When it comes to banks, bigger isn’t always better. Whether you’re opening a checking account, applying for a loan, or looking to finance your small business venture, there are key benefits of choosing to work with an independent bank in your community. In honor of Independence Day, we’re sharing the top seven benefits of independent banking.

1. Personalized service

At an independent community bank, you can rest assured that your bank will know you by name, not by account number. The personal touch of actually getting to know the staff of your bank is something not found at large institutions. Instead of dealing with online chatbots and offshore customer service, you’ll deal with a real person in your community. Since independent banks serve a smaller pool of customers, they can place a greater focus on building strong relationships with each client. This helps independent banks provide more personalized service and can help you reach your financial goals with the support of a bank that wants to help you succeed.

2. Lending decisions made by people, not algorithms

When it comes time to ask your bank for money, whether for a mortgage, a construction loan to build your dream home or a small business loan your experience will likely be very different at an independent bank versus a larger one. At large banks, decisions are largely made by algorithms, or sent up the chain of command to people who might live across the country (or the world). There is little wiggle room or opportunity to negotiate, and megabanks are largely unwilling to take your personal circumstances into account. At an independent bank, you’ll work directly with staff in your local community who can base their decisions on the whole picture, not just your credit score. This can lead to better interest rates and approval odds compared to larger banks.

3. Lower fees

Typically, independent banks charge lower fees than larger banks. In fact, many charge no fees at all. Over 44% of checking accounts offered by local, independent banks have no monthly maintenance fees. In contrast, larger banks make a significant amount of money profiting off of fees for overdrafts, ATM usage, minimum account balances, and more. In the last year alone, megabanks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan made over $1 billion in overdraft fees.

The favorable fee structure at independent banks helps keep more money in your pocket and can protect you from having to pay extra if you accidentally overdraft your account. At Bank 34, our Kasasa® Cash and Kasasa® Cash Back checking accounts feature no monthly service fees, no minimum balances, and no penalties.

4. Investing in your community, not big business

Local, independent banks have a vested interest in helping your community prosper. After all, as small businesses themselves, they understand how important it is to give back and help out their neighbors. Independent banks create jobs and opportunities for the greater community by investing in the local economy. On the other hand, giant corporate banks have global interests in mind. Instead of giving back to your community, they may dedicate large portions of their resources to speculative trading and other corporate interests. Banking with an independent bank is a great way to invest in your community instead of Wall Street.

5. Banking wherever you are

Gone are the days where your only banking options involved visiting a branch or making cumbersome phone calls. Now, banks of all sizes offer the ability to bank wherever you are through online and mobile options. With personal e-banking from Bank 34, you can access your accounts anywhere, anytime via desktop, tablet or mobile. Whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go, you can manage your finances on your terms with just a few clicks. Personal e-banking makes it easy to:

  • Transfer funds
  • Create and manage alerts
  • Pay your bills
  • Send, receive, and request money
  • Receive purchase rewards
  • Manage all your internal and external accounts in one place
  • Create financial goals
  • Access e-statements
  • And more

6. The same great technology

As banking continues to evolve, more and more consumers are looking for the latest technology to help make managing their money easier than ever. When it comes to technology, independent banks boast many of the same features and amenities as larger banks, so you can enjoy the same level of technology-focused banking solutions. This can help make switching to an independent bank a smooth and seamless process.

E-banking and mobile banking options from Bank 34 make banking easier (and more convenient) than ever. With just your smartphone, you can deposit a check and access a comprehensive suite of services with just a few clicks. In addition, you can use technology to easily locate ATMs in our network with the free Allpoint® Locator Tool mobile phone app.

7. Benefits for small businesses

If you’re a small business owner, choosing to bank with an independent bank is often a smart strategy. Statistics show that large banks dedicate just 18% of their commercial loans to small businesses. In comparison, local banks give almost 50%. Independent banks know the local community and have more insight into local market conditions. This makes them more willing to fund your small business than a megabank that is only relying on an inflexible algorithmic score to make a decision. In addition, independent banks make their decisions in-house, so you won’t be left hanging or navigating through endless red tape while you wait for your lending decision.

At Bank 34, we believe that financing your business shouldn’t come with endless hoops for you to jump through. Our status as an independent bank means we’re not bound by pre-programmed lending requirements, leaving us free to provide flexible credit solutions driven by human decision making. The result is a working relationship that’s highly responsive and experienced, with an approval process that’s truly streamlined, and a loan package that’s structured to meet your unique needs.

Bank 34: Standing independent since 1934

In a world of large banks and corporate conglomerates, we’ve proudly remained independent since 1934. In that time, we’ve helped countless individuals with financial solutions tailored to each unique circumstance. Even as the world of banking continues to evolve and change, you can count on us to remain committed to our communities. Contact us or stop by your nearest location to explore what independent banking really means with Bank 34.


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