Did your bank close your local branch? It wouldn’t be surprising. According to a report from SNL Financial, banks closed 1,614 U.S. branches in 2015. JPMorgan Chase & Co. led the way, closing 195 branches, while PNC closed 94 and Bank of America Corp. 88 last year.
The reasons are obvious: Most customers rarely need to enter a bank branch. Employees’ paychecks are often direct-deposited to their banks. Customers today make deposits through their smartphones. And they pay their bills online.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when actually visiting a bank in person makes sense. When should you tuck away your smartphone and step into your local branch?
1. You’re Applying for a Mortgage
Sure, you can apply for a mortgage online with many financial institutions. And you don’t have to even take out a mortgage with your local branch. But if you like your bank, you might want to at least talk to a loan officer at your local branch about a mortgage.
A mortgage is a big financial commitment. Sometimes you want to talk to a financial professional in person for advice and recommendations. Again, you don’t have to turn to your local bank for this advice; you can work with any mortgage lender licensed to do business in your state. But your bank might offer competitive rates and lower closing costs. You won’t know until you contact them.
2. You’re Ready to Buy a Car
It’s good financial sense to have financing in place before you shop for a new car. You might still take the financing offered by your auto dealer, but coming into the dealership pre-approved for an auto loan provides you with a back-up if you don’t like your dealer’s terms. It might also save you money; dealers might lower your interest rate to persuade you to take out a loan with them instead of with a different financial institution.
Your bank certainly offers auto loans. If the rate it is offering is a good one, it might make sense to visit your local branch to talk through your auto-financing options.
3. You Need a Money Order
It’s true that you can get a money order from several outlets, including credit unions, the U.S. Post Office, and many retailers. But you can also get them from your local bank branch. And if your branch is conveniently located, charges reasonable fees and is likely to be less crowded, why not get a money order from there?
4. You Need a Notary
Finding a notary is hardly a challenging task these days: Your local public library might even have one on staff. The odds are high, too, that your local bank branch offers a notary service. Most won’t even charge to have a notary sign your documents. Again, if your bank is located a short drive from your home and is likely to offer quick service, visiting your branch for the services of a notary public could save you time.
5. You Need a Specific Type of Change
Maybe you’re holding a yard sale and you need tons of singles. A good place to get change in specific denominations? Your local bank. Banks are happy to turn your large bills into smaller ones. And your teller won’t flinch no matter how specific you get with how many $1s, $5s and $10s you need.
6. You’re Ready to Empty That Coffee Can of Pennies
Got a jug stuffed with pennies, dimes, and nickels at home? Your bank will be happy to convert that change to dollars. Yes, you can go to your nearest Coinstar machine to do the same thing. But Coinstar charges a fee. Your local bank branch, if you are a customer, might not.
Do you still pay regular visits to your bank?