If you are on the fence about community banking, it is most likely because you have unanswered questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding local versus mega banks. Check them out so you can get the facts straight so you can make the best banking decision for your financial needs.
Does My Community Bank Offer the Same Services as a Bigger Bank?
Yes, but there is a notable difference in offering all of the services as big banks, and only those a community wants. There is a stigma about community banks that they do not have the same resources as mega banks. Therefore they are not able to keep up with all the latest banking technology.
The truth is local banks have the ability to offer all of the services of big banks. The difference is that local banks understand their community’s needs and wants, and they provide those services that have value in their local community. Mega banks may offer all kinds of random services, most that you’ll never use, but these banks also charge you a premium in banking fees just to cover these costs. Which would you prefer to work with?
Will I Be Able to Use a Debit Card at a Local Bank?
Local banks have been offering debit cards for decades. The difference is that these debit cards were originally proprietary and not backed by major credit card brands like MasterCard. Therefore, you had to use a local ATM with the bank logo in order to access your money. Well, that was so last decade.
Now community banks offer debit cards from major brands including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. As a result, you can access any ATMs worldwide that feature these universal brand logos. Furthermore, community banks have been able to keep the cost of debit cards to a minimum, which is savings passed along to customers. As for those new chip cards that are being used in the US, community banks that offer debit cards through either of the major brands are already in transition to chip card status.
Will I Have to Pay More in Fees at a Community Bank?
Nope, and in fact, you’ll pay less in banking fees at a community bank. It is the big banks that are charging outlandish amounts for doing business with these banks. CNN Money reported that JPMorgan Chase customers have to pay fees each time they use a non-branded ATM machine, and these fees were increased by 50 cents in 2015. As a result, JPMorgan has increased its revenue on ATM fees by 22 percent in 2016.
It’s little wonder how the three largest mega banks—JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America—have raked in nearly $6.5 billion in ATM fees and overdraft charges in 2016 alone. Will your local bank charge you for using a non-branded ATM? Not likely, and in fact, most small banks will even reimburse you if the ATM charges you a fee. Those fees add up, so if you plan on using an ATM, plan on banking locally.
Is Online Banking an Option at Local Banks?
Yes! Local banks have information technology teams in place to design and maintain online banking services, just like the mega banks do. In fact, you could even gander that online banking with local banks is safer. When is the last time you heard of hackers breaking into small businesses or community banks online systems?
In 2014 there was a hack involving JPMorgan Chase and 100 other international banks that affected 83 million banking customers and included a theft of more than $1 billion. Just because a mega bank offers online banking it does not mean this is a safe bet that your money and personal data will be secure.
Is it Faster to Get a Loan at a Community Bank?
It is faster, easier, and more affordable to get a personal or commercial loan at a community bank. The application process happens within a single visit in nearly all instances, and you are able to get your loan within a couple of days. Everything happens in person so there is someone able to answer your questions on the spot.
Plus, since community banks have more of an investment in local economies, these lenders are more flexible in terms of loaning money. In addition to making the process easier for you, you’ll be charged less in fees, which allows more money to be reinvested back into the community.
Choosing a Community Bank for You
Final question, which bank should you choose, a community bank or a mega bank? Local banks offer greater value for communities, while also extending the same services and technologies that mega banks provide. If you want to have local access to your money, a personalized experience when banking, and save money in the process, go with a community bank.
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