Most of us can relate to hearing those classic “mom reasonings” of being scolded for putting too much of an emphasis on the labels in our clothes. Usually, it went something like, “We can buy the same exact shirt across the street for half price. I just can’t justify paying $18 more just because this one has the brand name label.” Usually, that was the end of the conversation. Just like Mom tried to teach a lesson in money management, we now are learning that the big banks are charging their customers more banking fees for the privilege of the brand. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
More Banking Fees
The banks have taken notice of our materialism too and as a result, the bigger banks in the nation are reining in their free checking accounts because they know customers will pay for the privilege, via more banking fees. The question is, how long will consumers put up with it? At some point, there has to be that moment of clarity, or a “mom reasoning”, that tells us it doesn’t have to be that way.
As history tells us, the greed will overtake the banks again at some point and they’ll begin reining all of the other perks. The difference now is that consumers are feeling empowered. The CFPB is partly responsible for that. It has already hit several of the nation’s biggest banks with massive fines for different compliance issues, especially with their credit card products. Many were increasing APR rates on consumers who believed they were locked in to a lower rate at least for a while. As a result, consumers are realizing their voices resonate.
FindABetterBank.com just presented its latest research efforts. It found that there are 14 banks in the U.S. that have more than 1,000 bank branches. Of those 14, only three have free checking accounts. Meanwhile, nearly all of the credit unions and community banks across the nation offer free checking accounts.
So why are so many big banks eliminating their free checking accounts? It’s simple: their customers are willing to pay for them. Also, many respondents that took part in the survey say they’re more apt to pay for a checking account if there are branches and ATM machines close to where they live or work,
In fact, among consumers choose checking accounts with monthly service fees of $20 or more, they are twice as likely to cite “convenient branch locations” as a decision factor vs. other shoppers that chose free checking accounts,
reads the survey.
If you’re worried that the smaller credit unions and community banks will follow suit, you shouldn’t be. It’s not likely to happen. In fact, most smaller banks say their free checking accounts are offered as a courtesy to customers and to pull back on them would feel like a betrayal to those customers and none are interested in sending out those kinds of vibe. Experts also say that within a few years, those convenient bank branches and ATMs on every corner won’t be as important to consumers as they are today. We’re “going mobile”, after all. Remember, it’s not been that long ago that we were “going online” to take care of business. Big banks will have to rethink their business models.
A few more questions yielded interesting results in the poll. Nearly 60 percent of those who responded and who are under the age of 30 say they wouldn’t consider opening a bank account if there wasn’t a branch close to their daily routines. Nearly 65 percent of those 50 or older say they can definitely see a time in the near future where a bank branch will be obsolete and every transaction will be handled either online or via mobile devices.
There are more than a few new trends our banking institutions are using, too, from a social media stance. Think your bank’s not on Pinterest? It’s understandable – many of us on our editorial board wondered how a bank could possibly use the social networking site.
Pinterest, early on, gained a reputation of being a “woman’s arts and craft social gathering place”. There were plenty of artists, Etsy creators and “besties” who shared recipes, favorite quotes and lovely paint combinations for those looking to brighten their homes. Soon though, Pinterest burst through that stereotype and before long, companies you’d least expect to see on Etsy were popping up, complete with brilliant ideas of making the most of the pin boards that make Pinterest so fascinating.
Banks Pinning Social Media Avenues
There have been more than a few banks – of all sizes – that use Pinterest along with Facebook and Twitter to run contests. Others use the Pinterest “Pin it to Win it” opportunities to raise money for charities. Still others have boards like, “Our Story” or “Our History” or “Our Customers Rule”. Plundering around those boards allows users to really delve a bit further into a bank’s foundation.
Of course, the only pins are the ones the banks want us to see, but it is interesting to learn, for instance, TD Bank has taken a slightly more lighthearted approach. It doesn’t lose sight of its role, but it does offer fellow pinners boards like, TD Bark, which as you might guess, are photos of employees throughout the bank’s many offices, along with their dogs. Also, while looking through the bank’s boards, we learned that this bank welcomes pets. In fact, they have adorable treat bowls shaped like dog bones for their “favorite furry friends”. Who knew, right? There are also these sweet TDBark tee shirts for the four legged members in your family and on Halloween, TDBark goes green. Its “Going Green on Halloween” is wildly popular in some of the cities the bank is in.
500 Million Photos
A Banking.com survey also reveals insight into how banks are using social media and whether consumers are locking in on those efforts. It found that the biggest brands in the U.S. generate close to a whopping 445 million views every month on YouTube. For Facebook users, that number is even higher: more than 645 million of us plunder around business pages of those we use. With more than 500 million photos uploaded every month to various social media sites, it’s clear that those visual sites like Instagram and Pinterest are where banks and credit card companies should be focusing their efforts.
Meanwhile, if you search for Wells Fargo on Pinterest, you’ll find a host of vintage photos of the bank’s earlier days. Several stories about its history, images of its current locations, especially in other countries (which is fascinating to look at as they’re so different in terms of size and design elements). The Wells Fargo Museum shares a huge building with one of the bigger bank branches in New York – plenty of images of that as well.
Ultimately, the question of whether Pinterest will result in new customers for these banks remains unanswered. And that’s OK, much of these efforts are still in their infancy. If nothing else, the smart marketing folks will at least see Pinterest as an opportunity to spread a bit of the “feel good” stories and images of their employers.
Do you follow your bank or credit card company’s Pinterest boards? What are you finding they like to pin?