10 Banks, 10 Accounts is a 10-part series in which we sent one of our copywriters Riley on a mission to open a checking account at 10 different banks to find out how they make their customers feel, learn what they’re doing well and see what they’re doing poorly.
We’ve kept the banks anonymous to protect the integrity of the project—hopefully, you’ll see your institution in some of them. Hover or click on the bank names to learn more about them as you read. If this is your first time reading, start here to learn more about Riley and this project—10 Banks, 10 Accounts.
Hey, Riley here.
Last post I talked about my walk-in experiences at each of our 10 banks and discussed some common denominators of banks who were successful and banks who fell flat in these areas. If you haven’t read that, you can do so here.
What you’re reading now, The Full Report, are my observations that may not have made it into that post. Think of them as my field notes.
Top 10 Megabank // Billions & Billions (& Billions)
This experience was entirely saved by the person attending me. “Amanda” was so much better than what I’d experienced of the bank both online and in person. Aside from her professionalism, this particular Top 10 Megabank branch felt slap-dash and unprofessional, a feeling that included other employees I’d encountered at the branch. Amanda’s service was fantastic, but I felt her service was an exception to the bank’s policy—not an example of it. I’d follow Amanda if she switched to another bank. Took about 30 minutes.
Overall impression: Felt like I got lucky with a competent bank employee.
Super Regional // $200-500B
The building was bright and open, but the offices were walled off by cubicle-type dividers. My attendant, “Dennis,” was fantastic, offering the perfect mix of personal and professional. He was transparent about using Super Regional’s online checking account directory to help me make my decision. He didn’t do much upselling, but he briefly mentioned a few credit card and savings account options. If I were interested in those products down the road, I’d definitely call him. Took about 45 minutes.
Overall impression: Super Regional paired a thorough onboarding policy with a standout employee and really made my walk-in experience spectacular. I felt like I found a great financial professional at a great bank.
Regional Hotshot // $100-250B
“Camilla,” the employee who helped me, was extremely thorough and friendly. She asked where I currently bank now and what I like about my current bank. Regional Hotshot believes in financial education and Camilla walked me through Regional Hotshot’s four financial areas—checking, savings, insurance, and retirement. After signing me up for my checking account, she upsold me a savings account, etc. The entire process took about 50 minutes.
Overall impression: Very solid. I felt like Regional Hotshot has the structure in place to help me better my financial situation.
Neobank // $100-250B
There’s no physical branch, but I did call to set up my account. My call began with an automated call directory, but it wasn’t long. After just two prompts, I found myself talking to a real person. The attendant who helped me, “Sherry,” was extremely cordial and efficient. All she needed was my username and password to log into the application I’d started online. Took about 10 minutes.
Overall impression: Amazed that such a big financial institution can feel so personable over the phone.
Bank Absorber // $25-50B
Bank Absorber felt a lot like Super Regional. It felt newer, and the physical space was very similar. The website was one of my favorites, so I expected a good in-person experience, which was the opposite of what I got. My attendant truly phoned it in, not even going over the various checking account options Bank Absorber offers. Absolutely nothing stuck out in an appealing way, and if Bank Absorber does have a formal onboarding policy, it sure didn’t feel like it. Took about 30 minutes.
Overall impression: Kind of amazing, actually, in a bad way.
Regional Creeper //$10-25B
The branch was impressive and new, but in a way that was cognizant and respectful of the cool old mill buildings in nearby downtown. This gave me high hopes, as Regional Creeper’s website really leaned into the bank’s sense of regionalism. It was cool to see it play out in person. Regional Creeper was the only bank whose actual products surprised me. The mid-tier checking account comes with a $250 credit if you break or update your cell phone. Also, Regional Creeper offers a $5 grace amount on overdrafts—meaning you won’t pay an overdraft fee if the overage is less than $5. However, my attendant was underwhelming. She had trouble working the software and did little to fill the silence. She didn’t ask about my background or try to upsell me anything. Took about an hour.
Overall impression: It was fine but took forever. Regional Creeper didn’t inspire any loyalty.
Explosive Growth // $10-25B
The branch was warm and inviting inside, complete with a homey seating area that included TVs and coffee. A banner behind the teller counter touted the local minor league sports team, and I’m a sucker for businesses that support local. I was disappointed by my attendant, an older lady who never introduced herself or asked me anything about my financial situation. She got snippy when I didn’t have an ID with my current address on it. Took about 30 minutes.
Overall impression: Ugh, bummer.
Tweener // $10-25B
The in-person experience wasn’t as bad as online, though the physical space felt a little worn out and low-tech. The banker there, “Kelly,” gave me two checking account options, which feels fine, since two of the five accounts Tweener offers are student and senior. She didn’t ask about my background or my goals, but she felt sincere when she tried to upsell me to an interest-bearing checking account. Side note: they had a group of young employees getting their training in the branch I visited, and their supervising employees were doing a fantastic job at walking them through branch functions.
Overall impression: A totally middle-of-the-road experience.
Footprint Protector // $10-25B
Footprint Protector is the one where they signed me up at a desk in the lobby, which didn’t bother me, really. The employee who helped me was minimally conversational, and she sort of assumed I knew what I was getting myself into. There was no upsell or going over different checking accounts. If I was going to ask the employee who helped me open my checking account about taking out a mortgage or car loan, I would have had no way of knowing whether or not she’d have been helpful. Took about 25 minutes.
Overall impression: Very cut-and-dry. If you’re looking for a no-questions-asked experience, this is the bank for you. It definitely wasn’t the bank for me.
The Little One // $2-5B
Over the past year or so, The Little One has been deploying small, modular branches in high-traffic areas of town. This one almost felt like a shipping container: a pod just air-dropped there overnight, eschewing the traditional bank stereotype for a modern, efficient feel. The Little One backs its brand with investments in tech, like deposit ATMs equipped with 24-hour video tellers. My branch attendant wasn’t very confident. Still, he clearly wanted to do his job right, which went a long way with me. He didn’t upsell me, but he did thoroughly explain the checking account I was interested in. I left with a swag bag full of branded trinkets, a few of which were actually useful. Took about 30 minutes.
Overall impression: Convenient bank with lots of branches. Probably great for basic, everyday banking, but if I needed something more in-depth, I’d go somewhere else.