Long ago, before the advent of megabanks and banking conglomerates, people opened bank accounts close to home -- sometimes even within walking distance. While the idea may seem quaint now, a growing number of people are opting for credit unions and community banks over their big box counterparts.
Opening an account at a community bank may not immediately occur to most consumers, but it should:
- Community banks (like credit unions) tend to have a leg up on larger institutions when it comes to convenience, customer service and lending rates.
- Loans issued by a community bank enrich surrounding businesses and individuals, which help sustain local economic growth.
- Lending procedures tend to be less of a hassle at a community bank since there's no need to pass information and paperwork through an extensive corporate chain of command.
- Community bank assets are smaller than megabanks because they're local, but most still offer traditional account benefits like online banking, check cards and bill pay.
Given the recent financial crisis, make sure to check the stability of any bank before opening an account. Bank Rate's Safe and Sound star ratings allow consumers to search for banks by name and check the financial stability, determined by star rating, online. The more stars, the greater the bank's stability.
You can find a nearby community bank at the Independent Community Bankers of America