Banks have changed a lot since your parents' generation, and many of those changes accelerated after the 2008 financial crisis.
In the low-interest rate, risk-averse climate that followed, the banking model began to shift from making loans to charging fees.
Personal finance publisher Kiplinger reports that model remains largely intact nine years after the financial crisis, but its investigation has identified a few institutions, in different categories, that have distinguished themselves with more consumer-friendly service.
Tie among national banks
Among national banks, Kiplinger declares a tie between TD Bank and US Bank.
TD Bank wins points for its low, $100 minimum balance to avoid a service charge and low minimums for savings accounts and CDs. US Bank has 3,000 branches in 25 states and offers several checking account options with easily achievable requirements to avoid a service charge.
Among nationally available credit unions, Kiplinger gives the nod to Virginia's Langley Federal Credit Union. Consumers can join by making a $5 donation to one of several Virginia causes.
Members can then select from four checking accounts, three of which are free of a monthly fee. The simplest is the basic Smart Checking account, which has no minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee.
Best internet bank
Kiplinger rates Ally Bank as best among internet banks. Ally wins points by simplifying things with one checking, one savings and one money market deposit account. There is no minimum balance required to avoid a monthly fee.
Diane Morais, president of Consumer & Commercial Banking Products at Ally Bank, notes her institution not only won honors as best internet bank, but also as best bank for Millennials.
"Being named a 'best bank' in these two important segments gives customers the confidence to explore our other offerings – from our savings, checking and credit card products, to newer additions like Ally Home loans and low-cost investing through Ally Invest," Morais said.
According to Kiplinger, it is important for consumers to be selective when it comes to choosing a bank, since the divide between consumer-friendly banks and those that aren't so friendly will probably continue to widen.
Many banks are on a mission to cut costs and raise revenue and, very often, consumers pay the price. The best banks, Kiplinger says, tend to offer a mix of no or low-fee checking, competitive interest rates, and reimbursements for ATM fees. They also have user-friendly websites.
Consumers should also not overlook community banks. While not as well publicized, they are more likely to have free checking with fewer requirements and offer the same services as larger banks, but at lower costs.
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