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Why You Should Fire Your Bank and Move Your Money.

2010 January 25

I have to thank the big banks for one thing: By jacking up my interest rates on my credit cards for no reason, they firmly cemented my resolve to get out of debt.  Since that time I’ve been looking for a way to get back at them.  But, oh, how can little ol’ me with my huge debt and small bank balance make any sort of impact?  I thought it was hopeless until I heard of this grassroots movement called Move Your Money.

What Move Your Money is doing is reaching out to everyday people, like you and me, and asking us to switch from using big corporate national banks to local community banks and credit unions.  If they are too big to fail, let’s make them smaller! The movement is gaining steam and has been featured in several national media outlets.  What a great way to use the collective power of people fed up with the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street to make an impact!

At the bottom of this post is a tool to help you find a community bank in your area.  [Also, check out our list of 5 Austin Area Banks and Credit Unions]. I was surprised how many there were around me that I had never noticed.  Right now their tool doesn’t locate credit unions, but the website has a link to another site to help you find those, too.  I’ve been thinking about switching banks for a while, and now that I can be a part of a movement, makes me even more motivated.

WATCH: Watch the clever video created by Move Your Money relating the current crisis to the quintessential holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life

COMMENT: Do you use an Austin or Texas bank or credit union? Help others who want to switch to a local bank by letting us know which one in the comments.  Also, if you use a big box bank, how is your relationship with your bank going?  Would you be willing to switch to send a message to Wall Street?

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010

    Let me first say that I’ve never met a banker that I really like all that much… Local or “big corporation”.

    While I think this idea of moving your money is really good in theory, be ready to spend more money locally on things you take for granted with that big corporation. I have been a loyal user of Bank of America for over 10 years and have never had issue with them. Things I love about Bank of America that you probably (I’ve done a little research on this) won’t get locally:
    1. Free online transactions (a lot of locals don’t have online use period)
    2. Free ATM card (I know my bank back home had a $2 monthly fee for this)
    3. ATMs all over the country (anytime you leave Austin, be ready to spend a lot on ATM fees)
    4. Multiple Locations (Anywhere I ever live in Austin will have a BOA close by)

    I could go on for awhile… but my point being that a lot of local banks(at least the ones I have spoken to) will nickel and dime you for a lot of things because they don’t pull in huge clients.

    A lot of folks will also tell you that local banks will give you that “local touch” and face to face time. While that may be true, I’ve honestly gotten the same personal touch with Bank of America. I always speak to the same guy at the location near my home and he guided me through the whole mortgage process recently.

    Anyway… just one man’s opinion. Great idea for a post BTW.

  2. zbruce permalink
    January 25, 2010

    no doubt, BOA has it’s many advantages. what i did is keep a minimal checking in BOA to take advantage of those services while moving 97% of my money to a community bank. move your money people, the major banks caused a world of shit and they should be punished. it’s the best thing we can do to make a statement.

  3. Jon permalink
    January 25, 2010

    I bank with a community institution with assets around 300 million. Here’s what I receive:

    1. 3.01% on my free checking account (no, I don’t need other accounts like a mortgage or loan to qualify for this rate. Big banks typically charge you fees on your checking account if you don’t have ancillary accounts with them as well)
    2. Free ATMs world wide (no, I don’t need to save reciepts - fees are credited back at the end of each cycle)
    3. Free Bill Pay (just about every bank and CU has this feature now)
    4. When I walk into my branch, they know my name!
    5. Because of #4, and because I’ve been judicious about my credit, I can get a loan with no problem.

    TRUST ME, there’s nothing more UNAMERICAN than banking with BofA.

  4. mateoraneo permalink
    January 25, 2010

    Actually, RayRay, that’s totally not true.

    There are a lot of great local banks (and credit unions, don’t forget them!)that have comparable services.

    I bank with United Heritage Credit Union, where I get everything free, including ATM fees refunded when I use other bank’s ATMs. I found it on Other banks are catching on and offering the same deals as the big ones. Plus, like Rachel said, no bank should be “too big to fail,” esp. after all they have done!

    I like putting my money somewhere I know is safe and working locally, not paying for some bank president’s jewel-encrusted airplane.

  5. January 25, 2010

    “I could go on for awhile… but my point being that a lot of local banks(at least the ones I have spoken to) will nickel and dime you for a lot of things because they don’t pull in huge clients.”

    Oh really?

    “In June, Bank of America (BAC) will raise its monthly fee on certain checking accounts and impose a fee on accounts that remain overdrawn. SunTrust (STI), meanwhile, is starting to charge customers a higher fee when they overdraw multiple times. Wachovia, now a part of Wells Fargo (WFC), has made it more expensive for some customers to transfer funds to cover overdrafts. And Citigroup (C) has raised foreign-transaction fees on debit cards.”(USA TODAY)

    There are many credit unions out there that just flat out kill BOA in terms of fees charged and what not. Yeah maybe you dont find one like you do a 7 - 11 on the corner of every street. However, I have been in situations where I couldn’t get a loan through a big bank and my credit union has given me loans. Why ? Because many times small community banks will look at the history you have had with them in conjunction with your credit score and make a decision, where as a Big Bank like BOA will only look at your credit score and what their bosses are saying the cut offs are.

    I also get free ATM’s with my Checking accounts and free bill pays. In this day and age , many community banks offer the same stuff as the big boys, they win for me because of the personal touch. I cannot tell you how many times MY bank has waived a NSF fee for me just because. Will BOA do that for you?

