Bank of America and Citi were just the beginning. Now Los Angeles Times reports that other big banks like JPM Chase are testing new fees.
The Move Your Money project encourages consumers to remove their money from the Big Six Banks: JPM Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.
Since local financial institutions reinvest their money in local businesses, boosting economic development and jobs, moving your money to a smaller bank might be the best way to fix the financial system and stand up for yourself.
But before you make the leap, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. We’ve compiled a list of three questions to ask yourself before you break up:
Is it convenient?
Your big bank may not have many ATMs in your area, so you’ve probably been tempted to visit other banks for quick cash, getting hit with fees in the process. And if you travel overseas for business, you don’t want to be stranded for funds.
More small banks are beginning to offer ATM surcharge-free networks which allow you to access more ATMs for free. The Move Your Money campaign provides a search tool where consumers can find a local bank or credit union just by inputting their zip code.
The project also provides another search tool from Institutional Risk Analytics, which lists community banks with only a grade of a “B” or better, based on government data. Use it.
What are the fees?
When Bank of America announced it would charge a $5 monthly fee for existing debit card users, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) told its existing customers to “get the heck out of that bank,” wrote Forbes.
Still, you should verify what kind of overdraft fees your new bank may be charging. On average, community banks and credit unions charge less in fees and pay higher interest on accounts than big banks.
How is the customer service?
Visit one of the bank’s branches and see how they treat you. Are they friendly and organised, or a rude, nasty mess? The worse thing you could do is switch to a bank that has worse customer service than your current one.
Smaller banks consistently have higher ratings in overall customer satisfaction than their Wall Street counterparts, and this gap has only widened in recent years, according to a report issued by JD Power and Associates.
Investigate customer feedback on sites like Consumer Affairs, or ask a customer when you visit the bank’s branch. Inquire about the bank’s way of handling business: Are deposits available immediately or does the bank hold them? How long will you generally have to wait on the phone before they successfully transfer you to the correct customer rep?
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