I recently switched banks for a higher interest rate on my checking account. My new bank is nontraditional so I had to consider what behaviors would let me take advantage of the account fully.
1. My bank does not have their own ATMs. However, all my ATM fees are refunded to me on a monthly schedule. As crazy as it seems, this is probably cheaper for the bank than maintaining thousands of ATMs across the country. I try to use the ATM only once a month so I don’t rack up a lot of fees, even though they are reimbursed, because I figure the bank factors the expense into other services.
2. My bank does not have traditional branches so I do not have access to bank tellers to make large cash withdrawals or deposits. This is rare for me, but uncomfortable if it comes up. The branches accept check deposits or I can mail in deposits.
3. The branches are few and far between so I do the vast majority of my banking online, through the mail, or over the phone. The bank website is great, I can request free deposit envelopes through the mail, and the US-based phone service is excellent.
4. I have free checking as long as I have a debit card for the account. This is my first debit card ever and I usually use it for small purchases. It does not feel as safe as using a credit card, however. I think that is just me.
5. My other bank services are free as long as I have a brokerage account, which I use to fund my ROTH-IRA. I like having my checking, savings, and IRA all through the same bank, though I’m worried it makes me more vulnerable if my identity is ever stolen.
All told, I’ve had to adapt my banking habits slightly to take advantage of my new nontraditional bank. But I think I made the right decision because I pay no monthly bank fees and my interest rate is higher that my previous bank. Knowing this, would you bank with a nontraditional bank?