Bank fees have the power to make or break customer loyalty, according to a new survey from GoBankingRates.
Forty-five percent of Americans say that "low or no fees" is the banking feature or service that matters to them most, according the 2014 Banking Features Survey of 1,517 respondents. Online and mobile banking features are the highest priority for 17% of respondents. Convenient branch locations (14%), exceptional customer service (12%) and great interest rates (12%) also hold sway over many Americans.
While a majority of Americans across income brackets care more about fees than any other factor, the country's highest earners have a different set of priorities. Just 6.7% of people who earned between $100,000 and $149,000-the highest income group included in the survey-cited fees as the most important bank feature. Instead, a majority, 46.7%, of people in that group said interest rates mattered most when choosing a financial institution.
"These findings really speak to Americans' aversion to losing money," Jennifer Calonia, senior editor of GoBankingRates, said in a Tuesday press release. "However, this might be the very handicap preventing bank customers from succeeding at saving money and growing wealth. As interest rates rise, it will become more important for the average consumer to find high-yielding accounts."
The survey also found that bank customers' priorities break down along generational lines. People between the ages of 18 and 24 were the most likely to give precedence to online and mobile banking, with 23% selecting that feature. At the other end of the spectrum, 21% of people 65 and over prioritized customer service-a higher proportion than any other age bracket.