Why Doctors Should Ditch Their Banks

By Jonathan Ford Hughes
Published April 28, 2021

Key Takeaways

Banking is something to which most physicians give little to no thought. In most instances, a doctor has had the same bank since they were old enough to have an independent account, and that’s that. What most physicians don’t realize is that they’re getting robbed by exorbitant fees, slighted with shoddy customer service, and under-compensated by pitifully low interest rates.

That being said, you likely won’t get rich by smart banking alone. Interest rates are what they are at the moment. However, wouldn’t it be better if your bank worked for you and not against you? The optimal solution might not be a traditional bank at all. Your local credit union, a national credit union, or an online bank might suit you better. And before we write another sentence, let’s be clear: PhysicianSense and MDLinx receive no compensation if you should choose to bank with any of these institutions. We just happen to think they’re better for doctors. The reasons speak for themselves.

Higher interest rates on savings accounts

When it comes to finding a better bank or credit union, the best solution is often to pick one that exists only online. Building, staffing, and maintaining brick-and-mortar locations isn’t cheap. By skipping this step all together, online banks and credit unions tend to pass the additional savings along to customers. 

Consider, for example, the digital bank Ally. They offer a 1.7% savings APY. Meanwhile, if you’re banking with, say, Chase, you’re receiving a .09% APY. Let’s say you have a 3-month emergency fund of $30,000 sitting in either of those savings accounts. With Ally, you’re earning almost $514 per year in interest. Compare that to $27 with Chase.

Superior customer service

While it’s true that you won’t have the same familiarity as you would with the staff at your local brick-and-mortar bank, you might be surprised by a superior level of customer service from online-only banks and credit unions. For example, Alliant Credit Union, one of the top-ranked options from Nerdwallet, offers 24-7 customer service. 

For those who loathe to speak to an actual human being, Ally offers chat-based support around the clock. Anecdotally speaking, as an 8-year Ally customer, on the rare occasion I’ve had to call them, I don’t think I’ve waited longer than a minute to speak to a representative. Just try replicating that with a major national bank.

Physicians need this level of customer service. Your life and your career do not operate on standard business hours. If you need to reach your bank at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day after your shift ends, then the bank needs to answer the phone.

Fewer fees

Perhaps one of the most obnoxious things about major banks are ATM fees. Find yourself in a position where you need to take out $100 at a gas station ATM, and you end up paying almost an additional $10 in fees after the ATM and your bank get their cuts. 

Many credit unions and online banks will cut you breaks here. For example, Ally refunds any ATM fees up to $10 each month. Alliant will spot you up to $20. If you have a Max-Rate Checking Account with E-Trade Bank ($5,000 minimum balance), you won’t pay any ATM fees.

Lower interest rates on loans

Another way credit unions and online banks pass savings along to their customers is with lower interest rates on loans. This includes home and auto loans. The interest rates they offer will depend on individual credit scores, so keep that in mind. However, it often pays to shop around and compare qualifying offers. 

The cons of going digital

It isn’t all wine and roses when banking with an online bank or credit union. There are a few drawbacks that you need to know about. For example, it’s often difficult (or in the case of Ally, impossible) to deposit cash. If the bank or credit union doesn’t have physical locations, you’ll have to deposit cash at one of the institution’s ATMs. If bank or credit union doesn’t have ATMs, you might want to maintain a traditional bank account that you use to move cash or other deposits over to your higher-yield online accounts.

The other con worth considering is more relevant to credit unions. These smaller organizations don’t always have the best tech. Their apps can be clunky and lack the features of bigger banks. This is important to consider if you’re a technophile. 

On the whole, however, physicians will find the level of customer support that they deserve, along with the financial perks that they’re currently missing out on, by switching to an online-only bank or credit union. 

You need a bank. You might as well use one that actually supports your personal financial goals.


It’s time to switch to an online bank or credit union. If you do, you’ll receive:

  • Higher APYs on savings accounts

  • Superior customer service that operates on doctors’ hours

  • Lower interest rates than traditional institutions

  • Fewer ATM fees sucking up your hard-earned cash

You might have to deal with clunkier technology and the hassle of depositing cash from time to time, but in this case, these few cons do not outweigh the pros.

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