Bad Habits are Hard to Break

Why do Americans keep their money in Big Banks despite repeated abuse?

Andy Spears
3 min readDec 22, 2022


Photo by Jack Cohen on Unsplash

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal reminded me that Americans have an uneasy relationship with Big Banks.

The five largest banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, US Bank, and Wells Fargo — control roughly half of all money in deposit accounts in U.S. banks.

It seems sensible. These banks are everywhere — there are branches around the country. This also means a network of ATMs — which means less fees to pay for accessing your money.

Essentially, the convenience and familiarity lead to significant deposits from consumers and huge profits for these large banks.

The WSJ story noted that banking with the familiar and convenient big banks comes at a big cost — $42 billion in lost income in the third quarter of 2022 alone.

In theory, savers could have earned $42 billion more in interest in the third quarter if they moved their money out of the five largest U.S. banks by deposits to the five highest-yield savings accounts — none of which are offered by the big banks — according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The story went on to note that the gap between the savings rates at big banks and smaller banks and alternative financial institutions in terms of savings rate is at an all-time high.

That is, consumers are losing more now than ever by not moving their money.

Then, there are the bad deeds of the big banks. Wells Fargo made news this week because of its bad treatment of 16 million customers. In fact, the bank is being forced to pay $3.7 billion in refunds and fines for its malfeasance.

Time for a Breakup

Sure, big banks are ubiquitous and thus convenient. Yes, moving banks or financial institutions can be a hassle.



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .