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Old 10-10-2014, 07:09   #1
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Recommendations for a Bank

Yesterday Lance and I attended a pre-retirement planning seminar so, naturally, today I am thinking about the financial side of things and we are looking to start putting things into place. (A nice diversion from always focusing on boat repairs)

We currently live in Baltimore and use primarily a local credit union for our operating accounts. However, upon retirement we will have our home base and residency in Sarasota, Florida while we cruise primarily the U.S. east coast and Caribbean. Taking the boat to the west coast at some point is a possibility. Canada and Mexico are definitely in the picture.

So, my question..... I would like recommendations for a bank for our operating funds. The best case scenario would be no/or very low fees, decent interest on savings/money market accounts, widespread availability of ATM's with no withdrawal fees, and good customer service if you need wire transfers or other services that cruisers might find useful. A brick and mortar in Florida would be great. Sometimes you just want to walk in and have something done or have a sit down with someone.

I know I can do an internet search and see the sales pitches they all make, but I would like real recommendations from people who are using services that they are happy with. I am just concerned with operating funds accounts.

Anybody....??
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Old 10-10-2014, 07:18   #2
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

We aren't cruising yet but we like Bank of America. One of the advantages we've found when we travel is that it has a large network of "partner" banks across the globe, so we can withdraw money from ATM's without any fees (i.e. Scotia Bank in Virgin Gorda, Barclay's in England, etc.). Of course the interest earnings are rotten, but I can't think of a brick and mortar bank where they aren't at this point in time.
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Old 10-10-2014, 07:34   #3
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

Also, overdraft fees at BOA are high, so you have to watch it. There can be transactions that post late, so you think you have enough it your account. Then all of a sudden they settle and you get back dated overdraft fees


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Old 10-10-2014, 07:41   #4
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

We also have used Bank of America as our primary bank for decades, although we do bank with others as well. Just the extent of their presence and their number of corresponding banks in the rest of the world are good. Now if we were traveling extensively in Europe we would also have an account in a European bank, probably HSBC or Barclay's.

With all the security problems and fraud prevalent today from Target to JP Morgan Chase to Visa to Home Depot we're also very careful and as a result carry more credit cards from different banks than we otherwise would. Now those activities also do take place in bank accounts as well. To protect there we use alerts diligently, we minimize amounts in checking accounts, and we also use multiple banks. And, last, something the banks push that we never use is overdraft protection. If we overdraft, that means someone else has accessed out account and we sure don't want to protect them. We have found through personal experiences and those of friends, BofA's fraud protection to be top notch. Now the negative to that is you get debit and credit cards replaced frequently. We have several friends who just got new cards because they had shopped at Home Depot. They hadn't had any charges or misuse of their old card, but still the bank replaced it, just in case. But if you're using your card for automatic payments, you will have to update them each time.
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Old 10-10-2014, 07:49   #5
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

I switch both my business account, and personal account over to Chase. After dealing with Bank of America and Wells Fargo I have been very happy.

I think a lot of my happiness has to do with the fact I was assigned a very good personal banker. I would imagine results may vary depending on who you work with at the bank, and the branch.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:02   #6
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

My $0.02. I've decided to minimize my activities with large banking institutions as much as practical. I believe that they were complicit in the financial crisis. Small, local banks didn't participate in the same way. To that end we do our major banking with a smallish bank that started as Ironstone and is now First Citizens. I believe they are headquartered in Georgia. They were a little better before the transition but they are still great. They don't have a lot of branch offices but there is one in our home town, Santa Fe, NM. They have a lot of branches in Fla and I think in the South, in general.

We get unbelievable personal service. When I walk into our local branch they know me by name. I've used their branches in Fla and North Carolina and been treated like family. When we call their main offices for some issue or another we get good personal service from a human being. When I use my ATM card in another bank's machine, First Citizen's picks up the charge, i.e., they pay the fee, I don't. I've used their card a lot in Puerto Rico where we have a slightly different banking system.

