Kiplinger Today

Kip Tips

Is Your Bank Safe?

Cameron Huddleston

Bank failures are at their highest level in more than 15 years. How is yours doing?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced February 23 that 140 banks failed in 2009 -- the highest number of failures since 1992. It also said there were 702 financial institutions on its “problem list.”

Most people know that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees depositors' cash should a bank fail. But for how much? And for which accounts? Take our Is Your Money Safe? quiz to find out if your deposits are protected.

Then ask these five questions to determine how well your bank is serving you.

If you’re fed up with the high fees, low interest rates and impersonal service at your large financial institution, consider switching to a small bank or credit union. Community banks have close ties to local residents and tend to offer more personal assistance than the big money-center banks. They tend to have fewer -- and lower -- fees than the major banks. And they generally offer lower rates on loans and higher yields on savings. To learn more, read Banks That Put You First.

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