Change is difficult. If you're anything like me, you are willing to put up with things you know aren't quite right in order to avoid any sort of potential conflict or too much change. In some situations, however, the best thing you can do for yourself is power through that discomfort, stand up for yourself, and make some changes.
Sticking with your financial institution may be one of these situations. Your money is important, and you deserve a financial institution that works best for you. It's a good practice to evaluate your financial needs and whether or not your bank is meeting them on a regular basis. As you encounter changes in your life, your financial needs will change, and your current bank might not be what's best for you following some of those changes.
Look for these eight signs which might indicate it's time to break up with your current bank.
If you start noticing more and more fees on your account, it might be time to jump ship. Between monthly service fees, minimum balance charges, fees for receiving paper statements in the mail, inactivity fees, and more, your bank might be making good money off of you for services other financial institutions offer for free.
Visit with a representative from your financial institution to see if there's anything that can be done to remove or lower the fees you're paying. There might be a simple solution you just aren't aware of that would eliminate the fees and allow you to stay where you're at. If they're not willing to lower or remove the fees you're paying, look for an account with less (ideally no) fees.
Did you recently move and now find yourself miles away from your bank's closest branch? Did your schedule at work change, making it nearly impossible for you to make it in during the bank's hours? Your time is valuable, and it's worth considering whether you should switch banks if conducting business at your current financial institution has become increasingly inconvenient.
This can be a difficult decision to make if you're otherwise satisfied with your bank, so it's important to weigh inconvenience with other factors. Virtual banking resources can make it easier to conduct business without ever setting foot in a branch again. If you do quite a bit of business in person, however, changing banks might be the right move to make for your schedule.
Poor customer service
When you're trusting a financial institution with your money, you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It's perfectly reasonable to expect good customer service and to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your money is safe at a place full of employees who are ready to go the extra mile for you if a situation arises.
If you feel like an inconvenience when you stop by your local branch to ask questions, if you have a difficult time getting to a real person when you call, or you're disappointed with how a situation was handled, these might be some indicators that you should start shopping around.
Please do keep in mind that bank employees are human and mistakes can happen. Don't confuse a human error with poor service. If an error is made, though, and isn't handled well, or if you're made to feel like it was somehow your fault, that's absolutely a red flag.
Don't necessarily expect every teller to have your name and account number memorized when you walk through the door– though some might, and that's exceptional customer service. Choose a financial institution that values you as a customer and works hard to take care of you and your money.
Stuck in the past
Does your bank seem to be lagging behind technologically? If your bank isn't keeping up with and embracing new banking trends, specifically when it comes to products like online banking services and mobile apps, it might be time to look for a place that focuses a little more on innovation and technology.
When it comes to your money, trust is important. If your financial institution has a bad reputation, it might be time to start looking to make a change. It's not a bad idea to look your financial institution up online from time to time and read what others are saying about their experiences, just in case others are facing issues you should be aware of as a customer (or even as a part owner if you use a credit union).
Of course, no one is able to please everyone, so don't go withdraw all your money the first time you see a negative review online. However, if you start hearing more and more negative things about your financial institution, or especially if it hits the news, it might be time to move your money elsewhere.
Poor interest rates
If you hear the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates but you aren't seeing that reflected in the interest you receive on your savings account, it might be time to look for another financial institution that is offering better rates. Online banks specifically are known for offering higher interest rates on savings accounts because they have lower operating expenses, so don't just shop around locally (unless it's important to you to do so).
Similarly, don't assume your current financial institution will offer you the best interest rates on a loan. If you're preparing to apply for a loan, check out the rates at all financial institutions in your area as you might be surprised to find significantly different rates at different institutions.
Your business is growing or changing
Financial institutions aren't just for individuals. If you own a business, you should absolutely be evaluating both your accounts and your options regularly to make sure you're at the bank or credit union that's providing the most for your business. At the very least, make certain you're evaluating your financial institution when making any major changes for your business.
If it's a growing business but you're finding that means more of a headache for you at the bank, you might be outgrowing your current account. If that's the case, it might be time to look for a place that's better suited to partner with business owners. Ask other business owners you trust or who have businesses similar to yours, who they use, and what they like about them for some ideas on where to start looking.
Has your bank changed names multiple times over the past few years as it has been bought out over and over again? Maybe multiple branches are closing, or you've noticed a high rate of turnover in employees?
Instability can potentially mean trouble is brewing. If you're concerned over big changes you have started noticing, looking for a more stable financial institution might provide you some additional peace of mind.
Making the change
If you're thinking, "hey, that's me!" to any of those boxes, you're probably ready to start finding a new spot to keep your cash. Carefully research where you'd like to open your new account(s). Look for a financial institution that can meet the needs your current one isn't, ask around for recommendations from people you know, and make a decision about what financial institution can best meet your needs.
Don't close your current account right away, though. Start by opening up your new account first, and begin switching all automatic transactions – direct deposits, bill payments, subscription services, etc. – over to your new account information. Keep a close eye on any checks you've written on the account you plan to close, making sure they all clear.
Know that it might take a couple months before you're able to successfully switch all automatic transactions over to your new account. Be sure to keep at least a small balance in the old account, and check your online banking daily in case you need to make a quick deposit to avoid an overdraft fee if a transaction shows up.
Once all checks have cleared and all automatic transactions are going through your new account, it's time to close the old one. Be honest with the bank representative that helps you close your account about why you're leaving. Remember that person is not likely responsible for whatever isn't working out for you, but they do have the ability to pass your feedback on to those who can influence changes. While it might be too late for you, being honest about why you're leaving might lead to a better experience for others in the future.
Remember: you owe it to yourself to keep your money at a stable, trustworthy financial institution that cares about you as a customer. If your current financial institution just isn't meeting your financial needs, it's worth your time and effort to make a change.