With the collapse of several well-known large bank names (think Wachovia and Washington Mutual), community and regional banks are becoming more attractive options. Smaller banks offer numerous potential advantages over their larger rivals, and can offer you both the security and flexibility that you desire. The following are some of the potential advantages:
- Better knowledge of local small business needs
- Greater flexibility in negotiating loan terms
- Quicker loan decision-making
- Less exposure to risky loans and therefore more available cash to make loans
- More direct community involvement and support for local causes
Here are some of the best small bank deals, organized by area:
Midwest: Peoples Bank (Iowa) offers 50% off loan origination fees on energy-efficient business and consumer loans as well as a 25 basis point discount on eco-friendly loans compared to other lenders.
Southwest: Lea County State Bank (Hobbs, NM) has never raised the 12.96% fixed APR on their VISA credit card.
West: Bank of Whitman (Eastern WA) has a "Heritage Club" for customers age 55 or older that provides long-term care insurance discounts, free checks, travel discounts and roundtable seminars.
Northeast: Moneyunder30.com points out that Bangor Savings Bank (Bangor, ME) reimburses customers for any fees charged by ATMs outside their network. Digital Credit Union (Marlborough, MA) is waiving certificate early withdrawal dividend penalties and offers early direct deposit so customers can access their funds up to 48 hours before the transfer is actually made.
Southeast: First American Bank (Athens, GA) waives the service charge on Presidential Checking accounts for individuals 50 years and older.
You can find a community or regional bank through your Yellow Pages, the Independent Community Bankers Association or your local Chamber of Commerce. Review their financial statements to check on their stability and confirm its FDIC status to ensure that your deposits are federally protected.