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How Banks Rate for Customer Service (From CHECKBOOK, Fall 2011/Winter 2012)
Go to Ratings of 46 Bay Area Banks


You pay bills online. You help save rainforests by having statements emailed to you. You make deposits, transfer funds from one account to another, and even open new accounts without ever speaking to anyone at your bank. But sometimes you have a question. Or need advice. Or want to execute a transaction that just can’t be handled electronically. That’s when you need good old-fashioned service. 

Although ratings we receive from area banking customers indicate many banks have apparently lost the human touch, we’ve also found you can still find quality service at others. Our Ratings Tables show the results from our surveys of area CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports subscribers in which we asked them to rate banks and credit unions they have used “inferior,” “adequate,” or “superior” on various aspects of customer service. For each of these aspects of service, our Ratings Tables report the percent of customers who rated each institution “superior” (as opposed to “adequate” or “inferior”). We have reported results for all banks and credit unions for which we received 10 or more ratings. (For more information on our customer survey and other research methods, click here.)

At the time of our last full, published article, for “knowledge of staff,” for example, Borel Private Bank & Trust Company, Charles Schwab Bank, First Bank, First National Bank of Northern California, and USAA Federal Savings Bank were all rated “superior” by more than 80 percent of their surveyed customers. On the other hand, Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo each received “superior” ratings for this aspect of service from fewer than 45 percent of its surveyed customers. 

Even among the area’s largest banks, there is substantial bank-to-bank variation. For example, Bank of the West was rated “superior” for “overall service” by 70 percent of its surveyed customers, compared to only 35 percent for Chase, 43 percent for Bank of America, 45 percent for Citibank, and 46 percent for Wells Fargo. 

Our Ratings Tables also report our count of the number of branches each bank has in the Bay Area, and in which parts of the area the bank has branches. Keep in mind that locations open and close frequently. Also be aware that at many credit unions, customers can use “shared branches” to make a deposit, make a withdrawal, transfer funds, etc. When we made our counts of branch locations for each bank, we did not take into account shared branch arrangements. 

Go to Ratings of 46 Bay Area Banks Back to top