Where should I bank in Ellicott City?

After posting lots of information it’s time for me to turn around and ask my few readers a question: I’m currently considering establishing a new bank account—not replacing my current account but supplementing it as a dedicated account out of which to pay recurring expenses. Those of you who’ve traveled Route 40 west of US 29 know that there a lot of banks on that stretch, and there must be one for me. (I’d like to bank with a bank that has a local physical presence.)

Here are my choices, as far as I can tell:

  • Baltimore County Savings Bank
  • Bank of America
  • CapitalOne Bank
  • The Columbia Bank
  • Eastern Savings Bank
  • First Mariner Bank
  • Howard Bank
  • M&T Bank
  • SunTrust Bank
  • Wachovia Bank

(There’s also SECU Credit Union, but I’m not eligible to join it.)

I pay almost all bills online, so I’m very interested in the strength of that offering. (For example, I need to be able to make online payments to people who only accept checks.) I don’t plan to get a mortgage with them, but getting a car loan is possible in future. As noted above, I want a bank with a local branch so I can walk in and deal with real live people if any issues arise. (I also might get a safety deposit box at some point as well.) I’m also willing to support local or regional banks in preference to national banks, as long as I’m not giving up anything in terms of service, etc.

Does anyone out there have decided opinions on which bank I should pick? Any of these banks you think are really great? Any I should avoid like the plague? Feel free to sound off in the comments section or (if you’d prefer) send me email at hecker@hecker.org. Thanks in advance for any responses you care to make!

16 thoughts on “Where should I bank in Ellicott City?

  1. GM

    Avoid- Bank of America-lousy company in general
    Eastern Savings-rocky future
    First Mariner-rocky future

    M&T has 2 branches in the area you are targeting and their website is decent-the Bethany branch seems more personal. Wachovia has many locations and a decent website. Capital One is the former Chevy Chase-many locations in the metro area also

    1. hecker Post author

      Thanks for the advice, especially about banks with uncertain futures. K Bank on that stretch recently closed, so I’m sensitive to that.

  2. Bill WIlson

    Don’t give up on credit unions – they are almost always more responsive and consumer friendly. I have my credit card and mortgage with SECU and it has saved me big bucks.

    You can join the APL Credit Union – “APL Federal Credit Union is open to anyone who lives, works (or regularly conducts business in) or attends school in Howard County, Maryland. Immediate family members of current credit union members are also eligible for membership – even if they do not live or work in Howard County.”

    1. hecker Post author

      Thanks to you and Mo for the recommendation. The APL credit union is not quite as close to me (unless they have an Ellicott City branch I don’t know about), but I will definitely check them out.

  3. Sharon Gilbert

    I have used Howard Bank for campaign accounts. While their customer service is great, their website is not easy to navigate.

    For my personal accounts I like APL Credit Union. Anyone who lives, works, worships (etc) in Howard County can be a member. There are 2 locations now (one near Apple Ford, the other beside APL on Johns Hopkins Rd). Hours are convenient, customer service is great and their website is really easy to use…and all the perks of belonging to a credit union.

    1. hecker Post author

      Sharon, thanks to you also for the recommendations. I knew about the APL Credit Union location next to APL, but had forgotten about the one further north.

  4. Local Broker

    Why not consider opening a fully featured brokerage account? At firms like Wells Fargo Advisors, you get full access to all of the Wells and Wachovia branches and ATMs, as well as the advice of a professional. Best of all, the advisor is notified before you bounce a check and can call you to make arrangements if you make a cash flow error. So it’s like getting an old fashioned banking relationship.

  5. felix

    well if you live on main st and don’t have a car. don’t bank anywhere. there are no banks in old ec. Hell, there are only two atms? 3? they dont work anyway. do Howard if you have a car. i think Howard refunds you if you use an atm belonging to another bank? well at least at howard they are nice. pnc peeps are nice as well. wachoves,ungh? well Fargo please. bofa forget it. m&t folded right? use a mattress!

  6. Elizabeth Belli

    You may be eligible to join SECU and not know it. Check our site (www.secumd.org) Relatives of SECU members, state/county employees, students and alumni of md schools and employees of hundreds of private companies are eligible to join. 2 branches in/near EC (Rt. 40 and one opening at 175 and Snowden River on 2/7) – SECU Product Manager and Ellicott City resident

  7. johngordonboyle

    I’ve been banking with the Route 40 branch of the evolving FNBoM/Allfirt/M&T most of my life. Solid customer service, but their e-banking doesn’t knock my socks off.

  8. Paula Woerner

    I would recommend, 1st Mariner Bank. To begin with they are locally own bank. I have been employed by banks for 40 years and retired from Wachovia. I can attest the Ellicott City Office of 1st Mariner is the most competent and friendly branch on the Rt. 40 Corrider. Check them out and you will agree.

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