In light of the financial crisis, Occupy Wall Street protests, legal issues, and much more, many have begun to question whether or not they should keep banking with their megabank, or switch to a credit union in an effort to stick it to the man.
While there can be bad apples at big banks, that can be true of any institution. In fact, banks can offer unique products, rewards, and convenience that is incredibly beneficial to their customers -- who are people like us.
Many often lament the customer service provided by big banks, but there is evidence that is changing. In the 2013 J.D. Power U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction survey, Jim Miller, senior director of banking noted, "many of the big banks have made great strides in listening to what their customers are asking for: reducing the number of problems customers encounter and, more importantly, improving satisfaction with fees."
This is evidence that banks have listened to the complaints of their customers and are actively trying to improve.
Certainly there are many reasons to be upset with some of the things that have transpired at big banks in recent years, so even though it may not be a popular opinion, here are three reasons you should switch from a credit union to a big bank.
1. Technology offerings
Consider JPMorgan Chase -- the winner of the Keynote best mobile banking app -- which lets you check balances, transfer funds between accounts, find ATMs and branches in unfamiliar areas, pay your bills, and lets you deposit checks with only a picture.
In today's connected world, many banks have charged into the rapidly changing technology landscape. While some credit unions offer iPhone or Android apps for their customers and websites to access accounts, few can deliver the same quality provided by the major banks.
Yet not only are the mobile offerings great -- but banks also have the resources that allow you to have simpler and easier access to your money. For example, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) recently announced it would have "express" branches that are open for extended hours where customers can interact with a teller (at times through a video screen) between 7 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. While many disdain the megabanks for their lack of personal touch, having access to a teller at practically any time is a unique benefit.
Even if technology isn't a major draw, certainly we could all benefit from better rewards that often mean more dollars in our accounts.
For example, Discover (NYSE:DFS) offers not only rolling 5% cashback rewards that allow you to earn money for regular purchases on gas, at restaurants, and other purchases depending on the quarter, but it also provides unique access to its ShopDiscover platform, which can give you between 5%-20% cashback at many leading online retailers.
Not only can you earn cash, but Discover also lets you turn that cash you earned into even more money. For example, you can turn $60 of cashback into a $120 gift card at Carnival Cruise Lines.
Beyond cashback rewards, there's also the added benefit of banks offering free checking, high interest rates on savings accounts, and a wide ATM network, which means you don't have to pay to access your own money. Capital One (NYSE:COF), with its free Capital One 360 account, will not only reimburse you for ATM fees charged at up to 38,000 locations, but it also doesn't charge a flat rate for overdrafts, and will even give you $50 for opening an account.
3. Everything is under one roof
The final thing big banks can uniquely offer is their all-inclusive product offering. Our lives can be so disjointed at times, so comfortably knowing that all of your money is available to be accessed at one place with one simple username and password can be very reassuring.
For example, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) can allow you to manage your checking and savings accounts, but also investing and retirement accounts. And you can access your credit card, mortgage, student and car loans, and insurance all in one place. While that may be concerning to some for security reasons, the ease of use provided by Wells Fargo and almost every other bank is tough to match.
Certainly, credit unions can be great things, as some people desire closer, personal relationships, but if you're looking for an all-inclusive banking relationship that offers both great benefits and rewards, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than the services offered by a major bank.
Fool contributor Patrick Morris owns shares of Bank of America and Discover Financial Services. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.