The guide tells consumers which key questions they should ask their bank and what they should watch out for in the areas of checking-account practices, credit card terms and cash advances. Consumers can give their bank a red flag or green flag for each question as they go through the guide and rate their bank's total performance at the end.
"We wanted to create a guide, that in a thoughtful way, takes people through the kind of analysis we think consumers ought to go through if they want to switch banks," says Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending.
"Instead of consumers just being mad, they can channel it in a constructive way by choosing products that are best suited to their needs," says Day. She adds that the guide would help people determine which bank was best for their personal needs: "Having consumers asking tougher questions could lead to more and better competition among the banks."
Day says there's already evidence that consumer action has worked to change bank policies. She points out that Citibank (C) and Bank of America (BAC) stopped offering debit card overdraft protection after numerous consumer complaints.