Bank Poll: Where Is Your Primary Checking Account?

There has been a lot of commotion about banks and debit card fees recently. Fees were tested, added, announced, removed, and probably soon, added back indirectly. However, megabanks still have the power of inertia and convenience. I am betting that most people did not move their accounts just yet. But maybe I’m wrong?

For this poll question, I want you to think about your current primary checking account. This is the account where the bulk of your paycheck or other income is deposited, and out of which you pay your bills on a regular basis.

Where Is Your Primary Checking Account?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

(RSS readers: You may need to visit the website to see the poll.)

I have a lot of accounts, but my primary checking account is online-only Ally Bank, as previously reviewed. I do keep a megabank account for the occasional need for in-branch services like a signature guarantee, cashier’s checks, bank wires, large checks that I can’t use eDeposit, and so on.


  1. Ally’s checking account is slowly becoming my primary checking account. I was going to deposit a check at my local bank, but I just realized I could use Ally’s eDeposit service. As you mentioned, the local bank is still needed for large checks. There’s also the issue of depositing cash.

  2. Our main accounts are at ING Direct. It’s easy to use and we’re not hit with fees like with bank of America. We made the switch years ago and have been happy since.

  3. My primary account is Bank of America, but I only use free accounts from them. I have a number of MyAccess checking accounts which I opened before online, so those are still free. I previously had accounts with Citi and Wells Fargo but shut them down as soon as they started charging monthly fees. If BOA does away with the free accounts, they will lose my business without me giving it a second thought.

  4. What is etrade or Ameritrade?

  5. Cathy Weaver says:

    When I received the notice from Regions that they would be charging 8 dollars a month for my checking acct, I closed my acct and went to Ascend Credit Union. Charge me for the use of my money? I think not.

  6. I have two checking accounts, and I alternate between them. One is a megabank (which is what I voted for) and one is a regional bank. My current paychecks are going into the regional bank, but I’m paying most of my bills out of the megabank because my summer paychecks were deposited there.

  7. Marie Miller says:

    I’d love you to poll how happy we are with our mega banks and if we are planning on moving.

  8. I’ve stuck with Fifth Third for my primary checking because they continue to have solid Quicken support, but don’t charge for it like the Megabanks.

    As a religious Quicken user, trying to use it with a credit union that doesn’t offer integrated bill pay or transaction downloads just doesn’t work well.

  9. I’m using Schwab – I think it’s closest to “online-only”, but I’m not sure.

  10. Rik – I use Citibank (primarily because I travel internationally quite a bit and they have a great global presence), Quicken works just fine both downloading transactions from within Quicken and from within Citbank’s web portal. There is no fee. I’m on Quicken Deluxe 2009. Intuit sent a lot of messages saying that the banking wouldn’t be supported in 2009 and I needed to upgrade to 2011. I never did but don’t see any problems. Might want to check it out a bit more with other banks. One reason I keep with Windows rather than Apple for a home computer is that everytime I’ve looked, there doesn’t seem to be any good finance package on Apple that does the downloads automatically. Maybe that’s changed (I know I could run a Windows session with Apple – but pretty sure I don’t want to go through with OS dual setups).

  11. I use a Wells Fargo primarily, as I’ve just moved into a new area (previously US Bank). As others have said, I only use free styles of accounts and once a fee appears with no options for waivers, I’m gone without thought. I feel the Transfer Bank movements and the local credit union talk, but to be honest, I just can’t step away from the convenience of the big banks. I travel a bit and having a trusted ATM to bank, night and day, from DC to LA and everywhere in between is totally worth it.

    I tried a business account with a local bank and I HATED every moment of it (unable to deposit into ATMs, only could bank 8-5, limited branches in 2 states, crappy website), even creating an online user ID involved faxing paperwork. Never again for me. I don’t have situations where I need to contact customer service so I never really notice if I’m getting a great response or not. My next move would be maybe etrade or USAA if needed.

  12. Tim — Thanks for the tip. I never seriously considered Citi because their presence in the Chicago metro area is limited, whereas Fifth Third has really built out.

    Both Chase and BoA charge fees for Quicken access, and they approach extortion ($7-$10 per month).

    You are correct…there is no good updated finance package for Macs. It is hard to believe Intuit has not put serious effort into updating their Quicken for Mac version.

  13. I’ve always primarily banked at a local credit union.

    Whoa – fees for Quicken access??? Never heard of that. Ouch!!

    FWIW, I have never had any problems with Quicken downloads – even with the smallest of credit unions.

