Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts, and Loans
People use banks for a lot of reasons, but all those reasons boil down to three things: checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans. If you do anything at a bank, chances are that it will fall under one of those broad categories. Though all financial institutions offer these three things, not all financial institutions are the same. Some are better than others, and some are more equipped than others to handle your banking needs.
You have a lot of banks to choose from, so how can you pick the one that does what you need? Should you just pick the nearest bank and hope for the best? Absolutely not. You’ll get the best banking experience if you narrow down your choices first. Start by looking for local banks and credit unions. These institutions provide the best financial services.
Community Banks and Credit Unions
We’ll discuss why community banks and credit unions are the best choices for checking, savings, and loans. Before we do that, though, let’s go over some definitions. What are community banks and credit unions? What makes them different from the average bank?
A community bank is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bank that serves a community. There’s no strict, numbers-based definition for community banks, but generally, community banks handle fewer assets than megabanks. They’re also smaller in general. Otherwise, community banks work similarly to megabanks. They’re businesses and operate as such.
Of course, community banks provide a personal touch that megabanks don’t provide. As a matter of fact, community banks provide a lot of benefits that you won’t find in a megabank. Most notably, community banks stimulate local economies. They employ members of the community. They also invest a lot of their money into the community by providing small business loans, providing financial literacy classes, and sponsoring local activities. At the end of the day, a community bank is invested in its community, and when community banks thrive, everybody benefits.
Now that we’ve covered community banks, let’s take a closer look at credit unions. People often get confused about the differences between credit unions and banks. Credit unions are indeed similar to banks. They provide all the same services that banks provide. However, the biggest difference between banks and credit unions is that credit unions are not businesses. They’re nonprofit organizations. Any money that they make goes right back into the organization, which benefits their members.
The next difference between banks and credit unions comes from ownership. Banks are generally owned by one or a few people. Credit unions, on the other hand, are owned by their members. In other words, when you use a credit union, you are one of many owners. As a result, you get a say in how the organization is run.
The final difference is that credit unions have specific membership requirements. This fact sometimes scares people away from credit unions, but don’t let membership requirements keep you from finding a credit union. There are plenty of credit unions across the country, and it won’t take much for you to find the right one. There are credit unions for specific professions, communities, and more.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s go over the reasons why you should choose a credit union or community bank for your checking, savings, and loans.
Checking accounts give you a place to keep your money for day-to-day use. You can access your money easily, but your funds are also safer than they would be if you kept your money in cash. A checking account is pretty straightforward, no matter your banking institution. If that’s the case, then why should you choose a community bank or credit union for your checking account needs? Look at the reasons we’ve listed below.
You Could Earn Interest
Could you save money while you earn money? You can with certain checking accounts. You probably already know about earning interest on savings accounts, but checking accounts don’t usually offer this option. However, some community banks and credit unions do. It’s certainly rarer than earning interest on savings accounts, but these checking accounts do exist. Many of them exist within community banks and credit unions. Check with some local banks and credit unions to see if you can earn interest through your checking account. Why not put some money back into your pocket?
Many community banks and credit unions offer rewards for checking account users. Aside from potential interest, some checking accounts earn points, gift cards, or other prizes. Take Kasasa, for example. This checking account product is available through a lot of community banks and credit unions. It’s a checking account option that lets users earn rewards on their purchases. Not only do Kasasa users earn interest, they can also get cash back on their debit card purchases. Furthermore, they can also earn points to spend on music streaming. Kasasa isn’t the only rewards-based checking product, but it is a great one. Ask your local bank or credit union whether they offer rewards for checking accounts.
Avoid Hidden Fees
Megabanks love to hit their customers with hidden fees. Megabank owners often care about their bottom line more than they care about their clients. It’s not tough to see why. After all, they don’t often see their clients face-to-face. As far as they’re concerned, you’re just a number. That’s why these banks will sometimes impose fees without a second thought. You could end up paying ATM fees, low account balance fees, and other fees that can harm your finances. Many megabanks even impose monthly fees just for the privilege of having a checking account. Credit unions and community banks don’t generally have hidden fees. When you choose the more personal option, you can bank with confidence and avoid being taken by surprise.
