When a consumer looks to open a checking account, he doesn't always think to look into the bank's history. When that same consumer decides to open a savings account with a substantial balance, it is wise to do a little research. For a clue to how sound the bank is, check its credit rating. Although the FDIC does not release ratings to the public, it recommends several sites where consumers can check a bank's credit rating.
Open your web browser and go to the Bankrate Safe & Sound Ratings website. Bankrate looks at a variety of statistics for each financial institution, including the bank's asset quality, profitability and liquidity.
Select whether the financial institution you are researching is a credit union or a bank/thrift. Click the "Next" button to continue. Enter the search options to locate your financial institution. You can search by the bank's name, state, ZIP code, asset size or rating. This is useful whether you do not have a specific bank in mind or you want to check the status of your current bank. Click "Next" after selecting your search option.
Choose your bank from the list of financial institutions provided in the drop-down menu and click on "Next." View the Bankrate.com Star Rating and the Safe & Sound CAEL Rating. Star ratings start at one star, which is the lowest rating, and go up to five stars, which is a superior rating. The CAEL ratings are the opposite with a CAEL rating: one is the highest and five is the lowest.
Choose to review any reports of financial summaries that Bankrate has from your financial institution. Now that you have looked at how Bankrate scores your bank, you should look at another rating system. It is a good idea to use two different models to ensure that there isn't a large discrepancy between the two.
Open the Bauer Financial Banks and Credit Unions rating page. You will need to choose whether you are looking for information on a bank or credit union.
Select the state where the financial institution is located and the name of the financial institution. Click on "Search" for your results. Find your bank on the results page and click on the "Tell Me More" button.
Review the Star Rating that Bauer Financial has assigned to your bank. Bauer Financial recommends all four- and five-star banks to its readers. If you are interested in purchasing a more in-depth report on your bank's credit rating, you can do so from this screen.
Compare the ratings from Bankrate and Bauer Financial. If they are similar (they don't need to be identical) then you can be reasonably assured that the bank's credit rating is indeed a positive one.
Melissa Hincha-Ownby has been providing web content since 2006. Hincha-Ownby writes for a variety of online publications including the Mother Nature Network, Suite 101, and "Attachment Parenting International." Hincha-Ownby is entering her final semester in the Technical Communication program at Arizona State University.