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Which is the best bank or credit union on the planet which will accept American depositors? Can be an international based account.

Must not have ATM Debit card usage requirement.

Schwab seems to have low fees, unlimited ATM refunds AND interest. Anything much better out there?

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Ally bank is my favorite. Unlimited ATM rebates and their savings account isn't terrible. They are also super easy to get ahold of.

I know about Ally also. Just wondering if there are any offerings out there that are truly the best.

Ally, USAA, Schwab, Capital One 360 are the ones that come to mind.

Banks offer better products than credit unions for checking?

I guess all the accounts do roughly the same thing and the feature sets are known already.

Less fees, ATM withdraws, interest, fund deposit hold times and so on. A share interest checking account at a CU could be good if there were any that provided a lot of features since I know Credit Unions at times can provide a bonus for being a shareholder. Not sure if anything is competitive though right now.

Best is only an objective term with a defined set of criteria and weight to each criterion. You've defined three things you think make a bank the best, but you haven't weighted them, so its impossible to give you an answer about which bank/credit union is the best.

How about Alliant? Next day (as long as you submit before noon CT) ACH is nice.

AFAIK Schwab is just about the only one that is 100% no fee - including all national *and international* ATM withdrawals and foreign transaction fees.

i like usaa

grex23 said:   Which is the best bank or credit union on the planet?It's the one located in the lobby of my office building. I'm in the building all the time, I can conveniently drop by during business hours as needed, and the ATM is located right on my way in and out. I don't think I've ever paid them a dime in fees, and the tellers are cute. It is by far the best bank or credit union on the planet (if you happen to work in the same building).

dcwilbur said:   the tellers are cute.Assuming they're female... pics?

grex23 said:   Banks offer better products than credit unions for checking?Why do you act like this is a surprise? Show me a CU that offers unlimited free ATM's (any ATM, not just some network they choose), mobile deposit, and interest.

I currently have checking accounts at Capital One (the regular branch) and Bank of Internet. Capital One offers free ATMs, but no mobile deposit (which is stupid since their 360 product has it in the same app!) and 1% interest, but only for a year and only if there is a branch in your area. Bank of Internet offers 1.25% interest if you jump thru some hoops, mobile deposit (which is the worst I've used of any bank) and free ATM access (but only limited ones).
Shaudius said:   Best is only an objective term with a defined set of criteria and weight to each criterion. You've defined three things you think make a bank the best, but you haven't weighted them, so its impossible to give you an answer about which bank/credit union is the best.When I was looking, I was searching for a) free ATM access, b) good mobile banking, c) high interest. I think this is one of those "pick any two" situations, where you have to give up something on your 3rd requirement. Even Schwab doesn't pay particularly high interest.

yeah...and there really is absolutely no reason to have multiple accounts, assuming that they don't charge a monthly fee, or you can have it waived.

Keep your money in a high yield and transfer it out as necessary. Sure, it takes 2-3 days for an ACH push from one bank to another - but this usually isn't a major deal.
You only need to keep as much money in your ATM acct as you are likely to withdraw over a week period.

Of course, if you are someone who only has a bank balance of < $2,000 or so, maybe its not worth it... But if you have such a small balance, its not worth looking for a high interest bearing acct.

BenH said:   yeah...and there really is absolutely no reason to have multiple accounts, assuming that they don't charge a monthly fee, or you can have it waived.

Keep your money in a high yield and transfer it out as necessary. Sure, it takes 2-3 days for an ACH push from one bank to another - but this usually isn't a major deal.
You only need to keep as much money in your ATM acct as you are likely to withdraw over a week period.

Of course, if you are someone who only has a bank balance of < $2,000 or so, maybe its not worth it... But if you have such a small balance, its not worth looking for a high interest bearing acct.


My thoughts on this are basically the same. But I would go a step further, why should we care about ATM access at all? The vast majority of situations you're better off using a credit card, even with cash discounts. Anything you can't use a credit card for is something that you should be writing a check for or online paying anyway(and using VR to do this, but if not then regular ACH works well), so why is free fee ATM accessibility anywhere a necessary component, except in so much as you want an emergency just in case fund available, which doesn't require a ton of free ATMs all over the place just one ATM that you can get to fairly quickly in a pinch.

So unless you're planning on traveling a ton of places, and think you'll be in emergency situations in them on a regular basis it seems to be that the thing you should look for first is a HYS/rewards checking account, and then a bank that allows quick no fee ACH to pay off all your credit card bills.

Could Schwab transfer your money between checking and saving account just immediately as ally?

Yes. You have to have the account open a certain amount of time, I forget what it is for the transfer feature to work. But after it is active, you can transfer between accounts.