We also have our mortgage with a local bank. Unfortunately, it would be inconvenient to separate myself entirely from large banking institutions but those are my attempts.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:40   #7
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

If you have served in the military, join USAA--on line banking, no fees at all.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:45   #8
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

How about USAA. The bank is open to all; USAA covers all ATM fees, deposits can be made with a smart phone, and security is the best.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:53   #9
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

I had two accounts at two different credit unions in Austin Texas while I lived in Antigua. I opened a local checking account so I could write checks at the Epicurean supermarket.

I never had a problem accessing my Money in Austin. The credit unions were easier to deal with than the local bank. I became very adept with wire transfers to get money from the states to the island and back.

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Old 10-10-2014, 09:55   #10
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

As others have said, happiness with your personal banker is important. I also respect the view to deal with local banks. Now a slight bit of history, Bank of America was my local bank, headquartered in my hometown. It started as North Carolina National Bank, became NationsBank, and now Bank of America.

Here's the rub however. If you travel throughout the country and need some form of service you can't walk into a branch of your local bank. And where the large banks really have the advantage is in international travel with correspondence relationships. USAA also loses some of it's advantages in world travel. These then are the issues that could cause you to need a bank with a broader reach.

Each should choose what works best for them, much like choosing a boat. Just also recognize the limitations.

I've dealt with most of the larger banks and quite honestly had ok service from each. BofA is however the one where I do have a personal banker and direct access to those I need. I don't think any of them give the level of service perhaps your old time local bank did. But then that bank only had local presence and as cruisers we often need more.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:15   #11
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldragbaggers View Post
Yesterday Lance and I attended a pre-retirement planning seminar so, naturally, today I am thinking about the financial side of things and we are looking to start putting things into place. (A nice diversion from always focusing on boat repairs)

We currently live in Baltimore and use primarily a local credit union for our operating accounts. However, upon retirement we will have our home base and residency in Sarasota, Florida while we cruise primarily the U.S. east coast and Caribbean. Taking the boat to the west coast at some point is a possibility. Canada and Mexico are definitely in the picture.

So, my question..... I would like recommendations for a bank for our operating funds. The best case scenario would be no/or very low fees, decent interest on savings/money market accounts, widespread availability of ATM's with no withdrawal fees, and good customer service if you need wire transfers or other services that cruisers might find useful. A brick and mortar in Florida would be great. Sometimes you just want to walk in and have something done or have a sit down with someone.

I know I can do an internet search and see the sales pitches they all make, but I would like real recommendations from people who are using services that they are happy with. I am just concerned with operating funds accounts.

Anybody....??
I also favor Chase. I have used BofA and still hold credit card with them, but did not like their overall operation. Too, many fees and the updating of your account by iphone is never correct with their online sight. With Chase you can set up a wire transfer account and do one from your comp. I think initially you need to go in and meet with someone.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:21   #12
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

Lots of good information here and I thank everyone for taking the time to respond. We are eligible for USAA. We had insurance with them for many years but have never banked with them. I will check that out. I worked for BofA for many years a long time ago but haven't banked with them for a long time. Will check them out again as well. We've been with credit unions for many years now so it's been a long time since I've used a commercial bank.
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Old 10-10-2014, 13:04   #13
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

If you're eligible then look at Navy Federal Credit Union. Was founded for sailors traveling the world and is also the only bank I've never had cheat me.


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Old 10-10-2014, 14:10   #14
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

Not eligible for Navy Federal anymore. We used to belong but cancelled membership years ago. Since Lance is not on a regular full retirement (he has VSI) we are not eligible now.....I don't think.
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Old 10-10-2014, 14:59   #15
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Re: Recommendations for a Bank

Over the years I've seen all sorts of banks make ridiculous mistakes, including Chase. But with Chase it always seems that ONE phone call, or ONE visit, can get the problem resolved and gone. BOA, Citibank...you can go back and forth six or eight times and get nowhere. TD Bank also has been very good. I stopped by one looking for a notary and asked "What do I owe you?" when we were done. I was astounded to hear "Nothing, we hope you'll bring us your banking business in the future."

BOA? Won't notarize anything except bank business! Chase? A little better, IF you can find a notary in the branch. (I'm told this year they've made a point to have more staff become notaries.)

Most of the "online only" banks will absorb most or all ATM fees, so it can be worth using that as your "ATM access" money, while keeping the rest safe elsewhere and just transferring it over as needed.
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