Before opening a bank account, most people check out interest rates and look at fees first. After that, availability of ATMs and branches, technology offered and the safety of your money are also important. But what about customer service? Once an account is opened may not be the best time to discover that the bank’s ATM machines are unreliable, that it may close your account without informing you or that promised sign-up bonuses never seem to happen.
This is where online loan marketplace LendEDU’s annual report listing the most- and least-complained-about banks can be very helpful. For this year’s report LendEDU sifted through 244,114 banking-related complaints received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 19, 2018. Ultimately, LendEDU included data from 42,946 complaints filed against 73 banking institutions listed on Standard & Poor’s Banks Select Industry Index.
The CFPB Complaint Database
The CFPB Consumer Complaint Database collects and processes complaints about several different financial products and services, including those provided by banks. When a consumer adds a complaint to the database, CFPB sends it to the company for a response, after which the complaint is added to the database and published (minus personal information). LendEDU began turning the CFPB’s raw data into an annual report in 2016, partly to put information about each bank’s performance into an easy-to-read format for consumers and partly due to concerns that the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database would be blocked from public view by the Trump administration.
So far that has not happened, despite comments by Acting Director Mick Mulvaney hinting that he would like to end public access to the database and a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the CFPB March 1, 2018, seeking comments on the bureau’s public reporting practices, including whether it is beneficial or harmful to publish the names of the most-complained-about companies.
The 2018 LendEDU Report Methodology
LendEDU’s 2018 report lists banks from worst to best regarding the overall number of complaints, complaints per billion ($) in 2018 deposits and banking-only complaints per billion ($) in deposits. The report also lists banks that had no complaints made against them last year.
The first and last tables below include complaints related to credit reporting, credit services, personal consumer reports, debt collection, mortgages, credit cards, checking and savings accounts, student loans, car loans and leases, payday loans, title loans, personal loans, money transfers, virtual currency, and money services. The second table includes complaints about checking and savings accounts only. Deposits data were pulled from MarketWatch’s Financial Data then cross-referenced with Morningstar’s Data.
Banks with the Most Overall Complaints Per Billion ($) in Deposits
The table below shows all banks that received at least one CFPB complaint in 2018, ranked from the greatest number of complaints per billion ($) in deposits to the lowest number of complaints per billion ($) in deposits. In the “Rank Change From 2017” column, a positive number indicates that the bank moved up the list, meaning it had more complaints per billion ($) in deposits in 2018 compared to 2017. A negative number shows the opposite. In that case the bank moved down the list, indicating that it had fewer complaints per billion ($) in deposits between 2017 and 2018. A dash indicates no change in position, and N/A means the bank was not ranked last year.
Banks with the Most Banking-Related Complaints Per Billion ($) in Deposits
This table considers complaints about checking and savings accounts only. The terms and explanations from the first table, described above, also apply here.
Banks with No Complaints
The final table shows banks that had no CFPB complaints in 2018. As many financial institutions are holding companies, LendEDU checked subsidiaries as well as the holding company to make sure no complaints were missed. A “No” in the “Any Complaints Last Year?” column means the bank had no complaints against it in 2017 as well as 2018. N/A indicates that bank was not listed last year.
The Bottom Line
According to LendEDU report author Mike Brown, there was no instance in which a bank was on the “complaints” list in 2017 and moved to the “no complaints” list this past year. However, six banks – Community Bank System, Signature Bank, Hope Bancorp, Home BancShares, United Community Banks and Glacier Bancorp – had no complaints last year but did appear on the list of banks with complaints filed against them in 2018.
TCF National Bank has the “not so enviable” distinction of most overall complaints per billion ($) in deposits as well as most banking-related complaints per billion ($) in deposits for 2018. Moreover, TCF held the same “most complaints” positions in 2017 and also had the most overall complaints per billion ($) in deposits in 2016.
There was good news as well. BancorpSouth Bank, ranked 45 on this year’s list with 1.27 complaints per billion ($) in deposits, improved 19 positions from last year, when it was ranked 26 with 2.29 complaints per billion ($) in deposits. Complaints are not the only factors to consider when choosing a bank, but you should always make sure to look at customer service.