Finding Your Checking Account Sweet Spot
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Consumers are weary of having banks charge excessive fees for their checking accounts but remain reluctant to switch banks.
Many consumers are finding that the high fees charged by banks fall short of the benefits they want to receive. While 36% of Americans signified that they were either "very" or "extremely" likely to switch banks to avoid checking fees, 32% of respondents expressed that switching their checking account would be too much of a hassle, according to a recent TD Bank survey. Fees increased for 22% of the respondents during the past year.
Despite the dissatisfaction expressed by many consumers, only 12% of respondents said they have actually changed banks during the past two years with 67% stating the cause was related to fees.
More options are being provided to consumers and they no longer have to rely solely on brick-and-mortar banks and can switch to online only banks.
Since some consumers place priority on having their ATM fees reimbursed while others want 24-hour customer service, TD Bank offers six different options, said Ryan Bailey, executive vice president of deposits and payments for TD Bank.
"Everyone banks a little differently," he said. "You should look for one that fits your needs. It's a balance. We have 24-hour customer service and we do think that's still important. The balance is incredibly important especially for Millenials, who say, 'Hey, I expect to do most of my transactional stuff through mobile services, but I also want to be able to fall back on personal interaction.'"
Customers also want banks to be more transparent about the fees they are charging.
"When it comes to checking accounts, people don't want to be surprised by fees," said Brad Conner, vice chairman of consumer banking for RBS Citizens Financial Group. "What we know is that customers want to know what the fee is and how to avoid it, and they don't want to have to jump through hoops. People today are busy, and they want banking to be simple."
Some banks are so eager to capture new clients that they will even make the process of switching banks less painful by doing some of the groundwork for consumers.
Private Bank of Buckhead in Atlanta will help consumers make the switch if they provide recent bank statements along with other information, said Charlie Crawford, CEO and chairman. In turn, the bank will open an account, order new checks and debit card and even change auto deposits and auto debits for the customer.
"To the extent allowed and possible, we will actually do the legwork for a client who wants to switch accounts to us," he said. "We take a high-touch service approach to that because we know that consumers are often reticent to go through the hassle of switching accounts and institutions. We follow up with them to take as much of that switching burden off them as possible."