    As a credit card union user, for life, I feel I am often dispelling the myths that surround them.

  14. P.S. Just credit unions, and the occasional online bank for a better savings rate.

  15. I use BoA and have for probably 10 years now. I am satisfied with the range of services they offer and their network of ATMs. I am able to avoid entirely paying them fees and interest based on my account balances and activity patterns, although I probaby earn less interest there on my savings than I could elsewhere. I would never take out a loan from them because their rates are not competitive in my opinion. I used to have an investment account with them but their brokerage services through Merrill Lynch are lame and I moved that money elsewhere.

  16. Community credit union for three family checking accounts (interest-bearing accounts), three savings accounts (required for membership, but only holds $25 in each) and home mortgage.

    Plus a savings account, checking account and Visa card through another community credit union that I have had since I was in college 20+ years ago – I rarely use the accounts, but do use the Visa card and used to use it for cars loans.

    We dropped Wells Fargo about eight years ago for better rates and lower fees at what is now our primary CU. Didn’t hesitate to do it because our experience with CUs in the past was positive and no regrets.

  17. Juggler314 says:

    I keep mine at chase (had a mortgage there and got a premium checking account for free, that mortgage is gone, now have one at Wells Fargo – will probably migrate, eventually to their free premium account). Unlike some, I don’t care where my account is so long as it has no fees. If chase/wf fails to work out my next stop is probably ING direct, the only thing really holding me back from them is a) no check deposits via phone app (yet – coming soon I hear) and b) even though I don’t have tons of cash in savings…there’s something about being able to walk into a bank and withdraw (if I had it…) 10 or 15K in cash on the spot…you just can’t do that with an online only bank…

  18. USAA – It needs it’s own category – AMAZING!!!!

  19. @ Rik, Tim

    Check out iBank for Mac. Updated, auto-downloads transactions from your account… even imports from the PC version of Quicken if you’re looking to make the switch.

  20. Etrade for me. They refund all ATM fees, including whatever you pay at the machine. This alone is good reason to have etrade. There is a very small interest rate on the checking also.

  21. What is USAA? They have branches at Military Bases, etc but not near me?

  22. Schwab does it for me: like Derek writes about Ameritrade, Schwab gives free atm rebates. Free paper checks too.

    IMO, you should have a separate category for broker-linked banks. I would bet your readership might have that.

  23. You seem to be missing a category — banks like SalemFive which are online banks for the whole country, and have local offices for those nearby. I know SalemFive has plenty of branches on the East Coast, but none out in California. I use them online only, but they are not an online-only bank.

    I also use a local bank — Chase — so I can deposit checks. Originally this was to deposit them in person rather than mailing them (after one deposit to SalemFive got lost in the mail), but now it is even better as I can deposit checks at home on my iPhone.

    I then transfer funds to SalemFive periodically to earn interest. All the other activity (direct deposit, automatic utility and credit card payments, ATM withdrawals, etc.) are done directly with SalemFive. I particularly like that they will refund any ATM fees charged, so I can use any bank to get cash without a fee to me.

  24. Internet only since I ditched the credit union I started with when I was a teenager.

    I do like you do and keep a convenience megabank around (BoA) mainly for the deposits. I’m on a free account (i.e. no fees monthly, but regular absurd BoA fees beyond that). If they change that, I’ll just move to Ally exclusively. I barely use the BoA account as it is.

  25. I second the question about classifying USAA. I have never used a branch, but they have them. consider this a vote for USAA, whatever it is.

  26. I use Provident Bank. It’s one of those reward checking accounts, so the rate is good. ATM rebates, close physical branches for cashiers checks and deposit. No complain so far.

  27. James STout says:

    I just closed my account with Bank of AMerica for several reasons. My primary account is with my state credit union but I also use ING direct.

  28. I am with Schwab also…

  29. I think I would call USAA a large national bank, even though sometimes it seems more like a credit union because of the limited membership and focus towards a specific part of the community. Membership is still not open to the public, right? It does sound like a great bank, I am also envious of USAA auto insurance rates.

    I think a lot of people are dissatisfied with their megabank and are thinking of switching, but I also think many people end up not switching for a variety of reasons – they’re just busy with other things being a big one.

    I’m pretty sure readers of this blog are not representative of the country overall. Anyone have a link to stats on that?

