Why do you use a small, local bank?

Between 2008 and 2014, over 500 small banks in the US have had to close their doors and be acquired by a larger, better funded bank. No one actually lost any money, but what a hassle. Why bother with a small bank. Are you really going to tell us that you get better service at a local bank? Large banks have the resources to bend over backwards to please their customers. I bank at a large institution that has always gone out of their way to help in any banking situation that has come up.

I keep my money at the same credit union as I did when I was 12. It’s where my dad has his money, and he’s had it there since he started working at Ford in the 70s.

When I started my own business and had to start using a national bank for business banking I was astonished how complicated it was. I never had to fill out a deposit slip at the CU! I never had to pay a fee for anything at the CU. Everything was just so much more formal at the big bank. And soooo many fees.

I haven’t had a problem with the people working at the national bank, they are all very nice. But there have always been a lot of layers to go through for me to get anything done with them. And it took them about 5 years to get our address straight in “all of our databases” when we moved.

With regards to the services offered, my dad and I got our mortgages from other banks (do people usually get mortgages from their own banks anyway?) and I got my car loan from Ford Credit (they offered a better rate than the CU). Dad does diversify his liquid assets in places other than the CU because their interest rates are low, but I don’t think he’s got his money in National Banks. Just other money institutions.

I have always gotten better service at a local bank in every town I’ve ever lived. Large banks may have the resources, but have absolutely no motivation to “bend over backwards”. A local bank can’t afford to lose customers over poor service.

There are tens of thousands of small local banks across the country. 500 needing to be bought out over a seven year period is a minuscule amount.

Small business and personal are often easier to get from smaller banks than larger corporate banks. When the economic tide went out in Maryland in 2006-2007 PNC bank panicked and terminated (called) almost ALL real estate loans on the Eastern Shore of Maryland even those that were in full compliance. This bankrupted many builders, developers and investors. The smaller local banks worked with their borrowers.

If I was a small to mid sized local builder I would be extra cautious in dealing with a big bank as they are (seemingly) more easily spooked. Beyond this in applying for loans turnaround times in smaller local and regional banks are generally much quicker than in larger banks.

Every local bank I’ve ever used had managed to get my legal name correct.

When one of those banks was acquired by a large bank somehow during the process someone “corrected” my name by making part of my surname my middle name (which I do not have).

Since I think it reasonable to have my LEGAL name on my bank records I pointed out that there was an error. Big Bank insisted no, there wasn’t. I said I’d been banking at Small Bank for 10 years, hadn’t changed my name in all that time, clearly an error had been made, displayed my ID with my legal name. They wanted me to fill out a name change form and charge me a fee to correct THEIR mistake! I said no way, this is YOUR error, YOU fix it, this is not the the name I used when I opened my account. Then they said they’d have to pull the original signature cards and implied this was a Big Deal and that those cards would show that I was one the one making a mistake and so on…

Guess what? I was right. They ate crow and fixed the problem.

Except about two years ago when I ordered new checks from them. Again, my name was “corrected”.

Well, it was easier to fix that one, but the bullshit about “you need to fill out a form if you change your name” and “you got married recently?” (I dunno - is 25 years considered “recent” these days?) and “maybe you used the wrong name when you ordered?” was not appreciated.

I prefer credit unions and local banks. No, not so many bells and whistles, but fewer frickin’ layers of bureaucracy and they don’t screw my name up.

Why I use a local bank.

I was traveling when my card was shut down for fraud for multiple transactions in multiple places. I had maybe $500 in cash, but I couldn’t get a car with cash. (At least I don’t think so) I called my bank, explained my problem. The override wouldn’t happen until the next morning, so the teller gave me her PERSONAL credit card number for me to use. “I know you’re good for it, pay me when you get back.” I didn’t use it, but that was pretty awesome.

I can call and say “This is Tracy, from (company name)” and they know exactly who I am.

They take me to lunch and golf with my husband. Yeah, I have a business and a little bit of money, but not THAT much money.

When people say develop a personal relationship with your banker, this is what they mean.

I use a local bank (thought it is expanding into other states). It’s nearby, but it’s also far more responsible than national banks. It n did not get involved in the housing bubble, granting loans on standard financial principles, not on cashing in on the bubble, and was not badly hurt when it burst.

It also, unlike some big banks, not constantly being fined for ripping off its customers.

With ATM networks and the internet, there is almost no difference between a small local bank and the nationals, not from a customer services viewpoint, anyway.

If you are a completely generic bank user, you may as well go with whoever serves your needs best at the lowest cost. Our banking needs are not as complex as they were in the corporation days, but we still prize a personal working relationship with our bank.

