Bank recommendations
March 22, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations on banks which offer both checking account & credit cards.

I'm currently using Citibank, and would like to move away from them ASAP - their fees are exorbitant and their customer service is terrible.

For the credit card, I generally don't carry a balance, although maybe once every 5 or 6 months I'll carry a 500$ or so balance over to the next month. I generally pay them off entirely each month. I don't want a card which requires an annual fee.

For the checking account:
* No monthly fees. I use direct deposit for my paycheck, so this may be a factor in keeping the fees low/non-existent.
* No fees for writing ~5 checks per month.
* Low minimum balance (~750$), as I keep my savings accounts at a separate bank (ING, considering changing to HSBC as they have a significantly higher rate, 3.7 vs 4.7%).
* It would be nice if they didn't charge a fee for ATM transactions, especially from other banks. I usually do about 3 per month.
* Easy to transfer money between checking account and credit cards.
* Easy to transfer money to other bank accounts (i.e. my savings account at another bank)
posted by skwm to Work & Money (21 answers total)
I made the switch to USAA about four months ago and love it. There's NEVER any worrying about ATM fees, transfers in are super fast, there's a tiny interest paid and if you're a debit card user like I am there's a 0.5% rebate on all purchases.

Links, actual examples of refunds I got and links to the FatWallet article on signing up here and here.

The only reason I would council someone to not use them is if you have some real need for a physical bank or ATM deposits. Since my primary source of income comes in via direct deposit I don't mind the occasional need to make deposits by mail, particularly since deposit envelopes are postage paid. However if I couldn't afford the 3 day lag involved there it could be a problem.
posted by phearlez at 9:06 AM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: The only time I ever need to make deposits at the bank is when I receive money as a gift for holidays/birthdays. Mailing in my deposit would be fine.
posted by skwm at 9:08 AM on March 22, 2006

where are you? in the us? what city?
posted by BigBrownBear at 9:10 AM on March 22, 2006

You don't say where you're located, but from the lat/long in your profile it looks like you're right around the corner from me. Hi, neighbor!

I use Bank of America and have been very happy with their customer service; they have convenient branches all over NYC (they bought out/merged with Fleet Bank last year.) They meet your major criteria *except* for not charging fees for ATM use at other banks. Everything else, I'm very happy with, including online banking and billpay.

Anecdotally, however, I am hearing many many friends and acquaintances absolutely rave about the customer service at Commerce Bank.
posted by enrevanche at 9:11 AM on March 22, 2006

ditto on BofA - i've been pleased with them thus far after four months. and i think you'll have a difficult time finding a bank which won't charge for using ATMs at other banks
posted by whatitis at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: I'm in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY.
posted by skwm at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2006

i used to live there! I left NYC a couple months ago, but when I was in New York I had an account with citibank and Commerce Bank. I was actually very happy with Commerce Bank and found that I could do everything I needed to with them. I also opened a savings account with Emigrant Direct that had 4% interest with no minimums and I could easily move the money back and forth between the accounts whenever necessary. Seriously, give Commerce a shot. There are no hidden fees for anything, good hours, and friendly people. I know some people who like Washington Mutual cause there is also no minimum balance or surprise fees.
posted by BigBrownBear at 9:24 AM on March 22, 2006

Here's a second vote for USAA, if you're eligible. I've been a member for about fifteen years, and have never had a problem.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2006

Another vote for BoA. I work for a large bank not in your footprint (or that's the technical word for it) - and I've also had a few accounts at other banks. For all that you're asking, BoA is the best.

I love them, but YMMV. Bad bank/cell phone company/regular phone company/etc. stories are like assholes. Everyone's got one.

Or is that opinions? Whatever. Either way, your needs could, in theory, be serviced by any number of financial institutions. Find one that makes you happy with the people who work there, and the products they offer.
posted by plaidrabbit at 10:06 AM on March 22, 2006

I used BoA and I get charged for my checking/savings accounts. Am I missing something?
posted by surferboy at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2006

I'll add a vote for BoA. I use it for my primary checking mostly because of the convenience. I haven't been anywhere in the US where there wasn't a BoA branch nearby with an ATM machine. In the few times I've had to use their customer service (only once their fault), they have been quick to resolve the problem.