  30. Wells Fargo. We’ve never had a problem with them and switched to them after Chase took over WaMu.

  31. Totally love USAA. Couldn’t be more happy with them.

  32. Wasn’t sure what to say for Presidential so I put community bank. It’s a mostly online bank with a handful of branches in the DC area where I live. Been with them since 2005, no ridiculous fees, earn a little interest in what would otherwise be an interest-free account, and if you’re local they give you free food and wine at their holiday party in December. 🙂

  33. redlenses says:

    HSBC. I have an online savings account, an online payment account (which earns interest), and a checking account. I put money into the checking account when I need to write a physical check.

  34. alliant as it beats almost all other rates and 6th largest credit union. checking is 1.10 and savings is 1.15 while ally bank is 0.80. I had ing, salem five and a few others and alliant has always beat almost all competion long term.

    i do have a local free suntrust as i get cash at times

  35. I’m with Schwab as primary (they sort of have branches); I use Chase for business checking and some personal accounts (for the same reasons you use the big bank for).

  36. USAA is amazing. I haven’t messed around with it yet, but apparently you can also make deposits to your USAA accounts at the UPS stores, in addition to the few branches out there. I love their ATM rebates per month, online deposits, etc.

    @ Jonathan, I had to look up the USAA eligibility requirements (I got my membership from my Vietnam Navy dad), but apparently USAA is open for all products save insurance to the general public (see link:

    The insurance is amazing. Car insurance is the cheapest out of any other providers I’ve come across (I shop around still, even w/ using them), plus I get an insurance rebate at the end of every year for ‘overpaid’ premiums. Can’t beat ’em

  37. Just switched to a local bank with free account and onlinebanking.
    Closed Citibank, B of A, and Chase, they all started charging high ATM fees and account fees. Yay I’m Free!!

  38. Fidelity. They offer unlimited ATM cash reimbursements, free online bill pay, free checks, and with the android/iPhone app, I can deposit checks without ever visiting a branch. Not sure what’s missing but highly recommended. Oh, have mega bank accounts too but they’re dormant..

  39. SublimeBri says:

    I use INGDirect for Electric Checking. I used to keep a brick and mortar bank account just to deposit checks but with the ability to deposit checks with my mobile phone (Thanks Fidelity!), I have been able to close those accounts. Overall, I am very pleased with my checking… now I need to work to consolidate my trading accounts (TradeKing, Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, Sharebuilder) 🙁

  40. I switched from Wells to BofA over ten years ago when Wells wanted five dollars a month for online bill pay. Easiest decision I every made. BofA IMHO has the best bill pay system of any bank. When I opened this account 10+ years ago all it required was direct deposit and no visits to a teller with a $2 charge if I did. Fine by me. Haven’t see any new restrictions imposed since.

    BTW, you can have at least 2 checking accounts that have a direct deposit requirement as most firms allow your payroll check to be deposited into more than one checking account.

  41. USAA is indeed open to the public excluding insurance. The web and phone apps are second to none (that check deposit phone app that Chase advertises??? USAA had it year’s earlier), and interest rates are competitive enough that you don’t rate chase. No ATM fees from the bank and they reimburse fees charge by ATMs. No nickel/diming with fees, and the customer service is amazing. The only (ONLY!!) issue with USAA is if you regularly make cash deposits (may be solved with UPS Store agreement).

    Jonathan, investigate it seriously and you will be very, very impressed. I left BofA for them years ago and have never looked back.

  42. Navy Federal. absolutely love it. especially after Citibank froze my accounts because someone stole my ssn…. never again use a big bank.

  43. In order to be eligible for the auto and property insurance with USAA, you need to have a family member of the US Military either be a current member or past member of USAA.

    My deceased father served in the military, but was not a member of USAA. When I signed up yesterday, I was not eligible for the auto and property insurance. Had my father been a member prior to passing, I would have been eligible.

  44. @Sea: “USAA…interest rates are competitive enough that you don’t rate chase.”

    Are the rates teasers before they just drop or do they hold consistent?

  45. Tom is correct – in order to get auto or property INSURANCE you need to be a member of the military or a descendant (I am lucky to e the latter). However, for this conversation’s purposes (banking) everyone is eligible.

    Cody, the rates aren’t teasers (and probably don’t compete w teasers). USAA is a no gimmick bank. It stacks up well against all banks in my biased opinion.

  46. I liked USAA too until I needed to write a few cashiers checks, which is only possible in a BM bank.

  47. “I liked USAA too until I needed to write a few cashiers checks, which is only possible in a BM bank.”

    John, that is not true:

    “USAA offers the ability to get a certified check online, and have it sent either to you or another recipient. You can have it overnighted, or sent via regular mail.”

Speak Your Mind