Bang for Your Buck: Best Banks of NYC for the Average New Yorker

Written by NYPress on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Lifestyle.


Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Where you choose to store your money is ultimately a personal decision, and will rely on a number of personal factors and individual needs, but below I’ve reviewed the pros and cons of a couple NYC personal banking options.

Bank of America

Bank of America has been around for a long time, and you can’t travel far in the City without stumbling across several BofAs, making it one of the most easily accessible and visible banks in NYC. One benefit, according to many, is personal checking at Bank of America has no minimum account balance requirement. The Bank’s “Keep the Change” program (which rounds up to the dollar on credit purchases and transfers to savings) also makes it easy to mindlessly and automatically accumulate savings. Additionally, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to enroll in an account, which immediately allows you to begin depositing funds online. A drawback to the Bank is, being such a large corporation, it can feel faceless, intimidating and difficult to navigate. Many report the Bank’s customer service is not ideal (it consistently ranks very low in this category amongst consumers) and monthly charges (i.e. for debit card, maintenance, etc.) can feel like deceptive, hidden fees. Overall, based on user reviews, it ranks low in fee fairness but high in variety and satisfaction with services provided.

Chase

Chase also has a ton of locations in the City, and is a longtime, established bank. Chase provides a ton of free services for personal banking (i.e. debit card, Quickpay, etc.)—and many services in general—which banking customers consider a major competitive advantage. It’s also fairly easy to avoid the monthly service fee on a checking account, but when fees are accrued they’re higher than comparable institutions, say Chase bank users. Additionally, reward programs are not great according to customer reviews. While their interest payments are low, they do have a debit card that provides rewards similar to a credit card. Chase has also received many customer service complaints, which is to be expected with a large bank. Customers say the quality of online banking is good, even if their rates are not that competitive.

Capital One

Capital One has fewer branches than other comparable banks and has not been around nearly as long as larger institutions, though it does boast better rewards. Customers like the bank’s prompt online transactions and services, but larger deposits get held longer than at other, bigger banks. Capital One is reportedly good for customers who don’t have the best starting credit, and are looking to rebuild. Unfortunately this might mean more fees than other banks and limited benefits, resulting in credit limits not being very high. The bank’s customer service ranking has been on the climb in recent years though.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo recently took over Wachovia, and has been somewhat in flux in recent years. Branch and ATM locations were reportedly less widespread than other banks on the list, formerly, but since the merger, Wells Fargo is very easy to find in the City.  Online banking services consistently score high reviews, and the bank has averagely ranked financial health. Customer service at Wells Fargo ranks low, and customers report the bank is consistently changing procedure in a manner that seems confusing even to employees. Fees are allegedly high; their overdraft fee is higher than the national average, as are the majority of their other fees. Wells Fargo charges a fee for members to receive online bank statements, which many other banks do not, as well as a debit card fee. Interest rates are also ranked poorly. Wells Fargo also charges a fee to view your account balance at non-Wells Fargo ATMs.

TD Bank  

TD Bank is a good option for New Yorkers who do not foresee themselves needing more than fairly basic banking services. For one, they do not offer as many loan types as other banks. Similar to other banks listed here, however, their establishments are prevalent throughout the City. Their customer service is rated average, and also provides fewer service options than competitors. TD’s overall financial health is considered to be good. Interest rates and fees are ranked averagely compared to the national average. TD is considered trustworthy by overall customer standards, and again, a good option for those who prefer no-frills banking.

HSBC

HSBC operates out of New York City and has over 400 branches located here. At HSBC you can open an online savings account with very little money down, and transfer money between another checking account and HSBC for free on HSBC’s end. You can link an ATM card to this account, which has a higher yield than many other comparable banks. Interest rates are ranked average at HBSC, according to national standards. Some fees are higher at HSBC than national averages, but there is no fee for inactivity, and the “stop payment” fee is much lower than the national average. HSBC ranks strong in financial health. HSBC’s customer service was recently ranked very low, however.

—Compiled by Alissa Fleck

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