Need to find a bank? Mybanktracker.com may prove a useful tool
If you're one of the few who might actually be serious about switching banks, you might want to check out MyBankTracker.com, which hopes to be for banks what Google is for search engines. The site offers consumers easy access to information about banks and other financial institutions in order to help make smart banking decisions.
I recently toured the site with the help of one of the site's executives just to see what sort of information it offers and how helpful it is. Here's a quick rundown on just what you'll find there:
It's primarily a comparison site for banks.
It can't get simpler than this: Go to the site, click on the "Find Banks" link, type in your ZIP code, and you'll get a listing of all the banks in your area. One nice touch is that the site provides a picture of each bank via Google Street Maps, so you can immediately visualize where the bank is. Or, if you want to ditch the whole brick-and-mortar thing and only do online banking, you can search for Internet-only banks.
You can also search for banks that are the highest rated, although the site is new enough that the top-rated bank, Ally, only has 34 reviews, and many of the others on the list only have one. I have a feeling that in a year or two, this part of the site will be much more useful.
If you're more interested seeing how the products the banks offer are rated, you can search for information on rates for CDs, mortgages, credit cards and savings accounts.
The site also has a list of failed banks -- 16 so far for 2010 -- so if you're a bank junkie, or just worried about the state of the banking industry, that's worth checking out. Minnesota and Washington state so far have the most bank failures in 2010, but remember, we're just talking about 16 failed banks so far. There's also a list and a map of all the banks that failed in 2009.
If you're in the market for a new bank, the search section of the site isn't a bad place to start.
It also have banking news.
Interested in bank deals? Chase, I see, will be offering another one of its "here's $100 if you open up a free checking account with us" promotions. And M&T Bank has a deal where you can get up to $150.
There's also a lot of general interest banking articles, from a recent Valentine's Day story about the dangers of opening up an e-mail from a secret admirer to an article about credit card debt going down in general over the past six months.
It also has an iPhone app. Just in case you were wondering.
MyBankTracker.com launched in August 2008, and then just a month later, Lehman Brothers imploded, and the Great Recession fully kicked into gear.
As of this month, the site has a little more than 1,000 banks listed. With more than 8,000 FDIC-insured banks in the country, that's only about 13% of the total, but MyBankTracker is practically growing minute to minute. As Alex Matjanec, one of the site's founders, told me, "Every day, we're adding two to three banks. We're finding that a lot of banks that aren't on the list are calling us and asking, 'How can we get on here?'"
Having one source to search for banks is definitely a good idea. I remember how I found a bank after I'd graduated from college back in 1992. I had moved to Los Angeles and asked my new landlord, whom I'd known for about 20 minutes, what bank she used, and that's how I found a bank.
It's about time we had a way to quickly and easily do research on what bank we want to put our money in. After all, if we can Google the nearest pizza joint, we should be able to have a way to find the best financial institution for our cash.
Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to WalletPop. He is also the co-author of the new book "Living Well with Bad Credit."