"Anything you can't use a credit card for is something that you should be writing a check for or online paying anyway"

Disagree. Various times you will need to spend Cash only and no other payment is accepted. Online paying takes time to mail out a check as payment or sends a payment electronically.

Shaudius said:    Anything you can't use a credit card for is something that you should be writing a check for or online paying anyway

We obviously have different hobbies.

grex23 said:   "Anything you can't use a credit card for is something that you should be writing a check for or online paying anyway"

Disagree. Various times you will need to spend Cash only and no other payment is accepted. Online paying takes time to mail out a check as payment or sends a payment electronically.


Situations that are cash only are fairly rare, which is why you have the emergency Cash Back up, it doesn't require a multitude of trips to foreign ATMs it just requires some small amount of pre-planning. As to your second point that's just more poor planning if you're butting close enough to your due dates for online payment to not be there fast enough.

vipercon said:   

We obviously have different hobbies.


If by this you mean using your credit card to buy reload cards to pay things that wouldn't normally allow credit card payments please see the parenthetical you didn't quote.

I have two reasons to *ever* use cash domestically.

1) Tips - So like to carry around maybe $10-20 in 1s and 5s (new Chase ATMs are nice in giving out these denominations). Since I don't go out that much to places where I need to utilize, it will usually last me at least a month, if not 2 or 3.

2) To easy/quickly split payment or pay someone back. With the younger generation, a lot of people are used to using various payment transfer services - but that hasn't really caught on too much yet I don't think. At a restaurant or something you can usually have the bill split - but let's say your buddy buys your popcorn at the concessions stand and you need to give him $5. In most cases, I can usually pay them back "next time" - so if I don't have cash in these situations, it usually isn't a big deal.

Oh, and I guess a 3rd reason - cash only places - like if you go to a carnival or something and the vendors only take cash...but these are generally pre-planned.

I would say, on average, I go to an ATM to withdraw cash at most 4 times a year.

I try to keep a few hundred in my wallet at all times. I think I've used an ATM domestically only 2 times my entire life.

Internationally, however, I find ATM's to be invaluable. This is where I have used them many times, and I use Schwab for this due to no fees.

Overseas, you don't have to worry about stopping by a bank or using one of the currency changers at the airports, which rip you off compared to using a refunded fee ATM.

BenH said:   I have two reasons to *ever* use cash domestically.
Oh, and I guess a 3rd reason - cash only places - like if you go to a carnival or something and the vendors only take cash...but these are generally pre-planned.


3b) Hookers and blow.

antifaith said:   
3b) Hookers and blow.

Actually the keen FWFer pays hookers with blow, so "3b" should simply be "blow."

But really there should be:

4) privacy.

Is it worth the ~10 cent rebate to create multiple database records showing that you ate a burger at a fast food chain? What if insurers start using that data to determine your premium? However unlikely, the 10 cent rebate isn't worth it.

bonghead said:   antifaith said:   
3b) Hookers and blow.

Actually the keen FWFer pays hookers with blow, so "3b" should simply be "blow."

But really there should be:

4) privacy.

Is it worth the ~10 cent rebate to create multiple database records showing that you ate a burger at a fast food chain? What if insurers start using that data to determine your premium? However unlikely, the 10 cent rebate isn't worth it.


totally agree on point #3... but #4 I think is paranoia. I don't really eat at fast food, or buy cigs, etc...but I can see your point. I still think it is paranoia.

Will you not use your CC to buy a game console or a TV because then you might be considered to have a "sedentary lifestyle"?

If I really wanted to go this route, I would still much rather just carry around a disposable Gift Card and use that for anonymity...better than carrying around cash. Safer too, since if you lose your wallet you can still call and have a gift card re-issued... not very likely you'll get it done before they drain it...but still not at all possible if you lose cash.

However, this is partly OT because I don't want to debate if you want to use cash a bit more often...but the fact is that even if you want to smoke a pack a day and eat 3 big macs a week, you likely don't need to hit the ATM more than once every week or two for cash. Almost every bank/CU should have a no-fee ATM within a radius that doing this isn't inconvenient.

Credit unions have some tax advantages and smaller branch networks. Even their shared branching doesn't have branches in a lot of locations where bank branches exist although it does increase the amount of branches one can get access to.

The ironic part is that CU's actually charge a membership fee to join. Credit Unions tend to equalize all the depositors on a more even playing field, but if a CU was somehow really for the members or non profit, interest rates would be even higher and loan pricing even lower.

There isn't one magic credit union or bank that is really great to deal with that is far ahead of others from what I see.

"Credit unions have been raising overdraft fees on ATM withdrawals, checks and debit card purchases at a faster pace than banks"

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-08/business/40437108_...

