Modern day life affords us many conveniences: the world is at our fingertips, information can be found lightning fast, and you don’t even have to brew an entire pot of coffee anymore. There are downsides to having this kind of society, however: business is very impersonal because we’re overrun by big box stores and “too big to fail” banks. There is a bright spot in Hi-Line Montana when you want a bank with a personal touch and community feel, Independence Bank.
What Is Independence Bank?
Independence Bank only serves communities on the Hi-Line in Montana. Even though there are only six locations, Independence Bank offers just as many benefits as those bigger banks and then some. Because it’s a smaller community bank, it isn’t restricted by overarching corporate policy and can offer personal touches you won’t find at most national banks.
Personal Banking Options
Independence Bank offers an array of products and services to customers looking for a comprehensive way to bank. There are four types of checking to choose from, including a senior account for people aged 62 and up, something big banks rarely offer. Their VIP checking account is interest bearing with a much lower minimum balance than you’ll find at national banks.
There are four savings accounts offered with different opening and daily average balances needed to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. You can open a savings account with as little as $25 and only pay a $1 fee if you fall below that balance. There are three other, higher interest-bearing, accounts to choose from if you have more significant balances. For longer-term savings, there are certificates of deposit (CD) available. A CD is a specified term savings instrument in which you deposit money for a specified disclosed interest rate.
Most big banks have stopped offering this account, but Independence Bank helps their customers save for the most expensive time of the year. Customers pledge to save a certain amount every week. If they can follow through on that commitment, the bank will match one week’s deposit amount up to $200. This is a great way for you to have enough money to enjoy the holidays without taking a big financial hit in December.
Customers can save for their own retirement if they don’t work for a company that offers retirement benefits like a 401(k). They have three different IRAs available, and all are subject to IRS restrictions. They also have bankers that will help you pick the right IRA to meet your individual retirement needs.
Independence Bank takes the guesswork out of big life purchases that require loans. They offer an array of lending solutions to meet all kinds of borrowing needs:
- Fixed and variable rate
- First time home buyer
- Rural development
- Mobile home
They also offer home equity lines of credit (HELOC). Customers can choose from a fixed or variable rate HELOC, and loan officers will go through an entire checklist and walk you through every step of the lending process.
Independence Bank offers auto and personal loans, too. Their personal loans can be secured or unsecured and offer peace of mind to get customers through tough times. If a credit card fits your needs, they offer their own credit card that offers rewards, no annual fee, and competitive interest rates depending on credit score.
Independence Bank is committed to business owners on the Hi-Line. They offer three different business checking accounts with low fees and services like check writing, unlimited, or high limits of monthly transactions. Free online banking makes it easy for business owners to track deposits and withdrawals.
Just like consumer customers, they offer business owners several savings options including basic accounts, CDs, and IRAs. Business owners can also find benefits for their employees because the bank offers health savings accounts and IRAs so employees can save for unexpected health events and their retirement.
Independence Bank knows the needs specific to their customers in their communities. Customers have different loans available to them:
- Agricultural loans including lines of credit, real estate loans, equipment loans, and livestock purchasing loans
- Commercial real estate loans, lines of credit and capital asset purchase loans
- Kampground of America (KOA) loans for purchasing, developing and improving campgrounds
Independence Bank offers everything that big banks offer in online options and convenience. Their online banking allows customers to track spending in real time, access up to 18 months of statements, and view check images. You can sign up for bill pay which allows you to pay all your bills and individuals through the online banking platform. Customers can set bill pay up to pay bills automatically on a date and schedule they choose.
Mobile banking allows customers to access all their financial information from anywhere on their smartphones and devices. Their app uses cutting-edge security features to keep customers’ information safe. Customers that have a check to deposit can remotely deposit the check by snapping a photo of the front and back of the check, and they never need to walk inside a center.
One of the coolest features Independence Bank offers all customers is access to their “university”. The bank takes pride in making sure all their customers know how each aspect of how their banking works, and they arm them with all necessary information through free tutorial videos. Lessons include:
- Online banking
- Mobile banking and mobile banking on a tablet
- Bill pay
- Card valet
- Certificates of deposit account registry services
- Mobile deposit
- Identity theft prevention
- FDIC information
- Enhanced personal security
- Debit card
They also have click-through demos for all pertinent personal and business online services to teach customers how to use their services.
History & Mission
In 1972, a group of business owners in a small town on the Hi-Line wanted to make banking easier and personalized to the specific needs of people in the area, so they started Independence Bank. Making overarching lending decisions locally affords the bank the freedom to take into consideration the needs of businesses and families in north and north-central Montana.
Where agriculture is the prominent source of income for residents, Independence Bank understands and will help its customers through every step of the process from loans to put in a crop and other loans to harvest. They understand the brutal weather that can plague the area and how hard their customers work daily.
Independence Bank is committed to the communities in which it serves. They pride themselves on the relationships they have with their agricultural, commercial, professional, and consumer client bases. They cite the following attributes of their business that will drive their success:
- Excellent performance
- Timely service
- Quality assets
- Equality and fairness of service
- Creative solutions for their customers
Through these service points, they promise to deliver benefits to their clients, employees, shareholders, and communities.
What to Do If You Can't Login?
Online banking is the biggest convenience most customers cite in their banking relationship. Because we do so much online and have many online IDs and passcodes, it's easy to have difficulties logging in to online banking or mobile banking. Before you reset your passcode, make sure you’ve ruled out other factors that may be causing the issue.
If you’ve never logged in from the particular computer or device you’re using, you will need to answer a challenge question. You set the challenge questions up when you first register. They are designed to be questions only you would know, yet, don’t have to write the answers down. Once you answer your challenge question, you will be asked if the system should keep you logged in on your current device. You should only choose yes if nobody else uses your computer so your login information stays secure.
If you’re still having issues logging on and it’s within normal business hours, you can call Independence Bank’s online services helpline at 1-800-823-2274. If you’re having trouble outside business hours, there are several steps you can take. If you have forgotten your password, click “forgot password”. It will then direct you to a page where you have to enter your username, last four digits of your social, and email address and click reset password.
You will receive step-by-step instructions to reset your passcode and get on with business as usual. Most login issues are due to password issues, so you should be good to go. You can also chat with a representative online to help resolve your issue if you’re still having trouble.
Independence Bank is a community bank, with a small-town feel, that offers everything national banks have but with a twist; they don’t have the red tape to deal with that larger banks do. That means they roll the benefits down to the customers.
Most of its employees were born and raised on the Hi-Line, so they understand the issues that face its customers and are equipped to find creative solutions to the client’s needs. In a world that moves so fast, customers can get lost in the rush. Independence Bank offers services customized to each individual while still allowing the convenience of the digital age.