Published in: Banks | April 1, 2019

Is It Time to Switch Banks?

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Should you change to a different bank? These red flags suggest it's time to make a switch. 
A couple looking at a financial statement in dismayImage source: Getty Images. 

Are you happy with your bank? Most people don't spend much time thinking about the answer to that question. Instead, it's common to just stick with the bank you have -- even if it may not be the best one to park your money with.

Don't let complacency cause you to stay a customer of a bank that's not providing you with very good service. If your bank isn’t making you happy, make a switch.

If you're not sure whether a change is worthwhile, check out these three signs that changing banks is worth considering.

1. Switch banks if your bank is making you poorer

Banks are supposed to help you save money -- right? Unfortunately, some banks end up making you poorer instead by charging you a host of fees.

You may owe money for the replacement of an ATM card. You'll likely have to pay a fee for overdrafts and perhaps even for overdraft protection. Chances are good you're going to be stuck paying for checks. Your bank may also charge you to use ATMs that aren't theirs.

An older study from the FDIC found fees per bank account generally ran around $9, and just 37% of accounts in the FDIC’s review had no fees charged during the past year. Meanwhile, 4% incurred fees that were startlingly high at more than $50 monthly.

Maintaining an account at a bank that’s taking your money makes no sense if you have other options -- and, you do. Plenty of online banks won't charge you just for the privilege of being a customer, so consider one of them.

We have a list of the best checking accounts, so check it out and focus on no-fee options including the Capital One 360 Checking account.

2. Switch banks if your money isn’t working for you

Both checking and savings accounts sometimes pay interest. If your account isn't paying you any, look for a bank that will.

The disparities between different banks and credit unions can be pretty big when it comes to interest rates. A typical savings account has an annual APY of .01% while the best high yield savings accounts are currently offering 2.0% APYs and above. 

If you don’t want to forego money your invested funds could earn for you in your checking or savings account, make sure your bank is paying you a reasonable amount of interest. You can do this by comparing the APY offered by different financial institutions.

When you shop around and compare interest rates, be aware that some banks offer teaser promotional rates that don't last for long. Others require you to maintain a higher balance or they'll charge you more fees for accounts with the best rates. You'll need to look at the big picture to find a bank that's both affordable in general and generous with the interest it pays for your deposits.

Savings accounts typically also pay more in interest than checking accounts, but there are limits on the number of transactions you can do per month so most people can't use a savings account as their sole account. Make sure you're comparing the right account types when you decide which will pay the most generous rates.

The more you have deposited in your account, the more interest you can potentially earn and the more important it is to ensure your account pays a reasonable rate. If you're hoping to maximize interest, online accounts are usually the way to go, but compare credit unions and local banks, too, as they may have competitive rates.

3. Switch banks if yours is making your life harder

Banking traditionally was kind of a hassle. If you wanted to deposit a check, you had to go to the bank. If you needed customer service, you might have to visit your local branch manager during business hours. And if you wanted to split a dinner with your friends, you had to go to the ATM and get out some cash.

Those days are gone -- or at least they should be if your bank isn’t stuck in the dark ages.

Your bank should have advanced features aimed at making life easier. You should be able to do most or all of your major banking functions online, including depositing checks. You should be able to pay your bills online, and even send money to your friends for free wirelessly. You should also be able to easily keep tabs on your account. If your bank doesn’t offer tools to help you do that, it’s time to switch.

It’s also time to switch if getting in touch with customer service is too hard. Many banks, such as Ally, offer 24/7 online chat. If you have a question, you can get it answered within a few minutes without going out of the house or even picking up the phone.

How can you tell if your bank is making your life more difficult than it needs to be? Consider your most frequent banking transactions. Does it take you more than a few seconds to do them or do you end up having to visit the bank? If so, check out some reviews of other online or local banks to see if their app features and customer service process could solve your current pain points.

You should switch your bank if you spot these red flags

There's no reason to stick with a bank that's charging you fees, not paying you interest, or isn't providing you with good service. Check out our picks for top banks to find one that's right for you, and make the switch today.

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Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 2019.