Listen to complaints. The one best way to find out about a bank is to ask some of the locals around town. Yes, do stand and listen while locals tell you their horror stories about banks. It’s really easy to brush such detailed horror stories off as exaggerations or isolated occurrences. The truth of the matter is, though, that if locals care enough to tell you the sordid details, they could have suffered some customer service abuse by the bank in question.
Check on the check-clearing process. Does the bank clear checks on the same day, at the end of the day? If so, steer away from that bank because such a process allows for no margin of error on your part. It’s quite easy to forget to record a check. You want a bank that posts the checks where you can actually see them online when they try to pay out of your account. This way, you can head for the bank and make a deposit if you run a bit short due to an error on your part.
Know the check-crediting process. Does the bank have the goes on the next day’s business if deposited after 3pm policy? If so, stay away from that bank. Your money needs to be immediately available to you once you make a deposit. Now, some banks may need to place a hold on really large checks, but if the hold is more than 3 to 5 days, find another bank. Some banks try to hold checks for up to 10 business days, even checks from insurance companies.
Discover the extra charges. Does your bank charge a monthly checking account fee? Debit card fee? ATM fee? Traveler’s check fee? Wires? Transfers? Coin counter fee? Decide what you’re willing to pay in the way of fees and check around to see if you can find a bank that fits into what you’re willing to pay. You want a bank that considers its customers, rather than gouges its customers.
Realize the ATM claim. Some banks claim that a customer gets free use of an ATM, anywhere. This is not always the truth. Some banks charge a per ATM transaction charge at the same time the bank refunds any fees that foreign ATMs charge. Definitely, choose a bank that allows you to use a branch ATM free of charge. The bottom line is this: Customers keep banks in business, so make sure that the bank serves your business (personal and otherwise) well.