Shopping for a Bank

Some people search out a bank about as seriously as they look around for a mailbox or trash can: the nearest one is fine. But it really is not wise to be overly swayed by convenience. It’s always helpful to have a bank branch reasonably handy to your home or place of business, but what you should look for is a bank whose staff is the most knowledgeable and responsive to your needs.

In comparing banks, if you like the idea of being able to get cash or conduct other financial business at odd hours, or wherever you happen to be, you may want to consider a network: either one owned by a large institution or one shared by a number of smaller banks. An interstate network enables a customer of any of the member banks to use other members’ ATM machines for any routine banking transaction, including depositing or withdrawing money. The holders of one main credit card have their own growing system: they can draw cash or travelers checks from 24-hour machines at more than a thousand locations around the country at airports, supermarkets and banks. An increasing number of savings and loan companies and credit unions are also making use of electronic tie ins.

If you expect to be depositing your paychecks, pension or dividend checks, or conducting other business regularly in person, observe the lines at the counters during peak hours when everyone else is apt to be doing the same thing — from noon to 3 P.M. on Fridays, for example, particularly those falling on major paydays around the 15th and 30th of the month. If the lines look intolerably long — there can be more than a half hour wait at some big-city banks — you might find faster, less harried service on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, generally the quietest days of the week. Or you can inquire if the bank will arrange for automatic deposit of your checks so that you do not have to go there at all.

Read more: Criteria when Choosing a Bank