Saving with 6abc: Choosing a good bank

April 28, 2014

Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor of the Delaware Valley Consumers' Checkbook, explains, "It's all about how good is their online banking? Their app? And website? And where's the closest ATM?"

He says it's still important to ask a lot of questions before deciding which bank should be holding onto your hard-earned savings.

Checkbook's survey of local bank customers found that overall, smaller banks kept their customers happier than bigger ones.

"The banks that received our top rating for quality, none of them were the largest banks in the area," Brasler says. "Some have just a handful of branches. The banks that tended to rate quite poorly, for example, Bank of America, it's the largest one in the area, they rated lowest."

But size isn't all you should consider when choosing a bank.

Brasler says, "Fees, fees, fees, this is how banks are really making their money nowadays."

If you use ATM's a lot, choose a bank that doesn't charge, or reimburses you, for ATM fees. If you sometimes bounce checks, look for the lowest overdraft fees. And if you're concerned about interest rates, also consider joining an credit union.

"Credit Unions tend to rate a little better than banks and some rate quite well," Brasler says of the Checkbook survey's findings. "But not every credit union is the same. We found in our survey that some credit unions didn't rate very well, either. Like banks, there was a range of ratings. But credit unions, historically, offer better terms and offer better service and offer higher interest rates."

Online banks are another option, especially if you rarely step into your bricks-and-mortar bank.

"Think about how often you actually need to go into a branch. If it's not that often, or you haven't gone into a bank branch in over a year, then you can start thinking about banks that are internet-only accounts," he advises. "And these accounts pay much higher, have much more favorable, interest rates."

The banks and credit unions that received the top rating for customer service in the Checkbook survey are:

First National Bank and Trust of Newtown
Fox Chase Bank
Fulton Bank
Harleysvill Savings Bank
Phoenixville Federal Bank and Trust
USAA Federal Savings Bank
Citadel Federal Credit Union
Franklin Min Federal Credit Union
Freedom Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union
Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
TruMark Financial Credit Union

Through special arrangement with nonprofit Delaware Valley Consumers' CHECKBOOK, 6ABC viewers can access CHECKBOOK's customer service ratings of Delaware Valley banks without a subscription until Monday May 5, and can view CHECKBOOK's advice by clicking here.

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