6 Reasons to Consider a Community Bank
Deciding where to bank is one of life’s more important decisions. After all, your bank holds your money, extends you credit and helps you manage your finances – so it’s important that you find the right fit.
One of the first things you’ll want to consider is the size of bank you prefer. Are you comfortable with the uniformity that a big-box bank provides? Or are you looking for the more personalized service you’ll find at a community bank?
Unlike large financial institutions, community banks are typically locally owned, serving families and businesses in their immediate areas. Here are six reasons why you might want to choose one of these smaller, regional banks instead of a larger option:
1. They know your mortgage market
Because community banks operate in your neighborhood, the bankers are familiar with the nuances of the local real estate market — which, depending on where you live, could be changing quickly. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need a bank with employees who can give you specific advice and that uses appraisers who are attuned to local market fluctuations.
Community banks can offer mortgages at the same rates as the big guys, but, more importantly, their employees are likely to see you as more than just a walking embodiment of your credit score. Community bankers can consider your personal circumstances in lending decisions, and they often help first-time buyers apply for down payment assistance and other programs.
2. They provide checking account options
Checking account options at community banks are tailored to meet the needs of the families and individuals living in their areas. Some offer basic checking with free mobile and online banking and bill pay, as well as premium interest-bearing and/or free checking with a variety of perks. And, of course, they offer debit and credit cards.
3. They protect your money
Whether your bank has 500 branches or just one, your deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for up to $250,000 per account holder, per bank, for each account category. Fewer branches doesn’t mean more risk.
4. They’re tech-savvy
Community banks may be regionally based, but they know their clients don’t stay in one place. Almost all of them have mobile and online banking apps, so you can keep track of your accounts, pay bills and transfer funds, no matter where you are in the world.
5. They give back
When you bank locally, your financial institution is as invested in the community as you are. Unlike big banks, whose profits are absorbed into the corporation, community banks promote neighborhood businesses and give to local charities. In short, they help your community prosper. Your interests are their interests.
6. Their familiarity builds friendliness
Banks like JBT realize that their commitment to community is one of their greatest assets. Unlike the revolving staff of a corporate bank, community bank officers build relationships and get to know their customers’ needs, which helps them better serve you, the client.
If you’re interested in personalized service that helps you and your neighborhood thrive, a community bank could be the right choice.
Judy McGuire, NerdWallet
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