Moving your financial services from one bank to another can be a perplexing experience. All banks are not created equal, and there are only so many in a given community. It pays to shop around in person and online before opening a new account. Before you do, organize a list of questions and preferred services that you hope to find. That way you will be prepared to discuss your needs with the staff that you will soon contact.
Start by browsing your new neighborhood if you have just moved in. But even if you have lived here for years and merely decided to change banks, you may not have noticed other banking institutions if you have been with the same one for some time. As you go about your daily errands, keep your eyes open for longstanding or new banks in the area.
Note their location and the convenience for driving through or stopping by for banking errands. Take a look at their customers and the hours of operation. Visual inspections of this type can give you an idea as to whether you want more information about banking at one of them.
Start reading your newspaper’s financial pages. Often the bank rates, mortgage fees, and special promotions are advertised there. You will soon get a feel for what’s normal and what’s a good deal for a particular bank or the general community.
You may even find occasional feature articles about a bank’s staff or procedures. If you have access to business or finance journals, browse these as well. Such publications will keep you abreast of national or international economic trends that may impact banking rates and services. They also may have information about some of the banks in your area.
Ask those whose financial acumen you respect. This might be a coworker, friend, or family member. Find out where they bank and why. Perhaps they can give you the name of someone to contact for more information, and you will get a jump on upcoming promotions. Conversely, you may learn about banks to avoid if your acquaintances’ experiences have turned out badly with certain institutions.
If you are computer savvy, do an online Web search of banks in your area. Most if not all have Web pages or sites that provide quite a bit of detailed information, such as services provided, hours of operation, branch locations, and other details. You may even be able to submit questions via email.
But if you don’t have a computer, you can always check out the reliable yellow pages of the telephone book. Page after page of banks offer multiple listings of area institutions. You will quickly learn their street location and contact information this way. Then pick up the phone and give them a call to ask the questions you have prepared for this contact.
Don’t forget to check out the savings and loan associations and credit unions available in your region. These offer competitive rates and personal services that you may find particularly helpful.
Banking is an important part of our everyday lives. Take time to find the best possible new bank that can meet your family’s financial needs.