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If you use Big Banks, you deserve to be treated like crap

Big banks suck and I'll tell you why. Then, you'll find out what you can do instead to avoid sending business to big banks.

Ramit Sethi

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 page…for 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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  1. avatar

    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.

  2. avatar

    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.

  3. avatar
    Jonathan Locker

    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?

  4. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Yes, as I wrote here.

  5. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    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.

  6. avatar
    Varaneka Laxmi

    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.

  7. avatar

    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.

  8. avatar
    Kevin McKee

    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?

  9. avatar

    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.

  10. avatar

    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.

  11. avatar

    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.

  12. avatar

    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.)

  13. avatar

    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.)

  14. avatar

    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.

  15. avatar

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

  16. avatar

    You are STILL buying into the banking BS !

    Why do I need multiple accounts ? This is how banks nickle and dime you.

    Why can I not have a single account that is mortgage, checking, credit card, etc. Anything extra in there above what I owe on the mortgage reduces the interest payments…. but is available to be withdrawn. 24/7 helpdesk with REAL people. Able to use ANY BANK that is Mastercard affiliated for ANY transaction (it’s in their license agreement… they just don’t like you to know about it!)

    We had a pure internet bank launch with these features 15 years ago in South Africa. All the other banks conspired to get their banking license revoked. They were signing up VERY HAPPY customers WAY too fast!

  17. avatar

    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.

  18. avatar
    Kevin McKee

    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.”

  19. avatar

    I’ll be an international student next year in the US. Orange Savings requires you to be a resident. Which other savings account do you guys recommend?

  20. avatar

    Ramit —

    I agree with you. Two big banks I used for years showed their true colors to me when I had to battle an identity thief. BOA and Sovereign offered no shelter from the shit storm I have been fighting since late March, 2012. Their Consumer Fraud Protection Units are…frauds. No protection given. None.

    I de-automated our finances for a month, until we found a local bank that we liked. It was a hassle, but I re-connected all of our vendors to our new account. So far, so good.

    I am not naive enough to believe that the new bank will solve all of our problems. The SOB still has my SSN, and that number won’t change, thanks to our government.

    The banks offer so little protection. I am grateful to our Homeowner’s Insurance Agent, who showed me how to enlist the insurer.

    Play defense! Nobody cares about your money as much as you do. Trust, but verify. I am out of cliches, and so, I am outta here.

    Have a nice holiday weekend!

  21. avatar

    Ramit, you just went from trusted advisor to hack. I’m all for telling it how it is but this post is so far from that it’s embarrassing. It’s a chance to jump on someone’s bad experience and use it to push your own agenda. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for you making some money from your links because you put so much great free material out there however this is verging on misleading.

    The source you cite “Decided to write Tuesday’s note when Wells Fargo rejected his application to refinance his mortgage, even though he had already withdrawn the application.” After another one of his outbursts against the banks in 2010 “[Richard X. Bove] employer ultimately abandoned him. And Mr. Bove, 69, is stuck with nearly $800,000 in legal fees employer ultimately abandoned him. And Mr. Bove, 69, is stuck with nearly $800,000 in legal fees.”

    Does this sound like a good credit risk to you Ramit? Without all the details it would be unwise to assume anything though. The larger question is would you prefer that the banks take on bad credit risk? That worked out so well last time (which Wells Fargo had very little to do with because they are so conservative. Which is also how they came to buy Wachovia!). His property is also where? Tampa, Florida. Where home prices have dropped about 45% since 2008?

    We’re supposed to believe he went to Wells to submit his refinance application, then just before he got an answer he withdrew it? Not likely. You’re using someone who is clearly bitter and being spiteful. Not the stuff credible sources are made of.

    As Kevin McKee then goes on to point out the three affiliate links you push are all hardly small banks either. Your message is all over the place.

