Banks are as different as the people who use them. What works for your financial circumstances might miss the mark for someone else.
Finding the bank that fits your unique needs in terms of mission and services might take a little effort, but the results will be worth it. Let’s take a closer look at why we need banks and how to select one that is dialed in to your financial needs.
Reasons Why You Need a Bank
In our highly connected digital-driven world, it’s easy to turn to technology for everything from ordering tonight’s dinner to buying a new home. You can even get most of your banking services online; however, there is a lot to be said for walking into a physical bank location and talking to a real, live customer service representative.
Most people use a bank for standard financial services, including:
But when you partner with the right bank, you get the advantage of personalized service and a broad variety of personal and business banking resources that you won’t get with an online financial institution.
How to Pick the Right Bank for You
Deciding which bank is right for you requires equal parts introspection and research. Here are some key factors to consider when narrowing down your options:
Define your banking “must-haves.”
Whether you want an ATM on every corner, a bank teller who greets you by name, or the ability to transfer funds on the fly, everyone has certain services they refuse to compromise on. Making a list of your must-haves will help you vet the banks in your area.
Match services to your lifestyle.
Many people have financial goals or lifestyles that require specialized banking services. For example, if you love to travel, you may want a credit card that provides reward points that can be redeemed for plane tickets. Or, perhaps you plan to start a business. You need a bank that offers accounts, services, and tools tailored to small business owners.
Understand fees and extra costs.
Many banks charge fees for account maintenance, overdrafts, too many transactions, low account balance, and a wide variety of other reasons. These fees are not mandated and vary widely by institution. Comparing fees and extra costs is a great way to pare down your list of potential new banks.
Explore online services and banking options.
A 100 percent online banking experience isn’t for everyone. However, you probably do want the convenience of checking your account balance from anywhere, transferring money on the go, and having your paycheck automatically deposited into your account on payday. Shop around for a bank that has the online banking options that you use most.
Review terms and conditions.
Always read the fine print. When you open a bank account, fill out a credit card application, or take out a loan, you sign a contract with the bank agreeing to their terms and conditions. There is a lot of important information in those terms and conditions, including fees and charges, whether the bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and when any promotional periods end.
Read customer reviews,
No matter how great a bank sounds on paper, do your due diligence and read real customer reviews. This is a great way to find out where a bank’s weak spots are, what they do exceptionally well, and how customers feel about the services the bank provides.
The Benefits of Choosing a Community Bank
There are many different banking options available in most regions, ranging from nationwide financial institutions to industry-specific credit unions. Somewhere in between, you’ll find community banks, which provide the perfect mix of the latest financial technology, competitive service offerings, and community-centric business practices.
Here are a few of the ways a community bank stands out from other types of financial institutions:
They offer relationship-based banking.
When you have millions of customers, building relationships is not a high priority. Community banks have the advantage of working face to face with customers to build trust, understand needs, and provide personalized service.
They have lower rates and fewer fees.
Unlike the big banks, community banks don’t use high rates and extra fees to increase profits. In fact, many local banks offer free accounts, low maintenance fees, and competitive interest rates to help customers keep more of their money.
They respond quickly.
Community banks are staffed by people from the community. This means when you have a question about your account or want to know more about applying for a mortgage, you won’t be caller number 465 waiting to speak with a call center representative. You get answers fast from someone who understands your needs.
They invest in the community.
Community banks are huge supporters of their local communities in many different ways. Not only do they provide jobs and banking services to local residents, but they also invest in growing and supporting the community through fundraising, volunteering, and contributing to local improvement initiatives.
They understand the needs of residents and small businesses.
National banks don’t know when a local factory shuts down and dozens of families are left without an income. They don’t know that there is a small but booming tech startup industry in your town. Your community bank does know what’s happening in the community and is perfectly situated to help residents both thrive and weather the storm as needed.
Find a Community Bank Near You
Almost every community has multiple banking options available. But they don’t all offer the same level of service or commitment to social and economic impact within the community.
First State Community Bank put down roots in Missouri in 1954, and since then, we have been helping our communities thrive through people-focused banking practices, impact initiatives, and funding educational programs and scholarships.
If you feel like a community bank may be the right choice for your financial needs, download our free guide, Why You Should Switch to a Community Bank, to learn more about the unique benefits and advantages offered by community banks.