The Big Story Blog

Happy with the bank, or going credit union?

Posted at 1:03 PM on November 4, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Banking, Economy

We're hearing a lot of feedback and frustration today on banks, banking and credit unions from Minnesotans in MPR's Public Insight Network and other social media.

It's not scientific, but the responses we got mirror what we've heard and read elsewhere, namely that the big bank positives -- convenience of a lot of locations and services -- are increasingly not worth the fees and rates charged.

Jay Perry of Shakopee told us he he left Wells Fargo a couple years ago. "Every time we went in to make a transaction, they tried to upsell us on new services. Every time. It got very annoying."

He says he does business now with South Metro Federal Credit Union for the personal service and no fees.

Bill Anstedt of Minneapolis reminded us that the choice isn't simply big bank or credit union. Minnesota has a long tradition of small community and rural banks. Anstedt has his funds at a credit union but also at First National Bank of the Lakes in the west metro.

It is a small local bank with only a few branches I have been with them for over a decade. they have waived over draft fees for me in the past. The staff is always friendly and helpful. I switched to them after being with TCF for a bit after I moved to Minnesota. TCF had/has some of the most Draconian fees and charges if you don't have lot's of money in their bank.

Click on the map icons to read what Minnesotans around the state told us about the satisfaction with their current institution and if they'd considered changing.

View Happy with your bank or going credit union? in a full screen map

David Rust of Columbia Heights told us he was moving his business from big bank to another. His destination: US Bank. "They have a good track record on GLBT issues and provide mature savings and investment opportunities," he wrote. "On top of all that, they were the one big bank that didn't invest in mortgage backed securities and thus did not contribute to our current financial meltdown."

He added he was frustrated by the "nickle-and-diming" he faced at TCF as well as what he views as the right-wing politics of its leadership.

Today's Question at MPR News also asked today about satisfaction with banks and the same kind of frustrated vibe surfaced.

Some examples:

My satisfaction level took a big dip downward when as the final straw they eliminated the interest paid on my account without notifying me. I have been a model and loyal costumer, maintaining a sizable balance for years, and bit by bit they have alienated me with dwindling services and interest rates. When I call them up with the possible intent of, for the first time in decades, taking my business elsewhere my first request is going to be: define 'customer service' for me. If anything it should prove amusing.

I've been with a larger regional bank for over 20 years, mainly because they were "convenient" inside all the grocery stores. But in that time, they never really did anything to make me like them, or embrace them as a bank, or make me feel valued as a customer, and on several occasions I was downright angry at them. Am finally switching over to a smaller local bank close to my house, no rules or restrictions and everything free.

Not everyone was unhappy, though.

Wells Fargo CALLED ME and asked us if we wanted to refinance and lower my mortgage rate a few years ago. A big thumbs up to WF.

TCF does a good job with my personal banking except for the point they only have two(now recently three) cash machines in the whole Mac Groveland/Highland Park/West 7th/Merriam Park Neighborhoods in St Paul. One at the bank on Ford Parkway(Which is frequently out of order), one inside St Kates, and one on Marshall Avenue. But I'm not the money person in my house, so I don't call the shots on who we bank with.

What's your banking experience? Tell us.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.