Rank my Banks

by Mike on July 9, 2010

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Whoa! I have 16 accounts between 4 financial institutions. Later I’ll revisit why I have so many, are the too many, and can I / should I consolidate. But for today, I want to talk about my experience with these institutions as I rank my banks:

ING Direct:
Category: Online High Yield Savings Bank

Depending on who you ask, ING may or may not belong in the “high yield” savings category. The APY is not as competitive as it used to be. In fact, there are quite a few online banks that can beat ING’s rates. Also, they are no longer just a savings bank, offering Electric Orange checking with minimal fees, business accounts, home loans, retirement accounts and Sharebuilder for investing.

One of their early claim to fame is the ability to create / name multiple accounts (often mis-labeled sub-accounts). This allowed you to separate, categorize, and budgetize you savings. (yeah, I know, I made up budgetize)

The web interface is simple, yet secure. It’s bright (orange) and not bogged down with extraneous information. I can always find what I am looking for.

Customer service is their other claim to fame. The support when calling ING is simply stellar! Everyone I have talked to has been warm, friendly and went the extra mile. Even though I don’t chase bank rates, customer service has compelled me to stick around…even if the APY is below others in this category. It’s worth mentioning that ING’s APY is higher than traditional “brick and mortar” savings banks.

One of the things that is a blessing and curse is the time between transfers. Expect 2-3 business days to move funds from an ING account to another bank. I could remedy this with an electric orange account, but I’ve had success keeping my savings isolated.

Customer Service: 9/10
Web Interface: 9/10
Bang for your buck: 7/10
Accessibility: 7/10

Overall 32/40


Scott Credit Union:
Category: “Brick & Mortar” Credit Union

I started an account with SCU a few years ago because I needed a joint account for the dance ministry. However, since then I’ve also decided to open an additional checking / savings account for myself.

Anyone who is a member of the community can have an account at this credit union. They have decent rates and are pretty friendly. They fixed my most recent mix-up without penalty.

They’ve improved their web interface over the years, but it still wasn’t great. In fact, the reason I didn’t make this my primary account is because years ago I didn’t trust their online banking capabilities.

I’m not very active with this account, but the few times I did call them I’ve been able to get speedy results. Nothing extraordinary, but not sub par. There is a credit union on the complex where I work, as well as another branch not to far from my house.

Customer Service: 7/10
Web Interface: 6/10
Bang for your buck: 6/10
Accessibility: 8/10

Overall 27/40


USAA:
Category: Online Credit Union

I started a USAA account when I was an Air Force ROTC cadet. It was my first introduction to friendly banking. Up until then, the local banks I dealt with were harsh, cold and unfriendly. I figured all bank reps were like that so USAA was a pleasant surprise. I loved the web interface, customer service, and even patriotic designs on their debit cards. Even though it was an online bank, it felt like local banking.

When it was time for me to choose a car insurance, USAA made sense…though that is also when things took a turn for the worse. During a time when I lost my job, they worked with me to keep my insurance active. However, something was not documented properly and even though I was making payments I was being flagged as late.

These consecutive late payments resulted in a suspension of my banking web services. Now, mind you, my banking accounts never defaulted during this time. I was told I could keep my accounts, but wouldn’t be able to use the web services for a period of 7 years! HARSH!

I fought this tooth and nail and they wouldn’t budge. I was forced to find a new car insurance policy and somewhere else that I could do online banking. I was allowed to keep my accounts, but without web access that rendered the Texas-based bank useless to me.

When I argued that my banking shouldn’t be effected by a misunderstanding with the car insurance…I was told it was the same company. OK, but they also sent me a premium credit card a week earlier…they couldn’t explain that.

Despite that incident, USAA is still a great bank. I would recommend them to anyone. But I would not put all my eggs (insurance, banking, investments etc) in one basket again. Who knows…maybe other banks have similar penalties and policies.

Customer Service: 9/10
Web Interface: 9/10
Bang for your buck: 7/10
Accessibility: 1/10 (with suspended service can only bank by phone.)*

Overall 26/40

*When my web service is restored, accessibility will jump to 8/10 giving them an overall score of 33, being the highest scored and my top choice*

Bank of America:
Category: Big Bank

When my web access to USAA was suspended, I needed to make a quick decision on where my direct deposits would go. I opted for BoA. The “keep the change” program was enticing, especially since they match your savings for the first month. The online banking provided everything I was looking for in an automatic payment system.

When calling, there was a very “corporate” feel. I guess it is a trade-off when dealing with larger organizations. There were fees for EVERYTHING! New laws put a leash on the “overdraft” empire and other banking games. I never understood why transactions didn’t happen in chronological order?! If I make a cash deposit at the teller window, why isn’t that money not available until the next day?

