Where do I bank and why?

I have done some writing about finding the best rates and what I think the best banks are and so on. I decided to share who I use to do my own banking and why. It will give you insight into how to choose a bank based on fees and features that best fits you. Here are my accounts and why I have them:

  • Bank of America: Free checking. I use this to deposit checks and cash to transfer over to ING Direct.
  • ING Direct: This is my primary checking account. I get direct deposit from work. I love the ability to electronically deposit to anyone's account and any bank. They do not allow a checkbook at all which is wonderful. Checks are paper and cost money anyway! I also have a "Bills Escrow" savings account and some 4% CD's from a while back.
  • HSBC Direct: I have my emergency fund here. They currently offer a better rate than ING on savings.
  • Assoicated Credit Union (local): I just joined and will use them for my home equity loan to fund my remodel. They also offer a special savings account that pays 6% (!) on the first $500. That is like having a perpetual CD that I can tap any time and has a great rate!
Some may argue that this is a little complicated. It can be but it works for me. If I were to cut anything out it would be HSBC direct if/when ING got their rates in line. Some people like doing business all with one bank and that is fine. I tend to go for the best rates for savings no matter what bank and also the lowest fees. ING charges me nothing for my accounts and I even have a $1000 overdraft just in case (I have never used it).

I like having 2 checking accounts as added security. I travel abroad as often as I can and it is very handy to have ATM/Debit cards from the two major issuers. Bank of America gives Visa debit cards and ING gives Mastercard. As long as I have cash in both accounts one or the other will work at an ATM somewhere. Also if one card is damaged or stolen you have a backup ready to go. This makes life on (and off) the road a lot easier!

No matter which bank or credit union you decide to use I believe everyone should have online savings accounts and/or CD's. It puts an extra step between you and your savings so if you want to spend it on something you have to think about it and go through a deliberate process. This will eliminate 90% of your impulse buys which can kill your savings!