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Is It Time To Break Up With Your Bank?

When do you know a relationship is over?

Do you end it simply when the magic is gone, or do you wait for the other party to do something you simply can't live with?

In either case, as hard as it might be to make a change, you may soon be better off if you simply move on.

So, to help you with this difficult process, here is a list of six signs it's time to break up -- with your bank.
  1. When a fee is raised. Sometimes you can accept a bad habit or two in a relationship, but when a bad habit suddenly gets worse, it can be a red flag. It's the same with accepting fees in your banking relationships. Ultimately, it's a cost-benefit relationship, and anytime a bank raises one of your costs, you should reconsider whether the benefits are worth it. Then, just the way you'd shop for anything else, consider whether you could get the same thing somewhere else for less money.
  2. When a new fee appears. Disturbing as it may be when a bad habit gets worse, it's even more troubling in a relationship when a brand-new bad habit makes an appearance -- that's not something that you bargained for at all. Similarly, it can be especially galling when your bank starts charging for something that used to be free. After all, it's not just that it's going to cost more, but now you are being billed for something you never agreed to pay for in the first place. This is a good time to look for a bank that won't nickel-and-dime you.
  3. When your branch closes. It's tough to be in a relationship when someone suddenly makes themselves unavailable to you. This is what it's like when your local bank branch closes. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. banks closed more than 2,200 branches in 2012, and the trend is expected to continue. If your local branch closes, don't go out of your way to find another branch of the same bank -- see if there is another bank that better meets your needs.
  4. When you realize you never set foot in a branch. If you stop getting together so often and realize you don't miss it, it may be time to move on. If you aren't actually visiting a physical bank branch, you may want to consider an online bank, since these often offer less expensive checking accounts and better savings account interest rates.
  5. When you pay an ATM fee. Have you been in one of those relationships where whenever you get together, it's you who pays for everything? If you find yourself regularly paying ATM fees, you need to find a bank with a network of ATMs that better suits your travels, or a policy of fully refunding all ATM fees.
  6. When a CD is maturing. Never be passive in a relationship. Don't just let your CD roll over without looking into whether another bank might offer better CD rates. You don't want to be taken for granted, do you?

Never be afraid to take an action that is right for you. Before long, you won't even remember what color your ex-bank's logo was, or what their voice-messaging system sounded like. You'll be free.

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