    What you also fail to mention is all the rest that the “big banks” do. Do you enjoy shopping at Costco? The big banks provide the treasury management facilities so they can bring consumers great prices. Do you appreciate the work of non-profits in your community? The big banks provide bank purchased bond facilities so they can borrow at reduced interest rates and provide the services that everyone loves. Do you like driving down the highway? The big banks provide the capital for the private constructions companies to be able to deliver that road.

    Pick the banks to rail against because they are an easy target, I can see how that’s appealing. It’s easy. Instead why don’t you get a solid source and then build a credible message. You did neither with this post and I think you’ve mislead a lot of people. It’s a real disappointment.

  22. avatar

    I’d recommend looking at the area around where you will be studying. If you find a credit union, e-mail them and ask about what they have to offer to you and any requirements that you need to meet.

    Also, have you tried contacting Orange and explaining your situation and if there is a way around around it or some other kosher solution?

  23. avatar

    How about for us Canadians ?

    So far the only thing that comes to mind is the :

    No Fee Checking Account with President’s Choice
    and ING Direct Canada Savings Account

    How about credit card ?

  24. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    It took me less than 60 seconds to find out where you worked:

    Perhaps we could take you more seriously if you disclosed that you worked for one of the worst Big Banks I named in my book and in this post. You know, the one you anonymously defend in your comment.

  25. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    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.

  26. avatar

    Definitely. Anyone stupid enough to bank with a big bank deserves everything they get. And there is no excuse for it other than laziness.

    I bank with a small bank in Boston called Leader Bank, and even though I had to go slightly out of my way and didn’t have ATMs every two blocks, they know my name, help me out whenever I have a problem, and don’t screw with me every chance they get the way other banks would. I once had a payroll issue at work and bounced about 5 checks (because I use the IWTY system and only look at it once a month) and the bank actually refunded all of the bounced-check fees, and DIDN’T EVEN TELL ME. I only found out when our payroll person at work apologized. I went to the bank and asked about it, and they said, “Oh, we reversed the fees because it was so out of the ordinary – we assumed there was a mix-up.”

    Do you think Chase or B of A would ever do that? In addition to everything else about them responsible for destroying our country, they treat their customers terribly. Anyone who stays with them deserves anything they get. Now I’m living in Colorado temporarily and I have to mail any paper checks back to Boston for deposit, but it’s still way better than using a big bank. If I can do that, you can walk your lazy butt an extra two blocks to go to a small bank ATM.

  27. avatar
    Stanley Lee

    Hmm…the ING direct operations in Canada got acquired by one of the big banks here. I wonder what that would mean for ING Canada going forward…

  28. avatar

    Interesting article. I’d tack on and say the main reason banks don’t change is because of managing perception is easier and cheaper than instituting change as you pointed out with the Airline seats. They spend lots of money and time (like our Friend Kon here) to manage perception rather than institute any sort of change because in the long run it allows them to keep the same practices and policies in place, and continue making money. Reminds me of Toll roads, when a state can’t afford to finance a road all the way they put up toll booths to help recoup the cost. We all understand that and agree. Then they keep them. And never. Ever. Get rid of them. Why? because it’s a source of revenue and it’s cheaper and easier for them to manage our complaints (i.e. make us complacent) rather than get rid of them.

    Really… what bank that has a large source of revenue from fee’s is going to suddenly cut that. Few or none unless there is complete and utter opposition from it’s clients. And banks know we are lazy, talk shit… but in few cases actually push forward change. All they have to do is keep up complacent for a few months till all opposition dies out.

  29. avatar

    Same boat as Chris — I’ve been with Wells Fargo for years with no real complaints. I moved my savings to ING to get a better rate (back when those existed…) but as long as I live in cities with plentiful Wells Fargo ATMs I have nothing to complain about. If they start charging me stupid fees or I have to move or travel, then maybe I’ll be willing to pay the (logistical) switching costs.

  30. avatar
    Jimmy Gandhi

    I have business and personal accounts with Wells Fargo and my experiences have been nothing but good.

