In the last ten years, big banks showed the world that they don’t care all that much about their customers. Unless you’re depositing millions of dollars in an investment account or spending ample time with a financial planner, the customer often takes a backseat to risky, careless decisions made for the sake of pleasing shareholders.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re not heavily invested in your bank (read: if you don’t have a mortgage), you don’t have to stick with the Chases and Wells Fargos of the world. In fact, you have four different options that could not only protect your money, but work directly with you to plan for your future.
Once you see these alternatives, you’ll never go back to your mean, old bank.
1. Credit Unions
Credit unions work for you, not for executives or investors. That’s because they’re member-owned, member-governed, and not-for-profit. They offer the same services as banks (like mortgages, savings accounts, checking accounts). While they’re not FDIC insured, the National Credit Union Administration insures up to $250,000 of a member’s deposits in case a credit union goes bust.
2. Small Banks
Small, private banks work just like bigger ones, but they don’t have investors to answer to. Since they’re not publicly traded, they’re not incentivized to make risky investments to please shareholders and are less likely to screw their consumers over. They are FDIC insured and for profit, but offer bespoke, one-on-one experiences instead of pre-created products like big banks. They could range from having one branch to having dozens, all while remaining privately owned and community-minded.
3. Online Banks
Online banks like Simple are owned by bigger banks, but they offer convenient products like a checking account that earns you interest and fee-free ATMs. Unfortunately, they don’t offer you the same in-person customer service that you would get with credit unions and small banks. They have no physical locations, and most questions and issues are resolved over the internet or the phone.
4. Your Mattress
Scratch that. This is a terrible idea. Not only will your money never earn interest, it could be stolen or damaged and lose all value. Don’t even think about doing this.
Big banks control a large portion of the world’s wealth and monetary assets, but that doesn’t mean they make the best decisions. Local banks might even earn you more interest and offer you better mortgages than any chain bank ever could. Just don’t put any money in your mattress…or else!
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