Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband and I are having financial problems. We have plenty of money, we just can’t agree on how to manage it while traveling nine months of the year. We have one credit union account from our hometown, but every time we use the ATM it costs us $3+ dollars. I want to open an account with a major bank that we can find most anywhere but my husband will not change. We have had our credit union account for thirty years and he is used to it. I’m banking on you to give me some advice that might persuade him to move to another financial institution.
Bonnie in Clyde, OK
You have the easiest financial problems that exist. Maybe I can help you meet your goals and keep both you and your husband happy. I would suggest you use your credit union debit card for most purchases and Walmart for your ATM. You will find more Walmart stores than you will any major bank. When you check out just get cash back using your debit card and keep a few hundred on hand. There are no fees and it is as simple as hitting a single key at the check out register. If you do a little research you will find a treasure trove of offers from retailers that can save you money, but the Walmart cash back program is the best ATM I can think of. Oh, did I mention free camping and a Red Box?
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink
We keep 2 bank accounts. One is our main account where we have banked for years. Our other is an online account(www.ingdirect.com)that provides free ATM access at literally
thousands of locations. This online account is for travelling.
First check with your current credit union on what options are available with their debit and credit cards - cash back, rewards, etc.
Second as shrink points out, use maximum cash back every time you buy groceries or other items.
You should get it down to one or two ATMs per month with the method.
Your advice works in the US, but not in Canadian Walmarts.
We have used Walmart cashback for years and think it is the best.
Claire from Canada
Some Credit Unions have joined the Co-Op Network which allows you to use ATMs from other credit unions. Might want to check and see if your CU is a member.
If, as you say, you have "plenty of money", then if you find yourself in a situation where you have to pay $3 or more for a debit transaction take out your daily maximum, which may be up to $1000. This way the transaction is only costing you $3/ $1000. Taking the same $1000 out $100 at a time cost you $30. You can also contact your credit union and see if they have any agreements with other banks or credit unions for a lesser ATM charge at their institutions.
I second the motion for having a second account with a Web-based bank like www(dot)ingdirect(dot)com. There are no account maintenance fees, and you have free use of thousands of ATMs (including the ones at 7-Elevens). You can transfer money from your stiks-n-bricks bank to the ING account by phone or online. You get a debit/credit/ATM card with no transaction fees. I have never been as pleased with my experience with any financial institution as I am with ING Direct.
And no, I don't work for them. :)
We have three checking accounts and one is a credit union and the other two are with a large well known bank. If we need savings from the credit union we do a bill pay to one of the major bank checking accounts and it takes care of all problems.
One of the problems with credit unions is they are so "local" that using the ATM anywhere outside their system and a fee is charged as you say.
We also found out about WalMart's policy of cash back and have used it regularly......both WalMart and we gain from this.....we usually spend a lot at their stores.
Walmart is not the only cash-back business. Most major grocery stores, Targets, and big-box stores will also give cash back. I've been on the road for years and have had to use an ATM only the few times when I've been in a small town with no chain stores, such as Quartzsite.
We use a "reward" credit card and have for years. We earn rewards for everything we buy, we have received thousands of dollars in gift cards. We have bought TVs, gas, Sears gift cards, computer, desk chair etc etc. There fore would never use debit and seldom use cash, some merchants want cash. 300.00 of gas get you a lot of reward points. I have a 100.00 gift cert for Sears/Kmarts in my purse now, getting ready to order another $50.00 one.
I suggest you check to see if your Credit Union is not part of the Co-op Network. Most Credit Unions are and they share ATM's without cost. They were to first if I recall correctly to allow users to deposit funds at other CU ATM's. Co-op maintains a website where you can search for ATM's
Satisfied CU User for many decades,
We have a Charles Schwab account in addition to the big bank account. We use any ATM, anywhere and Schwab rebates the fees to our account.
We had a brokerage account with E*Trade and found that we could get a credit card through them. We use this account for travel as it rebates all charges on our ATM use with the credit card.
Many other businesses offer cash back. And get this, so does the US Post Office (at least our local one does). So if you have to stop at a post office you can get cash back also.
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