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VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

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Bank Recommendations, Especially for Banks with Good Online Banking Systems?

I've long been disappointed with my bank, U.S. Bank, chiefly because of its online banking system, which seems badly antiquated.

I'd like a system that makes it easy for me to search and review all my payments and receipts, going back years. The U.S. Bank system strikes me as very poor, and lacking many features that I would much like to see; but for all I know maybe lots of other banks are stuck in the last century as well. Any recommendations? Naturally, I'd also like a bank that offers good customer service in other ways, too.

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  • santamonica811||

    Well, I've been very happy with Wells Fargo in terms of ability to do online searches into the distant past. Not 100% sure I ever tried looking at records more than a few years old, but I think I did that, once or twice.

    I've always been happy with WF's customer service, but I have heard of *many* who hate how they've been treated by this bank. I'm a preferred customer, so that may be why they have always been friendly, willing to make an accommodation if I ask, ect.. Or maybe I just have great local branches.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    If you managed to avoid Wells Fargo's establishment of phantom accounts for its customers, congratulations on being one of the customers Wells Fargo did not intentionally and maliciously inflict harm upon.

  • y81||

    Me too. I find the Wells online system very usable. I'm not sure quite how far back you can search, but it's further than I have ever needed to search. The fake accounts story is mostly fake news, like the Congressional bank overdrafts, but unsophisticated people think they understand it, whereas they have no idea whether LIBOR is a man or a horse, so it gets a lot of play.

  • Don Nico||

    Wells Fargo allows detailed searches back to 2012. You can view copies of checks including the back side. Their system is pretty easy to use.

    Regarding Rev. ALK's comment: you have to tolerate that Wells Fargo has been unethical at best by establishing fake accounts.

  • jsfreason||

    And note, with Matt Levine, that the oddest part of the Wells Fargo scandal is that it never had any chance of making the bank any money. These free accounts were not revenue generating... they were the result of management giving new account quotas for branch employees and having virtually no checks as to whether the employees were accomplishing anything useful for the bank.

  • Bill Poser||

    My understanding is that the fake accounts did indeed generate revenue because they contained very little and therefore were charged account fees, which were paid out of the holder's other accounts.

  • Harvey Mosley||

    Try Golden 1 Credit Union. Membership is open to anyone in California.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    My recommendation too. Been happy with them since switching away from Bank of America.

    Nits: Their statements are dated the start of the next month, ie 2018-01-01 is the December 2017 statement.

    Online payments to small businesses (dentist, garage) are paper checks, and there's something slightly off about when they are actually deducted. If the recipient doesn't cash them within 90 or 180 days, it can throw your balance off. Someone once cashed the check two months after it was sent, and it took a while to figure out what was going on. It hasn't happened often enough for me to pin it down. Maybe I ought to send myself a paper check and see what happens.

    You can't hide uncommon accounts on the Pay Bills page. You can only delete them.

    Their text alerts are fantastic, very flexible. I get texts within a second or two at the gas station. But I suppose that's common to all banks nowadays.

  • JoeGoins||

    I have used Wells Fargo for the last ten years, and I haven't had any problems. I can set up routine transfers, bill pay, and all the other online transactions that one can expect. Depending on how much money you have in your current account, it's a good option among the standard retail banks.

    Note: I know that they have been hammered recently over phantom accounts and phony charges. I have not experienced this; therefore, it doesn't impact my opinion of the company.

  • KoaxKoax||

    USAA is a fantastic bank overall, though eligibility is tough - you need some kind of nexus to the military (e.g. military service, or having parents who served). With respect to records, though, it looks like they only store about a year to a year and a half for things like debit card purchases.

    I will have to echo the recommendation to go with a credit union if possible. At the very least, do yourself a favor and stay away from Bank of America.

  • Paul McG.||

    I agree that USAA's service is superlative. One thing I've found is there are no artificial "holds" -- funds from digitally deposited checks are available immediately; transfers from one USAA account holder to another are instantaneous (family members with linked accounts). When I transferred FROM my credit union, funds were immediately available on USAA. When I did it the other way around, the credit union would not credit the transfer for 3 business days.

