My first real bank was actually a credit union (Navy Federal) while I was in the Marine Corps – they were great, but I was a young, indifferent customer. After I got out of the Marines in 1993, I signed up with Bank of America and have been with them ever since. For the first 10 years I didn’t really think about my bank: when I wanted online banking they had it, my ATM card always worked…there wasn’t much else I needed. In 2003, I decided to apply for a home loan and after a quick look at BOA’s high rates, I knew there was no chance that I would get my loan from them. In 2005, we started Wesabe and that involved the movement of non-trivial amounts of money, and BOA was a royal pain at every stage. Last week I decided to take a good hard look at BOA and here is what I came up with:
- My checking account has fees (not sure why)
- The savings account rate isn’t competitive
- I don’t have my home loan through BOA
- I do have an MBNA credit card, but that came through an acquisition and they still haven’t properly integrated it into online banking
I do know the bankers at my local branch. Chris K. has been a pleasure to work with (he went to Beverly High and I want to Venice High), and the branch manager has done everything she could do to help despite bank policies. Still, I think we are at a structural parting of the ways – I don’t like being constantly reminded that my bank gives crappy rates and sub-par products because they believe that inertia works in their favor.
If I could choose any financial institution to work with right now I’d go to USAA, but since I’m not active military they won’t take my money, so I had to look elsewhere. My wife banks with Wells Fargo, but after my experience with BOA I want to try something a little more community oriented, so I decided to look for a credit union.
After Googling “find a credit union,” I got a page where I could enter in my zip code and it popped up 23 credit unions in my area. I was on number 18 before I found one I was eligible to join (with most, you have to have a certain employer or live in a particular area). I clicked on the “About” page of the one credit union I could join and it took about a minute and a half to load, and the information and design left me underwhelmed.
I live in Alameda County and I work in the technology field. Are there any progressive/aggressive banks or credit unions that people can recommend or who want my business? I’m also going to ask this question on AskMetafilter and report back the results.