How are banks like the weather? Everyone complains about them, but nobody does anything.
A 2014 Gallup poll found that only 10 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in banks. That's below comparable figures for such oft-criticized institutions as public schools and the medical system. Yet, as little respect as people often have for their banks, they rarely take the trouble to change institutions.
Openness to change is a good thing, especially if you are dissatisfied. Here are seven reasons to make 2015 the year you fire you current bank and find a better one.
1. Only you can raise your rates
Rates on savings accounts are stuck in the mud. On average, they began 2015 right where they began 2014 -- at 0.06 percent. Fortunately, not all savings account rates are the same, so you can do better. Since it is apparent that rates as a group aren't going to rise by themselves, the most likely way to do better is by shopping around.
2. Higher rates tend to stick
Is it worth chasing rates on savings accounts when they are subject to change at any time? Over several surveys of savings account rates, MoneyRates has found a high degree of consistency among the banks offering the best rates. So, if you choose a bank with one of the best rates now, the chances are good that you'll have one of the best rates a year from now.
3. Fees are on the rise
Interest rates may be falling, but checking account fees are rising. If new fees have appeared on your checking account statements, it should be your cue to look for a cheaper option.
4. Branches are becoming obsolete
You might have chosen your bank years ago because of its convenient locations, but that may no longer be as relevant to how you bank -- and many banks have closed numerous branches anyway. Make a new choice based on what your banking needs are today.
5. Technological tools vary greatly
More and more banking is done online, but banks have come up to speed at vastly different rates. If yours isn't on the cutting edge, find a bank that's as tech-savvy as you are.
6. Credit cards never got the "low rates"memo
Banks may have slashed savings account rates to near zero, but the average rate paid on credit cards has fallen by less than 1 percent over the past five years. That leaves it up to you to shop around if you want a lower rate.
7. Refinance rates are creating new opportunities
As mortgage rates fall, it may become worthwhile to refinance. If so, don't restrict yourself to your current lender when choosing a new mortgage.
Maybe one reason so many banks fail to impress their customers is people are often willing to stay with them out of sheer inertia. This year, make sure you are with a bank that has earned your business.
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