Photo: Flickr / williamhartz
Last year, we saw an incredible shift in personal finance.Individuals recognised they were being taken advantage of by large banking institutions in the form of poor service and rising bank fees, and rather than accepting it, a huge number of people did something about it by moving their money to credit unions.
I admittedly find the general Occupy Wall Street crowd to be quite annoying (but that’s a another subject for another time). I do, however, have to give them recognition for inspiring otherwise complacent consumers into taking a more active role in their finances, as well as bringing attention to the many wonderful benefits of banking with credit unions.
Even so, I haven’t made the move to a credit union myself, and continue to bank with one of the biggest financial institutions in the country — with no plans to change.
Maybe I’m blinded by love, or just a sucker for the bad boys of banking, but I can’t bring myself to walk away from my relationship with Chase.
Why I Love Banking with Chase
I don’t pay bank fees.
If your bank is charging excessive fees, you should give them the boot without second thought. Paying just one savings account fee, for instance, means your account is probably losing money.
However, you can’t always blame your bank for fees — sometimes bank charges are simply the result of poor money management, even laziness.
My checking account is free because it’s linked to a savings account that has actual savings in it. If I were to deplete that money, I would be charged a monthly maintenance fee.
Fortunately, I have no problem keeping a positive balance in my accounts. So I rarely pay bank fees, and when I do, it’s not because my bank is evil. It’s because I didn’t feel like walking a block and a half to use a Chase ATM.
ATMs are everywhere.
Speaking of ATMs, there are over 30,000 ATMs in the credit union co-op network — double that of Chase. Even so, I have never found myself in need of a Chase ATM without one closely available. Not to mention, like self-serve frozen yogurt shops, a new Chase branch seems to pop up out of nowhere every day.
I never have to visit a branch.
And thank goodness, because the last time I did walk into a Chase branch (to retrieve my passport from a safe deposit box), I was greeted by, well, no one.
There wasn’t a single person there who seemed mildly happy to see me, let alone prepared to help me. But that’s OK, I can take care of myself.
My current financial situation is simple. I don’t have a mortgage, or any other type of loan for that matter, nor do I own a business. Every couple of weeks, I transfer money from my checking account to my savings account. Sometimes I use Chase Quickpay. That’s about it.
I love the fact that Chase’s online banking system is sophisticated enough — just enough — to let me handle 99 per cent of my financial needs via the web, without having to walk into a physical branch location.
It’s Not All Roses
One of the biggest drawbacks to banking with Chase are the interest rates; they are…not good. In fact, my Chase savings account currently earns .01% APY — one hundredth of one per cent! Don’t insult me, let’s just call it zero.
Unfortunately, that’s the case with most big banks, which is why I don’t depend on my “every day” bank to earn returns. For long-term savings, I keep money in CDs at local banks, as well as in personal and retirement investment accounts. Perhaps that’s considered cheating, but I’m just trying to keep my options open.
I value convenience very highly, which is why sticking with a big bank works for me. That’s certainly not the case for other people — maybe even most people. If you value great service, competitive interest rates and an genuine interest in supporting the local community, a big bank is probably not for you.
The key point is that regardless of whether you bank with a tiny credit union that truly holds your best interests at heart, or a giant, soulless banking conglomerate, you understand your individual financial situation and do what works best for you, not what a group of homeless protestors on Wall Street say you should do.
As some couples begin to spend more time together, the less they end up liking each other. Maybe Chase and I will grow apart some day, but for now, I’ll enjoy what we have together.