How do you pick a bank?

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coyote-smiles's picture
coyote-smiles
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How do you pick a bank?

I'm sorry, this must seem like such a silly, n00b-ish question... but honestly, I don't know who else to ask or a more subtle way to put it. 

The only bank I have ever dealt with is the one I was basically born into (my father opened my account at his institution almost as soon as I was born). They seem to be a good bank, with fairly low fees, and they seem pretty secure.  They do give loans for cars and homes and such, but I don't think they got involved with the unsafe lending practices that sucked a lot of the bigger guys into the hole of insolvency they're in now, although I really have no way to be sure (it's Digital Federal Credit Union, if you're wondering or have heard of them??)

However, I've moved, and the nearest branch or ATM is almost an hour away from where I live.  I really need one that's more local in case I manage to get a job here (yeah, I'm unemployed, sorry, but I'm not on welfare at least, and I don't have any kids, just me) and I have NO idea how to go about selecting a bank for myself. It's a pretty small city here and there don't seem to be a lot of choices anyway.

So how does one go about picking a bank?? 

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scotthw
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Re: How do you pick a bank?
black_coyote wrote:

I'm sorry, this must seem like such a silly, n00b-ish question... but honestly, I don't know who else to ask or a more subtle way to put it. 

The only bank I have ever dealt with is the one I was basically born into (my father opened my account at his institution almost as soon as I was born). They seem to be a good bank, with fairly low fees, and they seem pretty secure.  They do give loans for cars and homes and such, but I don't think they got involved with the unsafe lending practices that sucked a lot of the bigger guys into the hole of insolvency they're in now, although I really have no way to be sure (it's Digital Federal Credit Union, if you're wondering or have heard of them??)

However, I've moved, and the nearest branch or ATM is almost an hour away from where I live.  I really need one that's more local in case I manage to get a job here (yeah, I'm unemployed, sorry, but I'm not on welfare at least, and I don't have any kids, just me) and I have NO idea how to go about selecting a bank for myself. It's a pretty small city here and there don't seem to be a lot of choices anyway.

So how does one go about picking a bank?? 

 

Two ways, and doing both is even better.  First go to veribanc.com.  Pay $35 for a Blue Ribbon report for your region.  You will get it back within 1 - 3 days.   I just did this and it was an eye opener.   I picked a local Texas bank that was not only on the report (I mean, if it makes it into the Blue Ribbon report to begin with, thats very good) but it had an additional "BB" rating meaning it had been on the report for 8 consecutive quarters!!!.   Chase just lost a chunk of change to them :)

 

So then if you want additional corroboration go to TheStreet.com and check it out there.  Not all banks are covered at TheStreet.com so if it gets on the Blue Ribbon report but not onTheStreet no worries.  But if it is on the Blue Ribbon report AND you get a B+ or A TheStreet rating all the better.

strabes's picture
strabes
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Re: How do you pick a bank?

Look at the Weiss ratings.  A partial list is here on street.com:

 http://www.weissratings.com/HL_Bank.asp

They have a longer list which grades all the banks.  And they have a list of the 2 best banks in each state.  I think these are only available to subscribers to a Weiss product.

 

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caroline_culbert
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Re: How do you pick a bank?
black_coyote wrote:

So how does one go about picking a bank?? 

Who says you have to pick a bank?  Who says you have to have a banking account in the first place?

scotthw's picture
scotthw
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Re: How do you pick a bank?
caroline_culbert wrote:
black_coyote wrote:

So how does one go about picking a bank?? 

Who says you have to pick a bank?  Who says you have to have a banking account in the first place?

 

It seems to me there is a large contingent here who still feel they need a bank for paying regular bills, utilities, etc, but take all other monies "off the grid" in one fashion or another.   So I assume you are either totally off the grid or pay all your bills in cash.

 

Scott

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wildwilly1111
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Re: How do you pick a bank?

I'm a very active DCU member and I haven't visited a branch in a long time. This is how I do my transactions:

  • Cash - they're part of an ATM network, so you can get fee-free cash in a lot of places. Their web site will help you fnd a convenient free ATM, and if you can't, they also refund ATM fees (up to a monthly limit).
  • Check deposits - they recently started accepting check deposits from your PC. You just endorse the check and use their web app to scan and deposit - you don't even have to send in the check, and in most cases the funds are immediately available. They also have postage paid snail-mail deposit envelopes.
  • Credit card payments - account transfer via PC.
  • Other bills - Bill Payer via PC.
  • Other stuff - through the web site or phone support center.

A relative of mine maintained an active DCU account while living in Canada for several years. A long-distance relationship is fairly painless.

If you really need to switch, look for a local credit union. In general, credit unions are weathering the economic storm pretty well.

And if you can't find a credit union, compare fees carefully among the available institutions. This is what will cause you the most heartburn in for-profit banks.

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nickbert
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Posts: 1208
Re: How do you pick a bank?

I've been with my credit union practically my entire life, and even though I now live several thousand miles away from my nearest branch I can still easily bank with them because they participate in a credit union shared branching program.  It looks like your CU is in the same network, CUswirl (http://www.cuswirl.com/), so as long as they have another participating CU in your vicinity you should be fine sticking with your current CU.  You can go into that participating CU and deposit checks, take out cash, etc.  And sticking with credit unions isn't necessarily a bad way to go, probably much less risky than a standard bank, big or small.  Anyway I hope that helps.

- Nickbert

coyote-smiles's picture
coyote-smiles
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Joined: Apr 24 2008
Posts: 11
Re: How do you pick a bank?

Well... I sort of have to have one, to pay my bills and such.  Right now my parents are the ones giving me survival money electronically, as I don't have a job and am not on welfare or unemployment (much to my irritation with my former employer, the frakkin' heartless liar), and sending me cash in the mail would be a pretty silly thing to do - but I don't really want to talk about how completely and utterly demoralizing that's been.  It would be NICE to have just cash, and it would be NICE if I had a bit extra to put into precious metals, but alas, that's a bit impossible for me right now.

 

 It would just be nice to have closer access, a fact that was brought home to me when I had to drive to that bank almost an hour away to get out some "TSHTF" cash to buy food, just in case.  I won't be as well placed as many people, but at least my rent is good and paid for the next 5 months, and I figure at least I'm aware of the potential risks and won't be sitting on my hands if that should happen.  

 

The nearest CUswirl branch is the one that is nearly an hour (one way) away from me.   My nearest actual bank branch is about 2.5 hours' drive from here.

 

I think I may look into the local credit unions.  I would purchase the bank reports as suggested earlier, but that may have to wait until after I can manage to find work, as I don't have $35 spare (non-emergency) money lying around...

 

Thank you.

caroline_culbert's picture
caroline_culbert
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Posts: 624
Re: How do you pick a bank?
ScottHW wrote:
caroline_culbert wrote:
black_coyote wrote:

So how does one go about picking a bank?? 

Who says you have to pick a bank?  Who says you have to have a banking account in the first place?

 

It seems to me there is a large contingent here who still feel they need a bank for paying regular bills, utilities, etc, but take all other monies "off the grid" in one fashion or another.   So I assume you are either totally off the grid or pay all your bills in cash.

Scott

People don't accept money orders anymore?

investorzzo's picture
investorzzo
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Re: How do you pick a bank?

Funny thing was, I looked at some of these ratings and some of the best rating banks went under-go figure?

pleaseremoveme's picture
pleaseremoveme
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Posts: 115
Re: How do you pick a bank?

Where I come from, the government is considering nationalisation of all large banks, except one, which is a federation of credit unions not at risk of failing. So my advice would be to get into a credit union. But I'm no expert on banks in the U.S.

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