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If you use a Big Bank, you deserve to be treated like crap

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Sorry guys, no more sympathy from me.

If you continue to use a Big Bank like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, you deserve to be treated like shit.

I hate them, but it’s not their fault. It’s your fault.

After I’ve warned you for years how duplicitous and scammy these banks are, you continue to use them because you’re too lazy to switch away (which takes approximately 1 week of your life). There are plenty of other options that offer better service, higher interest rates, and no fees. But no. Your indolence rules the day.

This article shows you precisely what I mean: For banks, being terrible to YOU…is great for their business.

“First came the unhelpful bank tellers. Then the unexplained monthly fees. Then the fumbled mortgage application.

When Richard X. Bove encountered this string of bad experiences at his Wells Fargo branch in suburban Tampa, he didn’t sit quietly and fume like other Americans who have grown frustrated with their banks. He began by moving his business to a bank down the street — then he used his platform as one of the nation’s most outspoken bank analysts to tell his story to thousands of clients.

But instead of trashing the bank and its stock, Mr. Bove in his Tuesday note shared his latest epiphany: catering to customers may actually distract from the pursuit of making money in the new world of finance. What really matters, he now believes, is pushing products and managing risk.

“I’m struck by the fact that the service is so bad, and yet the company is so good,” said Mr. Bove, an analyst with Rochdale Securities.”

Amazing. This is actually in print in the New York Times.

Do you guys get it? Banks are not governed by the same laws of customer service, supply, and demand that other companies are. It has to do with the multi-billion-dollar lobby they employ…andthe extraordinary capital required to become a nationally known bank (I’m looking at you, horribly marketed credit unions)…and the complicated regulatory environment.

It doesn’t matter!

You can try to change the banking system. And you will fail.

Or you can change your BANK…and you will live a life knowing they’re not trying to screw you at every turn.

By the way, if you look deeper, you realize that this odd paradox of treating customers horribly — and still growing — is common in other industries, too.

For historical reference, let’s look at airlines, one of our famed industries featuring legendary technology and safety. Yet as a business, airlines are truly dysfunctional. As Warren Buffett famously said, “…if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”

In the 90s, airlines began surveying customers to find out their biggest pain points. The response came back loud and clear: Customers were tired of being cramped into too-small seats. They wanted more legroom, damnit!

Like any rational business, airlines responded. In 2000, American Airlines rolled out a new initiative called “More Room Throughout Coach.” They heavily advertised their roomier planes and patted themselves on the back for listening to customers. Then they waited for the customers to come.

The result?

Revenue dropped like a rock. Customers claimed they were willing to pay for more legroom…but they weren’t.

Think about it: When we shop for an airline, what do we do? We shop almost exclusively on price: We go to Orbitz and scan down the left side of the pagefor the cheapest fare.

Airlines have responded accordingly. No more frills. No more friendly attractive flight attendants. No more upgraded planes.

We deserve it.

Yes, there are regulatory issues and scammy lobbying at play here too…but at a fundamental level, if companies can get away with offering poor service and consumers don’t bolt, they will.

Like airlines, banks continue treating us like shit. We let them get away with it. They keep on doing it and making billions of dollars.

By the way, these Big Banks know I hate them. I have a friend who works at one Big Bank. She told me she saw a report outlining “Digital Influencers,” and I was on it. Pretty cool, I said. Then she told me I was considered a “Negative Influencer.” PERHAPS IT’S BECAUSE I CALL THEIR FAT ASSES OUT BY NAME FOR SCAMMING AMERICANS IN A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING BOOK AND A BLOG WITH 350,000+ MONTHLY READERS.

Oops. Looks like I won’t be doing any partnerships with these companies any time soon.

You have a choice.

You can sit around, bemoaning the state of banks and complaining about your airline. Or you can actually make a choice. Not to make a political statement. But simply to have a better life.

When you start using the right companies — companies you trust, companies that treat you with respect, and companies where it just works — there’s nothing like it.

It’s not just the money and time saved, although that’s reason enough to switch. It’s also the peace of mind knowing they’re not just waiting for an opportunity to screw you. They’re actually committing to taking care of you and your financial needs.

It’s rare having even a few trusted companies on our side. For example, when I order from Amazon, I know it’ll come on time or earlier. And if something’s wrong, I know I can get it fixed instantly.

I’ve found a few companies that I do business with for my banking and credit cards.

Here today are my recommended companies. After an exhaustive search, these are the actual accounts I decided to personally use. They let me spend less than 1 hour/month on my finances.

These are affiliate links because I trust and recommend the products.

If you’re new to this site and want to get my other recommendations for the best accounts, sign up (free) here.

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92 Comments

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  1. Here’s my two cents.

    I bank with Wells Fargo. I haven’t had to talk to anyone there within the last year and a half:

    – Their ATMs let me deposit checks, cash, unicorn tears, and good intentions; magically reading the handwritten dollar amount from the checks, and giving me confirmation of the total deposit amount, and an email receipt. I have a Gmail filter that automatically stuffs these receipts away for data entry into my tax software (business account).