One doesn't see any credit union accounts giving back their huge profit windfalls back to the depositors that translate into significantly higher interest rates for depositors that I see with the vast majority of Credit Unions, though if there is one that does, I haven't seen it.

bonghead said:   

4) privacy.

Is it worth the ~10 cent rebate to create multiple database records showing that you ate a burger at a fast food chain? What if insurers start using that data to determine your premium? However unlikely, the 10 cent rebate isn't worth it.


Its not a 10 cent rebate. Full stop. Its more like 25 cents every time, which adds up. Now if you're going to play what if games like that then there's really no way to argue with it, but I don't value the privacy of what I purchase at fast food restaurants over the 25 cents I get on the transaction, its not like I wear a mask to buy a hamburger.

I never understood the rewards checking accounts with 4% interest but 10 debit transactions. I make far less credit card purchases a month which I pay in full so I would never qualify. Even if I purposely made 10 small debits say going out to eat every day for lunch or something akin to that, it really forces a behavioral change so that you need to make sure you go out of your way for 10 specific times just to get a higher rate of return. But on large balances it adds up quickly depending on the limit.

They are indeed good deals, but then you would have to use debit and there is too much a chance on those to get hit with fees that will eat up the higher rate of return.

There are some ways around that grex, and definitely worth it if you have large balances. Easiest way for me was running a script each month that automated the entire process. Completely removed the hassle, and made the rewards accounts worth it even with smaller balances.

Looking at the credit union and bank list for checking, seems like Schwab has the best free checking deal going and it is available to all.

Shaudius said:   But I would go a step further, why should we care about ATM access at all? The vast majority of situations you're better off using a credit card, even with cash discounts.
Unless you're talking e-commerce, cash has much higher acceptance than visa+mc+discover+AMEX combined. Many mom-pop shops in Europe refuse plastic. And some of them only take cash or local plastic. So when traveling, being able get get cash is far more important than having a credit card.. the credit card is secondary outside the US.

ericliujian said:   Could Schwab transfer your money between checking and saving account just immediately as ally?
Schwab is incompetent when it comes to setting up ACH links. After supplying the routing+acct numbers, you must wait for them to do a small verification deposit. Then you go back to schwab and enter the amount to prove you control the other account. So far, that's competent, but then the idiots don't stop there.. you must then make a separate request to actually activate the links that have already been verified. And worse, you if you contact them over their *secure* SSL chat line, they will refuse to activate the links, and require you to call in over an insecure line to answer the security questions. I find this very incompetent.

Shaudius said:   
Its not a 10 cent rebate. Full stop. Its more like 25 cents every time, which adds up.

The data being collected also adds up. The difference is that the rebate money usually adds up linearly, but the data being collected becomes more damaging in aggregate.

BenH said:   but #4 I think is paranoia.

Anyone who does not appear paranoid to the average joe is not street-wise.

So to compare the banks mentioned so far, this is what I've gathered--

Ethical comparison:
+-----------------+----------------+------------------+---------------------------+
|     Bank        |  took bailout  |  supports CISPA  |     political bending     | 
|         Alliant |       no       |        no        | none                      |
|  Ally Financial |       no       |        no        | lobbying                  |
|Bank of Internet |       no       |        no        | none                      |
|     Capital One |      yes       |       yes        | lobbying + fed.candidates | 
|  Charles Schwab |       no       |       yes        | lobbying + fed.candidates |
|            USAA |       no       |       yes        | none                      |
+-----------------+----------------+------------------+---------------------------+
Practical comparison:
+-----------------+-------------------+-------------------+------------------+--------------------+
|     Bank        |  foreign ATM fee  |  foreign POS fee  |  remote deposit  |        Notes       |
|         Alliant |   AOF + 2%        |        2%         | yes              | free inbound wires |
|       Ally Bank |        1%         |        1%         | yes              |                    |
|Bank of Internet |        2%         |        2%         | yes              | free inbound wires |
|     Capital One |         ?         |         0         | no               |                    |
|  Charles Schwab |         0         |        n/a        | no               |                    |
|            USAA |        1%         |        1%         | yes              |                    |
+-----------------+-------------------+-------------------+------------------+--------------------+

AOF = ATM owner fees

I put 2% for Alliant because they say they charge 1% above Visa, and AFAIK visa adds 1%.

I don't see how took the bailout and political bending is relevant though. I on my own accord gave out money to republicans through banks which did both.

Even though Credit unions are non profit and serve the members, do you trust anyone but yourself to manage your money? Credit unions have employees and jobs. Obviously an employee who is a low level teller at the institution isn't going to get paid a lot of money.

$2.1 million paid in 2010 to Grace Mayo, CEO of Telesis Credit Union, a $301 million institution in Chatsworth, Calif. that was liquidated in June 2012.

