When my daughter Madeleine learned Wells Fargo planned to charge her increased bank fees and increase her minimum account balance because she was no longer under 18, she decided to switch to a credit union. Below, she outlines the process of research that led her to choose the bank she uses now.
I’d wanted to break up with Wells Fargo for a long time. It was also difficult for me to rest easy while I knew my bank was funding projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, for-profit prisons, and other tar sands projects.(Here’s their official statement confirming their involvement after the city of Seattle cut ties with the bank for continuing to fund the DAPL project.) If that weren’t enough, the exorbitant fees the bank charges for a variety of reasons led me to decide their convenience factor wasn’t worth it.
Banks and Online Credit Unions
My first thought was to look up the best current banking offers, but most of the options were simply other large banks also involved with the nefarious funding interests I was looking to avoid. Then, I began researching credit unions. Credit unions usually offer higher interest rates and lower fees. They also tend to be more community-oriented and value driven.
So, I decided to join a credit union, but not without a little research. I started by looking up information about the best credit unions. NerdWallet and ValuePenguin both had helpful recommendations, and supermoney was also a helpful resource. Most of these options are national, online credit unions. After reviewing these, I looked up reviews for the ones that fit my criteria. The one I was most interested in was Alliant, but after reading their review, I decided their terrible customer service wouldn’t be worth the hassle. However, I included these resources because you might have different banking needs and be interested in another credit union. I definitely recommend perusing those options.
After this dead-end, I decided to look locally. We live in the Bay Area, so I looked up credit unions in the region. I picked out a few different credit unions and looked over the criteria to make sure I’d qualify. Some credit unions require you to live in a very specific area, have a certain type of job, etc. Online credit unions have fewer criteria or easy ways to join without meeting criteria. They’re a good option if you don’t have any local credit unions.
Once I’d found a few options that I would qualify for, I compared their banking offers and looked up reviews. I chose Star One credit union, which offers 1.35% APY on savings accounts (and had some of the best reviews I could find!).
The last step was actually making the switch. I went to Wells Fargo and got a cashier’s check from my accounts, and then took it straight to the nearest Star One branch.
On the whole, switching to a credit union was easy. I wish I’d done it a long time ago, because my savings are earning more than 100% of the interest they were at Wells Fargo. Keep that in mind if you’re procrastinating on switching. Your timeline matters!
Finally, another resource that might help is Magnify Money, recommended on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. For motivation, this Facebook page, bank transfer day ,encourages you to move your money. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. Good luck with your breakup, and happy switching!