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Least Evil Banks

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I think it’s always dangerous when you start assigning “feelings” to financial institutions. While I realize that CNN Money just wanted to throw “evil” out there to sensationalize a bit, I think it’s a little irresponsible to say that a bank is evil. A bank is a create of our financial environment and, ultimately, it’s a business. It’s trying to make as much profit as it can and whether that comes from fees it charges you or the interest it doesn’t pay you, the market needs to demand better in order for them to change.

That’s also why I think this list by CNN Money is great, they’ve scoured the banking ecosystem to find eight banks with zero ATM fees, free checking, and higher yield accounts.

Ally Bank

AllyI wasn’t surprised to see Ally Bank at the head of the class, I personally love their 60 day penalty on closing CDs early (most banks have you pay far more). They were lauded for their ATM reimbursement, higher interest rates, and lack of maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements.

ING Direct

ING DirectAgain, not surprised that we have another online bank as one of the least evil. ING Direct’s free checking and no ATMs were the first two reasons CNN Money mentioned, though you’ll have to use an Allpoint network ATM to avoid fees. If you don’t have an account, take advantage of ING Direct’s referral system to get a deposit bonus ($25 if you deposit $250).

The six other banks were, in order they were listed, USAA, Capital One, Alliant Credit Union, PNC, The Incredible Bank (internet only, I’d never heard of them), and Charles Schwab Bank. I don’t think it’s any indication of their evilness, so don’t see Charles Schwab as a little “eviler” than PNC. :)

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21 Responses to “Least Evil Banks”

  1. So far I have been VERY happy with ING, except I was surprised when they told me you can’t order paper checks to use with their checking accounts. It’s not just that you can’t order from them, they said your account will be marked for fraud and closed. I usually only write 2-3 checks a month, but I do sometimes need a paper check. At least until they install a card swipe on the collection plate at church. :P

  2. Courtney says:

    Seth – I use ING’s ‘Mail a Check’ service to send checks to my church each month. It’s under your ‘Make Payments’ tab, and all you need is the address and phone number. It usually gets there in about 2-4 days.

    • Strebkr says:

      I too love ING and have accounts there, but still no checking account. I need paper checks. Maybe only a few a year, but I do need them still. Yes, I understand why they don’t do checks, but until then I will continue to have a real bank for making deposits and writing checks.

      • Shirley says:

        You can have the best of both by linking an Electric Orange checking account to your B&M checking account. Tranfers are easy with ING and you can estimate what you will need for a specific time span and just keep that in the B&M account.

    • Yeah, do use the e-checks, and I could set that up for church, but then I would have nothing to drop in the collection plate each week. Also, what about unexpected things where payment is expected when services are rendered (plumber, electrician, etc.)? They usually want to be paid as soon as they finish the job, not be told “the check’s in the mail”.

      Because of those things, I am keeping multiple checking accounts, and I really hate that I have to do that.

  3. freeby50 says:

    I think that ‘evil’ is the wrong word here. They seem to be mostly measuring it on fees and interest rates.

  4. Daniel says:

    I have accounts with two online banks – and they happen to be ALLY and ING.

    No real complaints with either – had the accounts for 4+ years now.

    The only “evil” situation I encountered, was relatively recently. Last summer, I mysteriously became locked out of my Ally account. Ally admitted it was due to an error on their end – but it still took 5+ days and a lot of phone calls on my end, before I finally regained access to my account.

    That situation alone was enough proof to me, that I did in fact need to keep that brick and mortar bank account open (earning me a sweet .4%!).

    • Strebkr says:

      .4% is impressive. Thats almost 25 times what Chase pays me to keep my brick and mortal account with them. Luckily I keep very little there.

  5. govenar says:

    ING lowered their interest rate such that they’re no longer competitive, once they became popular; not “evil”, but I don’t think there’s much reason to recommend them now. Though, they do seem to be more concerned about security than other banks.

