You Must Provide A Great Reason For Switching Banks
Why should I consider switching my checking account from my local credit union to Wells Fargo?
Both Wells Fargo and my local credit union have a branch near my house. And both offer an in-store ATM at the two grocery stores where I shop.
Therefore, both are equally convenient from a location perspective.
In the past two months, I’ve received two self-mailers from Wells Fargo. Both offering me a $50 bonus for moving my checking account.
It’s a really big hassle moving your checking account. And for me, it’s not worth $50 to endure the hassle which takes place over several weeks.
Other than the $50 offer, Wells Fargo provides no economic or other sound reason in its self-mailers for me to make the switch.
By the way, there’s always a risk of offering cash or a free gift for opening a new checking account. The risk is attracting the ephemeral premium shopper.
On the second self-mailer that arrived last Saturday, the headline on the front cover reads, “You deserve checking that really delivers the goods.” This statement is too vague to be meaningful. What goods?
The next bit of relevant “reason” copy appears in the body copy underneath the bold headline on the inside, middle panel. The copy reads, “A Wells Fargo checking account comes fully loaded with features you can really use.” Again, another vague statement that is subject to wide interpretation.
Finally, a matrix on the center panel provides a bit more relevant reason copy:
- Free access to Wells’ top-ranked online service.
- Access to over 3,300 banking locations and more than 6,900 ATMs.
- Over 150 years of strength and stability.
Well, my credit union offers me free online banking service and I’ve not had any access or service issues at all.
I really don’t need access to 3,300 branches and 6,900 ATMs. I only need the few in my local area as do most consumers.
It’s nice to know that Wells has been around for over 150 years but I remember reading they took some TARP funds. And I have absolutely no idea of the bank’s balance sheet exposure to derivatives and credit default swaps. All banks are sound until they aren’t. And often there is very little warning to us common folk.
No, I need a much more meaningful reason to consider closing my two credit union checking accounts and moving them to Wells Fargo. My luck, Wells wouldn’t let me have two checking accounts.
Out of curiosity, I visited the bank’s website to check out – no pun intended – its checking accounts.
The first thing I discovered that bothers me is that I had to select the state in which I live before getting to the checking account landing page. This immediately suggests that the bank offers different checking accounts in different states.
This begs the question of “why?”
On the California landing page I discovered that Wells offers six different checking accounts in California:
Wells Fargo Basic Checking
Wells Fargo Teen Checking
Wells Fargo Custom Management Package
Wells Fargo Complete Advantage Package
Wells Fargo PMA Package
Unfortunately for Wells Fargo, I won’t be moving my checking account. It doesn’t offer a truly free checking account…at least in California. The closest it comes to free checking is Basic Checking which requires either direct deposit or a $1,000 balance. I’m one of the millions of consumers who don’t qualify for direct deposit.
Fortunately, I have two truly free checking accounts with my local credit union.
Curious, I then wondered if my co-workers in Nebraska had the same choice of six checking accounts. Clicking on the Nebraska state code, I was shocked to find Wells Fargo Free Checking as the first account listed in the checking account matrix. The other five accounts were identical to those in California.
This confirmed why I wouldn’t consider moving my checking business from my credit union to Wells Fargo. Apparently, for some strange reason I would have to move to Nebraska to get Free Checking. It seems a bit discriminatory to me.
Obviously, I don’t qualify for Teen Checking or the College Combo account.
And, I have absolutely zero interest in any sort of package account. The word “package” immediately suggests some bundling of products and services I have no interest in. I simply want a checking account. If I want the other stuff I’ll get it if and when I need it.
Note the absence of the word “checking” in any of the three package account names.
I’ve always suspected that banks offering packaged accounts are more interested in cross-sell ratios and share of wallet than in catering to the needs of its customers and prospects.
I simply find it hard to believe that anyone decides during the day that they need a package account from their local bank or credit union.
Bottom line, I made the right decision several years ago when I moved my banking relationship from a big mega-bank to my local credit union. I have two free checking accounts without direct deposit and I’ve never been approached to open some mysterious package account.
On a closing note, I have to confess that I continue to be impressed by the Wells Fargo brand. I love the stagecoach drawn by the team of six horses. And I appreciate the fact that after 150 years they continue using the ubiquitous stagecoach logo. Wells Fargo is a famous name, rich in history and tradition. It takes a strong, smart management team to resist replacing the famous stagecoach with some new, meaningless, high-tech icon.
Now, if only they would change their minds about offering a truly free checking account in California.