Need new bank for household use
November 30, 2021 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I can't handle how inept my local bank is any more. Can I get recommendations for primary checking and savings accounts?

I use Schwab for brokerage, most bill paying, and long term savings.

I need a day to day bank for the part of direct deposit that we use for things like groceries, my daughter's savings account, occasional checking, and individual discretionary funds. I like Schwab but prefer to keep 'big' money away from day-to-day money--I might be tempted to transfer between accounts or use money that is there for The Big Stuff, like the mortgage.

Looking for:

1) Professional, responsive, cognitively functional customer service. Preferably, when you call, they pick up the phone.

2) I just want them not to be a headache.

3) If they do not have a brick and mortar presence, I'd like a really good online interface that includes secure messaging.

4) I do not want fussy boutique new banks.

5) I do not want a credit union.

6) I would love love love love an easy set up.

I am considering Ally-they've been doing business for twelve years and have (I think) a decent reputation. Can you recommend others? Do you like your bank? Do you feel that they are competent? I would love to feel that.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Work & Money (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've been with CapitalOne360 since they were ING Direct (i.e. something like 15 years now) and I am a big fan. I don't talk to customer service often because they make it possible to easily do almost everything I need to do online with no human interaction. When I have had occasion to talk to them (generally about bigger stuff like "I need the down payment money for my home purchase wired to this account" or "I am the designated beneficiary of this deceased person's account, what do you need from me in order to transfer ownership?") they have been pretty solidly helpful.

Although CapitalOne has been my primary bank for a long time, I've opened up probably 10 local/regional/other national bank accounts here and there over the years (mostly for sign-up bonuses) and I've always had a worse customer service experience than with CapitalOne.
posted by mskyle at 11:19 AM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been splitting my money between Ally & PNC for years. I've only had to deal with their customer service a few times and only because it was me who screwed something up (& they happily fixed it) Other than that my transactions are seamless & their online interfaces are great. PNC also has brick & mortar in some places, not where I live but I haven't had a need in the 7 years I've been here. A++ would bank again.
posted by bleep at 11:22 AM on November 30, 2021

I do not want a credit union.

In order to get a better answer, I feel like you should explain why you don't want a credit union.

A local credit union would appear to be an excellent fit for what you're asking, but you have ruled those out with no additional context.
posted by vitout at 11:26 AM on November 30, 2021 [14 favorites]

I believe, but am not sure, that Schwab Bank will let you open a second "groceries" checking account to facilitate this. It's worth checking with them about this.
posted by Scarf Joint at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Citibank has been my operating account bank since college. I use it like you do--it's the in/out account, not for big money. I don't think I've had a single bad Citibank experience in 17 years beyond something that can get resolved with a quick phone call.

I've had other checking/savings/credit card accounts with: Chase, Capitol One, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, BMO Harris, and Bank of America and have had one (or more) bad/frustrating experiences with them all.

(I've got savings accounts at Barclays and Marcus that I'm also happy with, but I think those are savings only options.)
posted by phunniemee at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: I've used Ally for about a decade and I like it as much as a person could reasonably like a bank under capitalism. Customer service has always been very helpful on the few occasions when I needed to contact them.
posted by number9dream at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I had a really terrible experience with Citi where I opened the account up in Massachusetts even though there were no branches nearby, and I made an initial deposit while setting up the account. But something went wrong with setting up my account or receiving my pin or something (I forget the details) and there was no way for me to access the account at without going to a branch (nearest branch was 100+ miles away) or waiting for my next statement, which wouldn't come for a month. So, I strongly anti-recommend Citi as a non-local bank at least. The only other bank I've used that came close in ineptitude was Santander.
posted by mskyle at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: I've used Ally for a decade. In my experience, it squarely meets all of your requirements. I rarely have had to call customer service, but when I have, they've been great and solved each issue quickly. (For example, yesterday, I ordered checks to the wrong address. The woman I spoke to was lovely and quickly fixed the issue, including ordering new checks with the correct inscription and correct shipping address, all within five minutes or so of my call. Which was especially nice considering the checks are free to begin with.)
posted by mosst at 12:00 PM on November 30, 2021

I'm probably going to get drug for this, but I've used BOA for 20 years, including two home purchases, a car purchase, checking, savings, and several credit cards. They've never jacked up anything of mine and have fixed other company's issues (Orbitz, I'm looking at you). My wife and her girlfriend both bank with BOA and the three of us transfer money around a lot with no issues. I like their app and website as much as you can like any bank's app and website. Their fraud detection is on point. I know I can be in Middle of Tiny Town Small America and there's probably a BOA ATM somewhere nearby.

