For any company, and most certainly any kind of financial company, it’s a fine line they walk between remaining profitable while keeping their customers happy. It’s a never-ending dance that if executed properly, is a sure fire way of keeping those lifelong customers. If not, the problems quickly grow and these entities are forced to kick into reactive mode to right the wrong.
There are a couple of banks that are doing well; actually, they’re doing great and it’s all courtesy of their ability to hone in on what today’s modern consumers need. It is the banks like these that will rise to the top – and ideally, with lessons learned from the past that will finally serve as proof that without satisfied customers, the bottom line serves no purpose anyway.
Capital One 360
As you may recall, Capital One bought out ING Direct recently and with it, its virtual checking and savings models. Enter the 360 Checking program. There are no overdraft charges, no ATM surcharges or monthly fees. Plus, Capital One has managed to save its customers even more than ensuring they’re all within a few miles of any of the 38,000- plus Allpoint network ATMs.
Throw in several opportunities for cash back bonuses and it becomes a sure thing. For instance, if you make 3 debit card purchases and/or person to person payments within 45 days of opening your account, you receive a $50 bonus that’s deposited into your checking account. We hear of impressive credit card bonuses like this quite often, but for a checking account? Sure beats a toaster.
Plus, your funds earn interest too. Other perks include free postage when you let the bank mail paper checks, free online bill pay, free checks and a great app that brings even more convenience.
It’s gone a step further, though, with its MONEY Program for teens. This account offer has no fees either and comes with a MasterCard debit card. Text alerts, tips for financial independence and the full weight of the Capital One name makes it a powerful tool for parents and their teens.
U.S. Bank S.T.A.R.T.
Capital One isn’t the only bank that’s focusing on what its customers need most. US Bank unveiled its S.T.A.R.T. Savings Account recently. Again, its focus was on finding what today’s consumers need most from a bank, especially in these tough economic times. It’s being touted as “simple, rewarding and manageable”. We took a look at it to see if it lived up to its promises.
When you hit the $1,000 mark in your S.T.A.R.T. account, you’re rewarded with cash in a couple of ways. When you open your account and link it to any of your US Bank checking accounts and set up recurring transfers from that checking account into the new savings account, you begin seeing great things happen. As mentioned, when you hit the $1,000 mark, you will receive a $50 Rewards Visa card. Use it on any purchases you choose and if you keep at least $1,000 for a year, you’ll receive another $50 gift card. The only downfall, if you can even consider it as a downfall, is the cards aren’t reloadable and you can’t use them at ATMs.
You can open your accounts with as little as $25.
Award Winning Program
And i f you’re wondering, you should know U.S. Bank was named “Best Basic Checking and Savings” by Money Magazine, October 2012.
Enjoy free U.S. Bank ATM transactions, preferred rates on new loans and home equity lines of credit, free online and mobile banking, free text or email alerts and, of course, free bill pay.
And US Bank also has its offer for teen money management. With a catchphrase of, “Tired of being the human ATM? Meet MONEY.” It’s a bank account and MasterCard debit card designed for parents and teens. It’s all about strong money management. It has a mobile phone app and the lack of fees makes it a worry free option for parents. No minimums either. Like Capital One, U.S. Bank works from the Allpoint Network and those same 38,000 ATMs are available for these bank customers.
It’s a great way for teens to see how easily their money grows with just a bit of discipline and Mom and Dad can reiterate those strong financial tools for their teens.
Teens who have jobs can set up direct deposit too at no cost. Text alerts keep everyone informed, too.
Banks that “Get It”
So why now? Why are some banks finally beginning to see what today’s consumers truly need? Maybe it’s not that they’re just now seeing it, maybe it’s more about dust settling. For some time now, with uncertainties associated with the economy, employment and, of course, the rapidly growing student debt in this country, it took some time for the real needs to surface. For those banks that are getting a step ahead, they’re the ones who are going to be able to do the most for those same consumers who were unsure of what their futures held.
Notice that while credit card offers are still plentiful, these days, banks are putting their debit card products front and center. There’s a reason for that. Until more consumers can begin to qualify for traditional credit cards, they’re having to shore up their credit histories and recover from the recession, the foreclosures that ran rampant in recent years and the many job losses. An affordable, fee-free checking account that provides versatility is simply what consumers need. Some banks are beginning to see that – and they’re acting accordingly.
The economy is still struggling, but at its core are consumers who are picking up the pieces and moving forward. As American consumers, we’re more cautious, more aware of what interest rates and APR on our credit cards mean for our own bottom lines.
Will any of the nation’s “big banks” follow suit? If they’re smart they will. U.S. Bank and now Capital One have set the bar. It’s proving to be exactly what many are flocking to – and they’re abandoning those tired policies from yesterday that have many of the big banks scrambling to rebuild their images.