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Banking


  • New developments in online banking security (13 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Most banks (especially the larger ones) have been regarded as pretty safe, for all intents and purposes, since the middle of the previous century. But since banks started maintaining our balances in secure data centers at various locations (instead of holding our savings in safes and vaults in their local branches), a bank’s records of what is yours and mine become increasingly visible to people within the…

  • Ask the Readers: When was the last time you went to the bank? (98 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. It used to be part of everyone’s existence, like going to the grocery store once a week. You’d stand in a teller’s line and hope everyone in front of you had uncomplicated transactions. Then you’d hand over your cash and the teller would stamp your passbook to record your deposit. It all felt very solid and respectable, even sort of fun knowing you were adding to your savings….

  • Credit unions vs. banks: Things to consider (91 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. One of my money resolutions for 2014 is to switch banks. I’ve been a long-time customer of a big bank that, in recent years, has stood out among headlines that reveal sneaky and unethical business practices. That’s not the only reason I’m switching, but it does help me want to change. In addition to looking at other banks, I’ve also been researching credit unions. Some people think…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Banks of 2013 — Do you agree with Money magazine? (33 comments)

    Banking is something Get Rich Slowly readers take very seriously. While it can seem like a 0.85 percent to 0.90 percent APY isn’t anything to get excited over, that’s more than 4x the current national average of 0.18 percent APY (according to the MoneyRates Index, a sampling of 100 banks that includes the top 50 retail banks by total deposits and 50 smaller banks). Also if you’re putting your savings with a large bank in…

  • Drawing the line with poor customer service (72 comments)

    Last year, I wrote a breakup letter to Chase Bank. It was pretty ugly. I’ll save you the heartbreaking details, but trust me, they had it coming. Closing the account was another nightmare. They wouldn’t let me break up with them! They told me I couldn’t close the account because my signature on the request form did not match the signature they had on file. An understandable concern, but I’d been signing my name as…

  • Why Most of Us Won’t Change Banks (73 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Did you ever look at a bank’s website and think to yourself, “Why would they give you free bill pay when they charge for everything else?” Even with the super-restrictive accounts that limit ATM deposits and withdrawals; put holds on most of your checks; and demand monthly fees or regular savings transfers; bill pay is usually offered free. It’s surely not an inexpensive process from the bank’s…

  • Why Pay Debit Card Fees? Changing Banks, or Not (167 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Bank of America will soon be charging $5 per month for consumers who use its debit cards to access the money in their accounts. This fee, to be charged whether you use your debit card once or several dozen times, is a direct response (a kind of “up yours,” if you ask me) to the recent limits on what banks can charge merchants for debit transactions, and…

  • Look Out for Changes to Your Bank Accounts (60 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Last year Congress passed the massive Dodd-Frank bill as a response to the reckless actions of Wall Street and to establish protections for consumers. But some of the new regulations will cost banks significant revenue, and stories are running rampant on proposals banks are considering to recoup costs — each at the consumer’s expense. The following are some of the changes that are already taking place at…

  • Ask the Readers: The Best Online Bank for Service and Security? (147 comments)

    It’s been a while since I’ve written about the best online bank accounts. Usually when I cover online banks, I’m focused on their interest rates, such as in this constantly-updated list of which online high-yield savings accounts are best. But interest rates have been low for nearly three years now, and there’s not much difference between earning 1.11% on your savings at one bank and 1.09% at another. In an environment like this, how do…

  • Three Stories About Banking (19 comments)

    As part of my downshifting project, I’ve spent the past couple of days replying to several hundred stale messages in my inbox. There were plenty of great reader stories, guest posts, and “ask the readers” questions in my stack of stuff, but there were also some good article ideas, too. For example, I had three different e-mails about bank-related stories. Each of these is pretty small for its own post, but they share a similar…

  • Reader Story: How (and Why) I Moved My Money to a Local Bank (73 comments)

    This guest post from Aja is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. By now we’ve all heard about how the giant national banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank) are “too big to fail” and have to be rescued from their mistakes with our taxpayer money….

