I have tried many different combinations of accounts in my life. At one point, my credit card, brokerage, checking, and savings were all at different places. At one point, everything was in one place. I found some big benefits to keeping everything in one place.
The biggest benefit of having everything in one place is the time savings. Assuming you are using a site like Mint or Adaptu, you are already tracking everything in one place. Even if you do take advantage of one of those free services, there are other time savers to having things in one place.
For starters, you only need to have one customer service contact for a variety of issues. Changing your address? One form. Online bank statements? One website, often one statement. Need to pay your credit card and other bills? One bill pay site to visit.
There are other benefits to having everything in one place. It is less complicated. No need to worry about keeping track of a bank balance one place and a credit card somewhere else. It is all on one screen when you log in.
Need to open or change an account? You probably can save a lot of time on forms because your bank already has your information. Once you are a customer, adding new services is usually quick and painless.
You can also transfer money instantly between accounts, which is useful if you need to move money around quickly. Moving between banks can take three days with the ACH system.
Keeping everything under one roof can also save you money. Many banks offer special deals to customers with multiple accounts.
No need to worry about inactivity fees at one bank while your main account is somewhere else.
You are less likely to miss a credit card payment if it is at the bank website you use every day.
Banks are more likely to waive fees for good customers. For example, I recently had to send a bank wire from my checking account. A wire fee is $20, but they waived it (without even asking) because I have a good relationship with the company.
No Reason to Keep Old Accounts
I have heard people talk about leaving a few bucks in an account “just to keep the account open” once they moved the majority of their business to another bank. Why? That is just another statement to watch, another fee to worry about, and a few bucks that you have just written off to your old bank.
If you don’t need an account anymore, close it. I only have accounts at one online bank and one brick and mortar credit union. There was no reason to leave my other accounts open in the age of new bank fees.
What Did I Miss?
If you can think of any other good reasons to consolidate to one financial institution, please share in the comments. If you ever reaped the rewards of consolidating, tell us your story.
Oh yeah, and if you disagree, you might check out my post on reasons to not keep all accounts at one bank.
Image by Finsec.