    Wells Fargo actually sent a banker to my office to set up my business accounts for me. I haven’t been hit with any hidden fees and I got a couple of overdraft fees waived by them. Granted I use the Wells Fargo banks that used to be Wachovia which was always known for its customer service.

    My only complaint with Wells Fargo is they don’t have enough branches. But they have an ATM branch a block from my office.

  31. avatar
    Kevin McKee

    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.

  32. avatar

    I have used Schwab’s checking account since reading Ramit’s book years ago. The only problem I had was depositing cash and checks. This was before Schwab’s mobile deposit app.

    Earlier this year I opened an Bank of America eBanking checking account so I can deposit cash and checks at their atm’s. However, BoA charges a $3 ACH fee if I try to transfer any funds from that account to another bank. I just use that account to pay off my credit cards instead if there is any money in it.

    When I describe this to friends, they just think it’s too much of a hassle and just pay the fees without realizing that those fees add up in the long run. It’s their money they can spend it like that if they want.

  33. avatar
    Marc @ TheIdealState

    Ramit, nice leg work. Accountability of expression and behavior is a necessity in our the era of Knowledge Work – otherwise clown shoes like Kon and their brethren can draft specious case after case, which usually can mount an influence over those that do not account for their heuristics and subsequent biases.

    Keep doing your thing. I adore my network of Knowledge Workers. I grow so tired of those that that wish to sit at the table yet bring nothing to it.

  34. avatar
    Jimmy Gandhi

    In my view credit unions are over-rated.

    Many credit unions claim to support social justice or claim to be social conscious. I have doubts if those sentiments translate into anything that has a positive effect on society. Credit unions I’ve encountered have lethargic staff, short hours, and very few branches limited to a specific region. Many credit unions have websites that look as if they haven’t been updated since 1990s.

  35. avatar
    Kevin McKee

    Yes this guy works at Wells Fargo. I’d still like to see a rebuttal to the information he provided instead of just an ad hominem attack on the poster himself.

  36. avatar

    Love your detective work, Ramit! We belong to a credit union and love, love, love them! When we refinanced our mortgage it got sold to WF. Not so much love there, and they are so big that when you call them you don’t get a local office so it feels like they are just pushing you through the system. Frankly, as the article says, I don’t think they care. It’s all about making money and that they know how to do.

  37. avatar
    Marc @ TheIdealState

    Kevin McGee, just wanted to give you props, nice addition with your replies.

    The wise Knowledge Worker should only be interested in best available truths, objectivity and solutions – anything else is garbage and a waste of our precious time.

  38. avatar

    Thanks Kevin.

    Yes I work at Wells. But I’ve also worked at other banks and seen the good work that they do in the community. None of that changes that I was a fan of yours until today. I think your post was off base in the way you presented your advice of finding a higher paying savings account, looking to lower fees and finding a credit card that is suitable. Going after me personally confirms that. Way to go.

  39. avatar

    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.

  40. avatar
    Geoffrey Williams

    Kevin McKee he works at Wells Fago and “forgot” to disclose that before he spun everything to make Wells Fargo look good. He was actively mislleading; which yes, makes him less creditable.

  41. avatar
    David Shefchik

    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.

  42. avatar
    David Shefchik

    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?

  43. avatar

    I do most of my banking with a tiny bank that used to be a credit union (until members demanded more financial services). I have been so satisfied with their customer treatment that I continue to bank with them, even though I moved 500 miles away. I can just call up (I know the tellers by name) and have whatever I need done taken care of, with e-mail or snail mail confirmation (my choice) right away. I pay no fees for checking, savings, or other accounts (except my mortgage–which I refinanced when it hit rock-bottom).

    My daughter uses a tiny local bank (3 branches in 3 tiny towns). She has had equally good service. The bank has also stood up well to recent audits (something to check out if you are going with a small local bank, instead of one of Ramit’s recommendations).

