I hate banks. Most of the blame for our current economic woes can be placed squarely at the feet of banks- banks which are ultimately controlled by foreigners who care even less about what is good for America than the corporate profiteers in our own country. Banks, in my opinion, should just do what they are supposed to do, which is simply to keep our money safe and available for when we need it. Turning a profit off of my money is fine- but risking it without my permission is a huge no-no that I will no longer allow. And the deceptive practices of banks, and my former bank, Bank of America in particular, are criminal. Of course they get away with it, they are rich, after all.
However, in today's world using cash is not only difficult, but almost impossible for those, like myself, who do a majority of their shopping online. I need a card, so what else can I do but have an account at a sleazy bank? Well, here's what I did. I already had a savings account at my local credit union. I recommend everyone find their local credit union and join it immediately. Since they are for the most part truly local, they have a vested interest in their community. They are better able to provide personal service, and do so without all the fees and hassles associated with big banks. Mine, Cannon Federal Credit Union, even gave me a substantial loan recently- something that no other bank has ever done. I am now able to improve my credit by making timely payments and showing that I actually am, despite my lack of credit, a good, honest person.
The thing about my particular account is that I don't get a debit card. That's why I signed on with BOA (how appropriate- something that squeezes the life out of you), so I could have a debit card. Well, I finally realized that I could have a debit card without a bank, taking advantage of a service offered by a company I often use to make online payments- PayPal. PayPal offers a debit/credit card to account holders. I applied and received one immediately. It can be used as debit or credit, and credit purchases requiring a signiture earn a 1% cashback bonus, too. PayPal, in my experience, is an honest company that does not charge hidden fees or otherwise rip you off. They even have a great money market account, allowing you to earn potential bonuses on the money you invest in your account.
Another thing I love about the PayPal debit card is that when I use it, I immediately (seriously, within seconds) get an email thanking me for using it and stating the transaction time, amount, and to whom the payment was made. As you can imagine, this is great not only for your records, but also in case your card is used without your permission- you will know about it as soon as you check your email, and can take appropriate action. Adding money is simple- just associate your credit union account with your PayPal account, verify it (they add money to your account and you tell them how much it was- you get to keep the added few cents, too!) and transfer a bit from the credit union account into your PayPal account every so often. That's it, you're set; and you don't have to sell your soul to the banks.
I recommend you consider alternatives like this, and let the big banks know you will no longer serve them, by hitting them where it hurts- the bottom line.