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Basic Checking Account
Basic Checking Account

Basic Checking Account

Remember the press coverage some years ago about Americans switching from big banks to community banks, credit unions and online banks? Remember National Bank Transfer Day? It was a success for credit unions but made a little dent in the consumer retail banking sector.

Changing to smaller banks maybe a good move for some people. But the fact is that some consumers need a big bank. Maybe they travel a lot for work and need to bank at a place that has branches around the country. Or maybe you have a kid in college and want to be able to put money into an on-campus account or monitor spending. The question is which big bank is right for you?

If you come to the conclusion that the banks are all the same, they all adopt the same policies, offer the same services offer the same online banking facilities, then it all comes down to fees.

To simplify matters, let’s take a look at the most basic checking account offered by the 10 largest retail banks in the U.S. and compared their fees for basic transactions and common penalties.

In some ways, the banks are remarkably similar: All but TD charge 3 percent for using a debit card for a foreign currency transaction. All except for PNC charge a monthly maintenance fee. But those monthly fees range from $2.99 to $12 and most banks offer a few ways to dodge the fee, such as getting direct deposit social security or paychecks or having a minimum balance.

When it comes to penalty fees, most banks charge around $35 for overdrawn accounts, although about half have a sliding scale so that small amounts or first-time offenders pay less. Bank of America and Citi automatically block point-of-sale debit purchases if the amount would put the account into the red.

Banks also offer cheaper alternatives: You can link your checking account to a savings account or line of credit, and if a transaction would cause you to overdraw, the money will automatically be transferred from that other account into your checking account for a smaller fee (usually in the $10-$12 range). Even with the new rules, you can still overdraw your account if automatic payments bring the balance below zero or you bounce a check, either of which will get you zapped with a fee.

There are a few other variations and quirks between the offerings. About half the banks we surveyed charge customers to close an account if it’s been open for just a few months; U.S. Bank has a dormancy fee that kicks in if you don’t use the account for a while. HSBC limits its customers to eight free check or withdrawal slip transactions a month, after which they’re 35 cents each.

We can go bank to bank to do a comparison, but this is easy enough to find online, much like credit card programs, determine what your habits are and what fees would be applicable to you and find the bank that offers the products and services that best fit your lifestyle.



Considering your credit card options with USAA Bank? This guide gives an overview of this financial services company to help you understand who they are and what to expect when you take out a credit card with them, including credit card, services, customer satisfaction and acceptance information.

USAA Bank Overview

USAA is a US financial services company with roughly 9 million members. Established by army officers in 1922, USAA’s services are first and foremost for military personnel and veterans and their families, though their services (including credit cards) are available for non-military U.S. citizens.

USAA Bank Credit Cards

USAA offer a competitive range of credit cards with American Express, Visa and MasterCard. They offer an Active Military World MasterCard which offers many exclusive benefits for military personnel, including a reduced interest rate, finance charge rebates and no foreign transaction fees. They also offer a number of standard credit cards such as the USAA Rewards Visa and the USAA Secured Credit Card. USAA do not offer co-branded credit cards, except for The American Legion credit card.

In general, the credit cards on offer with USAA on offer do not come with amazing rewards programs and bonuses, but extremely low interest rates are provided – often under 10% for people with good enough credit scores.

USAA Bank Credit Card Services

All credit card management including rewards points management and credit card payments is done with the USAA website – there are no third parties involved. The online credit management service allows you to use Auto Pay for automatic bill payments, and you can use the online services from any smart phone.

USAA Bank Ratings and Customer Satisfaction

USAA Bank, in terms of their banking, lending and credit card issuing, receive fair or good ratings. Online reviews place overall customer satisfaction as fair or good, and their fees and interest rates are fair according to the national average.

A 2012 independent consumer report, based on 7,638 consumers, found USAA Bank to have the highest customer experience score out of 160 brands, which was the first time in the study’s history that the best score was not obtained by a retailer. The bank also scored very highly as a credit card provider with a joint-5th highest overall score of 84. The average customer satisfaction score for US credit card providers is a good deal lower than this at 67. USAA Bank was voted in 2012 by Fortune as one of the top 20 employers, and voted by Computerworld as the number one employer in IT.

USAA Bank Credit Card Acceptance

Like most banks who provide credit cards in the U.S., USAA offers cards that cater for different people with different credit ratings, including people with poor credit ratings or no credit rating. People with excellent credit scores can secure cards with very low interest rates and good rewards programs, while at the other end of the spectrum, people who are looking to re-build their credit score can get started with a secured credit card.

