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U.S. adults on average tend to hold onto the same checking account for more than 17 years, and they often stick with their savings account for nearly as long, a Bankrate survey found. While consumers commonly avoid switching banks due to the perceived hassle, staying where you’re at could mean losing out on plenty of valuable perks.
By comparing your bank with others, you may find some that pay higher yields or meet your needs better when it comes to aspects like digital banking, ATM access and more. Here we’ll go over five reasons why it might be time to switch banks.
1. Higher APYs
Sticking with your current bank could mean you’re losing out on considerably higher interest if other banks are offering higher annual percentage yields (APYs).
In fact, most Americans are missing out on the benefits of a high-yield savings account. Only 22 percent with a savings account earn a competitive rate of at least 3 percent, Bankrate’s recent online savings survey found.
Moving your savings to a bank paying a higher APY can mean hundreds, or even thousands, of extra dollars in interest earnings every year.— Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst
“You get the additional interest without sacrificing the safety of federal deposit insurance, or access to the money whenever you need it,” McBride said. “Getting additional return without having to take risk to get it is the only free lunch in finance.”
Competitive yields on savings accounts are often found at online banks, which don’t bear the cost of maintaining branches and can pass along the savings to customers in the form of higher rates.
Many high-yield savings accounts are earning well above 4 percent right now, which is 400 times higher than the rock-bottom yields offered by many big brick-and-mortar banks.
2. Fewer fees (or no fees)
Another way sticking with your current bank could cost you is if you’re being charged monthly maintenance fees. Some banks waive the fees if you maintain a set minimum balance or receive direct deposit. However, if you’re being charged such service fees, they can add up quickly and may negate any interest you’re earning.
If your account charges monthly fees that aren’t easy for you to avoid, you can possibly save hundreds per year by finding an account that won’t hit you with such fees.
Your bank may also be charging you a fee every time you use an out-of-network ATM, and on top of that, you might also be hit with a surcharge from the bank that owns the ATM. The total combined fee for both of these charges is an average of $4.66, according to Bankrate’s 2022 checking and ATM fee survey.
If your bank doesn’t offer a large enough ATM footprint that meets your needs, causing you to be charged out-of-network ATM fees, consider finding a bank that provides more plentiful free access — either through its own ATMs or by being part of a large network such as Allpoint or MoneyPass.
3. Wider branch availability
Many bank customers prefer the sense of personal support that comes with visiting a teller to make transactions or ask questions. You’ll have plentiful access to in-person branch banking with larger institutions, such as:
Depending on where you live, you may also have convenient access to branches from the following regional banks:
A downside of choosing a bank with a considerable branch footprint, however, is that many such large banks tend to pay rock-bottom APYs. If you’re a customer of such a large bank and prefer not to lose branch access, consider getting the best of both worlds by moving some of your savings to a higher-yielding account at an online bank.
Online banks that offer high-yield savings accounts include:
4. Better digital experience
Not all banking apps and websites are created equal, as some provide a more seamless, user-friendly experience than others. If digital banking is important to you, research what different banks have to offer on the digital front.
In addition to enabling you to check your balance, pay bills and transfer money between accounts, some banking apps offer additional features such as:
- Zelle for peer-to-peer payments
- Means to lock and unlock your debit card (which comes in handy for lost or stolen cards)
- Automated categorization of your spending for budgeting purposes
- Credit-monitoring services
- Cash-back opportunities when you use your debit or credit card for purchases with select merchants
If such perks are not included in your current bank’s app or website, it’s not hard to find a bank that does offer them. Locate a bank’s app on Google Play or Apple’s App Store to see screen shots of what the app looks like as well as user-generated ratings.
5. Values you believe in
Some consumers make it a point to put their money into a bank that aligns with their values or faith, or with the causes that are important to them.
Political values: Amalgamated Bank could be an option for consumers with political leanings that are progressive. Known as a bank that serves labor union workers, the bank also supports socially responsible causes.
Faith-based values: AdelFi Credit Union are University Islamic Financial are institutions that have religious affiliations. Kosher Financial Institute is a resource that lists banks and lenders that comply with Jewish law.
Eco-friendly banking: Financial institutions that report taking part in environmentally friendly practices include Forbright Bank, Limelight Bank and Climate First Bank.
Resources for finding a bank that aligns with your values include Mighty Deposits, a website that compiles data on how banks invest their money and who owns them. Another option is the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, whose members include banks that meet certain criteria regarding environmentally friendly and community-first practices.
Additional perks of switching banks
If you’re in the market for a new bank, some additional perks to look for include:
Bank account bonuses: Some banks pay sign-up bonuses of $200, $300 or more to new customers who open accounts.
Stellar customer service: Customer service-related perks at banks may include extended phone support hours and live online chat with a representative.
Extended branch hours: If you work in an office all day, you may appreciate a bank with branches that are open outside of normal hours, such as on weeknights or on Sundays.
Swag: While this is no longer often the case, some banks give out free items to new customers. These days, the most you’re likely to receive when opening an account in a branch is a mug or a magnet.
Historically, though, some banks were known for giving out swag that was a step up from a pen or a ruler. For instance, the now-defunct First Republic Bank gave new customers umbrellas bearing the bank’s logo. And Harris Bank, which is now part of BMO Harris Bank, gave new customers a plush toy in the likeness of Hubert, the bank’s lion mascot.
How to search for a new bank
Bankrate offers various resources that can help you decide upon a bank that’s right for you. These include articles listing the best checking accounts and best savings account rates, as well as a savings calculator that shows you how much interest a deposit account can earn over time.
Instead of needing to switch to a new bank, you might decide it’s a smart move to switch to a different account at your own bank. For instance, you may find your bank offers a money market account that pays a much higher yield than that of its savings account. Or, if you’re comfortable with locking away some money for a set amount of time, you might decide to move some money from your savings account to a high-yielding CD offered by your bank.