huge, but they were eating away at our balance.

The couple of pennies we got every quarter for interest wasn’t doing anything to make us feel better; in fact it felt like a slap in the face. After dealing with it for so long, we decided to switch. However the other big bank wasn’t really an appealing option.

I had read some personal finance sites and heard about online banking. They offered much higher rates and met most of our needs. However it felt like a risk. This bank was completely online.

We worried what we could do if something went wrong. We decided to test the waters and signed up for ING Direct’s Orange Savings account for a few months. After being satisfied with everything we then switched our checking account to them.

It’s been a great decision for us as we have a hassle free banking and bill paying system with them.

Knowing that other couples are looking at making a switch, I wanted to share some tips on how you two can find the right bank or credit union for your needs.

Finding a Bank That Treats You Fairly and Earns You Money

What should you look for in a bank or credit union? That depends on what important to the two of you.

Whatever you choose, please make sure that it’s FDIC insured bank or a NCUA insured credit union.

We wanted the following for our joint checking and savings:

  • 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 offer no extra services or benefits for us, so why even get an account with them. We wanted no fees for our checking account.
  • $0 required minimum balance: I understand that if one gets a basic savings account, you’re not going to get a great rate. But then 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-have on our list as we prefer to handle our bills online due to its convenience and control. Late payments are a thing of the past as we can easily adjust dates and amounts as our budget allows.
  • 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: I know that the high interest rates of years ago is gone, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get anything. For our savings we’d like to get a competitive rates. Earning interest with our checking account is not necessary, but it’s nice that we bonus.

For some couples have ATMs close by is more important than interest rates or vice versa.

Make sure that you and your hard earned money get the service you deserve from whatever bank or credit union you choose.

Online Banks

Online banks can be a fantastic option if you like to bank by app or phone.

When we made our initial leap from a big bank we chose to go online. Besides offering much more competitive rates with savings, they also had fewer fees.

Many online banks offer the convenient option of check deposit through your smartphone which saves you time.

Some popular options for online banking include CapitalOne 360, Ally, and CiT Bank.

Local Banks and Credit Unions

I realize that online banking isn’t for everybody. In fact, for those looking at great customer service may not to look far.

Smaller, local credit unions and banks can be a perfect solution.

My mother made the switch from one of the big banks to a credit union and she has loved it! She feels like she has a partner with her finances.

Saving has become much easier and the competitive rates they offer has her paying down debts faster and investing for her future.

Not sure what credit unions are in your area? Please visit the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to see your local options.

If you live in North Carolina, check out Coastal Federal Credit Union and State Employees’ Credit Union.

Thoughts on Working Smart for Your Money

Whatever your banking choice, please make sure it suits YOUR needs.

Have your money to grow hassle free while you two take on other financial goals together.

I’d love to hear how you have taken some action and improved your finances. Have you made adjustments with your banking, budgeting, or investing?

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