When you bank locally, you support your local economy. Small businesses like community banks invest their dollars back into their communities. When you bank with them, you help them to keep supporting your town or county. As stated above, community banks also employ community members. They don’t bring people from out of town to take over the jobs. When you use a local bank for your checking account, you help the members of your community put food on their tables.
What about credit unions, though? Can they provide economic support, too? Although credit unions aren’t businesses, you support your community when you use them. Remember that these institutions are owned by members. They exist to meet those members’ needs. When you use credit unions for checking, you help them keep supporting their other members by providing necessary services.
Next, financial institutions provide savings options. When you put money into a savings account, the idea is for you to put that money away for a long time. In a savings account, your money stays safe. You can then use that money as a financial cushion in case of an emergency or a major purchase in the future. While your money waits, it doesn’t collect dust. Savings accounts come with interest. The more money you have in savings, the more interest that money earns.
However, not all interest rates are the same. Some savings accounts earn minimal interest, especially in megabanks. Community banks and credit unions, on the other hand, often provide the best interest rates. Why wouldn’t you choose the option that can make you the most money? If you’re going to put your money to work for you, it might as well be as productive as possible.
Next, let’s take a look at loans. Loans come in lots of different shapes and sizes. There are business loans, personal loans, auto loans, and much more. Many loan categories come with sub-categories, meaning that the possibilities are virtually endless. Whether you’re seeking a loan for personal or business needs, a credit union or community bank is usually your best choice. Here are a few of the reasons why.
Let’s face it: it’s not easy to be approved for a loan. You often need a great credit score and plenty of assets for collateral. As a matter of fact, to get the approval that you need, you almost need to prove that you don’t need a loan in the first place. Understandably, the loan approval process frustrates a lot of people. Again, megabanks don’t see you for who you are or how you can help your community. They don’t take extenuating circumstances into account because, again, they see you as a number instead of a person. Megabank owners get tons of loan applications every day, so they probably won’t take a close look at yours. If you don’t meet very strict requirements, then you just won’t get a loan.
It doesn’t work that way at community banks and credit unions. In these institutions, it’s much easier to get loan approval. For one thing, the personalization means that small banks and credit unions are more likely to take your circumstances into account. For example, let’s say that you don’t have the best credit score because of some missed payments. However, let’s also say that the only reason you missed those payments was because someone else owed you money. At a big bank, those circumstances don’t matter. A credit score is a credit score, and if you don’t have the right credit score, your application will be rejected. At a community bank or credit union, however, you’re more likely to be heard when you explain these circumstances.
Personal loans are certainly easier with smaller institutions, but so are business loans. At a community bank or credit union, employees are more likely to see what your business means to the community. They see your business in the context of the community, so they’re less likely to see your business as a financial risk. Megabanks don’t see community context. You may get denied based on the country’s economy, not your community’s economy. Megabank owners don’t have the time to zoom in.
Furthermore, a community bank or credit union may approve you for a higher credit limit than you would get through a megabank. With smaller institutions, you can get a bit of financial wiggle room.
Support Your Economy
Just like with checking accounts, getting a loan through a local bank lets you support your economy. Like we said above, community banks are businesses. They employ community members and provide an asset to the community as a whole. When you get a loan through your local bank, you help your bank help the community.
Lower Interest Payments
Now, what about your interest payments? Well, when you get your loan through a community bank or a credit union, you’ll likely pay less for that loan than you would pay at a megabank. Community banks tend to have lower interest payments. Again, the idea is to support the community and the economy. Megabank owners, meanwhile, tend to care more about the money you can put in their pockets.
While community banks have low-interest payments, credit unions come with the lowest interest payments of all. Since credit unions aren’t technically businesses, charging interest isn’t a big concern for them. As a result, credit unions are often the best choice for loan seekers.
Looking for Your Bank?
Are you looking for checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans? If so, the search may be a little overwhelming. With all the options to choose from, where do you even begin to look? And how can you be sure that your bank will meet your financial needs? This is where Bundlefi comes in. At Bundlefi, we understand that it’s tough to find the right bank. That’s why we connect people to their ideal financial institutions. Whether you need something as big as a business loan or as small as a credit card, we can help you find the right place for it.