Free Tools Are Often Overlooked

Several months ago I decided to join the 21st century by purchasing the iPhone 4. I wouldn’t consider myself technologically illiterate, but neither am I on the cutting edge. I am learning everyday about the phenomenal capacity of these new smart phones. As a rough estimate, I’m lucky if I use 5% of the phone’s capacity. Amazingly, I’m failing to take full advantage of the technology in my possession mostly because “I don’t know what I don’t know.” At this point, you may be asking…what does this have to do with banking? Bear with me, I’ll make the connection.

In many ways, banking mirrors other businesses that strive to stay relevant and competitive. The financial industry continues to offer benefits to clients in an effort to attract new business and retain current relationships. So, the question is, “Are you taking full advantage of the benefits your bank has to offer, or are you only accessing 5% of the available products and services?”

Often there are free services that are offered with all accounts. In most cases, online banking is a complimentary add-on to an account, which can translate to savings over time. The direct savings is simply the cost of stamps. By my estimate, the average American probably pays about 10 bills a month. Sending payments the traditional way will cost over $50 a year just for postage. The indirect cost is your time. Once your online account is set-up, the time paying bills could be as low as 5 minutes. Are you sold on the idea yet?

Another example is investment reviews. Many of us have investment accounts in the form of 401Ks, IRAs, or a non-qualified account. Many banks offer complementary reviews to look over your investment strategy and account diversification. They will help you understand your risk tolerance and methods to help your money grow by looking at options that are tax free, tax deferred, or even taxable depending upon your current and future goals. It is fair to say that they will try to earn your business and move your accounts, but regardless of your decision and their perceived competence, you can benefit from their knowledge and invest accordingly.

Many banks have premier accounts for their clients who may have greater-than-average deposits or moderate loan balances. These accounts could be for deposit or loan balances greater than $25,000. Some of the benefits that come along with these accounts could be higher interest rates on deposits, discounted loan rates and fees, and decreased foreign ATM fees, just to name a few examples. In many instances, the more of your banking relationship you give to a bank the more benefits they will return to you. They also will be more apt to negotiate loan or deposit rates depending on the situation.

Many times, the only way to inquire about these benefits is to ask…. So ask! Some banks proactively strive to help clients achieve economic success and financial security by asking open-end questions and exploring ways to help clients save money or time; something all of us could use more of! My question to you is…”Are you taking advantage of the services your bank has to offer?”


About Byron Pitts: Byron works for BB&T in Berryville as the Retail City Executive of Clarke County. He spent his childhood in Gainesville Virginia before moving to the Shenandoah Valley in 2000. He is a graduate of Shenandoah University with a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in accounting and marketing. He is also currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University.


  1. Bobs Sports Store says:

    The $50. savings a year does sound good, but one has to take into consideration the monthly cost of the internet service used to do online banking. Just saying, we have all these high tech items to make our lives better, cellphones, internet, satellite/cable TV, to name a few, but there is a fee attached to each one. Question is are we better off forking over that extra money each month, or living in ” yesteryear” and sticking the money in an account?

  2. The worst thing about computerizing everything. When the system crashes or is down for any number of reasons. you have no way to access your info. Paper, pencil and books is the way to go for me. They are always avaiable.

  3. mayor quinsby says:

    Your comments exude palpable collegiate properties! I, for one, would love to use a pencil if readily available. I must admit, if a person has a “AVAIABLE” pencil, he/she would use it to rid the world of stupid cumputer stuff. [I know I would]
    Don’t get me wrong…..I can’t live without paper. TP and Towels rule! I can, however, live without pencils and books. Why should the world feed a society that promotes killing trees, just so people can read? I’m fine with “E-Books”, however….,minus a few power outages, the internet is the way/wave of the future.
    Please, feel free to respond via the internet.