I have also used Capital One (formerly Orange) since they were Orange. They're great too, just lacking in brick and mortar near me.

Ally was fine, I just didn't need three banks.

My state employees CU had a crappy website, no app (they may now) and sexist loan officers. I was not a fan.
posted by joycehealy at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Mr. Dash asked me to find a socially responsible bank for bread/butter usage a while back; I arrived at Amalgamated Bank as the best of those options.

However, the barriers/fuss associated with getting set up proved too big, and so here we stay with Bank of America (which we both ended up getting merged into after starting out at BankBoston years and years ago). It's fine. I don't think we've had any interaction with customer service like ... at all, which maybe says something about their online capabilities, but maybe doesn't, either.
posted by Dashy at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have been happy with Salem Five, a smallish Massachusetts bank that offers accounts nationwide. They reimburse all ATM fees (there's no limit) and since they're in MA, they have a state deposit insurance which supplements FDIC up to your full balance, if you happen to have a lot of cash. Their Web site isn't super-slick or anything but it has functional bill pay with e-bills. When you call you know it's a person, because who would give an IVR system a Boston accent?
posted by kindall at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: We use Ally, too, and have since 2005 when they were GMAC bank. They have their call wait time right on their homepage, and it's rarely more than 1 minute. Their app is solid, the ability to move money between accounts is straightforward (we have three accounts that we use for three different things), their fees are low or non-existent.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: Seconding good experiences with both Ally and Capital One. I like Ally’s online interface better but have not had to contact a live person. The one time I had to contact Cap One (calling from Cambodia where I was suddenly stuck without access to funds, entirely through my own error!), I easily got hold of an actual person who went above and beyond to help. MMV of course but I was very impressed.
posted by tinymojo at 12:30 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: CapitalOne: I signed up with ING a few months before it was sold off to capital one and rebranded CapitalOne360. Their checking product is fine, and the only customer service interaction I've had with them was reporting credit card fraud and I have no lasting memory of the conversation so it must have been fine. The one hassle I can recall was that ING chose your debit PIN for you, but this is no longer the case.

Ally: has slightly better CD rates, but after setting up a ladder with them I've since run the numbers on interest rates vs inflation and nobody has been exceeding inflation for years, and am moving out of savings / CDs and into Treasury I Bonds. But TreasuryDirect sets a very low bar for website enjoyability.

Bank of America: recently ive decided to pursue BofA's top tier for the extra rewards. They have local branches, which is nice. but their rates are garbage, and they apparently charge fees for outgoing ACH, and if your total balance isn't sufficiently large to qualify for free checking / savings, they apparently charge account maintenance fees. The only thing to recommend them is their 2.625% cash back card for the platinum honors tier, where it suddenly makes sense to put IRS/DMV payments on credit. And 5.25% cashback (for 1 category) with their category CC.
posted by pwnguin at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: Been a long-time Ally customer, and nothing but good things to say about them.
posted by General Malaise at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2021

I recently switched to Sunrise Banks about 6 months ago (physically located in the MSP area), and it's been great. The only blip I had in getting set up was getting mobile check deposit working - I called the customer service line, it was answered by a real person who fixed my issue in about 30 seconds. Definitely recommend.