  6. skylog says:

    i have been an ING member for quite a few years now. i have no complaints and have had, i guess, what i would consider a “great experience” with them.

    as govenar has stated, the days of the high interest rates are gone (at least for a while) and they generally have had a lower rate than others for some time now.

    that said, i only keep a “small” amount of funds in there, and while i should be after every penny, i am comfortable missing out here and there as all the referrals i had filled over the years made up for it…and some.

    • Strebkr says:

      I would say most people don’t have “great experiences” with their banks like you mentioned. For me, I would say a bank is good based on how little they irritate me. Banking is a commodity. I can do it anywhere. Therefor the bank that makes it easiest for me gets my business. Thats been Chase, but they are slowly starting to try and ding me here and there and I won’t stand for it.

  7. Bogey says:

    Least evil banks?

    We probably should be talking about the least evil news media outlets…

    In the past, people have fallen all over themselves to borrow as much money as they could from banks, then when things go bad for these over leveraged folks, they want to blame it all on the banks.

    People get into too much debt – they blame the banks.

    People get fat – they blame restaurants and food producers.

    Basically, nobody in the US has ever done anything wrong – it is always someone else’s fault.

    Journalists are particularly bad about railing against. I think it’s because those careers don’t pay particularly well, and they are jealous of people in the financial industry…just a theory.

    I get sick of hearing it. People make their own choices, and they need to learn to take responsibility for those choices.

    • Booger says:

      And the people chose to have the CEOs defraud all their customers while giving themselves huge rewards for failing at their job. Some banks ARE more evil than others, it’s called the ethics of upper management and the board. Joe shmoe defaulting on his credit card because he bought rims last month is not even close to making hundreds of billions for personal gain at the cost of the bank’s own livelihood. In the old days, these white collar crooks would still be commiting crimes, at least until their lawyers change the laws so that they are not “crimes” anymore…just extremely unethical. You Bogey, are a prime example of the corporate brainwashing of the weathly class that aims at blaiming the victim rather than the real crooks who are killing america and it’s economy. The CEOs and other shiesters should be charged with treason and executed.

  8. SoonerNATX says:

    i use HSBC and have been somewhat dissappointed in the past few months. i HAD a 1.1% rate but it has since dropped to 0.9%. although i use this account for my emergency savings i do care about the rate b/c in the end its more money. however i am not sure why other banks can offer a 1.1-1.3% rate while my bank is lowering theirs…. does anyone know why this is? i can speculate but does anyone actually have a good idea of why?

  9. fairy dust says:

    The only problem I have with checking accounts is getting hit with a fee for not doing something that I wouldn’t normally do anyway (like 6 debit card uses/mo). So I’ve closed those accounts that recently changed their “free checking” rules – BofA and Chase. I have a local free checking acct for writing very rare paper checks, and I can go visit them if there’s some issue. And I have online checking accts as well – most of them opened to get a bonus offered, like with Citi and ING. I do use Citi checking for all my auto payments now because I really like their auto-payment feature and setup, but the ING checking account is pretty much just sitting there since I’m not a debit card user. I don’t think any of them are less or more evil, as long as they’re not sneaking fees in on me :)

  10. thunderthighs says:

    ING fan for just over six years. I have no complaints, and I have even maxed out my referral bonuses. :D

  11. justin says:

    Kind of tired of seeing people recommend the fake bank ING Direct. For what they do, I have no complaints. The problem is they bought my account out from NetBank (which was AWESOME), and don’t have any of the basic bank services NetBank did. Namely there is no possible way whatsoever to receive international incoming wire transfers (not nice to find out when you are aboard at the time and need to get a foreign wire of payment as you have been with NetBank for years only to find out it cannot be done and you have no other bank account, BLEH). And they don’t do checks and you cannot even freaking deposit checks by mailing them in! FAKE BANK! WORTHLESS!

    • Strebkr says:

      ING is the real deal. They just don’t offer what you need. If you need premium services then get a premium bank, but be prepared to pay premium fees. We all like ING because it works for us, and its free.

  12. eric says:

    Heard of most of them but I only have ING. Part of my account consolidation plan. :)


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