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Site helps you find a better bank

If you're fed up with high fees and poor service, you might rather switch than fight.

By Teresa Mears Mar 17, 2010 5:31PM

These days, it seems as if we’re all suffering from irreconcilable differences with our banks and contemplating divorce, either because of higher fees or poor service.

 

A new Web site seeks to make the process easier. It won’t get you a divorce lawyer, but it promises to help you find a better bank.

 

FindABetterBank.com is designed to help you compare checking accounts. You put in your ZIP code, answer some questions about what features are important to you (free checking, interest, debit card rewards, etc.), and the site provides a list of bank accounts in your area that meet your criteria. It estimates your annual fees for those accounts.

The site includes data on the 85 largest banks, Internet banks and a number of community banks and credit unions, amassing a database of about half the banks in the United States. It is a free service, and it makes its money by selling services to banks, not by referring customers to a particular bank. That means its suggestions aren’t motivated by profit.

 

This week, FindABetterBank released the results of a survey on how long it takes to reach a live customer-service representative. Not surprisingly, community banks had quicker response times.

 

“Let's face it, if your bank makes it hard for you to speak with a customer service representative (CSR), it's because they don't really want to speak with you,” FindABetterBank founder Robert Rubin wrote at The Huffington Post. “The difference between some banks and bad plumbers is that instead of taking our business elsewhere, we lower our expectations and stay put. That's pretty dysfunctional.”

 

The service is one of several resources listed at Move Your Money, a site started by Arianna Huffington and others to encourage people to switch to community banks as a response to what they believed was arrogance and lack of customer service at the large banks.

FindABetterBank doesn’t yet have as many community banks and credit unions listed as do the Independent Community Bankers of America and the National Credit Union Administration, but it provides a more sophisticated way to compare services.

 

If you’re considering switching banks, Forbes offers this advice:

  • Pick a bank or thrift with deposit insurance from the FDIC. Credit unions have their own version of deposit insurance.
  • Consider your needs. For example, if you need just basic checking, ATM access and a debit card, look for accounts that don’t charge you if you go below a minimum balance.

Have you moved your money to a smaller bank or credit union, or just another bank? Are you considering such a switch?

 

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