Which bank do I want?
July 26, 2009 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new bank and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter? (I miss WaMu already!)

My WaMu account converted to Chase.com and I'm not impressed so I'm thinking about finding a new one, but I have some criteria:

1. Lets you download as .csv? WaMu let me download my acct activity into .csv so I could load it into my Access application that I made, but it looks like Chase only lets you download in the Quicken etc. format. Or else it's buried so deep that it'll be a huge pain in the ass to do every week.

2. The interface isn't really ugly and awkward? I thought WaMu's interface was an acceptable balance of pleasant to look at and well-organized. Chase's interface is random lists of functions in tiny print scattered everywhere that I have to pick through every time I want to do something. My old local credit union's interface was atrociously ugly and difficult so I'm wary of small local credit unions now. I'll reconsider on a good recommendation but I just like things that are pleasant to look at and easy to use.

3. Every once in awhile I find the need to visit the bank in person (Chicago) so I'm not interested in online-only.

4. I'm poor and my account balances are always low, so if it's not free, it's not for me. I've had Bank of America and had to leave them because the fees were killing me.

5. I have a little IRA that I'll need to transfer as well. One thing I like about Chase is that it shows my IRA with the rest of my accts, which WaMu does not. I don't even know how to transfer an IRA or if it's possible or a good idea.

So, what do you think? Any and all suggestions are welcome, even if they don't hit all the criteria, as I doubt I'll be able to find The One Perfect Bank (now that WaMu's gone, anyway)..
posted by amethysts to Work & Money (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Addressing #1: Is this Access app for keeping track of balances, etc?

If so, you may be interested in Mint.com or Yodlee MoneyCenter; they're free services which will automatically connect to your banks (supports most major financial institutions) and aggregate everything in one place. They also have some handy desktop/mobile apps so you don't need to deal with clunky web interfaces if you just want to know what's going on with your accounts.

As for finding a good bank, you may try watching the Bank Deals blog for a few weeks. They track interest rates, and usually offers rundowns of what you can do through their web interfaces, how hard the signup process is, etc.
posted by floam at 5:12 PM on July 26, 2009


Oh, and I guess I'll lay out what I've got: Local CU you don't care about for checking. I chose one that handily has a 24 hour ATM which electronically scans checks and immediately deposits them into my account. My savings account is a MM account through Flagstar in MI, which is far away (I live in Portland). It has kept a competitive interest rate. I transfer my money via ACH to get money I deposited here over there. It handily works as a pretty decent ACH hub, as you can link an unlimited number of accounts to it and initiate pushes and pulls from it, and it has an above-average 24-hour transfer time.
posted by floam at 5:16 PM on July 26, 2009


I have nothing much to add but congratulating you on ditching CHASE!

They are fuckers. Awful when I lived in NYC, I ditched them myself 2 weeks into the Wamu/Chase changeover after my formerly secure WaMu acc't started racking up fees never before experienced. On the day I quit, several other high balance acc't holders were there to do same as me.

Wells Fargo seems to be free checking these days under certain circumstances, maybe check them out? My impression is they do right by folks with things like IRA's. YMMV.

We just closed our CitiBank account because the fees were complicated.

Still maintain a BofA account, but a recent ask.meta poster had a bad experience with overdrafts and I'm sure we would have same if we didn't maintain focus on that balance.

EastWest Bank is pretty cruisey. I always had good relations with Bank Of California (if you are in Cali) and I always had GREAT online experiences with their website. We just opened something with CoAmerica, they may have the web features you are looking for.

Good Luck - and Good Choice to seek new banking opportunities:)
posted by jbenben at 5:18 PM on July 26, 2009


You lose out on the best banks by excluding internet only... probably you knew this but FYI. I would make sure the need to visit the bank is really a sure thing. If not, I recommend cnbt... *love* it. (They refund all ATM fees automatically, give great interest rates, have a good website & good customer service, etc.)
posted by jcruelty at 6:16 PM on July 26, 2009


You lose out on...

Speaking of losing out - you lose out every time you choose a for profit bank over a not-for-profit credit union.
posted by torquemaniac at 6:29 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Speaking of losing out - you lose out every time you choose a for profit bank over a not-for-profit credit union.

Not necessarily. There are plenty of examples of for-profit banks with good rates and amicable terms and credit unions that don't bother trying to compete and pile on the fees.

