Everyone needs a bank that they can trust. After all, you store all of your hard-earned money with your bank.
And while it’s tempting to keep using that mega-national bank, because they have a branch on every street corner, doing so isn’t always in your best interest.
Some things in life are best handled locally. And financial management and banking services are some of those things.
Having a relationship with a local bank near your home is very beneficial to you, as well as to your community. Local banks care far more about their cities and neighborhoods than the big banks do. The big banks of the financial industry tend to care far more about their shareholders than they do their communities.
So if you’d like to find a local banking institution to do business with, then keep reading below to learn how to choose the best banking services in your area.
Accounts Without Fees
When choosing a bank, whether you are looking for something local, or something national, one of the most important considerations is the fees associated with doing business.
In the past, it was common to have to pay monthly fees to open a checking or savings account. But today, more and more banks are opening the door to fee-free accounts. This is a huge benefit to you and you should search for local banks that offer fee-free accounts.
There are usually stipulations to fee-free accounts. For example, a checking account might have a $5 monthly fee. But you may need to maintain a minimum monthly balance, or set up a direct deposit to waive the fee.
Accounts with fees can cost anywhere from $5 to $25, and most people have multiple accounts. So choosing a bank that waives fees can save you a couple of hundred bucks a year.
Variety of Products
Checking and savings accounts are the foundation of banking products. But most consumers need more. And they’d prefer a bank that offers a little bit of everything.
Most people should have a credit card that can be used to boost their credit score. So choose a local bank that offers a variety of different credit cards, preferably those that offer some type of cashback, which is becoming more popular with local banks.
Many local banks also offer other products, such as CDs, money market accounts, or other types of investment accounts. Your local bank should offer things like personal loans, auto loans, and mortgages as well.
The more financial business you can complete under one roof, the easier it is for you to manage.
Discounts on Lending Products
Some local banks like to show their gratitude to their customers by offering discounts. For example, if you have a checking and savings account that you use on a regular basis, you might get a better interest rate on lending products as a loyalty bonus.
If so, this ends up being money in your pocket. Smaller local banks are usually able to offer more flexible solutions anyways, unlike the big players in the banking industry.
Some people handle their finances completely online. But for many American’s, moving to an online-only bank isn’t possible.
However, it’s convenient when your local bank has a mobile app. It’s awesome to be able to check your balance, transfer and send money, and deposit checks directly from your phone.
Not all local banks currently have an app or convenient online banking, but most are moving in this direction.
A Local Branch
Sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing you can stop into a local bank branch to talk to a real person, without waiting on hold for an hour. The most important consideration when choosing a local bank is, well, choosing a local bank.
If you love your town and plan to live there indefinitely, choose a bank with a convenient, nearby location. Whether you need to access an ATM, speak to someone about your accounts or a loan, or make complex transactions, the convenience of a local branch is unrivaled.
Some local banks even operate across entire regions or the whole state. For example, Farmersbankidaho.com has branches across southern Idaho.
Lake Michigan Credit Union has branches across West Michigan. But it also has multiple branches in Florida, since so many Michiganders winter in Florida, or have moved there full time but still want access to their favorite financial institution.
When you look for a local bank, there are usually one or two options that really pop out at you. Some are hyper-local, with just one or two branches, while some are more generally located, as mentioned above.
If there are too many choices, find someone in a similar life situation and ask them which bank they use.
For example, if you are retired, or nearing retirement age, ask others in the same age bracket as you which local bank they prefer and why. If you are a millennial, looking for a bank that provides the most flexible mortgage situation, find others in a similar situation as yourself and ask for recommendations.
Real-life feedback will help you decide on a bank really fast. Most people have used multiple banks, and they’ll quickly tell you which ones they love and which ones they hate.
Bank or Credit Union
When choosing a local financial institution, you usually have the option of a traditional bank or a credit union. Credit unions are essentially non-profit banks.
And because profit is the only driving force as a nonprofit, they can offer lower interest rates on many occasions. But sometimes credit unions have membership policies and only service certain clients, such as teachers, for example.
Banks, on the other hand, are usually more technologically advanced and adopt newer trends quicker. And they will probably have more branches and more ATMs in the area.
The Local Bank You Love
There’s a lot to think about when choosing a local bank. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each bank in your area to determine which one is right for you.
And while having one bank makes things easy, you can always have more than one, if you just can’t decide.
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