    For the person asking about PNC, I have a credit card with them (after many buyouts of other banking institutions I started with). I’ve never had a single problem with any of its predecessors and can verify they caught credit card fraud (of my card number) within an hour of its misuse. It’s hard to argue with that kind of service, either. On the other hand, their interest rates for credit cards are high. I pay my card in full each month, so this hasn’t had any effect on me, but it will if you consider PNC and pay less than the full amount per month.

  44. avatar

    Instead of calling them “big banks,” maybe a better way to put it is “banks that have outgrown themselves.” There are a lot of huge companies that realize that it’s not costly to provide stellar service along with a good product.

    Companies like: Southwest Airlines, Virgin Airlines, Apple, Amazon (and Zappos), Quiktrip, and American Express.

    These big companies provide products that are mostly average, but the customer service experience is out of this world. They value their customers and realize that without them, they have nothing. In return, their customers reward them with business.

    And yes, Capital One did acquire ING. But the ING brand has remained the same. Provide a valuable product with great service. If either start to slide, I’ll be moving my money elsewhere…I remain a loyal customer up until the point of being given substantially better options.

    PS: ING Direct has a really nice cafe near Union Square in San Francisco. Huge with free wifi and half price coffee drinks if you show them your ING debit card and/or bring in a refillable mug. Oh, and the bankers are also the baristas. Schwab is across the street, so you could kill two birds with one stone. 😉

  45. avatar
    Varaneka Laxmi

    LMAO @ Kon exposure

  46. avatar

    Ramit, love the post and the comments even more. Some of your commenters are pure entertainers 😉

  47. avatar
    Zac Bissonnette

    Oh to be enough of a Kool Aid drinker to take to the internet to defend the honor of your employer Wells Fargo.

    Ya know, that great, honorable institution that does a lot of good in the community: like referring to African Americans as “mud people” in internal communications:

    Why ANYONE would open an account with these creeps is totally beyond me.

  48. avatar

    I’d really like to see Ramit review, which used to be BankSimple. It’s not open to the general public yet, though. The cool Goals feature is just like what he suggests for automating savings into subaccounts. Plus, the Reports feature is similar to Mint, if banks let Mint work within your account. It’s a wonderful bank that hasn’t opened its doors to everyone yet. I feel more comfortable parking my money at Simple than at ING Direct, which is owned by Capital One. I know that Ramit thinks that it’s fine to keep money at ING Direct, but I was part of the Great Migration out of ING Direct (the bank run, if you will) when it was acquired.

  49. avatar
    Dirk T. Sanchez

    Alright- great post! Keep it up! I joined a credit union a LONG time ago, and have never suffered from lack of any services. I don’t see why people just don’t drop their big banks, why it’s even a question for anyone. But, people will always do things against their own best interest, like voting for Republicans for example…

    I would be free of *** completely, except my mortgage was sold to them, and I seem to be unable to refinance to get out of the loan with them, because according to Zillow, my house is now worth less than 40% of what I paid for it in 2004. I actually love my house, if I didn’t, I’d walk away from that mortgage, and let them eat it, since I’m in a non-recourse state.

    Funny- the appraisers were appraising houses for any amount, and the big banks knew they were giving people fraudulent loans that would blow up in their faces, meanwhile, the big banks stole all the equity out of our homes, and they’re basically breaking Generation X and everyone younger than them.

    I don’t trust ANYTHING set up by the Baby Boomers. I don’t even trust 401K’s anymore, I quit contributing at my work, and saving the money on my own.

    I was thinking about it, and almost every worker in America, every payday, is putting their money into the stock market VIA their 401K at work, and bolstering a system- that is working against the average man- with a fresh money supply for Wall Street to gamble with. And, they’re holding our money hostage with fees and penalties for early withdrawels, and since Big Banks and Wall Streeters are such thieves, who even knows if our money will be there, why are people even trusting them!!!! I’ll take a chance on myself to save my own. money.

