This post is adapted from a post I wrote in 2013. I figured right after the $16 Billion BOA settlement would be as good a time as any. I recall opening my first bank account. I was so proud. My mom took me to Wachovia (RIP Wachovia, thanks for the memories) and cashed my first paycheck from my grocery-bagging job a Winn Dixie.
I don’t recall frequenting the bank, I don’t even think I had a debit card, but things really got cooking when I went off to college 3 years later. At that time I decided to switch to Bank of America for several reasons. I give it to BOA, for a moment they were doing me justice with the free student checking account. There were fees I deemed ridiculous here and there but despite hearing about credit unions I remained faithful to BOA. Until a series of unfortunate events occurred that helped me make the ultimate decision of giving BOA the boot.
- They knew about my life before my parents! Once I graduated from college they almost instantly began charging me monthly fees. No idea how they knew because I didn’t graduate on time, but they knew. I called them up and found out that if I had direct deposit, I would receive free checking again. So I registered my new job and received free checking for a bit. Fast-forward another year. The company I was working for declared bankruptcy. The entire staff went from happily employed to unemployed in a matter of 3 days. Within a week, without a courtesy call to find out why, BOA was again charging fees because I no longer had direct deposit.
- The wire transfer policy. One summer my roommates and I had a friend staying with us from Europe. She didn’t have the documentation necessary to open a bank account so I allowed her to have the money transferred into my account. Aside from taking 5 days after the European bank deducted the money from the senders account, BOA charged me approximately $35 for receiving the money. Not for withdrawing it, but for simply receiving it. What in THE hell?
- The end of the dividend miles debit program. It really wasn’t until BOA phased out the divided miles debt card program that I decided to make my exit. I only found out because after waiting 3 weeks for my replacement card, I was informed my card hadn’t been ordered because the program was being phased out .Had I not called I would’ve been out of a card until I eventually called. Oh and they also refused to express mail my card. There was absolutely no reason for me to remain with them in a world full of options. Especially since one of my policies issss.. making your money work for you.
Enter USAA. I know some people are anti-bank all together. I’m not there yet. Plus, USAA has consistently received the highest customer service ratings available to financial services companies, including those not in its niche. It’s a federal savings bank and offers many of the same perks that you would receive at a traditional credit union. Nearly two years later I can say that I love USAA. My mother and sister have been happy USAA customers for years. Sure they don’t have branches outside of DC and San Antonio, but you can deposit your checks directly from your phone. I am also reimbursed up to $15.00 in ATM fees every month! It’s been almost 2 years now and not a single fee. Should I say that again? It’s been almost 2 years and I have not paid a single fee! >>Gasp<< I also receive my paychecks a day before my colleagues, because USAA disburses your money to you promptly after they receive it. I also have my life insurance policy, my renters insurance, and my Credit Report monitoring service through them. Ic an manage all of these through my online banking portal. I haven’t ever been this happy to let someone else hold my money lol! The draw back about USAA is that everyone isn’t eligible. You have to be in the service, married to an active service member, a veteran, or a dependent of a veteran. But there are several great credit unions out there. According to creditunion.gov, “credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits and make loans. But as member-owned institutions, credit unions focus on providing a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates. Unlike banks, credit unions return surplus income to their members in the form of dividends.” I’m not pro bank but Im definitely anti-check cashing industry. IF you are underbanked drop me a message and we will research credit unions in your area.