Bank practices: The good, the bad, and the ugly
A lot of Americans have plenty to say about their banks these days, and it's not always pretty -- we've heard you in the comments section. We wanted to call out some of banks' slimier tricks for separating you from your money as well as recognize some of the helpful tools or innovations (yes, there are a few mixed in with all those fees!) some banks offer.
WalletPop got on the phone with a few top consumer finance experts at watchdog groups -- people who track what the banks are doing day in and day out -- to ask them what today's customers should appreciate and what they should avoid at all costs. Here's our roundup of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Direct deposit: If your employer or benefits distributor offers this, sign up for it. There's no question this is a good thing. Nearly all the experts we talked to said this is one of the most consumer-friendly practices banks offer today. Not only does your money get into your account up to five days faster than if you deposited a paper check, direct deposit eliminates the errand of physically going to the bank to deposit it. Often, direct deposit makes you eligible for free checking at most banks (although not Citibank, come February). "Generally it's safe to say direct deposit benefits consumers," Consumers Union staff attorney Lauren Bowne told us. In other words, it's a no-brainer.