    That said, if you don't live in San Antonio and you need to make cash deposits, USAA won't work for you; and as the OP said, you've got to have some relationship to the military to get an account.

    You may end up needing to go with some sort of web service to get all the features you're asking for; something like money.com or banktivity.

  • Chris_Virginia||

    They have more in person branches than just San Antonio. But I am lucky since the DC area has a larger military presence justifying a few branches.

    Thy also refund other bank ATM fees, so (almost) every bank's ATM is essentially a USAA ATM. [I've never experienced an out of network ATM, but I guess it's possible.] And some of these ATMs even allow cash deposits.

  • Kristian H.||

    I have made deposits to USAA at certain UPS stores (not all have that ability, though).

  • Kristian H.||

    IRRC, they were the first to have a mobile app to deposit checks. Overall, USAA web banking is by far the best of the banks I have used (various Creit Unions, Wells Fargo, BB&T) The app is also very good for what I use it for (check deposits, insurance cards).

  • M1970||

    I've been with Everbank for over 18 years. Very, very good customer service and I've been quite happy with the online tools.

  • UVaGrad||

    I'd check out any UC-related credit unions.

  • darkknight9||

    I'd like to echo recommendations for a credit union. Any other than a bank. Bank is a four letter dirty word.

  • Careless||

    Are there really lots of credit unions with advanced online banking systems these days?

  • BillyG||

    Define "advanced". I'm serious, tell us what capabilities that means to you. Then the question is, can you get that from something other than the banking system?

  • tkamenick||

    I just checked mine (University of Wisconsin Credit Union). Searchable online records going back at least 10 years. Love their online banking system. They have a pretty good mobile app too.

  • tkamenick||

    Membership is open to any Wisconsin resident who has ever attended an accredited college, among other things. Still probably not broad enough for Professor Volokh though.

  • DataSmurf||

    I use Charles Schwab Bank and couldn't be happier with their customer service. For instance, they FedExed me a replacement debit card overnight (to Mexico!) without charge after an ATM snapped it up (I made a series of similar withdrawals in order to pay my rent).

    They also reimburse other bank ATM fees, and it is easy to get a human on the phone.

    Lack of physical branches isn't nearly as bad as I initially feared it might be. I barely notice anymore.

  • thesis_ascendant||

    +1 for Charles Schwab Bank, especially if you have no need to make physical cash deposits. Only bank I've used that actually seems to care about making things easy to do online and by phone.

  • Gibbleth||

    If you are in Texas or don't care about having a local branch, have a look at Frost Bank. I used to be with Wells Fargo, but their IT systems are antiquated and don't talk with each other. Before that, I had Bank of America, who could not reliably tell me what my balance was. I have heard decent things about Chase...

  • Jeff_Kleppe||

    I've used Navy Federal Credit Union for the last 12 years. Couldn't be happier.

  • kazriko||

    That seems like a good one to try. I've not used it, but I have used other similar products.

  • Marsgov||

    While Schwab may have decent online search for old payments, as a Schwab customer I find their online bill pay tool to be slow and unwieldy.

    I'm also disappointed with Morgan Stanley, which among other amazing design decisions requires that you accept third-party cookies (something that I disable in the name of privacy). I'm able to work around that using special tools.

    As a result, I'm very interested in the results of this discussion; I want to migrate to a bank with a decent online bill-pay interface.

    And the issue isn't always "stuck in the last century." I've found that designers now include [nerdy new feature stuff redacted] that make the online bank tools less usable instead of more usable.

  • zchrykng||

    I have been pretty happy with Bank of America's online banking system.

  • MightyMouse||

    Chase has Apple's Touch ID in the mobile app. The free credit score/history/alerts are a nice perk. Lots of chase ATMs.

  • jdgalt1||

    US Bank is also the world's #1 champ at falsifying the timing of transactions in order to defraud you out of huge amounts of theft-by-phony-overdraft-fees. If this is what they can do with 20th century technology, thank God they haven't reached the 21st century yet.