  6. January 25, 2010

    @Jon. Please tell me what bank you use. I’ve never had a bank that gave me that hi of an interest rate on my checking. It sounds like you have the perfect bank with the free ATMs and interest rates so I’d love to get on board. Dead serious and no sarcasm implied. Tell me what bank it is so I can start using it. BoA doesn’t charge me anything for checking BTW. As I said, I’m just speaking from my own experiences and have never found a bank that sounds as appealing as yours so I’ll say I’m wrong if what you say is true.

    @DW. Every negative thing you just said about BOA refers to accounts that are frequently overdrawn. I generally keep up with my balance and money going in and out so I haven’t been overdrawn in years. Please don’t take this the wrong way… but shouldn’t you have some kind of consequence if you are continually overdrawn? You’ve got to learn somehow. I have no fees at BOA for anything. Also, as I said in my original comment, I got a great home loan through BOA based on my history with them AND an okay credit score.

    I’m just speaking from my own experience guys, but I am open to a change. Anyone have a great bank they use that they could point me to? I would love to go local… I just haven’t found this incredible local bank you guys are talking about.

  7. January 25, 2010

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  8. January 25, 2010

    Great idea and I love it.

    RayRay has a few good points though. I mean, you could potentially sacrifice certain conveniences when you switch to a local financial institution. I use BofA which is great since I travel abroad a lot. I get foreign currency fairly readily and I hardly ever have issues with overseas ATMs. I use online banking quite a bit and billpay as well. Fantastic. That is, as long as they’re around…


    Bank of America would have failed if it hadn’t been bailed out by the Fed. I happen to know that quite a few local banks (my dad works at one of them), that didn’t happen to dabble in the dastardly derivatives and stormy subprime mortgage markets that ultimately devastated the devilishly dubious and decadent house of cards that the big banks built for themselves, actually fared fairly well during the recent monetary madness. And all annoying alliteration aside, the small banks the FDIC had to swoop in and close down were not the ones who played it safe.

    But I don’t think that “convenience” was the point of Rachel’s post. At least, I didn’t gather that. And it was thought provoking. Especially from an ethical point of view. Yeah, I think morality, in a way, is played out here. It isn’t about convenience at all. It isn’t always convenient to cut back on your energy consumption, or shop at your local retailer as opposed to the chain stores at the mall. It’s just kind of the right thing to do.

    I for one don’t want to reward the big ol’ BofA with my hard earned dollars. But then, what about all those conveniences? Maybe there can be middle ground here… I think zbruce had a great point.

    Perhaps keep a DDA account open and active at the big bank. Use it for Europe or Asia or travel or foreign cash or whatever. Use it pay bills, etc. But keep your savings accounts and investments at the local level. You might have to move money around more, but like gardening, it’s probably good to physically touch your hard cash more often. Cultivates growth. Relieves stress. Supports the local, smaller guy. And odds are, when the zombie apocalypse goes down, your savings will be around longer when the big boys crash and burn.

    I think I am going to call up Dad.


  9. Rachel Naugle permalink
    January 25, 2010

    Loving the dialogue, guys! Thanks!

    I agree that convenience is an important factor when deciding on a bank, but I also know that a lot of the smaller banks and credit unions either wave the fees or are part of a network of ATMs.

    I, too, would love to hear what bank Jon is using as I haven’t made the big switch yet! Please let us know!

  10. mateo permalink
    January 26, 2010

    I use United Heritage and earn interest on my checking balance, as well as getting free ATMs as long as I meet the the qualifications (access online banking, use my debit card 10x a month, all easy stuff). I pay all my bills online, and since IU have direct deposit at work, i dont really need to go in all the time.

    I know RBFCU has free checking and online banking and stuff, and their free checking actually earns a little something. UFCU has online banking and stuff too. Local banks and credits aren’t what they used to be-they’ve caught up with the times. And as Natchet said, I would much rather keep my money here in the community, where I know and trust the people, rather than wondering how much of my money is going toward fueling some bank exec’s gold-plated private plane.

  11. dan permalink
    January 26, 2010

    There are countless local banks where you can get free online bill pay, checking accounts, and debit cards. I would recommend doing an online search. I switched to American Bank of Commerce from Wells Fargo. There are a number that offer interest on checking as well, but that isn’t quite as standard. (ABC, for the record, does not. I chose it for their better business banking aspects since I am a sole proprietor. That was more important than the interest on checking I could’ve gotten from other local banks.)

    RayRay’s initial comment about small banks not having the digital, online conveniences of big banks is a leftover thought from a decade or so ago. They caught up on that quite some time ago. (Though I will admit Wells Fargo’s online banking looks prettier than ABC banks….but they do the same things, so I’ll forgive their less interesting graphics.)

    About the only negative thing possible about doing business with small local banks is the lack of a branch on every corner of the U.S. But like Rachel pointed out, many are members of ATM networks to avoid fees, others refund fees, others offer better service to make up for that inconvenience.

    But ultimately, Natchet nailed it best. Even if there is some inconvenience (which I haven’t experienced yet), it’s just the right thing to do. Much of the most important things in this global world (recycling, buying local, conserving energy, reducing waste, etc.) aren’t convenient, they’re necessary. This is another one of those things. If you don’t believe that…..refer to the global economy trainwreck of the last year and the millions of news stories explaining how the megabanks caused it. That we, society as a whole, aren’t raising torches and pitchforks in mass protest is almost as shocking as how it happened in the first place.

  12. January 29, 2010

    I HATE Bank of America. Long, long, long, looooong story.

    I use UFCU for just about everything, in addition to having both a checking and savings account at my hometown bank in Paris, Texas, which started as a Bailey-style S&L in 1922: First Federal Community Bank. I also used to work there as a teller, where I was treated fantastically, given full benefits, and got my birthday off!

    I closed all my big-bank accounts in 2006, and will never use any of them ever again.

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