Make Sure the Bank’s Hours Match Yours (51/365)

The bank my parents use keeps some rather unusual hours. A few times recently, I’ve been visiting my parents and wished to accompany them to the bank to sign papers or other such things, only to discover that the bank is improbably closed at what seems like a completely reasonable hour.

This is a common trait among smaller banks – and even a few bigger ones. Often, their hours were set many years ago and have mostly been left unchanged out of a sense of tradition or simply to avoid disrupting the schedule of some of their oldest customers.

Regardless, the odd hours of a bank can cost you money and time. If you can’t conveniently make it to your bank in a given week, then you need to consider a new bank.

Make Sure the Bank's Hours Match Yours (51/365)

How does this cost you money, you might ask?

Quite a lot of routine banking business requires you to visit the bank. Making a large withdrawal for a big purchase? Changing the type of your checking account (perhaps to earn interest, as mentioned yesterday)? Resolving banking errors where withdrawals or deposits that aren’t yours have posted to your account? You’ve got to be able to visit the bank for almost all of these things.

In each case, the costs pop up in both your money and your time.

A large withdrawal, such as the payment for an automobile, can be done via ATM, but it will often take a lot of visits to do so and require you to carry a significant amount of cash with you – a security risk if there ever was one.

If you can’t easily adjust your checking account type to one that bears interest, you’re leaving money on the table. If you can’t turn off things like overdraft “protection” or other fee-bearing costs, you’re handing money to the bank.

The last one is perhaps the nastiest.

Several years ago, I had a withdrawal of about $1,500 come out of my checking account unexpectedly. When I looked at my ATM receipt that evening, I was in shock. Where did the money go?

A quick trip to my bank took care of it. They have long bank hours during the week and even a fairly long day on Saturday. I was able to stop by at my convenience.

If I were using the bank my parents used, it could have been a very long time before I could have fixed that mess. Missed bills, overdraft fees, stress – all of those things could have easily been part of the equation had I not had a bank with very good hours.

Make sure your bank has convenient hours so you can easily conduct business there when it works for you. You’ll save money, time, and stress that way.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

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  1. lurker carl says:

    Use on-line banking to transfer funds among accounts, have money on hand for large cash purchases, go to the bank at lunch for withdrawls – plan ahead for both the expected and unexpected. Why is this rocket science?

  2. Gretchen says:

    So I need a small bank so I’ll get interest, but a big bank so I can go there weekly.

    Check. I can’t tell you the last time I went to the bank. And everytime I’ve bought I car, I paid by check.

  3. Tracy says:

    “Quite a lot of routine banking business requires you to visit the bank. Making a large withdrawal for a big purchase? Changing the type of your checking account (perhaps to earn interest, as mentioned yesterday)? Resolving banking errors where withdrawals or deposits that aren’t yours have posted to your account? You’ve got to be able to visit the bank for almost all of these things”

    None of these are what I would call routine banking business – more like unusual and rare occurrences.

    My primary bank doesn’t even have a branch in my *state* (I use USAA) and I handle everything over the phone or via mail. I do have a secondary, local bank in case I need something done in person but that works out to probably less than once a year.

  4. Adam P says:

    I’d do everything with ING checking accounts but occasionally I need to send a US$ wire transfer to the States and they can’t do that. So I have to keep a brick and mortar bank which sucks.

    But, the bank has amazing hours and is open Sundays for some branches. Canadian banks are pretty amazing relative to the US ones I’ve found for service/hours, even if the fees they charge are disgusting. I have to keep $3500 in my account to waive fees.

  5. Misha says:

    Also, many credit unions are part of larger networks (such as Credit Union Service Centers), which allows you to make withdrawals regardless of the hours or proximity of the actual credit union’s physical location.

  6. Ruth says:

    Banks do have phones too. The last time I had a fraudulent transaction on our account, a simple phone call took care of it.

  7. valleycat1 says:

    I haven’t actually gone inside my bank in over a year. And that was just to find some paperwork in our safe deposit box. I was able to cancel an account online; making a withdrawal for a purchase – that’s called writing a check, unless you need a certified check.

  8. Julia says:

    I’ve never seen a bank with what I consider “good” hours. If I can stop by the bank after work (around 6 pm) that would be good. Never happens. I’ve seen banks that are open until 7 on Fridays (to accomodate paydays) but they are few and far between. I just accept that if I have to go to the bank, it’s gonna suck up my lunch hour. Instead, I look for banks with high functioning online services.

  9. Linda says:

    This article contradicts a lot of the other banking advice. Use small banks, online banks have the best rates, etc. I really think there are very few instances that most people (especially computer savvy people) need to actually go to the bank for personal banking.

    Several years ago, my bank got bought out by another local bank, with a branch within a couple miles of my house. Even though the branch was convenient, I think I went 3 years before actually setting foot in the bank.

  10. Amanda says:

    Why not just call and ask about the $1500 bucks?

    I’m had fraudulent transactions on my check card and still didn’t need to go in.

    Use your freebie cell phone!

  11. Michelle says:

    Yeah, my bank has one physical location in the entire United States (Go USAA!), so obviously, I’ve never had to worry about their hours. The nice thing is, they are forced to make everything work online. I had deposit at home for checks nearly 7 years ago, now it’s pretty routine, same with deposit by taking a pic with my phone. If I need to deposit cash, I buy a 60 cent money order with my groceries, and use my scanner to deposit that. I’m much happier with USAA, and their no physical locations that I EVER was with the bank down the street.

