Edit: I thought Umpqua only had two branches. That is beyond not true. My new bank has WAY more than two branches. They’re all over Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California. Check it out for yourself: http://www.umpquabank.com/locator/new/ Ok, carry on with the post. :-)
I am now a member at Umpqua Bank, “the greatest bank in the world”. And I have to say, they’re pretty cool. Here’s how it happened:
The regular readers here know I’ve been on a quest since September of 2011 to find a new place to move my banking. At first it was about our “too big to fail” banks and their attitudes around customer service, fee rollouts, etc. I decided to move out of Wells Fargo. It was a difficult choice in a way, because my family banked at Wells for years when I was a kid, and they have branches everywhere I have people.
But I have been learning that where you have your money matters ethically, even if you don’t have much.
I started by looking to join a credit union. Boy did that backfire on me. None of the credit unions wanted me. Once because my credit score wasn’t high enough (looking at you Salal, with your minimum 600 score requirement). Another time Chexsystems blocked me out.
So, after feeling like the school nerd trying in vain to get a date with the prom queen, I sucked it up again and started looking at local banks.
I tried looking based on merit and offers, but it just became too much for my brain, so then proximity to the apartment became the defining factor. Umpqua has a branch about six or eight blocks away, so off I went. The first thing I noticed is that their branch office is really nice. It feels more like someone’s living room than a bank. There was coffee, and a table set up with baked goods for sale for a local youth fundraiser. When I sat down with Eric at his desk, he had a sign up letting me know about the nonprofit he spends his time volunteering for and why he chose that particular one.
Even though that all made me hopeful, I still have to admit I was not the friendliest person while I asked about opening an account. In fact, I actually got up to leave four different times, assuming that this wouldn’t be any different than my experience with the credit unions. But Eric and the other bankers were really patient, and asked me to stay, and got me to let them run the stuff anyway.
And it turns out that I had what it takes to be a member at their bank! Finally, someone else wants me and my money!!!
So now I have a checking account at a local bank. I admit it does make me a little nervous that Umpqua has a total of two branches in the whole world. One is six blocks from my apartment. The other, to my delight, is on Broadway in the heart of the gayborhood.
But it also excites me. You see, I found out that when you bank locally, more of the money stays where you live, and it has more spending and lending power. It’s nice to know, actually, since I don’t have much to begin with. :-)
So far I’ve switched over my disability deposit, disconnected wells fargo from paypal and my ally online account, and closed my wells savings account. Once the things that are pending clear, I can move my checking over and close everything out. It’s become even more important now that I know Wells Fargo is invested in private prisons. As far as I’m concerned, that’s slavery and I want nothing to do with it.
My experience with Umpqua was awesome, and if you live in the Seattle area, I would urge you to check it out. They also gave me coffee and chocolate, and you can’t beat that. :-)