7 Signs You Should Switch Your Bank

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- After big banks announced now-defunct plans to charge debit card fees last year, thousands of Americans decided to switch from big banks to credit unions and small financial institutions in a national movement called Bank Transfer Day. But an annoying charge isn't the only reason to jump ship. Whether you patronize a corporate bank, small financial institution or credit union, there are other factors that can cause a banking relationship to become decidedly less convenient than it was at its onset.

We rounded up some red flags that indicate it may, in fact, be time to take your money elsewhere:
A debit card fee isn't the only reason to jump ship with your money. Here are some other red flags.

You're paying too much in ATM fees
There are a variety of reasons you may suddenly find yourself using out-of-network ATMs to make cash withdrawals. For instance, your bank may have elected to close down your local branch, or you could have a made a lifestyle change that put in-network ATMs well out of walking distance from your workplace or home.

Whatever the reason, out-of-network ATMs fees, generally between $2 and $3 a pop, are a quick way to unnecessarily deplete the funds in your checking or account. As such, those using a machine that doesn't belong to their bank frequently may want to switch to one with ATMs more conveniently located.

You can get a better deposit rate somewhere else
Deposit rates may remain low, but you don't have to settle for earning 0% interest on your savings. Generally speaking, smaller banks, online banks and credit unions offer much more favorable rates on deposits, so it may be worth checking out what's being offered in your area.

(You can find some Web tools in this article to help you track down a local credit union.)

Another bank Is offering an attractive sign-on bonus
Bank Transfer Day may have come and gone, but its effects are certainly lasting. Many large financial institutions are starting to offer sign-on bonuses of $100 or more to select consumers -- usually those who have a credit card or loan with them in good standing -- in an effort to widen their customer base.

The sign-on bonuses typically require you to deposit a certain amount of money into a checking account, and you'll need to meet certain parameters to avoid checking account fees, but consumers who get an offer and aren't too thrilled with their existing bank just may want to capitalize on it.

You want to pay bills online, but can't
There's a good chance your technological capabilities are growing faster than your financial institution's. Fans of online bill payment or mobile banking apps may want to frequent an institution that offers both in lieu of one keeping them locked in paper statements.

It's hard to get someone on the phone
A company's level of customer service should never be discounted, so if you find yourself banging the phone in anger after your bank's automated teller has redirected you back to the start menu for a fifth time, you may want tell them you're taking your business elsewhere. But take heed: A recent RateWatch survey of secret shoppers revealed big banks may actually have more to offer on the customer service front than small banks or credit unions.

You've taken other financial business elsewhere
Taking out a mortgage, auto loan or even opening up a credit card with a different financial institution should make you question how satisfied you are with the bank that's holding your money, especially since banks are known to offer better interest rates on these products to their current checking account customers. Some even offer better credit card rewards programs to those who do their traditional banking with them.

If you find yourself frequenting a particular institution to conduct your other financial business, you may want to explore what types of checking or savings products they have to offer.

Your bank isn't FDIC or NCUSIF insured
You want to put your money somewhere it's protected, so if your bank isn't insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which backs deposits in many banks and thrift institutions for at least $250,000, or the National Credit Union Insurance Fund, which backs participating credit unions, it may be time to find one that is.

You can check whether your bank is insured on the FDIC's Web site and find out which credit unions are covered on the National Credit Union Association's site.

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