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Choosing the right bank for your needs

If you grew up in the U.S. in the 1960s, the world of banking was much different than it is in the 21st century. Back then, most banking, whether business or personal, was very local, with the majority of working people, even those with high salary jobs, using savings and loan banks.

These banks made most of their money by making loans for local homes and businesses, with the amount of loans depending on the amount of deposits at the bank. If the local bank was in a relatively prosperous area, then the size of the loans and the amount of services that they offered would be quite a bit higher.

No matter how high or low the level of service, nearly all banking was face-to-face. It was very hard to do any kind of banking if there was not a branch office nearby. The idea of doing routine banking by phone was not offered for most depositors, and the concept of banking by computer only happened in science fiction.

Fast forward to 2012, and the situation is very different. While local banks and bank branches still exist, anyone in the U.S. can easily choose any bank in the country for their day-to-day transactions. You could deposit your paychecks in a Massachusetts bank, even if your job is in a nearby town. While you still may have to talk to a representative during the bank’s business hours, you can get 24 hour access to your bank online.

Where does does all these options leave the average individual or business banker? Simply put, in a very powerful position. Once you get beyond the idea that your bank has to be local, you can pick and choose the bank that works best for you.

Once you make this mental switch, you figure out ways to deal with having a non-local bank. One common tactic is to choose to bank with a credit union that allows you to use the ATMs of other credit unions without surcharge, or that may even allow you to do in-bank transactions like depositing paper checks.

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