    – Their online banking lets me automate the movement of money from wherever to wherever else whenever I want, just like your book prescribes. (Thanks for that, by the way. Best financial advice I’ve ever received!)

    The only reason I’ve had to interact with them lately has been their mortgage refi. I’m trying to shorten my term from 30 years to 15, but because I have negative equity (bought in 2007), they won’t touch me, even though they are servicing the loan currently (Seems like they’d want me to get that LTV back up as quickly as possible, but I guess not).

    So for someone like me who appreciates the fact that I never have to get upsold by a teller, and love their ATMs to pieces, how does this work if I want to switch to Schwab for a checking account? How does one deposit cash to their checking account without a physical location? It seems to me that having a savings account in one place, checking account in another, and credit card in a third, there would be major delays in transfers of the money.

    I’m not poo-poo’ing the idea of these great recommendations of yours. It just seems that in my case, I would be losing a lot of convenience to fix something that for me isn’t really broken due to my vacuum of human interaction (with the banks… I do have a life lol).

    Curious to hear your thoughts. Perhaps I’m thinking of this incorrectly.

    • If it works, it works. Just rest assured that one day, your Big Bank will find a way to screw you. On that day, you will think of me, and I will be smiling.

    • Can’t argue with that, Ramit! I know they’re always circling like vultures. When I used to make deposits in the store, they always tried to sell me on a savings account. They were pushy and hard to work with.

    • I use Schwab for checking, ING for savings and an Amex. I deposit checks via mail or their app. I transfer money online. It’s not laborious or inconvenient at all.

    • I have 2 checking accounts: one at Wells Fargo and 1 with Schwab. I only keep a couple bucks in the WF one, just to use on the off-chance that I’d want to deposit cash some time. But I mean, ask yourself how often are you really going to be depositing cash?

      I use direct deposit to get all my money into Schwab, but when I get a check from grandma or a roommate I’ll just use their (awesome) mobile app to deposit it with a photo. The wf checking account isn’t horrible, but things like the atm refunds and interest make schwab superior IMHO.

    • Schwab Bank is a small bank?!

      I’m glad the bank treats you well, but a simple Google search turns up lots of people who aren’t happy with them too. Big, small, does size really matter? OK, terrible choice of words.

      I thought you were going to say some small credit union, or Simple Bank (which has impossibly good customer service, not just for a bank, but for any business), or Ally, or any one of the new innovative startups that have the financial backing of large commercial banks but somehow cut a deal to maintain their autonomy.

  2. […] If you use a Big Bank, you deserve to be treated like crap is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich […]

  3. When people choose complacency, they often times get what they have deserve. In this case, banks that offer ho-hum service. Yes, these financial institutions know that people are inherently lazy and will choose the default option over taking an active approach. As the saying goes: Following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked.

    As somebody that is invested in WF and BOA, I like knowing that people are lazy. I have no problem making money off of the lazy and ignorant. With that being said, I closed my WF account last April because of a poor customer service experience. I used an outside ATM because I had no other option at the time…The ATM charged me a fee (I don’t like paying it, but it’s the cost of convenience) and then WF charged me $2 (a separate fee) for using an ATM. WTF, they didn’t do anything for that two bucks, so I called and asked to be credited. I actually called three times and then asked for a supervisor. The response? “Sorry, it’s in the terms of service. The fee stands.” Ummmm…I had tens of thousands of dollars in that account paying a 0.05% APY; I’m not a banker, but it probably would have been more worthwhile to just credit the $2 and shut me up.

    I transferred all of my banking needs over to ING (they’ve had my business for about 10 years anyway)…Making 0.80% APY (not a phenomenal yield, but not horrible for now). I found a credit union in San Francisco that people raved about and use them for any local transactions. They are, without a doubt, the best of the best. I hesitate to share the name of the credit union because I don’t want a good thing to be ruined (yes, I’m selfish). I’ve yet to pay a fee yet (including ATM — they automatically reimburse), they’re friendly and exceptionally efficient…I think I’ve hit the financial institution jackpot.

    I have a friend that uses Schwab for his checking. They also reimburse ATM fees and have phenomenal customer service. The thing that swayed me away from them is that there’s no easy way to deposit cash on those rare occasions that you need to throw a few bills into an ATM to keep from burning a hole in your pocket. I would have likely gone with Schwab if I hadn’t found this little gem of a credit union.

    Do yourself a favor and take some time to research options. You won’t be sorry.

  4. Jonathan Locker Link to this comment

    You post a link to ING Direct. They were recently acquired by Capital One.

    Do you still endorse the idea of moving a savings account to them even though they are now part of a big bank?

  5. Thank you so much for sharing the better options to switch to because Wells Fargo has been delaying my DIRECT deposits and even had the nerve to suggest I apply for a different checking account, which would delay my money access even further! That’s recent. I thought of switching to a credit union.

