I think banks are behind the times

Okay, so I may catch some flack for this post but I’m throwing it out there anyway. I’m shopping for a new credit card, mainly to replace the one I am using right now. I have no disrespect for Capital One, they’ve been great to me, but I’d like to find something that can give me some kind of perk; Frequent flyer miles would be nice, but the one I have now just does nothing for me. I don’t plan on running up balances on more than one card, I just want more for the money I’m spending. I’ve been working on my credit, but I don’t think it’s gotten much better. I need to have some professional give me credit advice, but I think that’s a whole other issue in and of itself. On to my actual subject here; I think banks are behind the times with what’s out there, technology-wise. Here are a few questions that should sum this up.

a) Why do checks take 2-3 days to “clear” ? I mean, let’s break this down: Person A, who banks at Bank A, writes a check for an amount to Person B, who banks at Bank B. Shouldn’t there be a system in place for Bank B’s computers to check with Person A’s account at Bank A to see if the funds are available, and if so, transfer them into Person A’s account at that bank and be done with it? It seems simple enough. I’ve heard people talk about banks physically mailing checks to other banks and whatnot, which explains the “clearing” process, but that’s so archaic. I mean, who sends things to people in the mail anymore? Isn’t everything electronic?? Why isn’t it?! This is 2010!

b) Why don’t all credit card applications filled out online give you a decision, right then and there? – This one really ticks me off. I’m not going to lie, I don’t have stellar credit, but I’m working on fixing it. It irks me to see these ads showing how you can receive a decision in “seconds” by filling out the application form online, then you get a message saying that a decision could not be established, and the response will be sent in writing…VIA SNAIL-MAIL, within “x number of business days.” WHY?! Again, this is 2010. You could e-mail me the “no” letter, and save a damn tree. It’s fairly obvious that if the application didn’t go through, it means I was denied, so why do I have to wait for a letter in the mail? Letters can get lost in the mail, an e-mail can just magically make it’s way into my inbox and be done with it. Also, why couldn’t a representative call me to follow up on the application, and thus give me a decision over the phone? Why are we taking the “less green” approach and wasting paper, just tell me I didn’t get it instead of making me wait for an archaic notification, the information contained within I already know, since it’s fairly obvious. I’m sure there may be some laws about having things in writing, etc; That’s all well and good, but why waste my time? If I didn’t get it, just bloody tell me I didn’t get it! Send me a letter in the mail, fine, but tell me off the bat what the deal is instead of the ambiguous “You will receive a response within a certain number of business days.” – I had that happen with the Capital One card I have now, but they needed some additional information before they could complete the application. It’d have been nice if they said “We need more info to complete your request” instead of “You’ll receive a notification in such and such business days”, because at least that would show a glimmer of hope. I have no hope right now, I’m just annoyed.

c) This is more specific to the iPhone, but For crying out loud make a decent iPhone app!– It irks me significantly that banks don’t put any effort into their mobile services. I have my iPhone handy more often than my laptop, and it’d be nice if I can have a nice app with which to do my banking. I’m not referring to any third-party apps, I’m talking apps specifically from each bank. For example, Chase has a really nice iPhone app, which even lets you photograph your checks to have them deposited into your account. Deposit without going to an ATM – that’s AWESOME! Now, B of A on the other hand, has an iPhone app but it’s nothing but a wrapper for their Mobile website, which stinks. It’s laggy, the user interface isn’t all that streamlined, and it’s SLOW. I’m sure the slowness may be partially due to encryption, which I’m totally fine with, but I’m sure there is a better way to do things that wouldn’t require an abysmal experience. For comparison, I have no idea how quick Chase’s iPhone app is, I’ve just seen some demos on TV (but then again, those TV demos are probably not true-to-life anyway).

Getting back to my original intent here, I wanted a credit card with perks. I’m looking at the Chase card for Continental Airlines, so I can start earning frequent flier miles to add to my existing pool of umpteen-thousand miles. I’d like to be able to use the miles for first-class upgrades and whatnot. I spend money more often than I fly, so I might as well get something for it, eh?

I applied for said credit card, and got one of those ambiguous “We’re not going to tell you right away that you’ve been denied, we’re going to make you wait a month to get it in the mail.” notices, so I’m not counting on that coming through for me. As an alternative, I can go with the Continental Airlines Debit card, but that would require opening a Chase checking account and having my direct deposit go there instead, which would have me wind up switching banks entirely. I’m really not interested in doing that, because Bank of America has been great to me for the time I’ve been with them. I also get a discount on my car insurance through some sort of partnership between BofA and Geico, so I’d lose that by switching. No good there. I’ve switched banks in the past, it’s a pain in the rear, and I really don’t think I want to go through all of that just to earn frequent flier miles. B of A hasn’t pissed me off, so I have no reason to leave them.

These gripes of mine are relatively minor, but they’re just annoying enough for me to rant about them here. I’m sure the banks have encryption and data protection higher on the priority list than what I’ve talked about, and that’s fine too. I’m just hoping things improve, it’d be nice to have better and more convenient access to my banking with all that’s out there.

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