Fast becoming one of the nation’s hottest brokers, Zecco Trading, based in California was established in 2006. Recently Zecco has been noted in articles ranging from the Wall Street Journal to CNBC financial news. Zecco is the leader in social media having developed and successfully implementing their Zecco Share Community, where investors, traders, novices and pros can talk, share ideas and opinions and exchange valuable market information. Many brokers have tried to implement this type of social networking, but the market leader has been Zecco Share Community.

Where do you want to be with a market leader or the follower, Zecco, believes in setting the pace.

Zecco.com offers 4.95/trade, one of the lowest prices in the market.

Zecco is constantly reinvesting in the online site and trading platform, they do not think just because their fees are low, that their technology and service should be.

Instead of major advertising campaigns, Zecco’s site and Professional Staff are their advertising. Their customer support teams, their Account Specialist and the Professional Training teams are far above the standard in the industry.

Zecco Trading, Training and Education toolbox if full of the most advanced and easy to use tools you can find.

They offer:

Stock Screener

Zecco’s easy-to-use screening tool lets you create screens using over 50 criteria. Save your screens for easy future use, share your screens with other members of the community, and create alerts and watch lists directly from the screener results. If you have a Zecco trading account, you can buy or sell directly from the screener with just one click.

Mutual Funds Screener

There are even more mutual funds than stocks, so finding the right one can be daunting. Never fear! Zecco’s Mutual Funds Screener lets you create screens using over 30 mutual fund-specific criteria. Save your screens for easy future use, share your screens with other members of the community, and create alerts and watch lists directly from the screener results.

ETF Screener

ETFs are one of the fastest growing investing instruments in the business. They can have lower expense ratios, and allow you to get exposure to broad indexes and objects with a single security. The Zecco ETF screener lets you create screens using over 30 ETF-specific criteria. Save your screens for easy future use, share your screens with other members of the community, and create alerts and watch lists directly from the screener results. If you have a Zecco trading account, you can buy or sell directly from the screener with just one click.

Options Strategy Builder

Use the Options Strategy Builder to pick an options strategy based on your risk attitude and the direction you think the underlying stock will move. Once you select a stock and a strategy type, use the Options Strategy Chain to select a specific strategy and see the Profit & Loss curve of that specific strategy. Advanced options traders can modify the assumed volatility and adjust the individual legs that make up the strategy.

Tax Optimization Software Premium Tool

Stay ahead of the tax man. GainsKeeper tax optimization tools can automatically create your annual Schedule D with a single click. Its advanced portfolio analysis also helps you identify potential wash sales, and which holdings could be considered long-term or short-term gains/losses.

As well as interactive intuitive charts and the best Research Reports available to any trader.

Zecco account deposits are covered by SIPC, the guarantee you need to know your funds are safe and secure.

Zecco, is quickly becoming a market leader, setting the pace for others to follow. See also, online trading and OptionsXpress for other online broker reviews.



OptionsXpress is one of the leading Option Brokers. Their motto is service, education, convenience and support.

OptionsXpress online trading platform is one of the most technologically advances systems available to traders in todays fast pace market.

Clients are able to trade, stocks, bonds, forex, commodities, options and EFTs in one convenient site, with live chat and support available round the clock. Our platform has been designed with our investors in mind, so that each trade is fast and convenient, tracking your open trades and reviewing your portfolio are simple.

Each step of the way, the system guides the investor helping you find your way without confusion. Our Account Managers are on standby to assist with any trade, provide advice and information.

OptionsXpress charts and graphs are easily accessible and easy to read and comprehend.

These are all the reasons that Barron’s gave OptionXpress a 4+ rating, one of the highest in the industry.

OptionsXpress has a team of highly competent Brokers and Licensed Option Specialist to help with advice and market information and there is never a fee for their services.

To provide outstanding education to all OptionXpress clients and trades they offer”

Live Events

Attend their weekly webinars or local live events to learn the basics or new strategies.

On-Demand Training

Learn trading strategies and tools with in-depth videos, charts, and skills tests to take advantages of bullish, bearish or flat market conditions.

Daily Newsletters

Stay connected to the markets by signing up for XPOUND, our twice-daily equity and options market newsletter and XPRESSO, our daily newsletter featuring timely, actionable futures trading ideas.

OptionsXpress also has variety of trading tools to enhance the traders experience including:

All-In-One Trade Ticket

Called by Barron’s a “model for the industry” our All-In-One Trade Ticket lets you easily build strategies and place all your trades from a single screen.

Strategy Scan

Identify options strategies based on your personal risk tolerance and sentiment of the underlying symbol.

