GE Capital Bank: a (reluctantly) glowing review

GE Capital Bank: a (reluctantly) glowing review

Published 11/11/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Peter Andrew

Pushing 20 years ago, I bought a new television on credit through one of GE's numerous financial arms. One month, I somehow transgressed, and the whole account was passed to a collection agency. I judged that a massive overreaction to such a minor misdemeanor, and promised myself not only that I'd never buy an aircraft engine from the group, but also that I'd one day exact revenge.

So I was very happy when my editor asked me to review GE Capital Bank. A hatchet job would be a great opportunity to fulfill my promise, even if it was in the form of a dish served very, very cold. Sadly for me, I can't find a single bad thing to say about the bank.

About GE Capital Bank

The first thing to know about GE Capital Bank (GECB) is that it's not GE Capital Retail Bank (GECRB). They're both owned by GE Capital Corp., and ultimately by General Electric, a.k.a. GE, but besides that they're entirely separate.

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The real story behind credit unions

Published 9/13/13

The real story behind credit unions By Justin Boyle

In August, I visited a professor I'd gotten to know back in college. Her son had turned 16 in February, and she had co-signed with him on an auto loan from a credit union. But now that the income from his summer job was about to slow down, he was balking on his promise to keep up the payments.

"I shouldn't even have to pay them!" he told his very patient mother. "It's not even a real bank!"

At the end of the conversation (inasmuch as that sort of conversation with a teenager ever ends), the boy did acquiesce to continuing his loan payments. But nobody explained to him what exactly a credit union was, so here's a little help. Matthew, this one's for you.

How credit unions work

According to the World Council of Credit Unions, credit unions go back almost 300 years, to mid-19th century Germany.

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Should you switch to an online-only bank?

Published 4/24/13

Should you switch to an online-only bank? By Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Many of us bank online today without a second thought. I use online bill pay to handle the electric bill each month, and regularly check my accounts and transfer funds without leaving my house. And while I haven't accessed my bank account from my mobile phone, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve, 21 percent of mobile phone users have accessed their accounts through mobile applications in the last year.

But when my husband recently suggested moving our funds to an online-only bank account, I was a little surprised. Each year we sit together and review the rates and terms on all our accounts to make sure we are getting the best deal possible. While looking at the information, my husband pointed out that our credit union offered an online account with a higher interest rate than we were currently earning and much lower fees.

But when I looked at the fine print, I realized that this account would not grant us free access to our local branch and would require us to give up our checkbook. Not all online-only banks require you to give up your checkbook -- many now offer check-writing privileges just like an ordinary bank -- but that was the deal with this particular account.

Because we were already comfortable using online banking, our main concern was what we would lose in services and convenience by changing accounts. Here are three key questions that we asked ourselves when trying to make the decision.

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Is your bank's customer service going down the tubes?

Published 11/8/11  (Modified 12/2/11)

Is your bank's customer service going down the tubes? By Justin Boyle

We've all heard "the customer is always right." You might go as far as to say that we live in the age of the customer. Customer service is emphasized as a driver of business success in several industries in the U.S., and companies tend to take that to heart. I spent a few years in the customer service trade, myself, helping put a pleasant face and voice on computer support, sandwiches and Cadillacs.

Nearly every worker in a commercial environment, from butchers to bakers to BLT makers, is trained to consider the customer first. With this being the case, why are members of the online community crying out about poor customer service from the best banks? I got a hold of an expert in the field of customer service, as well as a banking executive, to try and sort it out...

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Does your bank want you off their books?

Published 11/1/11  (Modified 12/2/11)

Does your bank want you off their books? By Justin Boyle

When I moved to Texas, I needed a new checking account. I had previously lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and had almost exclusively used a local credit union to store and borrow money. Wells Fargo was the only option I could find that offered a no-fee account (at the time, in 2004, they did), so I entered the world of the national bank customer.

I harbor no regrets about opening that account, especially since it served to establish in-state residency and made it possible for me to afford to go back to school the following year. Now, though, some Wells Fargo customers might begin to have second thoughts about their choice of banking institution. Let's take a look at why.

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5 financial facts of life every parent should teach

Published 8/11/11

5 financial facts of life every parent should teach By Richard Barrington

Were you taught the facts of life by your parents, or did you have to pick them up here and there and by experience?

No, this isn't referring to those facts of life, but to some of the basic financial skills just about everyone needs as they go out into the world. Here are five financial facts you should make sure your children understand before you help them open their first bank accounts:

1. Smart shopping makes a huge difference in banking

Your children may think of smart shopping as a way to occasionally save a few dollars, but there is a whole new world waiting for them when it comes time to find a bank account. Because a bank account is there every day, either earning interest or incurring fees, the right choices add up to big bucks over the course of a year.

For example, many banks, led by some of the biggest names in the business, have been raising fees on checking accounts. At the same time, free checking does still exist at some banks. The difference between a $12 monthly fee and no fee comes to $144 a year--a huge chunk of what the typical student is likely to have in a checking account.

Similarly, shopping for a high interest savings account means making more money each and every day. "High interest savings account" might seem like a contradiction of terms these days, but everything is relative. With average savings account rates at 0.15 percent, a Read the full article »