Around here most credit unions have savings account interest rates under 1%.
posted by floam at 6:41 PM on July 26, 2009



I have had very good experiences with Alliant Credit Union.
They do have free checking.
They do have IRAs. They own my car and the car loan shows up with my savings account online fwiw
They are based in Chicago (it appears only one location, I've never been there).
They allow me to download my savings account information as .csv (I don't have checking there).

bonus if you have Sprint; being a member qualifies you for a 25% discount with Sprint
posted by busboy789 at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2009


I deal with three banks. (a/c = account)

Bank of America - which is my primary a/c. Opened it as a student and it is fee-free for 5 years from date of opening. I like the free immd transfer to other BofA a/c feature so its easy for me to transfer money to friends in case I need to.

My School's credit union - Just for the free checking. It almost always has $1 in it except for a few days before I need to give out a check. It provides ACH transfers so I can transfer funds from BofA.

HSBC Direct - High Yield online payment and savings accounts. It has most of my cash. Provides free ACH transfers to other banks so I can transfer money into my other a/cs easily. Provides a debit card which re-imburses upto 3 non-HSBC Atm withdrawal charges per month. Awesome customer service!!!

I transfer money into BofA from HSBC whenever I need to make a credit card payment; and into my Credit Union when I need to give a check.
posted by bbyboi at 8:28 PM on July 26, 2009


As a disgruntled Wells Fargo customer, I don't have a whole lot to add on banks.

For IRA's however, you can do much better than a bank. Most banks are limited in the type of IRA investing they can offer. Typically CD's offer the best return one can get from a bank. The bank will also often charge a high percent fee of any investment returns (1% fees or more).

I highly recommend opening up an account with Vanguard, or similar investment company. Reasons they rock:
-Access to broad-based index funds, one of the most effective ways to grow money over the very long term
-Very (!!) low fees
-Easy customer experience

IRA transfers are pretty straightforward. All told it took me a half hour.

I really really recommend you get an IRA that has actual market funds. Given equal investments, the difference between having used a bank vs Vanguard can be literally hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you retire.
posted by dualityofmind at 9:01 PM on July 26, 2009


Floam says: There are plenty of examples of for-profit banks with good rates and amicable terms and credit unions that don't bother trying to compete and pile on the fees.

I have yet to see a story either online or in the MSM about a credit union abusing a member by piling on the fees. It is always - without exception - a bank doing the abusing.

Around here most credit unions have savings account interest rates under 1%.

If you're using a credit union share account or a bank savings account as an investment tool - you're doing it wrong.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:36 PM on July 26, 2009


I have yet to see a story either online or in the MSM about a credit union abusing a member by piling on the fees. It is always - without exception - a bank doing the abusing.

Well, just pull up the fee schedule of your average credit union. They've nearly universally got $18-$28 cascading overdraft fees, and the majority of them push "overdraft protection" very hard. Overdraft protection, if you're unaware, is the exactly opposite of what actual overdraft protection would be. They allow your bank to go into the negative so that they can ding you with successive overdraft fees for every two-dollar purchase you made beyond when you'd otherwise just had have one NSF.

If you're using a credit union share account or a bank savings account as an investment tool - you're doing it wrong.

I admire your special pleading, but I'm going to assert that high yield savings accounts are an important tool -- among others -- for most investors. What do you propose that's just as safe, liquid, yet earns more?
posted by floam at 11:50 PM on July 26, 2009


"exact opposite" and "account to go into the negative", I meant.
posted by floam at 12:02 AM on July 27, 2009


Response by poster: This back and forth over theoretical "banks" vs "credit unions" isn't as helpful as the suggestions that listed actual places and their actual experiences with them.

I have an ING account but I barely make it to the end of the pay period without overdrafting so I'm not interested in anything other than regular old checking right now.
posted by amethysts at 6:51 AM on July 27, 2009


Seconding Alliant Credit Union. I think they can do everything you want, they're in Chicago, and they're a credit union instead of an evil bank.

I'm in Oregon, so I've only deal with them from afar, but I've been very happy with them for a long time now. Their checking pays interest as long as you have a direct deposit to it -- and their interest rate on savings is generally among the highest in the country.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2009


I have a Chase credit card, I hate the retarded web interface and limited functionality. American Express and Bank of America have such wonderful, thorough, and feature-loaded websites. Why won't Chase do something as simple as e-mail my daily balance like Amex and BofA? I've heard the BofA website lets you integrate outside accounts. Also this site says they support CSV export.
posted by exhilaration at 11:01 AM on July 27, 2009


Response by poster: If anyone cares, I DID finally manage to find a bank that fits all of my criteria: National City Bank, the Chicago division of PNC. The online section has an actual, interactive demo which looked and functions to my expectation, and the fees look reasonable.
posted by amethysts at 7:31 PM on November 17, 2009


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