One of most common excuses I hear everyday about why people accept being at a sucky bank, insurance company, or whatever XYZ business, is that switching is hard. But you know what – it ISN’T! It just takes time, which is something that many people don’t have. So here are some of my tricks to make switching banks, insurance companies, utilities, and more, and how it will be SO worth your time and effort!
Deciding When to Switch
With anything, there is probably an underlying reason why you have an urge to switch. But maybe it hasn’t been quite enough to make you put in any time or effort into leaving. For example, me and Wells Fargo started off on good terms when I moved to their PMA package. However, about a year later, I ran into some pretty dumb fees that Wells Fargo was charging. So I fought back against Wells Fargo’s fees, and then left them as a banking customer. However, because of my laziness, I still maintained a brokerage account there. Finally, the nail in the coffin was when I got charged another shitty fee by Wells Fargo for using Quicken to update my finances.
So, for me, the culprit was fees. Wells Fargo just made doing business with them too expensive, and there were better, cheaper options.
For others, the culprit may be not earning enough (for example, low yields on a savings account), too high of an interest rate (possibly a credit card), or just having payments not inline with current market rates (insurance, utilities, any other service).
Finally, it could even be service. Even if you don’t go to a bank, it could be the fact that it is NOT convenient to go to the bank, and your bank doesn’t offer services like scanning in your checks to deposit. Or, it could be a company like Best Buy, and how they offer poor customer service.
Figuring Out Where to Move
Ok…so you’ve decided you want to switch because you can’t stand your current bank, insurance company, or whatever. But now, where do you move to? This is the biggest challenge for many people, because looking around is the hardest part! Plus, you need to figure out what is most important to you.
However, most people forget that your most important feature is also probably your biggest complaint about your current company.
For banks, it could be:
- Account Features (Check Deposit, ATM Rebates, free checks)
- Service (Hours)
For insurance companies, it could be:
- Coverage Options
For utility companies, it could be:
- Price/Value for the Price
- Product Offerings (channel line-ups)
- Service (i.e. Comcast Sucks)
Making the Banking Choice Easy
To save you time, I’ve put together a list of some of the best banking options out there. These banks offer free checking, awesome perks, and great service. All of them have won awards for their services, and I highly recommend them. If you DON’T bank with one of these companies, consider it. I’m hoping to make your banking choices easier.
Making the Insurance Switch
For insurance companies, the switch could be a little harder. You need to shop around, but from my experience, the savings can be huge ($500 or more)! $500 is definitely worth the time and effort to try and save some money! Your best bet is to use an online comparison tool to find out what companies may offer the best rates for you.
Depending on the insurance type, here are some popular tools.
For car insurance:
For life insurance:
For home insurance:
For health insurance:
Making the Utility Switch (Cable & Cell Phone)
If you’re looking to change utilities, you don’t always have a lot of options. For most people, you have one local cable internet provider, possibly a phone company that provides DSL, and possibly AT&T offering Uverse. However, the cable companies are scared of competition. You can switch providers most of the time, but just letting your cable or internet company know that you’re thinking about it may give you a lower rate.
For cell phones, you pretty much have a choice of the big three: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Yes, there are several smaller players and many prepaid players, but these three are the main ones to choose from in every market. I recently compared all of them for getting the cheapest iPhone 5 plan, and you can see that it really depends on what you’re going to use your phone for. For data, Sprint is your best choice. For text, Verizon is your best bet. AT&T really doesn’t have the best prices on anything.
What are your thoughts on switching companies? Do you dread doing it because of the time involved, or do you value savings more?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.