Which bank would you recommend?

A very common question. How do I chose the bank that is right for me? Or: “What do you think?”

The answer is: It depends…. what is most important to you? Is it:

  • Where do I get the lowest overall cost? That is normally the bank with the lowest rate. Fixed or variable. But of course low (or no) fees is important.  So do you need lowest cost upfront or over the next 5 years?
  • Supporting the “underdog”. This applies to you if you (like many Aussies) prefer to give the “little guy” a chance. You would then steer away from lenders like CBA and ANZ and Westpac and NAB (and maybe even StGeorge though for some that is the little guy) and instead support ME bank or MyState or Bank of Sydney or …
  • Access to a large branch network: ANZ, Westpac, CBA, NAB, StGeorge all have a massive national network of branches. You can find a branch usually with a 2 or 3 suburb radius. It can feel good to be able to walk into the branch and be able to talk to a real person. Someone you can explain your story to and -hopefully- get a sympathetic ear from. A person that you feel cares about your situation and is willing to help.
  • The highest loan amount: This normally means staying away from the majors. They are conservative in their lending policies, assessment of living expenses and repayments of other debts. The assessment rate the banks use also has a big impact on affordability / possible loan amount. Aiming for the highest possible loan amount means you will likely chose a lender like Firstmac or Pepper.
  • The Safest bank: Some people have a concern for the safety of their deposit or money in general. Through the Global Finance Crisis we saw many banks around the world restrict withdrawals and customers had no access to their money… This has caused concern in Australia as well, even though there were no instances of that happening here. The government created a “deposit guarantee” and from that some people now believe there are certain banks which are safer than others.
  • Which is the greenest /most environmentally responsible bank? A new request rising in popularity. Who is most environmentally responsible? Some information in regards to being green / environmentally friendly or carbon neutral:
    1) Ethisphere https://ethisphere.com/ published a list of globally ethical companies. As listed in  https://www.worldsmostethicalcompanies.com/ the most ethical company is Australia is Teachers Mutual Bank. Also, Bank australia is considered the greenest bank by Finder. Another article (by Isabelle Taylor) can be found here. It explores “What Is Sustainable Banking, And How Can I Start Banking Ethically In Australia?”. The top banks in that research are 86400, Bank Australia, Xinja (no longer operating) and beyond bank.
  • Which is the most innovative or techie bank? 86400 comes to mind. They call themselves the Smart bank with fast processes, “pay and wave” and their app automates predictions of your bills and subscriptions.
  • Where do you currently bank / is convenience important to you? Some people prefer to keep things simple. “I have been with bank “x” for … years, have all my salary go there so if we can get the loan there that would be great”. The convenience is more important than the best rate.