I Ditched My Bank for a Better One, and So Can You

Ditch your bank

Dealing with major banks isn’t fun. Whether you’re waiting on the teller line for ages at Bank of America or dealing with Chase placing a hold on your debit card for no good reason, big banks make everything more complicated than it needs to be.

Then there’s the matter of big banks’ influence on the world’s economy. From causing the 2007-2008 financial crisis to funding projects like the Dakota Pipeline, banks do everything and anything they can to make money, even if it has a negative impact on others or their own customers. Whether this means imposing random new fees or making it difficult to get a mortgage, the reputation of most big banks isn’t particularly great.

Fortunately, you don’t need a major, publicly-traded bank to do your banking. Leaner and meaner options like credit unions and union-0wned banks exist, and they offer the same basic service you’d expect at your major chain bank. They even have extra perks like better interest rates, free ATMs everywhere, and other sweet bonuses.

That’s why I opted to break up with Chase, my bank of nine years. After dealing with random holds on my checking account, surprise fees for no reason, and less-than-ideal company ethics, I decided to leave Chase once and for all. Once you see how easy it is to leave your bank, you might want to do the same.

Like most banks, Chase had random fees and business practices that I found highly questionable.

Regardless of how much money I deposited in my savings account, my interest rate was always .01%. When I moved money from my savings to a non-Chase investment account, I incurred a random $5 fee. Earlier in the year, when I went overseas, Chase put a day-long hold on my checking account after I told them I was going overseas. This prevented me from withdrawing money for my trip. Also, Chase financially supports the company behind the Dakota Pipeline, something I’m personally against.

I did my research on smaller local banks that offer the necessities while adding in a little extra.

Break Up With Your Mega-Bank is an incredible tool that lets you find alternatives to your bank in your area. By using this site and a simple Google search, I decided that Amalgamated Bank, a union-owned bank, was right for me. Not only did they offer low-fee checking and savings, but they offered better interest in savings and checking accounts than Chase.

Amalgamated let me apply for an account online, though I could have applied at a branch a quarter of a mile away.

Applying online for a checking and savings account was easy and took about 10 minutes. Applying for a bank-issued credit card with points took another 5 minutes. While I didn’t have a debit card or checks instantly (since I did it online), I was able to go to my local branch and pick up a temporary ATM card. My debit card and checks (after I ordered them) would arrive at my house in 7-10 business days.

Chase made it next to impossible to close my accounts.

In fact, I’m still in the process of trying to do so. While I need to wait until all Chase credit cards are paid off and such, I asked for a cashier’s check for the bulk of my checking/savings at a Chase location and they told me to come back. I asked to speak to a manager, and they told me they couldn’t help me close my account or start to close my account at a time. While I attribute this to an isolated incident and not a company policy, it further reaffirmed why I decided to leave Chase in the first place.

Once I have a zero balance on my Chase credit cards, I’ll be able to move all my money over to Amalgamated.

This should happen well before the end of the month, unless Chase decides to make it more difficult. I’ve already moved my direct deposit to Amalgamated for the next pay period, and I’ve verified Amalgamated with Venmo, PayPal, and Chase (for the sake of transferring money the hard way). Once I get my money moved over and checks in the mail, I’ll be all set to earn more interest on my checking and savings with a better bank.

Transferring banks isn’t particularly hard. Regardless of your credit or financial standing, credit unions and union-owned banks like Amalgamated will give you a checking account, though possibly with lower interest rates and perks. If you’re tired of working with big banks who put their interests before yours, simply go elsewhere. While it might take longer than it did for me to get started with a new bank, it’ll be well worth it in the long run.