Considering a new bank? Consider this

As frustrations, fees and falling interest rates at banks make headlines, subpar service and low earnings on your savings and checking accounts might have you singing the banking blues. But before you decide to switch banks, ask yourself three key questions when weighing the pros and cons of making a change.

ATM addiction?

Large banks with vast networks of branches and ATMs may keep you in the green by meeting your cash needs, especially for those who travel frequently. If you stay close to home most of the time, however, the community bank around the corner might offer attractive interest rates and better service.

In 2010, the average cost of an ATM withdrawal from a bank where you are not an account holder is a whopping $2.33. That extra expense can add up quickly if you frequently use another bank's cash machines.

Face time with your teller?

Do you prefer to bank online -- or in line? If you don't need face time with a teller, then online-only banking might be right for you. Many Internet-only institutions provide 24/7 call centers to assist account holders, and they typically offer more competitive interest rates than brick-and-mortar financial institutions. But you'll need to relinquish the option of personally visiting the bank.

Got technology?

Managing personal finances online has become the preferred method for many account holders, and now personal financing is going mobile with apps, smartphone deposits and account balance text updates. If these services appeal to you, look for a financial home that stays on the forefront of innovation.

In addition to thinking about convenience, cost savings and customer service, be sure to dig deeper to determine the level of bank safety different institutions afford to be sure that your money remains secure.


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