Friday, June 8, 2018

New Bank Account

It was time to switch to a new bank.  So here's the story...

When I moved here I opened a bank account with Raiffeisen Bank.  Raiffeisen is the 3rd-largest bank in Austria.  It has subsidiaries in Czechland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Switzerland, Russia, and Ukraine.

A couple of years ago I went in to my local branch because I needed to sign a U.S. tax form that all international banks require for American citizens.  When the receptionist looked me up on the computer she asked me if I went to university because they didn't have my title in the system.  I told her that I have an M.B.A.  I understand that the Central Europeans love their academic degree titles so I wasn't surprised by the question.  I thought that was the end of it.

About a month later I had to go in to the branch to pick up my new credit card because the current card was about to expire.  My previous card had my first, middle, and last name printed on it.  The new card had "M.B.A." printed before my name and only the first two letters of my last name.  When I questioned why my complete last name wasn't on the card, the clerk looked at me like I had three eyeballs.  She said that if I really wanted to, that I could make a special request to have my complete name printed on the card.  WTF!  Why the hell is it a "special request" to have my last name printed on my credit card?

They ordered me a new card which arrived the next week.  The new card had my title, first name and last name.  They left off my middle name.  Fine, but the card didn't work so they had to order a new card.  Another week passed and I finally received my new card.

A few months later, I had to go pick up my new debit card.  The new card had left off my middle name again but it had my title, first and last name.  Anyway...

I did a little shopping around and found a nice deal with Česká spořitelna.  I went in to Raiffeisen to see if they would match the deal.  I was told that the account I had was the best one possible.  There was nothing they could do to upgrade my account.  Fine.  If they don't want to make me feel special then I'll take my business elsewhere.

Česka spořitelna is the most popular bank in Czechland with 4,7 million clients.  It was founded in 1825 and, in 2000, it was acquired by Erste Group.

Erste Group Bank is another Austrian bank holding company that was founded in 2008.  It originally opened in 1819 as an Austrian savings bank.  Erste Group is one of the biggest banks in Central and Eastern Europe with branches in Austria, Czechland, Slovakia, Hungary, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Slovenia.

I opened an Erste Premier account.  I was a big fool to have not done this before.  I now have a personal banker.  I feel so grown up.  I have a multi-currency account set up in Czech Crowns, U.S. Dollars, Euros and British Pounds.  My account comes with investment advisory and it even provides concierge services.  Plus, the online banking app is great!

As a frequent traveller I'm very excited about the travel benefits that I now receive.  First, I get premium travel insurance so I no longer need to buy it each year.   Secondly, I get free access to the priority Erste lounges at the Prague and Vienna airports.  I also received a Priority Pass which grants me access to more than 1000 airport lounges worldwide.

I'm already impressed with the customer service.  My banker called me yesterday to let me know that my new credit card had arrived.  Since he would be in the area, he offered to bring me my card at work so that I wouldn't have to make a trip to the branch.  I so should have switched before.  Highly recommended.

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