Choosing the Right Financial Institution

Bank © by 401K

How did you decide where you bank? What were or are you looking for in your financial institution? How do you know recognize a great bank?

These are just some of the questions we are going to talk about this Wednesday as part of the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter.

For me I have personally banked with a few credit unions along the way, and 3 of Canada’s big banks. Most recently I’ve been banking with BMO, Desjardins, and ING Direct. I am new customer to the last one on the list.

I was first attracted to BMO because of their partnership with Airmiles, and over the years I have seen several dividends from it. But I also love my little home branch on the Danforth. Most times when I have to visit a branch I get good service and when I have had a problem with the account I can call 24/7 and get an answer. In the almost 10 years I have been with them I have only once ever had a bad customer service experience. But I pay through the nose. I hate the fees upon fees at the BMO. So because BMO charges so much to look after my money I started to look at other banks and do the comparisons.

Last year I paid out over $300 in fees, and I am a small customer, so I wonder what others had to pay. As well the interest rates are not the best at BMO.

I started banking with Desjardins, the largest credit union in North America quite by accident. I had been banking with the Province of Ontario when they had their own financial institution which they then sold to Desjardins. My little branch in Hamilton, and then my branch on the Danforth( which they closed) served me well for many years. I loved the service. I loved the low fees and they knew me. Even when I was a welfare mom, and this is where I banked during those hard years I always was treated with respect. I was very sad when they actually closed the branch on the Danforth. The staff there were wonderful. My account there has been practically dormant because I no longer find in convenient to get to the location, and I don’t want to get dinged with an ATM fee.

When Desjardins closed the Danforth location I started looking at other banks on the Danforth and decided on BMO because of the partnership with Airmiles at the time, as I look back not necessarily the best reason for choosing a financial institution.

This time around as I am looking to rebuild credit, and save for a future. I looked a little more carefully, and with an agenda in mine. I will be honest if I had found a credit union nearby I may have chosen one but decided on ING Direct. Why?

Here is what I was looking for:

1. Low fees or nonexistent fees for accounts with even less than $1,OOO that allow for a number of debit transactions for free, I use debit quite a bit.

2. A fair interest rate.

3. Smart, friendly customer service, make me feel like you care about my money.

4. As I rebuild I will be looking at things like perhaps RRSP, mortgage etc so they had to have good products for these areas of my life as well.

5. Since I am a digital mom, a decent online presence.

6. ATM’s where I need them.

I think when we look at banking and what we want and need we have to know we can change banks if you aren’t getting what you need, you can find a lower rate, higher rate, better customer service, whatever the key elements are for you. Remember though banks can change fees, products etc. so it is important to keep up to date on what your bank is doing. If you don’t like what you are getting you can find often a bigger bang for your dollar, meaning you spending less, and getting more value. How about you? What is important to you when it comes to banking? and choosing a bank?

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