Also, they are a certified B Corporation which is a definite plus for my bleeding heart.
posted by wearyaswater at 1:33 PM on November 30, 2021

If you qualify for USAA, I have always found their remote banking to be easy, presumably because they're used to banking with military personnel on deployment. (Their interest rates...not so much.) We've also had occasion to call them when there were problems while traveling, and got through to actual people and had the problems taken care of quickly.
posted by telophase at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Was actually really surprised to not see USAA mentioned until this far down. I hate all online banking and I really like them. I use their customer support all the time. They have secure messaging, a community forum, and a social media presence for quick questions. You can get a person on the phone OR use chat during business hours. They have a mobile app that is really quite decent and they have that functionality where you can get a dashboard that can pull in data from other banks (if you want to) so I can, for example, see my local bank's balances when I am logged in to USAA. They do not have branches most places but they refund ATM fees up to a really reasonable amount and you can mail checks or deposit them really conveniently via the app. I've been a customer for 25 years, big fan.
posted by jessamyn at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've been using Chase for probably 15ish years now without a problem.
posted by sm1tten at 2:40 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: I've also had an Ally account for years and it's been fine. Except-- it's a pain to deposit cash if that's something you or your daughter's savings account are going to regularly need.
posted by sevenless at 3:25 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have USAA and Ally accounts. I use USAA as my primary day-to-day bank, mostly because I think their mobile app is a little bit better. They’re both good on customer service.
posted by jeoc at 9:45 PM on November 30, 2021

Do you have TDBank near you? I prefer them just for being open on sundays. I haven’t met a bank that didn’t cause me a hassle but they don’t seem worse than others. And when there has been any trouble with td, at least I could count on just showing up at a branch for responsive assistance.

(My biggest problem is that I’m a rare atm user so when I eventually do go to use my atm card, it has expired (before the date on my atm card) because I exceeded some unknown period. My most frequent customer service need is a new atm card and TD can print them on the spot and they’re open to do so on Sunday). The coin machines are nice too.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 10:01 PM on November 30, 2021

I also came in to say TD. I've used them since they bought Commerce way back when and have never had a bad experience. Their hours are also much better than most banks. Their mortgage department wasn't the best, but their checking and branch services have always been great.

If you're relatively rich, BoA is also a good option, but you do need a high minimum balance and/or direct deposit to get to the decent account offerings/waived fees. BoA's online interface is more opaque than TD's in my opinion. However, their mortgage department is better, for what that's worth.
posted by snaw at 3:34 AM on December 1, 2021

I'm not sure where you're located, but I've had a number of problems with USAA. Their customer service has been very hard to reach by phone, and they've gotten rid of check deposit through their website. So the only way to deposit checks is via the mobile app or mail. They don't take deposits through ATMs not in their network, and their network, with very few exceptions, is only in the southeast U.S. They also no longer have debit-only or credit-only cards; they're all debit/credit, and you can't get an additional one on your account for anyone whose name isn't on the account.

I used to like them a lot better than I do now.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:52 AM on December 1, 2021

I like TD. I've really only had to use their customer service once, when I got married and my wife and I needed to deposit a bunch of checks that were made out by people erroneously assuming that she'd be taking my last name, and they were very easy to deal with.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:21 AM on December 1, 2021

Best answer: I've been with CapitalOne360 since they were ING Direct

Same here. I was very leery of Capital One before the takeover, but they've been fine. They're our main bank. We also have USAA (for insurance and credit card) and a credit union (for savings and the ability to go to a branch).
posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 PM on December 1, 2021

Response by poster: It's between Ally and CapitalOne360. I have an existing credit card with Cap1 that I use only to put gas in the car, so, I already have a log in? I guess? (Schwab has this weird third-cousin interface between brokerage and checking/savings--it's not that inconvenient it's just what I would expect with adding another account to cap1.)

But I'll check both out.

No credit union is just that I feel safer with money with a long term corporate structural underpinning with lots of money beneath them that makes me feel like another capitalist brick in the wall.

Also, my current bank had this super weird veneer. I'll spare everyone the story that led to this, but one of the things is that you'd walk in there and there was almost never anyone there and it seemed like the waiting room at the gate at the airport. Just a super weird vibe. I am just skittish about anything even slightly off the beaten trail.

And not Bank of America because they don't really care about non-corporate customers and it shows.

USAA -- sounds good but I don't qualify.

Thanks everyone.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:21 PM on December 1, 2021

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