When it comes to seeking financial advice or conducting more complex financial matters, you should always have the option of meeting with your bank.
Depending on your personal and financial circumstances, signing up with a lender who has an extensive network of branches, ATM networks and Bank@Post facilities could actually be more beneficial than signing up with a online lender who just offers a cheap rate.
An online lender typically doesn't have any branches to save on overhead costs, so the savings are passed onto the customer or shareholder in the case of the a credit union. However, in the case of bigger banks, the higher interest rates are reflected in the facilities available for you, the consumer.
Compare home loans with a good branch network
How does a home loan with a good branch network benefit me?
When it comes to more complex transactions, like converting foreign cash, submitting a legal document to your lender in writing or refinancing, having the benefit of speaking to someone face to face can eliminate any ambiguities. You can clearly communicate your need and objectives to your bank and have the opportunity to follow up with any questions.
There is also the convenience of visiting your local branch that may be down the road should any problems arise or if you need to change your details. You can also use your local ATM which may be a couple of blocks away to avoid any ATM fees.
If any problems or issues come up, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you can visit your local branch to sort it out. The same applies for borrowers who haven't or may not want to adapt to online banking - depositing cheques and using passbook are still common transactions.
Statistics show that more and more customers are going into their local branches to learn more about online banking. Lenders often have a FAQ section on their website that explain how to bank on their sites online. There are also community-based peer to peer answers that can help you with the more technical aspects of customer service.
How do I know if my lender has a good branch network?
Before you commit to a lender, enquire about what facilities are available. A good branch network will typically consist of the following:
- Branches. These are physical locations that you can visit should you require any assistance with your home loan. There are usually a number of tellers to assist with everyday transactions along with other specialist consultants. A good branch should have extensive opening hours, a coin count machine, specialist ATMs where you can deposit cheques, a foreign exchange centre, online support centre, friendly customer service and foreign language support.
- ATM network. ATM let you conduct simple transactions without the need to queue up. Typically you can withdraw funds, but specialist ATMs will let you deposit cash and cheques, let you withdraw money without a card and some even let you deposit coins.
- Bank@Post. With over 3,200 Bank@Post facilities across the country, this is also another alternative that your bank may offer. If you don't live close to a branch, but close to an Australia Post, you can typically conduct most of your transactions at the post office.
- Telephone banking. You can use phone banking to check your account balances, transfer funds and pay bills when you'd like. Usually there are two options: self phone banking and staff assisted phone banking. Staff assisted banking tends to attract a fee.
- Mobile banking. You can use your eligible smart phone to download your bank's app to transfer funds, view your account balance and pay bills. New technology has also provided other services like international money transfers, changing your card PIN and paying of items using your phone.
Are there any pros and considerations?
- Peace of mind knowing that you can speak to anyone at anytime about your home loan
- Some banks are even open on Saturdays
- Easy access to ATMs for everyday banking
- You can conduct complex transactions at your convenience
- If you're uncomfortable with online banking, you can continue doing your banking like you always have
- Banks can charge a fee for staff assisted transactions and charge higher rates
- Lack of branches in rural areas