Trade & Probability Calculator

Quickly identify the opportunity and risk of an options trade with the Trade & Probability Calculator.

Virtual Trade

Test your strategies and ideas risk-free with $25,000 in a Virtual Trade account.

What more could a trader ask for…

Yes, start of the art security and safety, your funds and your account are protected by the most advanced security and encryption technology available in todays. Not only do they spend our time helping your make the best trades and the highest profits, OptionXpress has an entire IT team devoted to fighting against fraud and hacking so you know your account is safe and secure.

OptionsXpress never charge commission or fees for trading; they provide support, training, technology and safety to all of their traders Free without any commitments or long terms contracts. See also, zecco.com online broker reviews.



Everbank is an Internet bank with headquarters and a brick and mortar presence in Florida. The bank dates back to the 1960’s and is now one of the top banks in the United States. There are a variety of banking services offered to consumers and businesses.


The EverBank Direct banking division offers both consumer direct and business banking including comprehensive online banking, loans, high yield deposit accounts, mortgages and global opportunities. If you live in Florida EverBank still offers community banking at branch locations throughout the state. The international banking division, the EverBank World Markets branch offers foreign currency CDs, deposit accounts and non-FDIC insured precious metals accounts under the WorldCurrency banner. The banking service offers free checking, online bill pay, and online statements with a minimum deposit of $1,500 and an average balance of $5,000. If you fall below the required balance there is a $5.00 monthly fee. There is live customer service help available for any banking customer. Customers do regularly complain about slow deposits but love the higher than average interest rates with online checking accounts.


EverBank.com operates both a brokerage service and a wealth management service. The EverTrade Direct Brokerage is a wholly owned subsidiary of EverBank. The brokerage offers a suite of investment services targeted at both personal and business customers. Services include both U.S. and worldwide online trading on all major U.S. exchanges and OTC markets, mutual funds, equities, bonds, and Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs). As an EverTrade client you can use the online trading tools yourself or you can work with a broker. The EverBank Wealth Management service provides wealth management advice on a global scale for individual investors.

Mortgage lender

The Everhome Mortgage division is a Freddie Mac Tier One servicer providing mortgage loan servicing and sub-servicing on over 435,000 loans. The division has become known for its expertise in dealing with complex loans and in providing outsourcing mortgage services for other businesses.


The Wholesale Lending division of EverBank is targeted at mortgage brokers across the U.S. offering a wide range of mortgage products. The mortgage offerings which include traditional mortgages to jumbo loans help brokers achieve an efficient lending process all the way from underwriting to closing.

Business financing

The EverBank Commercial Finance subsidiary of EverBank is available to provide both credit and non credit products including loans to businesses worldwide. Transactions run from $10 million up to $30 million.

Foreign currency accounts

Everbank offers three different world currency accounts to choose from and twenty of the world’s major currencies. With this service you can invest in CD’s denominated in foreign currencies.

FDIC Insurance

Funds in EverBank.com noninterest bearing transaction accounts including traditional checking and demand deposit accounts are all insured in full by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp through December 31, 2012. This is a temporary unlimited coverage which is in addition to the FDIC’s general deposit insurance. See also Online Banking and Is Online Banking Right for You?

Online Banking
Online Banking

Online Banking

Online Banking & Trading has surged in the past few years. Today the average banking customer rarely goes into the actual bank, between online banking, bill paying, and transfers and the use of debt cards and ATM many consumers have found that a local bank branch is unnecessary.

People no longer have the time to stand in line, and have little relationship with any persons at the branch. It is a lot more convenient to call a 24 hour customer service line, then to wait in line for the same answer at the bank. Recently Internet Banking has seen real growth, internet banking is conducted without a brick and mortar facility, and there are no branch employees, no overheads and little promotional materials that are not done online. These Internet Banks can offer higher deposit interest or lower fees as their operational costs are much lower than a mainstream bank.

Online Banking and Trading Review

Most of the larger internet banks offer the same variety of banking services ranging from checking to saving accounts, credit cards and mortgages. They are easy and convenient and they are insured by the FDIC and under the same government requirements as a regular bank. Your money is safe and secure. Almost every bank large or small, saving and loan to credit union offer online banking services and online bank accounts. Today internet and online banking are the industry standards.

Many of the larger banks have combined into their services online broker and trading, competing with the long well established stock and option brokers. Over the years most investors, large and small have had long distance relationships with their clients, mostly over the phone or through the mails, very few investors actually met with their brokers face to face. Transition to online and internet trading has been relatively easy as the clients were already used to a non physical relationship.

Online Trading

Online Trading

With the growth of online trading, the need for a highly trained, knowledgeable broker became less and less valuable and investors sought the saving of online brokers that charged smaller commission and fees for online trades. Slowly the old fashion Brokerage became a dinosaur. Most communication with a broker, whether full service or low commission is done via electronic mail and website platforms.

As banks were bought and sold so were the big brokers and eventually all the banks and brokers became merged together, there is JP Morgan, or Chase, all originally brokers and now banks and brokers.

Online and Internet banking and Online and Internet Brokers and Trading are personal preferences, depending on your needs, your comfort and your knowledge levels. All are reliable and dependable, which is best is the one that best suits your needs. See also, Online Banking

Below you’ll also find some of the top online brokers and online trading houses also. From forex trading online to online stock trading, you can quickly open your account now. Online trading has never been easier. Click on the Sign Up button next to the offer of your choice below. See also, OptionsXpress.com

FDIC - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
FDIC - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

FDIC – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

In the United States, we are lucky when it comes to banking; it is one of the Institutions that our politicians and legislatures set up properly. Over the years the government has made changes to banking laws and policies but the basics of FDIC insurance is the spine of our banking system.

Congress determined that for our country to grow and prosper we needed to have a safe banking system, when everyone would deposit their money giving the banks money to lend to growing businesses. The government set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, known as the FDIC to insure all deposits in federally Insured banks.

Over time the rules and a regulations pertaining to this insurance has changed, but the basics are every depositor in the United States depositing their money in an FDIC insured bank will be guaranteed by the government that their deposits are safe and secure regardless of what happens to the bank. For many years the limit on deposit insurance was 100,000.00, this has recently been increased and also redefined.

FDIC insurance basics are as follows:

The standard deposit insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.

The FDIC insures deposits that a person holds in one insured bank separately from any deposits that the person owns in another separately chartered insured bank. For example, if a person has a certificate of deposit at Bank A and has a certificate of deposit at Bank B, the accounts would each be insured separately up to $250,000. Funds deposited in separate branches of the same insured bank are not separately insured.

The FDIC provides separate insurance coverage for funds depositors may have in different categories of legal ownership. The FDIC refers to these different categories as “ownership categories.” This means that a bank customer who has multiple accounts may qualify for more than $250,000 in insurance coverage if the customer’s funds are deposited in different ownership categories and the requirements for each ownership category are met.

To make sure your deposits are safe there are some simple guidelines that you can follow.

  1. Make sure your bank is a federal insured institution. You can do this by visiting the FDIC website or just look for the FDIC logo displayed by your bank
  2. Make sure you are putting your money into an insured account, not all accounts are insured today, because banks also offer investment type accounts. Ask at the bank and make sure that you are putting your money into a deposit account and not an investment account.
  3. Never keep more the 250,000 at one bank, this is not branch but at one bank share the wealth.

If you follow these guidelines you should be safe regardless of what happens.

To date no depositor in the USA has ever lost money from a bank failure or closure. Learn more about the FDIC.

Capital One Bank
Capital One Bank

Capital One Bank

Most of us know Capital One as a credit card issuer, but some years ago, Capital One became a bank to allow them to capitalize on their credit card business, they were no longer just the card issuer but they were now the bank, which gave them larger control and more flexibility and new business avenues.

Capital One is one of the largest credit card issuers in the world. They control the bulk share of the credit card market. Over the past few years Capital One has been quietly acquiring small to medium size banks throughout the country. With the acquisition of the ING Direct banking arm, Capital One will become the sixth largest bank in the United States by deposits.

Ing Direct

Ing Direct

This is a scary thought, one institution controlling most of the consumer credit in the USA as well as the bank deposits in the USA. It brings to mind Bank of America controlling our money and being the largest mortgage issuer in the USA.

Regulatory issues: The government has been on a course to stop the “To Big To Fail” banks and are trying their best to legislate or regulate banks so that a repeat of 2008 does not happen again, while the eyes of the financial world are focused on the big players, such as Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, Capital One has slowly been building itself into a powerhouse.

If the government regulators allow this merger to take place, they will be doing just the opposite of their goal.

This places the government and legislatures and regulators in a predicament. ING has been trying desperately for several years to sell of their assets to fulfill the requirements and mandates given them when they were bailed out by the government, but at the same time, the government, the FDIC and the Federal Banking Authority have been trying to protect America from these banking monsters that become too big to fail and threaten the financial security of our country.