  • What Does It Take to Make You Switch Banks? (170 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog featured the hit post 42 Ways to Radically Simplify Your Financial Life. When I was 14 years old, I opened my very first checking account at Bank One. That’s where my Dad banked and so that’s where he drove me when I asked to open an account. Over the years, I continued to give them my business. By 16, I had opened another checking…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 27: Banking for Fun and Profit (1 comment)

    On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, I’ll join Jim from Bargaineering to discuss the wonderful of banking. We’ll talk about online banks, offline banks, high interest savings accounts, current CD rates, and more. (We’ll also talk about how to optimize your accounts.) This show will air live at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern). It’s much more entertaining for everyone when you call in to participate. We’d love to hear how you use your bank…

  • Are Debit Cards Evil, Too? (118 comments)

    This post is from GRS Staff Writer Adam Baker. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man vs. Debt, where he often discusses traveling and the cost of living abroad. A couple weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article entitled “Overspending on Debit Cards is a Boon for Banks“. While I usually favor personal finance blogs over the larger online media networks (call me partial), this piece was particularly…

  • How to Choose the Right Bank Account (53 comments)

    On my first day of college, I chose a checking account because the bank was handing out free Frisbees. This was my only bank account for nearly 20 years. Eventually I opened a savings account at the local credit union. Then I discovered the benefits of a high-yield savings account. Last autumn I opened my first certificate of deposit. And just a few months ago, I started a money market account. Why so many accounts?…

  • The Lean Dog of Despair Never Follows a Man with a Bank Account (18 comments)

    One of the fun things about writing a blog is getting to know readers a little better, and them getting to know me. One reader recently gave me a Mini Cooper — a remote-control model Mini Cooper, that is. Others have sent me bacon-flavored stuff. Many have pointed me to comic-book/personal-finance crossovers. Last weekend, Robert M. forwarded another little something for me to enjoy: While looking through some old newspapers I found an interesting bank…

  • The $1500 Frisbee (52 comments)

    It’s April Fools’ Day! In 2007, I regaled you with lifestyles of the rich and stupid. Last year, I explained how to turn $500 into $7 the hard way. And this year I offer you yet another tale of my own financial foolishness. On the first day of college, I opened my first bank account. The gym was filled with registration tables, not just for classes and clubs, but also for local businesses wanting to…

  • The Credit Crisis — Visualized (36 comments)

    Over at Vimeo, Jonathan Jarvis has created a ten-minute film that offers an overview of the credit crisis. If you’ve been struggling to understand what went wrong with the American economy, this will give you some of the basics: The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo. If you’d like more information, I encourage you to carve out time to listen to two radio broadcasts, both from NPR’s This American Life: “The Giant…

  • Making the Most of Your Checking Account (104 comments)

    In the past, we’ve discussed the best online high-yield savings account, covered the basics of certificates of deposit, and even explored the beauty of Roth IRAs. But we’ve never talked about checking accounts. Many people believe checking accounts are the dinosaurs of the banking world. They’re not extinct yet. In the past few weeks, I’ve received two questions about them: “Where can I get the best rate on a checking account?” “How much should I…

  • Ask the Readers: Choosing a Bank During the Credit Crisis? (72 comments)

    The more the credit crisis spreads, the more it affects the average person. Kristen wrote last week looking for advice. She’s not in a panic, but she is wondering what she should do: I wanted to ask your thoughts on the recent seizure and sale of Washington Mutual. All of my accounts are at WaMu, including my 3.75% APY online savings account, and my 4.5% APY 12-month CD. I think these are great rates for…

  • Stale Checks: How Long Can Someone Wait to Deposit a Check? (79 comments)

    While running errands this afternoon, I stopped by the bank to deposit a check. All of the tellers were occupied with difficult clients. (I’m old-fashioned and go inside to make deposits for my business finances.) While I waited, I eavesdropped on the nearest conversation. A woman was frustrated because she’d just opened a checking account a few weeks ago, and now it was overdrawn. She couldn’t understand. “I don’t see how that’s possible,” she said….