So all this talk of CU's being actually for the depositors is bunk. The executives of all of them get paid money, bank or credit union.

That isn't to say Credit unions are all bad as they provide things like much lower auto loans and some credit unions could have much fairer salaries and it is dependent on the teams.

billrubin said:   Show me a CU that offers unlimited free ATM's (any ATM, not just some network they choose), mobile deposit, and interest.

Although it's only available to people in the area, Clearview CU in Pittsburgh offers such a checking account (minimum balance to avoid fees $10K) which also includes free checks, unlimited ATM fee reimbursement, free cashiers checks, free stop payment, medallion signature guarantee, and one per month free of each of: money order, incoming wire, outgoing wire, Visa gift card. Interest is only 0.1%. Probably the most full-featured checking account I've seen at a CU even with a high minimum balance.

grex23 said:   I don't see how took the bailout and political bending is relevant though. I on my own accord gave out money to republicans through banks which did both.

A forum post is no place to attempt to detail all the abuses that put Capital One in a position of requiring a bailout.. but the short of it is that it's not the act of getting a bailout that's an ethical matter, but rather the activity that created the need.

Political bending is of course an ethical matter. Those who:
  • endorse a 2 party system
  • and of those, also favor republicans
  • and also have no problem with corporate interests competing with humans to influence the government that is there to serve humans


these are the only people who have no ethical issue with corporate manipulation of politics.

I can qualify for one CU in my area because of a family member. But they are losing money due to pension costs and the interest rates offered on interest bearing accounts are bad and fee structures for their checking accounts are bad as well.

I see credit unions in general as better for the working poor with no established credit history or people with blemished credit in the vast majority of credit unions.

For me to switch to a credit union, they would have to offer a lot more than the ones that I have seen have offered.

Better to stick to the big banks with large global reach.

grex23 said:   
I see credit unions in general as better for the working poor with no established credit history or people with blemished credit in the vast majority of credit unions.

I would say the contrary.

Big banks can offer cheaper accounts to the poor because the products are designed to exploit money from the undisciplined. Those who miss payments and overdraw accounts at big banks end up paying penalties that subsidize the service for the rest of us. A cash-poor client who cannot afford to be sloppy is better off with a big bank. Big banks also get advertising revenue from all the flashy glitter they hit visitors with, as well as 3rd party partners they share data with, and create loyalty programs with. The poor need all the paid for by advertising services they can get.

Commercial banks also save money by investing in cheap (read: lousy) customer service. A call center in India is much cheaper per customer than proper service from a real employee. CUs are too small to do a call center.. they're stuck with offering higher customer service (probably at the cost of less favorable interest rates).

Think of commercial banks as a Windows installation that comes free with a PC, complete with craplets and frills - and craplets are the bread and butter. Think of credit unions as a linux installation, which is also cheap but not subsidized by profit-driven tricks and traps.

Speaking of advertising-- This is a good time to mention that Capital One spams the email address of their clients. It would be tempting to post a sample here, but I suspect I'd be accused of spamming myself. It's the variety of spam that insults your intelligence too.. there's a "!" at the end of half the sentences.. use of all caps. Section headings like "SAVINGS AS EASY AS 1-2-3!"

I find it amusing that they write this at the bottom of their spam:

"Capital One does not provide, endorse, nor guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above."

So they won't even stand behind the ads they're blasting clients with.

Do they do a credit check to open a schwab checking account?

Not sure.

bonghead said:   

Practical comparison:
+-----------------+-------------------+-------------------+------------------+--------------------+
|     Bank        |  foreign ATM fee  |  foreign POS fee  |  remote deposit  |        Notes       |
|         Alliant |   AOF + 2%        |        2%         | yes              | free inbound wires |
|       Ally Bank |        1%         |        1%         | yes              |                    |
|Bank of Internet |        2%         |        2%         | yes              | free inbound wires |
|     Capital One |         ?         |         0         | no               |                    |
|  Charles Schwab |         0         |        n/a        | no               |                    |
|            USAA |        1%         |        1%         | yes              |                    |
+-----------------+-------------------+-------------------+------------------+--------------------+


Schwab now offers remote deposit, called Mobile Deposit - http://content.schwab.com/mobile/mobile-deposit.html.

Skipping 6 Messages...
The branch reason is why I use a big bank which I get free checking for with a direct deposit combined with other higher rate institutions.

The rates at one credit union I would qualify for which is not nationwide are pretty good and high if you meet their criteria. But none of the branches are local. They do have access to some free ATMs but shared branching at other CU's isn't free and they charge for international usage.

So it seems as though a consumer has to understand what criteria they need before choosing such an institution to begin with.



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