Synchrony Bank Review
About Associated Bank
You can say that Associated Bank found its niche in the Midwest and it has proven very advantageous to them.
By concentrating around its birthplace, the bank has positioned itself side-by-side with the larger banks servicing the states of Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It now boasts of around 176 locations all over the three states with a physical branch, drive up, ATM or a combination thereof.
Of course, their partnership with MoneyPass Network has extended their ATM coverage not only within the 3 states but throughout the United States and other countries as well.
On Associated Secure Website
Features & Focus
This is a bank that you can call traditional in the sense that they offer the basic bank products and services. They have several types of checking accounts, savings account, CDs, money market accounts, mortgages, debit and credit cards, HELOC, and more.
Associated Bank prides itself on its strong relationship banking. In fact, they incentivize customers who avail of multiple products and services from the bank.
Even if this bank is traditional in its history and values, it does not frown on technology. In fact, they offer modern facilities such as online banking, text banking, digital payments and transfers, and at least 3 special mobile banking applications.
As a traditional bank, their pricing model centers on the conventional. This had given no edge with its competitors in terms of deposit and loan interest rates. Likewise, the bank has to charge the usual fees to sustain its old-school banking structure.
Customers who are looking for higher deposit interests or free bank services will find that this bank will not make it to their list of top prospects.
Associated Bank makes sure that they are relevant to the community not just by providing superior financial services to the people. They also partner with various associations and volunteer groups as part of their community commitment. In fact, they allow flexible working hours to their colleagues so employees can participate in their culture of giving. The bank also gives out thousands of dollars annually to support community-based non-profit organizations through grants and sponsorships.
Marketing-wise, the bank is not far behind other banks in coming up with tactical promotions such as freebies and cashback offers. The bank received a 4.25 star rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Here are the main products Associated bank offers for savers:
This savings account is pretty straightforward – nothing fancy, complicated, nor extraordinary about it.
Depositors need a minimum of $25 to open an account but those who want to earn higher APYs can start with a higher initial deposit ($25,000 and up) and maintain a higher minimum balance ($10,000 and up).
The account comes with an ATM card that customers can use to check their balance, make withdrawals and transfers using Associated Bank ATMs or their affiliate networks’ ATM.
These services come free of charge but if you use non-Associated ATMs, you might pay a small fee. You can find Associated Bank’s own ATMs all over the 3 states we mentioned above.
Depositors who are outside this area can use affiliated ATMs all around the United States. They can also use other ATMs outside the US but the network might charge them a fee for the use and a foreign transaction fee as well.
The bank also offers a good selection of Retirement Savings Account that answers the different needs of individuals. They have several types of IRAs, Self-directed Brokerage IRAs, Annuities, and Nonqualified Retirement Plans. Here are the basic key specs of their savings account:
- Minimum opening deposit of $25
- $300 minimum daily balance
- $5 fee for going below the minimum balance
- Free online banking
- Free withdrawals on Associated Bank ATMs
- Free withdrawals on affiliated network ATMs
- $2.50 fee for ATM withdrawals in non-affiliated ATMs (for 3rd transaction onward each statement cycle)
- Automatically combined statement
- Free balance inquiry in Associated Bank ATMs & affiliated network ATMs
- $2 balance inquiry fee for other non-Associated ATMs
- 11 balance tiers; APYs from 0% to 1.35%
Associated Bank’s line of checking accounts segments the market according to their need for a physical checkbook and if they can afford the minimum deposit.
The features are almost identical for most parts except for the Choice Checking Account that appears to be a product for the high-end market.
All the checking accounts are available through mobile and online banking.
The bank tied-up with several partners to service the other ends of digital banking. Depositors can send money to other people through Zelle, a money remittance mobile app.
For check deposits and bills payments, the Associated mobile app comes with SnapDeposit and SnapPayments to handle the two transactions respectively.
3 - 60 months
Associated Bank’s CDs follow the average norm of most banks so there’s really nothing that can set them apart from their competitors.
They can be good ‘companion’ accounts to the main deposit accounts such as checking and savings because the bank can give better rates to customers with multiple deposit relationships.