  • kazriko||

    On the Bank side, Simple is a fairly decent bank that is entirely online and has a pretty solid, backed by BBVA Compass. I use both them and Wells Fargo and find Simple to be better in general.

    At one level above this, if you want to track not just one account, but all of your banks and credit card's transactions in one place, Mint, Quicken, or any number of other financial management apps can handle that.

  • MightyMouse||

    CoinBase is pretty slick, I hear it's the safest place to keep your money, away from the Feds.

  • MightyMouse||

    Hopefully no one takes this comment seriously, obviously joking. I'm not recommending storing your money as bitcoin or any other crypto currency.

  • santamonica811||

    What, no one yet has suggested Mt. Gox??? :-)

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    It is crazy to figure Mt. Gox might be quite popular (to this day) in this neighborhood?

  • BillyG||

    I think you've got two separate desires. First, the ability to search receipts. The second is for someplace to store and handle your money. For searching receipts, I just use a spreadsheet. I've never known records to stick around indefinitely. There's also Intuit and a few other programs out there which will allow you to track and you won't be tied directly to the bank. I haven't used these programs myself but several of my friends do.

    For where to store your money, I'll 4th(?) 5th(?) using a credit union. If you actually need a Bank, I'd be surprised. Most people do not need the services of a Bank and would be better off with a Credit Union due to better rates and lower fees. A quick search showed several around the UCLA campus and also one ON campus. I'd very much recommend you take a look at what they offer.

    FYI, your faculty page at UCLA still links to WaPo.

  • apedad||

    As a Libertarian, shouldn't you be looking for a bank that has close to 100% reserve banking?

  • ToddR||

    Rather than change banks, consider/investigate using a personal finance app that links to all of your financial custodians. The reporting capabilities, just as one example, are very robust. With Mint, I can almost see transactions in real time. Admittedly, I worry a little bit about Big Brother but the features and benefits are really helpful.

  • Smartacus||

    Wells Fargo does NOT support searches that go back a long way.

    An online search goes back only 18 months, max.

    For earlier transactions, you have to look at each and every statement individually -- pretty much as if they were paper statements in a desk drawer. though they do go back seven years, so there's that.

  • Smartacus||

    Actually, 18 months for checking, but only 3 months for my credit card account. Phooey.

  • David Bremer||

    This may be accurate with regard to searching; however, they allow you to download several years of statements from their website. I just checked, and I can go all the way back to 2011.

    In general, I've been happy with their checking account. (Did have an issue with one of their mortgage originators several years ago, but I blame that on one incompetent person, as another one of their people was awesome to work with.)

  • nonzenze||

    ETrade is great, and really destroyed for me the idea that my bank needs to be an entity with wasteful physical buildings all over the place. I use any ATM on planet Earth for free and never paid them a dime in service fees.

    Their online search is great and their customer service has been exceptional.

    I will probably never have a bank with a physical location again.

  • um ok||

    Suggest your search for a good bank, perhaps, might be better served by searching for a good officer in most any bank. I've kept (through four M & A's and two job changes) with the same officer. 1) She gets every request done immediately and completely, with no drama. 2) Security is not an issue, because I call her and all the searching of my records is done in house, with no need to have my data available on the interwebs. 3) Time & frustration of waiting until she gets to work is marginal compared to that of me searching massive sheets of data. 4) Yes, there is a certain tit for tat concerning the exchange of general information, from each to the other, due to our repective professions. I suspect that would not be an issue for you.

  • AARGH63||

    Biggies for me: Two-factor authentication when you log on to avoid being spoofed and notifications (sms or email) when anyone accesses your account.

  • jsfreason||

    I've used both Wells Fargo and Citibank. Both have worked well for me.

  • liberty33||

    I've always been very happy with US Bank. Almost no fees and very accurate. Helpful service. Handles investments, too.

  • J. Denny||

    JP Morgan Chase is has a fairly robust online banking system (Full disclosure I work for them). If you can get it USAA is also very nice though they have few branches. You very likely can read my email address I can setup a meeting with banking staff to discuss options if you like.

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