Consumer Report: How to get customer service if you use online-only banks

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — Online-only banks can be popular alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar branches, offering things like no overdraft fees and early pay options. But if a problem arises with your account, you can’t just walk into a branch.

As Consumer Reports found out, getting a hold of someone to help you may be more difficult than you think.

By offering zero fees, early pay options and higher interest rates on checking and savings accounts, it’s no wonder why many people are opening online-only bank accounts.

“Online banks can be attractive options,” said Octavio Blanco, Consumer Reports Money Editor. 

Blanco writes about personal finance for Consumer Reports, and says that there can be severe drawbacks especially when you need help.

“If you need help, reaching an actual human at the company to help you may not be easy,” Blanco said. 

If you find yourself needing to get an issue resolved with your online-only account, you might have to get creative.

“Try to find the company’s main number online, and ask to speak to the office of the CEO. Explain your situation clearly and remember to be nice no matter how frustrated or angry you get,” Blanco advised. 

Another trick: head to social media. Send a direct message to the company on Twitter instead of a public tweet.

“Give the company a chance to fix the problem before you make a scene publicly. They may appreciate that and it may give you a quicker and more helpful response, said Blanco. 

Chime, the biggest online-only bank, told CR that the company plans to offer full 24/7 customer service.

If you’re still having problems contacting someone, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If you feel you’ve gotten bad service, make sure you report it to the Better Business Bureau.

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