How to bank when you can’t go to a bank
gChecking in at a bank branch can be a difficult task, especially if you have limited transportation options or if you live far from your bank. In fact, if you live in a rural area, it’s likely your community lost more bank branches than it gained between 2012 and 2017, according to a 2019 Federal Reserve study.
It may be time to consider other options for your bank. Many banks and credit unions have created ways for customers to have access to robust in-home customer service as well as extensive shared branches, ATM networks, and fee reimbursement programs for services that need to. be done in person.
Here are some options for doing your banking when you can’t physically go to a branch.
Banks with strong online functionality and remote customer service
Many traditional banks offer services that can now be done entirely online, such as remote check deposit, online bill payment, check writing and sending, money transfers, and more. As you might expect, online banks only and neobanks also offer these services and eliminate the need for in-person customer service, although they may have to use unique solutions for customers to deposit money (see green dot section below).
Remote customer service channels can include a phone line, live chat, secure messaging on login, email, or social media communication, such as a dedicated customer service Twitter account.
The ability to deposit checks through a bank’s mobile app has become a standard feature that most of the time eliminates the need to deposit a check at an ATM or branch, unless the amount of the check exceeds remote deposit limits.
Online transfers and bill payment are also standard features for most banks these days. Some banks will even send a check to your name if a recipient doesn’t accept online bill payment.
Banks that offer ATM fee refunds or free ATM networks
ATM fee refunds have become a more common offer in recent years, especially for online banks that do not have branches or their own ATM network. Some banks offer unlimited ATM refunds, while others may only reimburse up to a certain amount, like $ 15 in fees per month.
Mike Horlbeck, retired Indiana airline pilot and military officer, says this non-traditional banking method where customers can do everything online and get unlimited ATM fee refunds has long been used by members of service since they move so much and do not always have access to bank branches. Many use banks such as USAA which specifically serve the needs of the military.
âThe USAA reimburses ATM fees, so I never even think about those fees when I withdraw money,â Horlbeck said.
Other than ATM refunds, your bank may have a free ATM network that may be more convenient than going to a branch. A few common ATM networks include Allpoint and MoneyPass, although your bank may have its own ATM network.
Banks and credit unions that are part of the Co-op network
If you need in-person customer service, but your bank or credit union is far from you, check to see if your financial institution is part of the Co-op network. The Co-op network offers over 30,000 toll-free ATMs and over 5,600 credit union branches that can be shared by network members. You can search the co-op’s website to see if your bank or credit union is participating.
Green dot locations
Green Dot is a bank with a service network located in major retailers such as CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven and more. The company is well known for its prepaid debit cards and offers accounts, mobile banking, debit cards, money deposits, and the ability to send money and pay bills.
Green Dot operates under various business names including Green Dot Bank, GO2bank, GoBank and Bonneville Bank. Its widespread locations in retail stores may make it a more convenient and accessible option than traditional bank branches.
Which one is right for you?
As mobile banking and remote customer service become more accessible, your need for branch offices may decrease. Think about your lifestyle and whether a new bank with online-only or mobile-friendly services or other features might be better than trying to find ways to get to a remote bank.
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Chanelle Bessette writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
The article How to Bank When You Cannot Access a Bank originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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