  • How to Open Multiple Accounts at ING (now Capital One 360) (101 comments)

    One of my favorite saving techniques is the use of targeted accounts. If I want to save for something big — like a Mini Cooper, for example — I’ll open a new savings account specifically for this purpose. I first learned about this method from Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Traditionally, most people invested for various vague goals and lumped all of their savings together in a single investment account. That’s pretty boring. It’s…

  • Beware of Citibank’s Retroactive Late Fee (46 comments)

    Here’s one way for banks to compensate for their losses during the subprime lending debacle: screw their other customers. GRS reader Morydd shared a scary story in the discussion forums. His wife has a student loan through Citibank, which this month decided to charge a retro-active late fee without any explanation. Here’s Morydd’s tale (as originally posted at his blog): When I went to check the statement on my wife’s student loan through Citibank for…

  • Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (30 comments)

    “Poverty does not belong in a civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum,” writes Muhammad Yunus near the end of Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty. “I want to see a world free from poverty.” If anyone else made such a pronouncement, you might be justified in dismissing it as idle fantasy. But after reading 250 pages describing Yunus’ thirty-year micro-lending project, the reader knows that he…

  • Using the Bank: State-of-the-Art Personal Finance (from 1947) (9 comments)

    I’ve removed the entry pointing to the Dave Ramsey video on YouTube. Here instead is a different sort of personal finance video, one that is squarely in the Public Domain. Remember what banking was like back in the olden days, in the dark ages before computers? Neither do I. All my adult life, I’ve had access to Quicken, and for most of that time I’ve been able to check my balance online. I’ve never known…

  • Bank of America Demonstrates How to Alienate Potential Customers (64 comments)

    Last month I shared stories of good customer service Kris and I have experienced recently. Sadly, this sort of thing seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Tim wrote to share a frustrating experience he had with Bank of America, the kind of thing The Consumerist covers all the time. Here’s his story: My employer ran a promotional thing where if you completed a set of “healthy living” tasks, they gave you $25. …

  • Bank Robber With a Walker Caught Quickly (2 comments)

    It’s been a while since I featured a “funny money” story. Here’s one from the local paper. Suspected bank robber plans heist, forgets part about speedy getaway by Noelle Crombie And now for the case of the suspected bank robber who, it seems, overlooked the importance of the speedy getaway. The feds say John R. Jankoski, 48, walked into a Bank of America branch on Southwest Stark Street back in November using the aid of…

  • Personal Finance Puzzlers: The Check is in the Mail (14 comments)

    On Saturday, November 4th, I mailed my monthly home equity payment. I know I mailed the payment because that was the day I took my car in to have it serviced. I walked from the shop to the post office to mail the check. It was the only thing I mailed. I used a comic-book stamp — The Flash — hoping to speed the check on its way. (Yes, I really do silly stuff like…

  • Financial Nirvana: It’s the Little Things (19 comments)

    It gives me bliss when my Quicken balance matches my on-line bank balance before I even begin to reconcile my accounts for the month. I could be overdrawn by $200, and I’d still be glowing inside so long as Quicken and the web statement matched to the penny. It’s even better since I actually have money sitting in the account! Now I need to reconcile with the paper statement — if that matches, too, all…

  • What are Your Experiences with Internet Banking? (71 comments)

    Based on reader feedback, this post has been substantially revised from its original form. What makes a bank good? Some people want great deals. Some want great service. Some want convenience. Many finance bloggers recommend online banks like ING Direct and Emigrant Direct because they offer excellent interest rates. A GRS reader (who asked to remain anonymous) warns that the deals at these places may not be worth the trouble. When he needed to withdraw…

  • Coins for Making Change Efficiently (0 comment)

    Are those coins in your pocket a burden? Do you wish you didn’t have to carry so many? Mathematicians have discovered that we’d have to carry fewer if the dime were replaced by an eighteen-cent piece. Most businesses in the United States make change using just four different types of coins: 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), and 25 cents (quarter). This distribution of coinage suggests an interesting question: Is it the…

  • Fontos Képek (2 comments)

    Fontos képek! — I don’t know what it means, but it’s funny to see. Here’s a site in some language I don’t understand that features photos of faces matched to folded currency. Doesn’t make sense? Here’s an example: There are several similar images on this page.

