Preferred bank or credit union?

8 dollars 50 centsMegan emails:

I just moved back to the area from the South and I really need a new bank, the one I had before I despised. I had a co-op in the South and loved it, but the one I came from doesn't seem to have any equivalents in the area. So what is the best bank/credit union in the area?
I really hate paying ATM fees, like ever, and I travel a lot so a large ATM network is key. Also a decent online banking system. And while I'm wishing and hoping maybe no foreign transaction fees...

Sometimes when you want ubiquity - like ATMs everywhere -- you have to sacrifice something else, like personal touch. We're curious to hear if people think that's the case in this situation.

So... got a suggestion for Megan? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific bank or credit union can be a big help.


In the capital district SEFCU rules the roost. Lots of ATMs, wonderful service, photo check deposit... it's the best.

I really love CAP COM Federal Credit Union.
I have been to a lot of other banks, that have charged me ridiculous fees for all sorts of reasons, and I have never had that problem with CAP COM. They are always friendly, willing to sit down with me, and give decent rates for loans and overdraft accounts.

Bank of America, by far, is my personal choice. Whether within the Albany area or abroad, never too far from a branch or an ATM.

First Niagara doesn't have a ton of their own ATMs, so they reimburse all ATM fees. As someone who travels a lot, it's really convenient to be able to pop into any gas station and not have to worry about seeking out an ATM.

Second the recommendation for SEFCU. In addition to their abundant ATM network in the Capital District (including most Bruegger's Bagels locations), they are part of the Allpoints network, which has ATMs in CVS stores everywhere. I've used them in Washington, D.C.. and Boston with no fee and no problems.

I second CAP COM Federal Credit Union. I've been with them for nearly a decade without a single problem. Service is always excellent.

SEFCU rocks!

The humans at the branches treat you like a human. I always make sure to tell them that and thank them.

I'll add another vote for SEFCU. When my bank was purchased by -- well, let's just say one of the megabanks -- in the early 1990s, I moved all of my accounts over to SEFCU and have never looked back.

Re: Bank of America
My friend made 3 purchases in one day: two small transaction first and then a large one with his debit card. He was just couple of bucks short on the large transaction. Bank of America re-arranged transaction in such a way that the large one went first followed by small ones. This way they charged the overdraft fee three times instead of one. Each overdraft fee was $49. They literally stole nearly 100 bucks from the poor graduate student.
I think there was even a class action lawsuit against BoA regarding this practice a few years back.

SEFCU. And don't let anyone dare tell you otherwise!

I'll never bank with a "big bank" again - Key Bank, Bank of America, etc. They seem to be the biggest offenders as far as hidden fees, charges, etc. I've banked with SEFCU for the past 8 years and can't think of a single complaint. I don't have anything ot compare it to but the SEFCU app is great.

I don't use ATMS often so I can't speak to their network but they are all over the region and I think they participate in a larger ATM network.

Why in God's name is anyone still using banks for personal finances? They are soulless, impersonal, for profit corporate beasts looking to leech away your money through a convoluted maze of rules and fees. Of course they are convenient for you - it's meal time for them with every visit to the ATM or branch location. Become a member of any credit union. Get a good credit card. Use both and stay away from the big banks.

In regards to the ATM Fees, wouldn't be a bad idea to have a local bank/credit union (I'd recommend SEFCU) and then an online bank that reimburses ATM fees that you can transfer money to from the local bank. Examples include Ally, Fidelity and Charles Schwab. Leave the debit card for local bank at home, carry online bank debit card (which you keep limited funds in) and use credit cards for all other transactions.

RE First Niagara: They are closing many of their branches at the end of the fall and will be merging with Key Bank. I don't know if the no ATM fee will still hold then. I have not been impressed with Key Bank.

My kids use CapCom through school banking. The staff is normally very good, but their locations and ATMs are inconvenient if you live in the City of Albany. SEFCU has several locations in Albany, and I have heard good things about them, so I am planning to switch to them.

We moved here two years ago and have had nothing but great experiences with SEFCU. We refinanced our car through them and just closed on our first house with a SEFCU mortgage. The agents we've used for everything have all been incredibly kind, personable, and attentive. We've gotten great rates on the car, house, and our credit card. We belonged to a few credit unions in previous locations (and I banked with BofA before that), but SEFCU is absolutely the best banking experience we've ever had. It's not even remotely close.

And, as others have said, they are part of the Allpoint ATM network. You can find them in CVS stores, but also a variety of Targets, hotels, and gas station/convenience stores throughout the country, with no fees.

SEFCU has a pretty large ATM network. The app is helpful locating a participating ATM. I've gotten cash with out a fee in Portland, OR.

In general it's always better to go with a credit union over a bank if you can, the rates are better and they're more invested in you keeping your own money. I have Capcom, and I have a great rate on a car loan and credit card in addition to feeling better about asking things. Capcom and SEFCU are the best choices over a bank. My advice is to just visit a branch of whomever you're looking at and get a sense of what you like and dislike before agreeing to put your money anywhere.

As the President and CEO of SEFCU, I love the string of comments. Consider the advice of those that commented - CapCom and SEFCU will make your satisfaction our only mission. Welcome to the Capital District!

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