When you talk of CDs, the first feature that customers will look for is the interest rate. There is no real advantage to their rate offerings as customers can find that many banks can give them rates that are even 5X higher.
Money Market Account
The Associated Select Money Market Account comes with five interest rate tiers. The higher your balance, the higher the interest. It’s convenient because the bank gives you access to your account through an ATM card, online, and/or a checkbook.
The rates are within the national averages but increase the moment your balance climbs to $10,000 upwards. You can still earn interest even if you go below the minimum – at least, it softens the impact of the $16 fee. Here are the main key specs of MMAs:
- Minimum opening deposit of $1,000
- Minimum daily balance of $1,000
- Interest credited and compounded monthly
- Free online banking and combined statement
- Comes with ATM card
- Checkbook available
- $16 fee for going below minimum
Associated Bank – The Benefits
Here are the main benefits we found:
Combined Traditional And Modern Banking
For customers who are looking for the traditional feel of a modern bank, this is the choice.
They have both the physical branches and fully-loaded mobile & online banking apps.
Their strong advocacies that benefit the community is also an endearing value.
People can feel they are giving something back to the community.
24/7 Customer Service
The bank prides itself as a relational bank and one proof of this is that customers can reach them 24/7 through their Customer Care hotline.
While many banks do not invest in this kind of access, Associated Bank is allocating resources to keep the communication lines with their customers open all the time.
Associated Bank – The Drawbacks
Like any other bank, we should always take into account the downsides:
The downsides about a regional bank like this are not about size but the limited reach.
Since they only have a physical presence in three states, they cater only mostly to the residents and businesses within.
No Interest In Checking Accounts
Although the bank has several checking accounts on its roster, they do not pay out any interest.
Customers who keep most of their money in their checking account lose out because their money will earn zero.
Abundant Fees And Unimpressive Rates
Being a traditional bank also restricts them from doing away with many of the fees and charges as well as from giving above-average deposit rates.
Alternatives Banks For Consideration
Here are our alternatives to Associated Bank:
Citibank is a well-established bank that offers numerous investment plans and financing services. Such as; business accounts, personal accounts, commercial accounts, mortgages, credit lines, personal loans, and home loans.
For small business accounts, the options available are the Insured Money Market Account (IMMA), Savings Account, and Certificates of Deposit (CD). Funds are easily accessible, and a $1 minimum deposit fee in the IMMA and Savings Account while the CD is fixed for future profit.
You may need to provide some certifications to open any of the accounts, like a Government-issued means of identification, tax identification number, business name, and the number of employees.
The Bank may also require everyone involved in the business to fill out some personal and public details, including; name, date of birth, contact address, home address, countries of residence and citizenship, taxpayer identification number, and ownership percentage.
A significant disadvantage of banking with Citibank is the many transaction charges for withdrawals, money orders, wire transfers, statement of account, returned cheques, overdraft protection transfer and account closing.
This feature is a significant turnoff for clients because these fees may compile to a substantial amount.
JD Power in 2019 gave Citibank four out of five stars for their mortgage offers, and a top spot for customer satisfaction in 2020; these ratings are much higher compared to its contemporaries.
However, the Better Business Bureau gives Citibank an F for organizational performance.
This is a bank with a long history of survival and beating the odds. Imagine, starting out as Detroit Savings Fund Institute in 1849 – or some 170-plus years ago. It survived two world wars, emerged intact after the market crash in 1929, underwent several mergers and name changes.
In 1992, a merger with Manufacturers National Corporation gave rise to a bigger and more stable brand. The Comerica Bank name remained as the surviving bank out of that merger and good things continued to happen since then.
Today, Comerica Bank has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas where policy and operational directions emanate from. The headquarters oversees about 439 offices that you can find all across Arizona, California, Texas, Michigan, and Florida. A strong 8,051 or so employee workforce makes sure that the bank lives up to its commitment that ‘customers come first.’
This bank may be a large regional bank but by design, they have not expanded their reach. Yes, they have a nationwide ATM network but the machines can only do so much.
Overall, if you fit the profile of their target customer – primarily if you’re a resident of any of the three states – and you want a full-service bank, Associated Bank is a great choice for a bank.
But if your financial needs require some assistance and access outside the three states, the bigger banks may serve your needs better.