Why and how you should change the place where you stash your cash
Bigger isn’t always better. This is especially true of where you stash your cash. In fact, it often pays, literally and figuratively, to switch to a community bank or credit union. Below are the five big reasons why you should move your money and an easy how-to guide for making the change.
1. You’ll get fantastic service. Community financial institutions place a lot of emphasis on building strong, long-lasting relationships with their members, which means plenty of one-on-one time. They’re happy to have as many in-person meetings, phone conversations, or online chats as you want, and they’re always at your disposal.
2. They offer better rates and fewer fees. One of the chief complaints about commercial banks is their bad interest rates and exorbitant fees, but that’s not the case at a small business like Cinfed. It’s a nonprofit cooperative, so it invests back into itself and the community instead of shipping profits off to foreign shareholders. As a result, Cinfed has the flexibility to give better loan rates and to charge fewer and lower fees than its competitors.
3. They are seriously committed to community building. Cinfed, for example, is a community-chartered federal credit union, which means community support is integral to its mission. It focuses every day on providing the best financial services to local families, friends, and neighbors—the teachers, doctors, and mechanics—in the place where they live, work, worship, and raise their children. “Over the past 85 years, Cinfed has grown and succeeded thanks to support from many great people in the community, and we’ve made it a practice to continually give back and share our success,” said Jay Sigler, Cinfed CEO.
4. They have a strong stake in their members’ success. A nonprofit cooperative like Cinfed is owned by its members. Therefore, there’s a built-in partnership in which everyone, from the executives to the employees, shares a stake in each member’s success. It creates a dynamic that naturally fosters a culture of support and kindness.
5. You’ll get the same products and services as from a big bank—and then some. Community financial institutions have similar offerings as large commercial banks, including financial products (loans, savings accounts, checking accounts), and services (online bill pay, direct deposit, mobile banking). But they provide all this with vastly better customer service, better rates and fewer fees, a commitment to the local community, and a stake in their members’ success.
Ready to make the switch?!
It’s pretty easy. Plus, you’ll usually find promotional incentives that make changing even more worth your while. Once you’re done, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. Here are the seven easy steps to a better financial life.
1. Find a community bank or credit union. Start by asking local friends and family for recommendations, reading through online reviews, and visiting in person to see what they offer. (You might be able to negotiate a better transfer deal for yourself in person than what you find in the mail or online.) You should also consider the offerings that are most important to you: do you want free checking, fair interest rates, an expansive digital tool set?
2. Gather your paperwork. You’ll need a few things, like photo identification (driver’s license or passport, for example), checkbook or debit/credit cards from your current bank, and proof of your home address.
3. Go ahead and open your account! You can do so online or by visiting a branch, where you’ll receive personal assistance.
4. Move your cash. Transfer your remaining balance to your new account via check, credit/debit card, or direct online transfer.
5. Update your direct deposit information. If applicable, give your human resources/payroll department your account information and update your paperwork. You usually need to include a voided check for your new account with your paperwork.
6. Set up your online tools. Enter your digital account preferences, including automatic bill pay, e-statements, and so on. (You can have someone at a branch help you do this with you when you open your account.) Also, make sure to set up any automatic payments currently handled by your old account.
7. You’re ready to close your old account! Once your outstanding checks and last auto-payments and deposits have cleared and transferred, you’re ready to close the old account, which you should be able to do online.