I only use BoA for checking (which is free for me atleast). For savings I use an online bank that has a much better interest rate than BoA.

While some banks will reimburse for ATM fees, there is always a limit. They won't cover the full cost for ATM machines that charge $4 for instance.
posted by johannes at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2006

I used BoA and I get charged for my checking/savings accounts. Am I missing something?

Direct deposit. BofA has at least one kind of account that's free with at least one monthly direct deposit. (Frustratingly, the types of accounts BofA offers differ somewhat from area to area, depending on who the bank used to be before they were acquired by the mothership.)

I use BofA myself and have been VERY happy with them -- the way they handled some bogus debit card transactions particularly impressed me. I call them my favorite big evil corporation.

That said, you might look at State Farm Bank as well. They have a checking account that's free with a low minimum balance and/or direct deposit, they have a Visa card with 1% cashback (must be deposited to a State Farm Bank account or used to pay for insurance), they give you postage-paid envelopes for mailing in deposits, they offer a free bill payment service, and they rebate up to five ATM fees each month. Pretty much the same deal as BofA except you can use anyone's ATM. If it wouldn't be such a pain to change some of my withdrawals around, I'd be tempted to switch myself.
posted by kindall at 11:16 AM on March 22, 2006

Here's a second vote for USAA, if you're eligible.

EVERYONE is eligible for the banking portion.
posted by phearlez at 11:19 AM on March 22, 2006

I also use and recommend USAA. I use them for my checking, credit card, auto insurance and renter insurance. I recently started using the Web BillPay feature, and it's worked out really well so far.

In addition to reimbursement of the fees the ATMs charge, the credit card rates are low and the phone customer service is excellent.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:36 AM on March 22, 2006

oh oh oh, and also I have my car loan through them.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:39 AM on March 22, 2006

I don't know if WaMu (Washington Mutual) is close enough to you in Brooklyn, but they now offer free checks, free checking accounts (no fees) and no fees for using ATMs. They also offer credit cards as one of their many services (having just bought Providian).
posted by dbmcd at 11:45 AM on March 22, 2006

You could also check out a local credit union. The banks have been attacking them lately because they look like a bank, quack like a bank, but don't pay taxes like a bank. And usually have better service. I know my credit union, and pretty much any one of decent size, should meet your requirements.
No link to mine because you have to live in Georgia to join it. But seriously, they're everywhere.
posted by SuperNova at 12:07 PM on March 22, 2006

USAA is incredible, my parents have been using it for years. but not very practical for me. i tried BoA.. had horrible experiences with being mailed my statements.. charges that should not have been there, rude customer service.. switched over to Washington Mutual and couldnt be happier...

as far as i know the only one of those things they dont offer is they do charge a small monthly amount if you use other banks ATMs but its nothing horrendous since everything else about them is free... they also just upgraded their free checking account. ive never been happier with a bank.. and there are several in the NYC area.
posted by trishthedish at 2:03 PM on March 22, 2006

USAA is fantastic, and meets all your requirements.

If you prefer banks with bricks and mortar locations, Commerce Bank is in your area.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:04 PM on March 22, 2006

I have used USAA for years, and will go ahead and chime in with my recommendation as well. My roommate uses Commerce Bank and he loves them.

Personally, I use USAA for my main account and have direct deposit there, and I have an HSBC account that I use when I have physical checks to deposit.
posted by bedhead at 7:08 PM on March 22, 2006

Just an FYI on USAA for future readers of this post: I just got off the phone with them, and according to the woman I spoke to, "regular" people aren't eligible for checking accounts with them. If you or your parents were in the military, were members of USAA, or live in Baird (?) County, TX, you're eligible. Otherwise, no. The CSR says they've changed the membership requirements recently.
posted by miriam at 7:22 AM on March 3, 2007

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