If you offer me the “courtesy” of suspending my card because you believe it’s been compromised, would you do me the “courtesy” of a phone call? This has happened a couple times and can be quite embarrassing. (Another reason for the SCU backup account!)

It is nice to have a large network of ATM and branches across the nation. This means when I travel, I can usually find a BoA. Also, if someone needs to send me money and doesn’t want to use Paypal or Google Checkout, they can usually find a BoA. Though they have changed the rules and recently made it more difficult for other people to deposit money into your account. Sigh.

I got a BoA account out of urgency to fill a need. I’ve kept it because I haven’t felt like switching. They don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them. But I’ll probably look for a better place to store my money soon.

Customer Service: 6/10
Web Interface: 9/10
Bang for your buck: 5/10
Accessibility: 8/10

Overall 28/40

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So there you have it, my 4 financial institutions of choice.

What about you? Do you do business with any of these? How would you rank your banks?

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Personal Finance Journey is a partner in GRABBBR, that is Giveaway Reaching All Bible Based Blog Readers. This is my featured GRABBBR blog post. By leaving a comment on this post, you will gain 5 ENTRY POINTS and may win cash or prizes.

Discussion is encouraged! However, only 1 comment per person will be counted towards GRABBBR, so please, no spam. For more information about GRABBBR, including how to gain additional entry points, visit the official GRABBBR page.

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Rank my Banks | Your way to wealth
July 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin@OutOfYourRut July 9, 2010 at 10:02 am

I don’t have an account with USAA myself but in my years in the mortgage business, many of my clients did, and I have to say they were one of the better institutions to deal with. I don’t remember a single time when a borrower had difficulty getting funds for closing through them. The few times I had to call them for a customer they were very user friendly.

Can’t say the same about many of the other institutions…
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Why Bundling Services Might be a Bad Deal =-.

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Charity Lyman July 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

My Father has an account with BOA and he doesn’t care for it either. Too many problems. I personally have an account with Suntrust and that works great. Never had any problems but I am very strict and detail everything.
Thanks for your thoughts on these banks.
I would like to be entered for the GRABBR Giveaway:) Already did everything else but traveling with the post now:)
Thanks!
.-= Charity Lyman´s last blog ..Venetian Mask Site Review =-.

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Mami2jcn July 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Wow…if Bank of America rates so low in your opinion, why keep that account?

I worked for years as a marketing director of a credit union (prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom) and I think banks are a complete rip-off. Credit unions offer all the services you could need, without the fees. We use a debit card for all purchases, have direct deposit into our credit union, and never need to see the inside of a branch. If we need to make a stray check deposit, we can mail it in or go to the drive-thru of a local credit union (there’s a shared branch network so you can perform transactions at any credit union within that network). Our credit union has free online banking & electronic bill payment, and the interface is very user-friendly.

We recently opened an ING savings account because their savings rates were higher than our credit union, but our totally free checking account at our trusty credit union is still what we rely on most.
.-= Mami2jcn´s last blog ..Ways to Bust Summertime Boredom =-.

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PF Journey July 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Honestly, I got the BoA account out of urgency and they aren’t so bad that I’ve been provoked to switch. I’m considering checking out Perkstreet. Ideally, I’ll go back to USAA being my primary bank…they where the best IMHO.

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PerkStreet Jen July 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi Lakita! I work at PerkStreet and hope you do make the switch. It sounds like we’ve got what you’re looking for:

-Free checking – still. While lots of big banks are suddenly charging for what used to be free checking, we’re still fee-free and there are no account minimums to earn cash-back on your non-PIN debit purchases.

-Friendly customer service. It’s actually the reason I first became a PerkStreet customer. (yep, I loved being a customer so much I came to work for them!) I couldn’t believe how nasty the people at my old bank were and how hard it was to talk to anyone! At PerkStreet we make it a point to have fast, friendly customer service. All the time.

-A big ATM network. PerkStreet actually offers the most free ATMs in the country: http://perkstreet.com/atms.aspx

-A user-friendly website. Yep, we’ve got that, and we’re always engaging customers in feedback to help us get better.

Check us out on Facebook (http://facebook.com/perkstreet) and on Twitter (http://twitter.com/perkstreet) as well.

Jennifer Scott
PerkStreet Financial
Digital Communications Manager

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Birmingham DUI Lawyer October 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I am quite surprised by how high you ranked Bank of America. Corporate is probably the best word for it. Yes they have ATMs everywhere, but if you factor in the other fees it might be cheaper to pay a small ATM fee at a bank that doesn’t make most of its money off of fleecing its customers.

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Mary October 8, 2013 at 7:20 am

Michael, a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

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