    • Wells Fargo has been delaying my direct deposits for years. I googled this article because of my desire to drop kick them to the gutter.

      Is WF making money off my deposit or what??

      I’m heading to my local credit union this Friday!

      I attempted to refinance through them as well, but met a road block. They really don’t care about their customers!!

      I was able to refinance to a 15 year mortgage via an online company with ease.

  6. Ramit what about smaller, regional banks? I don’t know what banks are out on the west coast but on the east coast you have banks like Citizens Bank, M&T, First Niagara, Alliance, Apple Bank, etc which do not have the presence of a Chase (which is littered all over the place here in the NY area, and I mean that – littered). I currently have accounts with Chase and M&T and while I am still waiting for Chase to F up and treat me badly, M&T has been a very pleasant experience. My only gripe with them is that their web banking services aren’t the greatest and could be better.

  7. ING Direct is owned by Capital One – Market Cap $32.7 Billion
    American Express – Market Cap $66.0 Billion
    Charles Schwab – Market Cap $17.3 Billion

    I personally have no problem with big banks, but I don’t go writing a post entitled “If you use a Big Bank, you deserve to be treated like crap” and then suggesting people use big banks.

    Ramit, do you want your readers to be treated like crap? By your logic, big banks treat people like crap and you are recommending that your readers use big banks.

    Seems like you aren’t at all angry with “big” banks. You’re just angry with crappy banks, but you’re calling out “big” banks to try to appeal to the popular anti-Wall Street sentiment.

    Is the money you’re making from these affiliates really worth misleading your readers?

    • Bank of America — Market Cap, $85.8 Billion
      Wells Fargo — Market cap, $179.7 Billion

    • You must be a billionaire if you live in a world where a company with a $66.0 Billion market cap is small.

      In the real world, each one of the products Ramit just recommended comes from a big bank, which is extremely hypocritical considering he promotes his affiliate partnership with big banks at the bottom of a post where he says, “Looks like I won’t be doing any partnerships with these companies any time soon.”

    • Big doesn’t just refer to the Bank’s revenues. It refers to the way they treat you. I detail this in my book with multiple examples.

      From the comments here and in my inbox right now, 99% of people understand this.

      If you think the money I’m making from these affiliates would ever be worth compromising my trust to my readers, you are wrong. The amount these affiliate links generate is minuscule compared to other IWT sources.

    • Maybe you should add an FAQ on your site that explains “big” means “a company with poor customer service”. In the rest of the world, “big” is a size.

  8. My checking account is with Bank of America and I LOVE IT! Who cares if there’s poor customer service. You get what you pay for and my account is free. I use the ATM exclusively so customer service is a non-issue. The convenience of the ATM locations, ease of withdrawals and deposits, make any other checking account pale in comparison. I have tried other banks and the inconvenience when making deposits and finding an atm when I’m traveling was not worth it!

    I do have my savings accounts at a better bank but for everyday checking you can’t beat the big banks. And if they decide to add a fee at a later date I will not consider myself “screwed”, I will simply make a decision to stay or go and will still be happy for the years of banking I conveniently received for FREE.

    • David Shefchik Link to this comment

      How can you say that you use their atms “exclusively”? That sounds like a TON of wasted time when you’re in dire need of some quick cash. Or do you just ALWAYS plan ahead?

  9. Heh, no surprise.

    When I was still in High School, it was nigh for that moment of opening a checking account. I was clueless. My dad is a branch manager at a credit union. He gave me the options: 1) ACME Bank Corp. or 2) Little Credit Union. The vast bureaucracy and other crap made me think this: Who will give a damn about me or my interests in that vast network? What if I have a problem, will anyone bother taking my issues to heart?

    I picked the credit union. I don’t get “financial services” — if someone can tell me what that is, I’d love to to know — I get a credit card and a debit card. That’s all and I don’t need any more. If I have a problem, I can either call my dad or someone in that credit union (and everyone knows my dad) and get a crystal-clear response on the who, what, where, why and wtf? My statements are so simple to understand, I can train a moderately intelligent squirrel to understand them.

    One of the best decisions I have ever made.

    • I’ve looked at other credit unions and have always gotten from them easy to understand replies, from people, that work in the said building who’s hand I can shake and talk to face-to-face. And this is why they have an incentive to care, their customers are not in Los Angeles and they are located in Dallas Texas. Their customers are all within a 50 mile radius. If you crap on your customers, they will leave you. It’s that simple. So treat the people right or look for other forms of employment.

  10. What are your thoughts on PNC? I have been a PNC customer since they acquired National Bank & Trust, and I have never been happier with a bank before. In my experience, they are friendly, helpful, and the one time I was charged a fee that I did not expect, they reversed the charge and corrected their mistake. (A whole 25 cents for writing a check from my reserve account because they accidentally gave me checks for that account rather than my primary checking.)

    • Pretty obvious. If you get decent rates and they treat you like a human, then it’s a good bank. If my credit union were to treat me like crap, I would have taken my business elsewhere.

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