In a few months, my main investment bank is merging with one of the banks that's grabbing a big stack of cash from the government bailout.
I checked out the terms of the merger, and let me tell you -- red flags were popping up everywhere. So I moved my funds over to a smaller bank.
Now, I'm not saying everyone needs to do that. Not everyone does. Robert D. Manning, Ph.D., is a New York professor of consumer finance and director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services (http://centers.cob.rit.edu/cfs/).
Here's what he recommends you do when your bank starts talking 'merger.'
Ask your bank for its schedule of fees. In that schedule, you should find the terms and conditions that apply to mergers. See if anything in those terms is changing. Under federal law, a financial institution must mail notices about those changes and post them in the lobby of every branch 30 days before the changes take place. If you don't like the changes, check out these two sites:
There, you can check out the ratings of other banks or compare the interest rates on certificates of deposit (CD's).
If you choose a new bank, ask for a "switch kit." That should help you transfer your funds more easily.