    One recommendation on an excellent credit card for all your readers- Iberia Bank offers a Visa card 7.50% interest- great banking practices, and I do promote them. You need excellent credit. They’re based in Arkansas, which has anti-usuary laws.

  50. avatar
    Steven Haddox

    One link: Banking will never e the same again 😀

  51. avatar

    I’m a former Wells employee, and you nailed it. While I respect them as a company, you’re totally right.

    I take one exception: they do offer one thing that no small or online banks offer. I can have checking, savings, credit card and all the same, in business accounts in one place. Plus (and here’s where no one else seems to have figured it out) only one online account. I don’t have to login separately for biz & personal, I can transfer instantly between, and all without extra fees and with billpay. I’m still waiting for ANY online bank or credit union to offer this simple combination: personal & biz checking w/1 login & billpay. As a small biz owner cash flow is key and having to wait days for cash to move from business to personal checking accounts, after previously waiting days to get it from PayPal to biz checking, is a big hindrance. I know your book sets up a model to avoid this, but we’re not there yet. So I’m stuck with WF until my biz hits a point where we can follow your self-employment cash flow model, or an online bank or credit union offers this obvious combination of features & products.

  52. avatar
    Raul Felix

    What, currently, is the best credit card to get to rebuild your credit?

  53. avatar

    Ten years ago, my Freshman year, I got my first cc- from BOA. It was a disaster dealing with them, even though I was a responsible consumer. I paid it off, closed the acct ( even though it was supposed to hurt my score) and swore never to deal with them again.
    I opened my first checking acct that yr too. Sov bank- then independence. Never had issues, so I opened a business acct there two yrs ago. However, my personal checking suddenly starts getting maintenance fees —after 10 yrs of loyalty! I was so upset, I closed both accts immediately and moved to TD.
    By the way, I have that same despise towards Verizon although i’ve never been their customer. They are greedy, have dumb and misleading commercials, they do not have reception everywhere like they claim to.
    As a customer, i appreciate honesty and the small things that a business does to thank you for being a customer (free pens). As a small business owner (photography services) I know that most customers demand much more than they pay for, and don’t necessarily recognize the extras that you give them. But that’s ok. It’s not personal. Ultimately it all comes down to how you sell (brand) yourself. And that’s what ppl pay for.

  54. avatar

    I am surprised that USAA wasn’t mentioned. I have backed with them ever since I heard of them and did the research. I realize that some of their products are exclusive to military but their customer service has been phenomenal over the years and I wouldn’t ever consider moving anytime soon without a huge reason. I use a local bank with a small amount for any check casi

  55. avatar

    Cashing needs and life is good. (Sorry, mis-typed on a tablet)

  56. avatar
    Billy Murphy

    Good post- great reminder I need to get all of my money out of these banks and into other banks. From what I hear from some other entrepreneurs who’ve tried it, if you approach smaller local banks, often you can get substantially better deals/rates than any other bank can give you, with a simple meeting or two- because they want your business, and are actually interested in relationships with customers.

  57. avatar
    Greenwich "Author"

    I have been using ING direct and ally bank with the automatic savings that you had mentioned in your previous posts. It has been of a great help in saving.

  58. avatar

    Thanks for the recommendations Ramit. I’ve been looking for a bank with higher interest rates. This may work out well.

  59. avatar
    Phil Jensen

    Kind of a timely post.

    I had some frustrating issues with the bank (one of the big banks here in Canada) recently and I’ve been tempted to switch.

    Really haven’t made a decision since it’s going to be kind of a hassle, but I’m fairly tempted to move everything over.

    Good post.



  60. avatar
    Insiya Hussain

    Super-helpful post, Ramit. Have read the book but this serves as a useful reminder just when I was getting to set up all those accounts.

    I would say though that choice of credit card should be much more personalized though. Not everyone values travel points as much as other benefits like cash back or rewards point. So it really depends. To fellow readers: check out for help.

  61. avatar

    DCU all the way!! i have like checking, savings and a credit card no problem at all. I can visit most of the credit unions for my banking needs. I hardly use ATM’s so dont have much problem.

