In the early '90s, I opened checking #1 and savings #1 at Wells Fargo while I was a Freshman in college. Wells Fargo really didn't give me great products or services, but I liked them enough. In Southern California, Wells Fargo is one of the easiest banks to do business with since they have ATMs and branches everywhere. But at some point, Wells Fargo started charging me $7.00/month for online bill pay. Little did I know I didn't have to put up with this lousy service!
In early 2005, I opened savings #2 at my local credit union. I opened the account under the naive thought that if I had a savings account, I would get better terms on my car loan. (I didn't.)
Then in October 2006, I received a letter from Bank of America offering me $125 if I opened up a new personal checking and savings account. I was told I wouldn't be charged a fee on my checking so long as I had direct deposit every month. I was also exempt from fees on my savings if I transferred $25 every month from my checking to my savings. I thought, "What the heck?" and opened checking #2 and savings #3. At this point, I started using my BofA checking account as my primary checking account to pay bills. My Wells Fargo became my secondary checking account for "fun money".
In January 2007, I received a promotional mailer from ING offering $25 if I opened an Orange Savings Account. As far as I could see, there was no catch and the bank offered a remarkable 4.41% APY. Wells Fargo and BofA was paying a laughable 0.01% APY, so how could I turn this offer down? I signed up for savings #4, got my $25 and I was introduced to the wonderful world of online savings accounts. I was hooked!
In April 2007, I learned about another promotional offer for $100 if I opened a Citibank Ultimate Savings Account online. Again, there didn't seem to be any catch and the APY was competitive with ING. I opened savings #5. (Ahhh. The good ol' days when Citibank was giving out money, not taking money.)
In November 2008, I learned about DollarSavingsDirect, who was offering 4% APY while other banks were paying approximately half. I enjoyed the thrill of rate-chasing, so I opened savings #6. Little did I know that the interest rates would plummet at all of the online banks in less than a year. But online banks still offer a much better rate than the bricks-and-mortar banks. I'm sticking with them.
Around the same time, I opened checking #3 with my local credit union. I was concerned that if I got laid off and didn't have additional direct deposits, I'd be charged monthly fees by Wells Fargo and BofA. The local credit union offered a true free checking account, so if and when I get laid off, I'm certain that I will close down checking #1 and checking #2 and start using checking #3 exclusively.
And finally, most recently, I opened savings #7 through Smarty Pig. This was partly due to my addiction to rate-chasing (currently 3.05% APY) and because I liked the whole Christmas Club-like plan it offered.
You're probably wondering, why don't I just close some of my accounts? I wondered about that too. And here's what I came up with:
- I'm lazy;
- I like having options, including ATM and branch accessibility;
- I'm lazy;
- In case any of my banks fail, I have the peace of mind that I have money accessible at other banks while I wait for FDIC or NCUA to make me whole;
- I'm lazy;
- I may be clinically insane;
- I have too much time on my hands;
- Did I mention I'm lazy?
I was planning to write the bizaare and complicated system I use to keep track of my money, but I realized it will take forever. Tomorrow, I'll write about my crazy system and my even crazier spreadsheet.