When Jeanine Cooper-Taylor moved to Atlanta in the winter of 1996 and opened a personal checking account with a large money center bank, she was pleased to have found an institution that offered the convenience of so many locations. She also expected to be a customer for years to come. “I like to build relationships,” says Cooper-Taylor, president of JCEC/Jeanine Cooper Entertainment & Communication. “I have had the same automobile insurance since I was 16. I don’t switch companies. I remain with the same ones [service providers] unless I am very unhappy.”
Cooper-Taylor quickly became discontented with the bank. With her hectic schedule, she found the bank’s traditional hours-9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays-inconvenient. As a result, she was obliged to use ATMs after hours. Over the course of that year, because she used alternative ATMs, she was assessed approximately $1,000 in fees.
The last straw came when a computer glitch erroneously stopped an electronic transfer to her account. She needed immediate access to those funds and although the company and its bank confirmed the wire was sent, the institution’s customer service representatives refused to take any responsibility for the incident. When the manager of the bank refused to call to check on the error, or be a part of a conference call with the other bank, she closed her account and went to her neighborhood Publix grocery store to open an account with SunTrust Bank, which had a branch there. [My old bank] was very cold and unappreciative of me as a customer,” says Cooper-Taylor. “I had the feeling that they were uncaring and not very sympathetic or accommodating.”
According to Cooper-Taylor, SunTrust’s ATM fees are lower. And because their banking hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, she rarely goes to ATMs. Her monthly fees at her new bank are $3 less, and the money orders as well as the cashier’s checks are also less expensive.
She’s also found that her new bank offers a greater number of services than her previous one. Plus she appreciates SunTrust’s personal touch. For Cooper-Taylor, her new bank is a better fit.
When should you consider dumping your bank? Errors appearing in your account, excessive ATM charges, and indifferent customer service agents are all strong indicators that you need a new bank. In fact, 20% of consumers switch banks each year because of these factors. Still, there are other red flags that should inspire you to make a switch. We polled several experts to determine the top 10 reasons you should dump your bank.
Your bank charges excessive monthly fees. Look for a bank that advertises no monthly fees for checking and savings accounts. Many banks will offer free checking for groups, direct-deposit customers, and individuals who maintain a certain amount in their checking and savings accounts. Though monthly fees and special services vary from bank to bank, on average the cost is $10 for checking and $4 for savings per month. You will have to research the institutions to determine which products are