The problem has been that each small bank we go with merges with a next-level regional chain and the service goes downhill. So we move to the next one. (Twice now, so has the bank manager… she was with bank 1 for 20 years, bank 2 for 2, and is now head of the last small bank in the area. She’s a small-bank, personal-service, local-resident type and can’t work for the bigger chains any more than we can.)

All the big banks I ever used changed their fees and rules frequently, it seemed to me with the intent of catching me off guard. Charge me for using my account too much, then charge me for not using it enough.

Until I found PNC, that is. So far, they’ve been great. Treat me better than my local bank. So now I keep two accounts. (I’m paranoid and need to be able to dump one or the other the next time one of them does something evil.)

My small bank was recently acquired by another bank and is now called Byline. So far I like it. I haven’t researched how big the new umbrella is, but the service hasn’t changed inside the branches, and with a new cash-back reward program, you could say it’s improved. I’ve always used community banks, I guess because my parents do, and I’ve heard plenty of problems friends have had with large banks like Chase and BoA. I’ve never had such problems. Once in a great while I screw up and overdraw by a smallish amount. While the fees post automatically, when I call or drop into a local branch, the personal banker reverses them no problem. Never any runaround. As long as the new bank keeps the same “feel” as the Community bank it was, I have no reason to switch.

I’ve done my primary banking at one of 3 credit unions since the early 80s. During one brief period in the mid 90s when we were transitioning from one state to another (husband living in Virginia while I was still in Florida) we opened an account at a big chain bank so we could each access our money in our respective states. What a fiasco that was!!

For example, his company in VA paid salaries out of an account at that same big chain bank. BUT if he deposited his paycheck, they’d put a 3-day hold on it. However, if he just cashed his check, then deposited the cash, there was no hold. Seriously, they went thru the motions of counting out the cash from the drawer, then counting it back in. And the fees were idiotic. I don’t think they exist any longer. (It was First Union.)

Fortunately, we only needed that account for about 5 months - I was so glad when we were able to close it and open a local CU account.

I bank at a small local bank. My daughter also works there. Omaha is just a rather large small town…

When I moved to my first apartment, I banked at a small, local bank because it was the closest one.

Yes, my local is more helpful than the larger banks I’ve used.

I know someone who uses a small, local bank because of their great customer service (she once called the bank president on a weekend to correct a problem with her account) and such banks hardly ever are a phishing target.

I’ve only ever had primary accounts at a credit union. The only time I’ve used a bank is for a car loan (arranged through the dealer and beat my CU deal). My current CU doesn’t even have a local branch. They were pretty pioneering in the use of tech before the internet was everywhere including use of IVR. Since their membership was my university it was in their interest to try and keep accounts as students graduated and moved out of the area. They are still great to work with despite not being local to me. While there are areas where they might get beat by a bank across the breadth of services I use, I haven’t found a better fit.

My bank knows me and my family, I can call them up and know the person I’m talking to, they recognize me, it makes things easy to get done.

They’ve been my bank for over 50 years. They’ve been my family’s bank for over 90 years.

I’ve had no problems with them, only positive interactions. So I’m disinclined to change.

Almost exactly this, to the point that I wonder if RC and I use the same bank (We are neighbors in a relative term after all).

My savings account is at a local credit union.

My credit union used to be local, and now it isn’t now that I’ve moved. But they’re so darn good that I refuse to give up my account with them. There’s no fees - none for checking, for checks, for savings, for money market accounts, for visa cards, for too many transactions, for pretty much zip. I get $20 back per month in ATM fees since they don’t have any ATMs around. I can deposit my checks through my smartphone or by just mailing them and my account has the money immediately without delay (even for the mailed check). They have the lowest APR on loans of all types, they refinance loans and credit cards at no charge, and during the holidays offer credit card refinancing with no interest for three months. Heck I was 18, getting my first credit card and they said, “Well to be safe we’ll give you a limit of $5000 so it’s good for emergencies. You and your parents are good customers.”. I can increase my limit by just requesting online. I can apply for a loan in minutes online. I call them up and their customer service is always fast and pleasant.

At the end of the year I get some free money out of their profits from the year. Not much, but it’s a nice touch.

Literally the only downside is they have no credit cards with rewards. Not a big deal.
Never going to give them up, nope!

In contrast, every big bank I’ve encountered is just fees, fees, fees, fees, fees and wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

My last attempt to use a big bank.

I called our credit union, and they were able to extend the limit of our home equity line of credit with just a verification of the value of our house. As a result, my in-laws have a place to live, no thanks to a certain major bank.