  62. avatar

    Ramit, thanks a million for the kick in the pants and the direct links. Can you recommend any business checking accounts? I’m a sole proprietor, and have a credit/debit card for my business checking account at Chase; Schwab and ING don’t offer the same combination of benefits (checking ability + card). I could still link a Schwab personal checking account to a business account elsewhere, but I do want to sever ties with Chase. Any suggestions welcome.

  63. avatar

    Hi Tevya, I posted about this yesterday — I’m with Chase, and they offer the same account integration, which is super-convenient for me as a sole proprietor. But I’m embarrassed to say they’re charging me $15/mo for the business account and $10/mo for personal, so I’m eager to get out. I’ve called Ally, ING, & Schwab, and none of them offer this yet. If you find a viable alternative, please post about it here, and I’ll do the same! Thanks, and in the meantime I’ll revisit Ramit’s model — though it sounds like I’m in the same boat as you at this point in my business.

  64. avatar

    Thanks for this post, Ramit. Even though I read this in your book, it is good to have a reminder of these kinds of things. I would appreciate more posts like this.

    I cannot switch to the checking account you recommended just yet, as it is connected to an investment account and there’s no need to start that until we pay off our debt, so it was just an extra kick/incentive to stay on track for that. Thanks again.

  65. avatar

    I agree with what your saying in some aspects. I have been with Bank of America since 2004, the main reason I got them was because their ATMs are every where. I could always avoid ATM fee charges whenever traveling around the US for work. I have had zero issues with them! I only have direct deposit payments going into that account. Then pay bills from there, like credit cards monthly. I keep the account at very minimum levels, I always transfer all my money out into my ING account for better saving interest rates. My BofA account is very simple and requires no minimum balance to avoid fees. At that time in 2004 I did not know much about online checking accounts etc. I felt safer with a physical bank and be able to write the occasional checks as needed. I do agree there is some sense of laziness in me, I probably should cancel this account! But since I have at least three sources of income directly deposited into this account, I don’t want to go through any hassles of getting it all changed.

  66. avatar

    I just opened a checking account at Chase today and with direct deposit of my pay check (or 5K balance) it is free of a monthly charge. Aside from the $2 for non-Chase ATMs, every other charge is 100% warranted. If you are a D-Bag who can’t manage his money and is constanty NSFing your account, you deserve to pay fees! Most of the whining towards the WFs and BoAs of the world is from people who expect banks to be a freaking charity for their inresponsibility.

  67. avatar

    I live in Slovenia and the situation with the big banks is awful here. It just looks like situation is not much different around the globe.

  68. avatar

    The following is a letetr sent to my bank (Chase) one week before I closed my account:This letetr is to notify you of my intention to close all my bank and credit accounts with your bank. This includes my Chase Total checking account, my Chase Plus savings account, my VISA (administered by Chase), and my Sony VISA (administered by Chase). In addition, I intend to sell all mutual funds in any retirement accounts that invest in your bank. I would like you to understand why I have decided to sever all financial ties with your bank. JPMorgan Chase has illegally foreclosed on mortgages held by members of the US military. JPMorgan Chose continues to gouge communities with interest swap deals costing cities hundreds of millions of dollars, has the greatest number of foreclosed homes as of 2010, and has reduced small business lending by 75% in the wake of a government bailout meant to spur lending. I believe that the actions of your bank are both disgraceful and despicable. .

  69. avatar

    I’ve actually never had a problem with Bank of America. I started with Fleet bank student checking, and then Fleet was acquired by BOA. So I’ve been with them for over 10 years now. I’ve never been charged a monthly fee, I’ve never had a minimum balance, and back when I was a college kid and would bounce checks, I would politely ask them to waive the overdraft fee and they always did it. I wonder if I’ve been grandfathered in because of my student checking setup, and that’s why I don’t pay fees or have monthly minimums.

