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Consumer Reports Weighs Pros & Cons Of Switching Banks

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Susan Koeppen
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Are you happy with your bank? A movement is underway calling on people to take a stand against their banks.

This weekend, thousands of people across the country took part in Bank Transfer Day. But is shopping for a new bank a good idea?

Consumer Reports says yes, now is a great time to shop around for a new bank.

Just like getting rid of a coat if it doesn’t fit anymore, experts say you should switch banks if yours no longer fits your needs.

“We see a lot of smaller bank and credit unions are competing for business that big banks once had, and consumers are moving to these smaller institutions to get better deals,” said Norma Garcia, of Consumer Reports.

Click here for Consumer Reports’ story: “Bank Transfer Day: 5 tips for a smooth transition”

Thanks to fees, like the proposed $5 fee to use your debit card, consumers have decided to take their money and run by the thousands.

Over the past four weeks, more than 650,000 customers have moved their money to credit unions. The Credit Union National Association estimates credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts over the past month.

Also, a movement on Facebook, called Bank Transfer Day, has thousands of followers who are being encouraged to get rid of their commercial banks.

“I don’t want to use them for any reason at all,” said Julie Battle, who switched to a credit union.

But not everyone is willing to make a switch.

“No, cause I love my bank,” said Marsha Townes, who is staying at her bank.

For consumers who want to shop around – websites like FindABetterBank.com make it easy. You fill in what’s important to you – like free checking and mobile banking – and the website gives you a list of banks showing estimated annual fees plus it tells you how closely the bank matches the features you want.

At Bankrate.com, a search for interest checking shows a list of banks and fees. For example, internet bank ING Direct has no fees while Citizens Bank has plenty.

Consumer Reports says switching banks is not something that happens overnight.

“This is something that takes time, takes patience and you’ve got to be organized,” said Garcia.

Once you pick a new bank:

  • Make a small deposit to open an account
  • Switch any direct deposits to the new bank
  • Reschedule your automatic debits
  • Transfer the money electronically to your new account – once everything has cleared in your old account
  • Make sure you close your old account

“It’s really important to close that old bank account because it’s possible you can incur monthly maintenance fees even after you stop using it,” added Garcia.

You should also get written confirmation from your old bank that you have closed your account.

RELATED LINKS:
Consumer Reports
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