Chicago banks and credit unions, redux
April 24, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

What's the best bank or credit union in the Chicago area?

I just found out that I can't deposit cash, money orders, or third-party checks into my E-Trade Bank account, which is a deal-breaker. (My fiancée can't open a bank account, so she needs to deposit her paychecks into my account ... and E-Trade won't accept them, signed over and all.)

I need excellent online banking that works fine in Firefox (I do everything online), physical locations (I've learned my lesson here re: deposits), ample no-charge ATMs (or fee reimbursements for third-party ATMs), and free checking.

I'm aware of this post from 2006, but every suggestion there was shot down by someone else. Is there better advice to be had in 2008? ^_^
posted by korpios to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
ING Orange Checking, USAA if you qualify, HSBC are the big online centric banks/credit unions.
posted by iamabot at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2008

Almost everyone I know does Chase. They've let me deposit money into someone's account, no questions asked. At the branch office, that is.
posted by kpmcguire at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2008

One vote here for for Citibank. Online banking is great with no fees for bill paying (even if they have to cut a check). High-rate online savings account with online transfers back and forth to checking. Tons of physical locations.
posted by true at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2008

Chase - they seem to dominate Chicago (ATMs in Dominicks, Walgreens, Jewel-Osco plus many teller locations) - and you're pretty likely to come across them when traveling outside the region. Solid online banking.
posted by unmake at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2008

I recommend Meadows Credit Union. They're out in the suburbs but I hardly ever go because there are plenty of no-surcharge ATMS around Chicago for me to use. They have great service. You don't go into automated phone system hell when you call. And person who answers the phone actually has the authority to make changes to your account when needed. Also, their online banking is pretty strong and has standard features like online bill payment and quicken/money downloads.
posted by rsol44 at 11:28 AM on April 24, 2008

If you listen to Consumerist, Bank of America is Satan, but I've never had any problem whatsoever with them, and it seems like they'd cover your needs as well. I use Firefox for their online banking, they just acquired LaSalle, which should take care of your physical location/ATM worries (LaSalle ATMs are free for now, and all of their locations become BoA during the first week of May), and checking is free if you do at least one Direct Deposit every month.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:03 PM on April 24, 2008

If you don't need a branch in Oak Park (peeked at your profile), I'd recommend looking at Shore Bank. They're locally based, have a great reputation, and are socially responsible (if that's important to you.)

(I actually primarily bank at a tiny single location bank on the north side, but unless you live in or near Andersonville, they're probably not very convenient.)
posted by j-dawg at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2008

Response by poster: Actually, I'm paying off credit cards through both Chase and Bank of America, and once had a checking account through the latter. Both of their websites are awful.

With Chase, the worst part is the insane hoops they make you go through just to log in if you're on an "unrecognized" computer (which seems to be "all the time"), or forget your password (which wouldn't happen, except that they screw up my system for generating good passwords).

Bank of America has this idiotic two-part sign-in process involving a "SiteKey".

Both banks are effectively punishing me because other users are morons. I can has "not moron" flag, please?

I also hate Chase and Bank of America for pulling "we hope you won't notice this" changes in the terms-and-conditions on the aforementioned credit cards, trying to raise my interest rates for no obvious reason. I closed the cards as a result, but, WTF?
posted by korpios at 4:02 PM on April 24, 2008

I like WAMU, as much as I can like a bank.
posted by bolognius maximus at 4:05 PM on April 24, 2008

I use First Midwest. It's more of an old school community bank. Also try Fifth-Third. Stop into a couple of branches and talk to a personal banker and see what features they have that you like.
posted by gjc at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2008

Having been with all of the following companies, I can explain why I left and why I stayed:

1) Bank of America - consistently mediocre service garners this bank a high recommendation. I mean, what can you expect from a national bank? Their convenience-centers are a bit juvenile but friendly & it has been mentioned that each LaSalle bank is now BoA so you may have more luck there. Their website is serviceable. I like that I can log into one website and see all my credit card transactions from Chase, Citibank, HSBC, Wamu, etc. I have a lot of accounts. They have trouble cleaning up after themselves (I keep receiving a statement for 52 cents for an account I closed 3 years ago).

2) HSBC - Customer service is a joke, and good luck finding an ATM in Chicago. I dumped them after they frequently changed the terms on my savings and credit accounts and blocked me repeatedly from speaking to a supervisor. What kind of customer service says, "I don't want to bother my supervisor, especially after I explained it to you so many times." If you want free online savings, go with ING or Wamu. Atrocious web services.

3) Chase - I still have credit cards here, but that is strictly for the APRs. I've found their customer service to be wonderful--if each time you call you tell them you are canceling your account. You immediately get a top tier service agent. Their website requires many hoops (as the poster above mentioned). Lots of locations in Chicago however. I work in a real estate office and Chase regularly throws a wrench in large transactions -- in one instance they charged a fee to for an account transfer from a Chase savings to Chase checking account, simply because they processed the charge in the wrong order. Of course, the account holder was liable for a 'bounced check' fee.

4) Wamu - Convenience locations are also staffed with "hey dude" managers, but they are consistently friendly. Best bank website of all the ones I've tried. Their alerts are customizable to each account and log in is easy. Also, like BoA, you can view all your accounts in one place. They also offer free checking but with that option you cannot initiate inter-bank transfers online. One year customer, but I look forward to a long relationship.

1) Wamu
2) BoA
3) Citibank
4) Chase
posted by bdizzy at 1:36 PM on April 25, 2008

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