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Jewish World Review
Are you receiving what you deserve from your bank?
Loyalty pays ---- literally
Being a bank customer can be a little like going out with someone who only wants you for your money. But if you're willing to commit to one bank with a chunk of cash, you may find yourself being courted in style. The country's largest banks offer their most attractive pricing and perks to customers who have tens of thousands of dollars in linked accounts: checking, savings and investment accounts, loans, and credit cards.
To get the best benefits, you'll need to tuck at least $25,000 into such relationship accounts. Benefits typically include access to enhanced customer service (sometimes with a dedicated banker or team), breaks on fees, higher interest rates on bank accounts, and lower rates on loans. You also get breaks on checking overdraft fees and charges for account services such as money orders, cashier's checks and wire transfers.
If you're a hands-on investor, you may appreciate the commission-free trades in self-directed investing accounts (up to a monthly or annual limit) that Bank of America provides to its Platinum Privileges clients and Wells Fargo to its PMA customers. You could also get a break when you take out a mortgage or other loan. For example, a member of Citibank's relationship service, Citigold, can get up to $2,500 off closing costs or 0.375 percent off the interest rate on a first mortgage.
The largest banks also have private divisions that offer exclusive benefits and wealth-management services to the very well heeled. For instance, Chase customers with total assets of about $500,000 to $5 million who are willing to keep at least $250,000 with Chase are eligible for Chase Private Client, which includes access to a team headed by a dedicated banker and a J.P. Morgan adviser.
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Citibank provides its high-level customers with access to events, says Venu Krishnamurthy, president of Citigold Wealth Management. Those customers may include members of the Citigold program, which is aimed at clients with about $100,000 to a few million dollars in assets, as well as the wealthiest customers who use Citi's private banking service.
But you don't always need to come up with big bucks to qualify for perks. PNC Bank, for instance, offers a variety of packages with manageable minimum-balance thresholds. To avoid the $10 monthly fee for its relationship rewards Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend account, you must have a total of $1,500 in checking and savings accounts; make a $2,000 monthly direct deposit; or have a combined balance of $10,000 in several accounts, including certificates of deposit and mortgages. Perks include free check orders and up to $8 in monthly reimbursement of ATM surcharges by other institutions.
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Lisa Gerstner is Associate editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance.
All contents copyright 2013 Kiplinger's Personal Finance . Distributed by Tribune Media Services. All rights reserved.