  70. avatar

    Hi Ramit and others,

    I’ve been planning to ditch Wells Fargo for ages. My question: what should I do with my Wells Fargo credit card? I have no problem closing my checking and savings, but should I just keep the credit card to help with my credit score? Or is it better to cancel the card and sever all ties with Wells Fargo?

  71. avatar

    Stephanie, I figured Chase had the same. Here’s what I think is the best bet: They have what looks to be the very best online banking ever. They also do check deposits via your smartphone, all kinds of financial analytics and awesome tools. To do not currently have business accounts. However, unlike Ally and those others, business accounts are on their “to-do” list. They intend to add them at some point. So that’s where I’m placing my bets, and hope to receive my invite to sign up any day. Then I can at least move my personal account away from Wells Fargo. I won’t have the same instant transfer from business to personal, but at this point I’m so frustrated that I’ll just have to deal with the delay. I’ll definitely report back if I find anything else.

  72. avatar
    Akin Berry

    Thanks Ramit!

    I just came across this blog while searching for articles and web-forums about how bad big bully banks have become. This is refreshing knowing I am not the only one to notice this. I had Bank of America for many years and stayed with them worrying the next bank could be worse and out of sheer convenience (excessive ATMs in California and online access). My sister told me about Discover, but I was skeptical as someone hyping up another candidate for president (voting for the lesser of the 2 evils mindset). After checking the recent reviews and verifying the APR interest rates, it was the best decision I ever made to open multiple accounts with Discover (Savings, checking, and credit card).

    I still keep my Bank of America account open because I do like a few things about them; an old credit card with 8% APR and Merrill Edge account with $6.95 brokerage fee per trade. Outside of those few things, there are far better options in the market than Bank of America. The same applies to Wells Fargo and Chase Bank.

  73. avatar
    Louis Rabalais

    For many years we have used a credit card with U.S. Bank. We borrowed a few thousand dollars and thought things were fine because they constantly lowered our payments. We figured that one out. One day we were buying groceries and told our debit card had no money. We contacted our local bank to find that U.S. Bank had withdrawn all our money, even our savings account. They claimed we had sent them this money! We explained there must some mistake and demanded the money be returned. They said this was impossible. Our local bank fortunately had not completed the transaction . They investigated and cancelled it. U.S. Bank was furious. An auditor found multiple violations in their transactions turning this over to a fraud lawyer for investigation. He pointed out that we had paid 99 months on a debt and only paid 190 dollars on it. We attempted to discuss these issues with the bank and they refused to discuss it. The lawyer sued and got an injunction filed so they would not harass us. They hired a telemarketer to harass us by calling our home every 15 minutes ignoring the judges injunction. Our local bank treated us well, but you have to watch the big boys!

  74. avatar

    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.

  75. avatar

    Charles Schwab shut down my account without telling me why and sent checks for my balances. I had about 10 checking accounts so I could budget better (I liked to physically see the money separated) but only used the ATM or checks about once a month. When I called to figure out what happened they refused to tell me anything. Their customer service is professional and their system is great but they just do it because it’s profitable and really are just as big as the rest.

  76. avatar

    Are you kidding? American Express (huge bank, horrible customer service sourced out to boiler rooms in India and the Phillapines. Charles Schwab – huge bank/investment service. The reason we use big banks is because all banks treat us like shit. You went through that entire blog and the best you could do was list two banks that treat people like shit. Really?

    Don’t quit your day job.

  77. avatar

    Hi Ramit. I share the exactly frustration and views. I am really sorry i am an international student and opened an account today with WF. After checking their fee & charges post account setup i am shocked. I am like what the F. I am certainly going to switch over asap. Wish i had found your article out here much sooner. Kindly suggest if capital one is good.

  78. avatar

    whether or not they personally treated you badly, the big banks screwed America in the mortgage crisis, and continue to do so. YOU giving them your business supports this corrupt system and their corrupt activities! That is the biggest reason not to bank with them.