The last time I had to pick a new bank was about 12 years ago. Prior to joining PBI in 1999, I was with PNC. I wasn’t particularly unhappy with PNC so I stayed with it until around 2000 or so. One of PBI’s benefits was that employees could join a credit union. Everyone seemed very happy with it, and I think PNC did something to irritate me, so I joined the credit union at that point. I have generally been quite happy with my credit union, but it is a central Pennsylvania entity, so that won’t do me much good in the Philadelphia area. I think I will probably keep an account there, but I need something local as well.
Thinking about a new bank
I knew I had a few basic considerations in choosing my new bank:
1. I wanted it to have good reviews from its customers.
2. I didn’t want to go with Bank of America or any of the other banks that have tried to be such major jerks with stupid fees.
3. I needed to be able to easily deposit checks. While I have a regular job now that offers direct deposit, I still have clients. Those clients pay me by check. So this was a very serious consideration.
4. The fees needed to be reasonable in comparison with other banks.
Researching the bank
I started by looking up reviews for banks. I found three major options.
1. Large, national banks
2. Purely online banks
3. Small, local banks
I really wanted to stay away from a large national bank, for reason 2. Also, no one seems to be happy with their large banks. The reviews are pretty bad.
I seriously considered an online bank and almost applied for an account there, until I found a lot of bad reviews. That was too bad, because essentially I could have used any ATM, and the bank is planning on offering the ability to deposit through a phone app.
The small local banks had good reviews, but I was concerned about how easy it would be for me to deposit my checks, as well as ATM fees. Then I found myself wondering, might there be a small local bank that has good reviews and offers the ability to deposit through an app?
Much to my surprise, there is! I found a bank that is literally 5 minutes from me in a shopping center. It isn’t that convenient generally because it doesn’t have a drive through, but it does have an app for bank deposits. It also belongs to a consortium of ATMs so though the bank is small, the ATM availability is large. In addition, the bank is extremely well reviewed. I was even able to apply for an account online. Now I am just waiting for the decision, though I cannot imagine why I would be turned down for a bank account.
Side note, until about 7 years ago I didn’t know that people could have such bad histories that banks wouldn’t give them an account. I know that is naive of me, but it just never had come up. Then I met some people who told me they couldn’t get bank accounts. They also told me why and yeah, it made sense.
Technology makes all the difference
Anyway, I am pleased that I can give a small, local bank my business, and that I have found a bank that meets all of my needs. This shows how wonderful the Internet and smart phones can be for a small business. In many ways, a small bank cannot compete with a large one, but by taking advantage of technology, this tiny bank (about 5 branches) has been able to win my business. In addition, by forming a consortium with various ATMs, small banks can provide the same service as large banks in terms of numbers and locations of machines. Hopefully this new bank won’t let me down.