April 14, 2009

Some Questions on Banking

Having now moved to DC, I have been forced to switch banks since my old bank is a Michigan bank and only has branches in Michigan. Does that strike anyone else as strange? I've lived in five different states and every time had to have a different bank. There are probably at least five fast food chains with restaurants in every state in the union but most banks limit there branches to something like a 300 square mile radius. Sears, the retailer that sells tractors and other gianormous objects has no problem shipping their wares all over the country yet most banks can't manage to ship their digital ones and zeros to the next state over.

The other thing is that my new banks is constantly confusing me with their "product" talk. For example, I went into the bank yesterday and wanted to make some adjustments to my "free" checking account so that it would actually be free. After a few minutes, the teller totally confused me by asking me "what product are you in?." So, apparently, a checking account is a product. When did this happen? Is banking a product or a service?


Vanessa said...

Don't the banking laws differ between states? Plus, some banks are small and local or regional because they can't afford to expand. They'd have to provide ATMs and such in your area.

I've got no complaints about my last 7 years with Bank of America, although I realize they're having financial problems. But it seems like most banks are. And BofA has ATMs all over the country. Which is why I chose it. So I could avoid switching banks every time I moved. I've also never heard anybody at my local BofA use the word "product" to refer to my account. That could also be a bank-specific thing. Or specific to the person you spoke with.

(I realize you're trying to ask a larger rhetorical question, but I guess I'm challenging you on your datapoint of 1.)

Boron110 said...

Hi V! It's so funny that you brought up BOA- that's the bank we signed both signed up for when we moved to DC from Mich. Our old bank had branches in several states but not any this far east. It also required you to specify where you started your account before it would allow you to log in to its website- I guess they don't have the same site for different states.

My BOA account is the first bank I've ever had where I have to pay a monthly fee or keep a substantial minimum balance. Even their "free" checking has these requirements. I guess its free to set up the account...Otherwise they are OK. My sister had problems with BOA when she moved from Philly to Bellingham- they said there were certain things she could only do through the bank where she opened her account. I know there are differences between the state banking laws but I don't know what kinds of things these laws differ upon. Do you?

the unbeatable kid said...

they won't let me use data points since my science license has been revoked. but here are my experiences:

1. i've moved to a different state four times and i've always had to change banks.

2. the teller and my "personal banker" at my new bank (BOA) both referred to my checking account as my "product." i've never heard an account described in this way before.

Vanessa said...

Interesting that we're talking about the same bank. And I changed my checking account in the last year, and at my local branch in Georgia they never used the word product. But all of the bank employees I worked with were older. My new local BofA in Kansas (of which there is only 1 in the whole town) I can't speak for since I have only been inside to speak with an employee once. I have no idea about banking laws between states. And yes, the account minimums are a little obnoxious, and I have gotten some fees in a few low cash-flow months, but it hasn't happened enough for me to be terribly upset about it.

With BofA (and this may be true for other banks too, but I don't know), the branch at which you opened your account is considered your home branch or something. So mine is in Georgia, even though I don't live there. It's that banks routing number that gets used for all of my transactions. Luckily, I kept the little blank check form that comes affixed to your checkbook (even though I have not bothered to get more checks). On that little slip of paper is your original branch routing number, and with that info you can set up all of the on-line stuff you want. So if you use BofA you still technically have your home branch in Michigan. Perhaps having my home branch in GA will cause me problems in the future and get me to cancel my account with them (which I can probably only do in GA or something :). Next time I go inside the bank, I'll keep my ears open for the word "product".