ING Direct spent a lot of money advertising and marketing to their customers during the good financial times and offer high interest and low fees to their customers and provided good customer service, they built loyal customers, and during the ING failure, most customers remained with ING because their accounts were insured by the FDIC and they were getting higher interest on their deposits.

So now years later, ING Direct still maintains a large client base of internet customers that fit into the Capital One business model as Capital One has very few physical branches, the merger makes excellent business sense. It is the Too Big to fail scenario that raises the eyebrows.

Local Bank
Local Bank

Local Bank

In the past 10 years, banks have been centralizing their customer service into call centers far removed from their customers. They have reorganized the employees at the local banks, revamped their positions and changed their responsibilities. They have severed most of the personal relationships between customers and staff. In an effort to generate profits, they have reclassified many positions to part time, to avoid paying benefits and full time salaries. Years ago, the teller at each window were there day in and day out, their positions were like their offices. Today, it is more like musical chairs, a teller is assigned a window in the morning. They come and go from the window based on the volume of customers, breaks and other requirements. They barely say hello and there is no recognition between tell and depositor.

Most banks have also changed their customer service departments, these departments now fall under the control of a regional customer service supervisor outside of the local bank. Their job is to staff each bank and to rotate staff as needed between local branches. The service centers are set up like factories, where anyone can step in and man the kiosk or cubical.

Bank Managers, are now responsible for the daily operation of the facility, but are no longer involved in relationships. They have to run the business end of the operation, at the same time oversee staff and manage the branch, they deal with customers and local business people but on more generic terms. They process their requests and move the paper and documents on to the responsible committees or departments.

Many banks have added “loan officers” these are the staff members, responsible for handling and processing requests for loans in all forms, credit cards, mortgages, business loans, and overdraft protection. These officers are supposed to have contact with the public and the customers of the bank, not to help them or handle their problems, but to generate profit for the bank by writing loans.

All these changes and depersonalization of bank staff makes it difficult to have a relationship with your local banker, but business is forever changing and slowly, in today’s market and economy, the banks are rethinking this separation and this loss of customer relationships. It is sometimes difficult to build relationships when each time you come to the bank there is a new person in the kiosk, behind the teller’s window or in the manager’s office, but developing these relationships can be helpful, to individuals as well as small business owners.

Your local banker knows all the new programs that the bank is promoting, new loan officers, new checking account promotions, and programs aimed at supporting local small businesses. If you have a relationship with the people at the branch they can help keep you in the know. Your bank manager or loan officer, can also make sure your requests are processed quickly and efficiently and can stay in touch with you to follow up on your requests and needs. Building these relationships can be difficult and frustrating but have their rewards, so it is well worth the effort of getting to know the people in your local bank.



With the economic slowdown and growth at a stall and the uptick of inflation and the halt in hiring and jobs creation, the major backlash results in U.S. banks lower earnings estimates.

In the past quarters, the banks, that is the major banks, the universal banks, those stretching from coast to coast or around the globe have posted incredible earnings. Many were wondering during such a bad economy how these banks were posting such huge profits. The US banks were paying back TARP money and paying off the government so that they could get out from under the rules and regulations imposed on them to receive government support.

During the banking crisis, the banks in the US continually raised service costs, fees and penalties to consumers, ATM fees were increased, returned check fees were doubled or tripled, overdraft fees became prohibitive. Free checking ceased to exist and new full service accounts became very expensive. Banks began charging for deposits, withdrawals, for any service. Too many calls to customer service had a fee, too many deposits had a fee, the per check fee just rose and rose, but all the revenue derived from these fees did not come close to amount that banks were declaring as profit each quarter.

Where were all the banks making so much money, from their business customers, from their investment side, from the highly speculative side of banking that got them in so much trouble before?

Now with this unpredicted global slowdown, the increase in the euro zone debt crisis and the talk about banks and investment firms having to take losses from structured bailouts for countries like Italy, Greece, Ireland, and Spain or Portugal, the banks are worrisome again, there is a lot of uncertainty in the markets and the banks are feeling the pain.

Investors are selling off their holdings, causing the value of the bank stocks to plummet. Equity deals and Mergers and Acquisitions are slowing down and foreclosures, and credit card debt, bankruptcies and write offs are continuing.

All painting a bleak picture for the banks, recently some of the banks have been downgraded and their earnings projections for the remainder of the year have been cut.

Bank Directors and CEO’s have been making statements over the past few weeks gently inferring that bank earnings will not reach earlier projections and banks are following up with new estimates and reduced earning. Everyone is in a cautious mode.

Until the US starts to create jobs and increases growth, until the euro zone crisis is handled and until global exports start to pick up, bank earning will continue to be reduced.

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