A Quick Guide to Squid-Free Banking

Over on Calculated Risk, a commenter asked:

So I have a checking account with Citi. Use it mainly for direct deposit and some bill paying. If I wanted to move to a small local bank, how would I find a safe one in my area(LA/OC)? I’ve tried searching online to find some kind of list or ranking of small banks, but could never get anywhere.

I replied with the following:

Three suggestions, but you’ll have to find what works for you on your own:

First, you can check with the National Credit Union Administration: Find a Credit Union
… if you are so inclined, you can actually view each credit union’s detailed financials. The credit unions are nonprofits (AFAIK) and tend to lend locally. They are all federally insured, much as banks have FDIC insurance. You can even check each CU’s local vs. nonlocal lending in the financials, after doing some homework.

Second, you might try looking on bankrate.com to find out which banks are lending in your area. Some of them will be small local banks.

Third, you might try here: Find Bank (and enter something like “metro:los angeles”). The list that comes up will be sorted by size (total loans, right hand column). Scroll down to find the smaller banks, then look at the detailed bank reports on the site… try to find banks with a lot of “green” stats (healthier than average).

Finally, when you do pick a bank, make sure they’re not on the list that CR posts weekly, or on this list: Troubled Bank List

Good hunting!

P.S. Another commenter chimed in with http://moveyourmoney.info/ . Personally I think my method is more “safe and sound”, but it also requires more work. The good news is that there’s clearly a market for this kind of information, so I expect more sites will be supplying it!

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