ACSI: Banks are now equal to credit unions in customer service

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The unthinkable has happened: Banks are now offering the same level of customer service that was once the hallmark of credit unions.

That’s according to the Finance and Insurance Report 2018 from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)!

RELATED: Big credit scoring change could give millions of people a 20-point boost

What’s behind the decline in satisfaction with credit unions?

The latest ACSI tally reveals a stunning trend that’s taken shape over the past 12 months.

Credit union customer satisfaction has dropped 1.2% year-over-year. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction of banking customers has held steady during the same period.

That has leveled the playing field between banks and credit unions. Looking at the banking sector as a whole, both banks and credit unions now score an 81 out of a possible 100 points in customer satisfaction.

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ACSI results

A big part of the decline that’s besieged the credit unions is being blamed on an emerging digital gap.

“Digital is everything right now,” according to David VanAmburg, Managing Director at the ACSI. “With the boom in mobile banking apps, customers don’t even have to go into branches. Depositing checks or applying for a loan through an app is more appealing than the charm of the old-school, small-town customer service offered by credit unions.”

ACSI: Capital One, SunTrust, Chase top the tally

Now, turning our attention to banks for a moment, the ACSI list is topped by a trio of heavy hitters that you don’t immediately equate with great customer service: Capital One, SunTrust and Chase. And trailing not too far behind is Citibank!

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Here’s how the major players in the banking industry shake out on the ACSI’s 100-point scale:

  • Capital One (81)
  • SunTrust (81)
  • Chase (80)
  • TD Bank (80)
  • Citibank (79)
  • Regions (79)
  • U.S. Bank (79)
  • BB&T (79)
  • Citizens (78)
  • PNC (78)
  • KeyBank (77)
  • Bank of America (76)
  • Fifth Third (75)
  • Wells Fargo (74)

Notice that you’ll still find Bank of America and Wells Fargo at the bottom of the tally, the latter receiving the lowest score of the bunch.

For as much as things change over time, some things always stay the same!

The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2018 is based on interviews with more than 25,000 customers conducted between October 2017 and September 2018.

Don’t overlook the online banks

If you’re shocked that banks and credit unions are now at parity, might we suggest a third alternative in the online banks?

“Recently, I’ve had to rethink banking,” money expert Clark Howard admits. “It used to be a two-horse race between banks and credit unions. But now online banks are the new high-interest place to bank.”

For example, Barclays has an online savings account that currently pays 2.05% APY — that’s 22 times the national average!

Want an even higher rate from an online bank? Try CIT Bank which is offering 2.40% APY on its Savings Builder account with some minimum requirements — like depositing $100 a month — to meet.

And the even better news is that interest rates are only likely to go up from here.

The next uptick we see may come next month when the Federal Reserve has its final meeting of 2018. The Fed is expected to raise rates yet again, which in turn should bump up what you earn in your online bank account even more!

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