  • The Engraveyard: Money of Many Nations (0 comment)

    James Lileks hosts some beuatiful images scanned from financial documents around the world. His Curious Lucre section contains “money of many nations”, including currency from: Argentina, Austria, Biafra, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, and the U.S. Army. (The latter is not really a country.) From that sequence, it seems clear that currency from other countries F-Z will probably be forthcoming. I like this banknote from Cambodia: Lileks’ Bureau of…

  • MORE Thieves Using Construction Equipment to Rob Banks (1 comment)

    Even as I was posting the previous entry about thieves using construction equipment in an attempt to steal an ATM, a Get Rich Slowly reader was forwarding the following to me. As you can see, it’s a remarkably similar story, though it took place three years ago on the other side of Portland. I wonder: does this sort of thing happen a lot? Backhoe Used to Steal ATM, Police Say by Kate Taylor (from the…

  • Stupid Thieves Fail at Complicated ATM Heist (2 comments)

    Here’s an hilarious story from my home-town. In fact, it’s a story from my home-bank. This article originally appeared in the 12 July 2006 edition of the Clackamas Review. Reminder to readers from other countries: the following incident occurred on the early morning of July 4th, the U.S. Independence Day. Because it was a holiday, there was very little traffic to see this. Thieves Fail at Complicated ATM Smash-and-Grab by David Stroup Thieves were thwarted…

  • Where’s George? The Dollar-Bill Tracker (50 comments)

    Have you ever wondered where your money goes after you spend it? Where’s George? can help you find out. After registering with the site, you can enter the serial numbers from your bills. As money falls into the hands of different users, they enter there serial numbers in turn, and the money is tracked as it moves around the country. Sounds crazy, huh? And for most bills, little or nothing ever happens. But for some,…

  • Man 1, Bank 0 (7 comments)

    Patrick Combs is an average guy. An average guy who, in 1995, decided on a whim to deposit one of those fake checks so common in junk mail. On May 19th, I was one of thousands of people around the country who received a ‘junk mail’ letter touting a get-rich quick method for making $95,093.35 in just three weeks. That letter also came with a for the same amount, $95,093.35. Everything about the check looked…

  • Ask For What You Want (0 comment)

    Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich writes about a friend who saved on ATM fees just by asking: I was just talking to my friend, who recently moved to New York [...]: She’ll be there for a few months and didn’t want to open a bank account, but instead of just shrugging and saying “Damn that” she actually called her bank. She just asked them if they would waive the ATM fees…

  • Choosing an Internet Bank (5 comments)

    Many people have begun switching some or all of their accounts to online banks. This AskMetafilter user is looking for a great internet bank. I have an account with ING, and they’re fine, but I’d like to find an online bank that has a decent interest rate but 1) doesn’t hold your deposits forever before they’re available and 2) can transfer money back to my checking account rather quickly. Does anyone have good experience with…

  • Coins Cost More to Make Than Face Value (4 comments)

    I guess this news shouldn’t be surprising. It had to happen sometime. For the first time in U.S. history, the cost of manufacturing both a penny and a nickel is more than the 1-cent and 5-cent values of the coins themselves. Skyrocketing metals prices are behind the increase, the U.S. Mint said in a letter to members of Congress last week. The Mint estimates it will cost 1.23 cents per penny and 5.73 cents per…

  • From Bank to Credit Union (13 comments)

    I was an account-holder with US Bank for eighteen years. I paid an $8 “service charge” every month, as well as many other fees. Worst of all, I had to put up with truly awful customer service. Many people have similar experiences with US Bank. Yesterday, The Consumerist posted a story of one man’s encounter with US Bank customer service ineptitude. It’s typical of stories I hear. I finally switched my accounts to a local…