  12. Kai says:

    “#4 Adam P @ 3:26 pm February 21st, 2012
    But, the bank has amazing hours and is open Sundays for some branches. Canadian banks are pretty amazing relative to the US ones I’ve found for service/hours, even if the fees they charge are disgusting. I have to keep $3500 in my account to waive fees.”

    Who are you with?
    TD gives me the basic services (all I need in my brick bank) for $1000 in the account. That’s low enough that I find it mentally nice to think of it as my backup cushion.

  13. Andrew says:

    Trent, all service businesses have certain hours of operation. Why should a bank be different? Not everything in the world can be arranged to meet the convenience preferences of every possible customer.

    Why don’t you take a break from moaning about what is best for you, and spare a thought for the bank’s employees, who also have lives and families. Maybe they’d rather be home at 7 PM, playing board games and making laundry detergent, than sitting around waiting for you to come in and complain.,

  14. Vanessa says:

    So I’m the only one who likes to go to the physical bank? Okay then.

  15. Steven says:

    I haven’t been to my bank in nearly three years. That’s right. THREE YEARS!!! If I need to deposit a check, I mail it to them. Direct deposit, reorder checks by mail, transfers into/out of my account can be done online. If I need cash, I use an ATM (rarely.) It can’t get much more convenient than that. If I were to have any troubles with my account, a phone call would be easy enough to make.

  16. Angie says:

    In the small Indiana town I grew up, banks and gov’t offices were closed on Wednesdays. This was in the early 1980′s, so not too long ago.

    I have no idea how they operate nowadays; I haven’t been back there in years. But I have wondered if that was peculiar to that town, or something more common. Interesting….

  17. Kai says:

    To Angie:
    Since when is Trent moaning or complaining that all banks don’t set their hours by his?
    I read a simple note that it’s a good idea to know when you will need to go, and choose a bank which does have hours that work for you.

  18. T'Pol says:

    I am starting to think banks in Turkey are far more efficient than the ones in the US. There are special branches of most of the large banks of Turkey located in shopping malls with special hours. They are open between 10:00 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. including Saturdays.

    I do not need to make a large withdrawal to pay for a car or even an apartment. I paid around 15,000 USD for my car and around 90,000 USD for my apartment with a wire transfer via phone. I could have done them online just as easily, if I had chosen to do so.

    One of my banks required me to sign a new contract for trading stocks last year. I told them that I had no time to visit a branch. They sent the documents by FEDEX and after signing them, I have returned them the same way.

    There are not many reasons for me at all to visit a bank branch.

  19. Liz says:

    I visit my bank about twice a year to check the contents of my safe deposit box. Everything else is handled on-line or by telephone. Of course the bank is only open 9-4 so I plan accordingly.

  20. Kevin says:

    I visit my bank about once a week to deposit cash and cheques for my business.

    I really don’t get why people are jumping all over Trent. All he’s saying here is that when you’re choosing a bank, make note of their hours and make sure they mesh with your own schedule and banking habits.

    Are we all such jerks now that we’ll criticize Trent for literally *anything* he says? Maybe back off a little, guys. Take a look at yourselves. All this negativity is starting to look pretty ugly.

  21. Stacey says:

    Live in a small town. This makes getting to the bank easy and rarely “eats up” your entire lunch hour…

  22. Maria says:

    #13 Andrew “Why don’t you take a break from moaning about what is best for you, and spare a thought for the bank’s employees, who also have lives and families. Maybe they’d rather be home at 7 PM, playing board games and making laundry detergent, than sitting around waiting for you to come in and complain.”
    Here’s a thought for the bank’s employees.. If you would rather be home at 7pm find a job at an establishment that closes at 5pm. If not be thankful you have a job.

  23. Jackowick says:

    @#20 Kevin:

    Thank you, I don’t know what’s with the new crop of “we know better” critics on here, but if you don’t like the advice, move on. NOT EVERYTHING SAID ON AN ADVICE BOARD APPLIES TO YOU 100% OF THE TIME.

    That said, there is a big benefit of a physical bank especially a credit union when you have a problem. I can walk in and have my statement questions answered on the spot instead of sitting on hold on a call center god-knows-where. There is a much higher accountability when you are face-to-face (you kids might want to look into face to face interactions) when you are asking questions about loan terms or account terms.

    Get a car loan or buy a house with an internet bank vs a brick and mortar and see what’s less painful. I went with my credit union because it had the best rates, best response time during the loan application process AND I knew I had the same loan officer because I talked to them. Didn’t get that assurance/handling from the more expensive online bank.

    As far as bank hours go, you need a bank compatible with you, period. My credit union was far enough from my home (near work) that I couldn’t handle everything there conveniently. I have another checking account (free) with a local bank so I can slip in those rebate checks, money orders, holiday gift checks, cash etc when I need to.

    And remember, just because a bank is open 7 days a week doesn’t mean the employees are all on 7 days. It’s a 24/7 world we live in now (ask anyone who works in finance) so this is just part of life. My local branch manager works Tuesday through Saturday, and she has no complaints about having 2 days off; as a matter of fact, having a weekday off is a huge advatage for doing business with “traditional” M-F 9-5 companies.

    And yes, I also have an “online” bank. This article doesn’t “contradict” prior advice from Trent. It supplements it. But not everything he writes applies to you all. I’m retyping that since some people also don’t read full articles on here and clearly just scan and spit useless comments.

    Good day.

  24. Johanna says:

    I said good day!

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