In a little over a year’s time, NBA basketball player Steven Adams will be a free agent. NBA teams will line up to sign him for a contract worth over $50m $80m. (*edits the article after watching  him in the NBA playoffs)  He’ll probably take meetings with a few different teams, then decide whether to sign with a new team or stay with his current team.

He probably won't end up with the 76ers

He probably won’t sign with the 76ers (the worst team in the league)

Steve knows that he has the power in this situation. He knows that many NBA teams would love to have him, and he doesn’t need to worry about selling himself.

You’ll probably never be in a situation where multiple sports teams are competing to throw ten’s of millions of dollars at you. Unless Steve himself is reading this, in which case; y u no respond to my tweets bruh? However, you can take Steve’s free agency mindset and apply it to any situation in your life where multiple companies are competing for you to be their customer. Examples include; electricity, internet, and mobile phone.

You can also apply this mindset to your banking. Most of us are with our current bank simply because it was the same bank our family used, or we switched when they offered us a great student deal.

Like NBA teams with great players, banks are competing against each other to sign up customers.

Most people don’t understand how much they are worth to their bank. Banks spend a lot of money to sign people up when they are young because they know they will make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars off them when they are older and haven’t bothered to change banks.

Banks’ make a metric shit tonne of money, so you shouldn’t inflate their profits any more than you have to. Don’t accept poor service and products from your bank! Banks make money from loaning out the money you have saved with them, so they don’t need to nickel and dime you with account fees. If you are unhappy with your current bank, other banks would love for you to switch to them.

According to a recent Consumer NZ survey (as mentioned in this Stuff article), 82% of New Zealander’s think banks big profits means they are charging too much in fees. Some fees are negotiable! If low fees are what you are after, you can talk to your current bank or another bank about how to make that happen.

Like Steve, you are the one with the leverage and in the position of power. You can arrange a meeting with a rival bank and see if they can offer you enough to lure you away.

Here’s how you can switch banks and get a better deal.

Do your research

Figure out what’s important to you when it comes to banking. Do you want a lower rate of interest on a credit card or overdraft? Do you want the lowest possible fees? Or do you simply want the best possible customer service?

Read through the websites of the other banks to find products (credit cards, savings accounts, etc.) and services that you like. What stage in life you are at will affect what you want. Be sure also to talk to friends and family about what they bank they are with and what they like/dislike about their bank.

"I recommend the Iron Bank of Bravvos"

“I recommend the Iron Bank of Braavos.”

Even if you’ve found a bank which gives you the best credit card for you, you don’t necessarily need to use that bank for your other banking needs. It’s a little less convenient, but there’s no reason you can’t be a customer of multiple banks.

Know what you are worth

Once you’ve found a new bank that you like the look of, call and arrange a meeting with your potential new bank.

Make sure you come to this meeting armed with the knowledge of;

  • how much you earn
  • how much you spend
  • what savings/ debts you have
  • and anything else that is relevant (e.g. KiwiSaver balance)

Talk to them about the products you like and what deals they can offer you. Recently, I switched banks. I wanted the best rewards credit card my new bank had to offer, but I didn’t want to pay any fees on it. I asked if they were able to waive the fees on the card and they waived the fees for the first year. This saves me quite a bit of money and makes the 45 minutes I spent with a personal banker to swap my accounts over more than worth it. Of course, not everything is negotiable, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Negotiation is a little scary I know! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is that the person you’re talking to says sorry, that’s not possible. Your potential new bank really wants you to be their customer and if they can offer you what you want they probably will.

Remember, just having a meeting with a personal banker of a rival bank doesn’t oblige you to change. Like Steve would do if his potential new team said “We’re going to play you off the bench,” you can get up and walk away. If you do decide to switch banks, you will have to sign some forms that authorise your new bank to absorb all your old accounts and the payments from those accounts. There’s very little more to do on your part, except to make sure anyone who pays you regularly knows when to start paying into your new accounts.

Payments NZ  has great information about switching banks.

Moving credit cards and mortgages

Moving a credit card is a little more difficult.  Your new bank can absorb the balance on your existing credit card, or you can simply start a new one with your new bank and pay off all the debt on your old one.

Balance transferring your credit card debt to a new bank and getting little or no interest on it for a period may seem like a great deal. In reality, it can be costly if you aren’t careful. Often any new purchases on a balance transferred credit card begin incurring interest right away and continue incurring interest until the transferred debt is paid off. If you do decide to transfer your credit card debt to another bank, BE SURE to read the terms and conditions, and if possible, avoid using that credit card until the transferred balance is paid off. If you happen to have a mortgage…

Balance transferring can be a double edged sword

Balance transferring can be a double-edged sword

Moving a mortgage can be very costly, there are many different fees involved including legal fees and break fees (the cost of breaking a fixed term mortgage). However, another bank may be willing to pay some or all of these fees to win you over. Awesomemortgages.co.nz has an informative article on switching a mortgage to another bank. Moving your mortgage is a big decision and not one to undertake lightly. Be sure to do a lot of research if this is something you are considering.

So, stop accepting being in crappy banking situation! If you’re fed up with your current bank, it’s not that tough to switch and get a better deal. It might not make you millions like Steven Adams’ next contract, but you be should be able to save some money, get better service and get one step further towards your finance goals!

 

Actions

  • If you aren’t happy with your current bank, consider switching
  • Research different banks to find ones that you like
  • Chat with a bank representative to see if they can make switching worth your while

Lena Headly pic By Denny Harrison [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons,https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Lena_Headey_Primetime_Emmy_Awards_2014.jpg

 Steve Adams pic By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Trevor_Booker_Steven_Adams.jpg

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