Thursday, May 24, 2012

Should I Drop Chase Bank?

"Chase your money" indeed!
I have frequently said to myself that if ING DIRECT could get remote deposit figured out, I'd close my Chase account. Here's some back story.

Several months ago, I posted how enamored I was with J.P. Morgan Chase because they allowed me to deposit checks remotely (even though I was also cranky with them because they made it difficult to make online payments). These issues aside, I've not been pleased with how Chase and other big banks handled themselves during the financial crisis of 2008, and I'm especially not happy with Chase losing over $2 billion in what were supposed to be low-risk hedges.* While I didn't take part in last year's push by many financial bloggers to close their big-bank checking accounts and move their money to credit unions, I appreciated the idea and thought long and hard about doing so.

All that said, I keep another set of bank accounts through ING DIRECT. Unfortunately, for much of its existence, to use ING DIRECT in a timely manner you basically needed another checking account to transfer money in and out of. You could send them checks, but that seemed like such an antiquated method considering ING was an online bank. It was like somebody offering you a free place to store your valuables, but in order to get your valuables to that location, you needed to send them via horse and buggy. What are we, Amish?

However, these draconian deposit methods are no longer the norm. As of last month, ING DIRECT has added remote deposit. As Five Cent Nickel has done a good job of explaining ING's rules for remote deposit, I'll leave you to look over the specifics there. A couple of those rules stand out, especially ones regarding limits of what how much money can be deposited and how quickly those funds will be available for use.

One cool option that ING DIRECT gives with this remote deposit is that one can either snap pictures via smartphone (like Chase does), or folks can scan the image at home and deposit online via computer. While I haven't tried the computer scanning option yet, I'm tempted to like this better than the cell phone option, as, at least with Chase, I frequently have to snap more than one picture as the first one isn't clear enough, and the Chase app on my iPhone makes me take another one.

And yet...

I'm finding it difficult to close my Chase account, and I'm having a hard time discerning why. I've written before that nostalgia can be a chief reason people make bad financial decisions, but I don't think I'm nostalgic for this account. In the first place, this account started when I opened my account with Washington Mutual back in 2000; Chase only took over my account when it took over WaMu after WaMu failed in 2008. Chase has since added fees to WaMu's "free" checking accounts, though I've largely been able to circumvent these charges due to getting paid via direct deposit (direct deposit being one of the handful of exceptions you can use to keep your checking accounts "free").

I think I just like the safety that comes with the ability to go into a brick and mortar bank. For instance, though many ATMs allow you to deposit cash, I very rarely take advantage of this. Though I've never had any problems with deposits, it feels like if there were ever a problem, I'd just be out my cash. With cash, I much prefer to go to a teller, have him or her count it, and get my receipt knowing that there can't be any confusion about my deposit.

I guess that's my sticking issue: depositing cash. To be fair, to my knowledge, there's no way to deposit physical cash to ING DIRECT, so this whole blog post has been something of a red herring. I set up what my conditions were, and I then went with an undisclosed condition. I'll keep my Chase account open for the time being. Feel free to leave your hate at my misdirection in the comments.**

On the subject of comments, does anybody out there ONLY have an online checking/savings account with no corresponding brick and mortar account? Would you consider doing so? Let me know.

*There's got to be more to this story than Chase is letting on. While J.P. Morgan has admitted that the traders in charge of those funds were using different risk rules than the rest of the company, it smells awfully fishy that the "safe" investments the traders were supposedly choosing caused such a big loss.
**While I guess I've made up my mind for now, if I ever have to start paying a fee for Chase's checking account, I'll pretty certainly close it. I suspect I'll trade it for a free checking account from a credit union rather than going all online though.

Photo by neoliminal.

Update 05/29/2012: This post was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance #363.


Andrea said...

I bank with PNC, and while they do have branches, the nearest one is 40 miles away. I LOVE remote deposit, and I handle the issue of cash by depositing it into my parents' bank account (they bank locally) and having them write me a check to deposit with my phone. Or I use cash for something I was going to buy anyway (like groceries) and pay the rest from my checking account.

Christa said...

I agree that there are other ways to handle cash, like using it to pay for groceries. I so rarely receive cash for anything that I don't think this would be an issue. That said, I still bank Bricks and Mortar because my tiny local bank offers a ton of perks.

Anonymous said...

We like our credit union...

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland said...

CREDIT UNIONS -- go for those.