We review the most important things to look for when choosing the best bank in America so that you can pick one that best suits your needs.
Since keeping your money under your mattress isn’t the most secure (or profitable) option, it’s almost impossible to avoid using a bank. But, with several hundred online, traditional, and new brick and mortar banks in the US, it’s difficult to know which one to choose. We review the best banks in America, looking at factors such as interest rates, monthly fees, and available banking tools. Learn how to choose the best bank in the US for your needs.
Your instinct may be to choose the bank that’s closest to home or work. And while there’s no doubt that proximity is important, there are a number of other factors to consider when deciding on where to keep your money. Fees, rates, accessibility, customer service, and of course online services can all drastically affect your banking experience and your funds. Here are some factors to consider:
Free banking is always attractive, so one of the first things to check is the monthly fee for both checking and savings accounts, although it’s far more common for checking accounts.
Many banks waive or reimburse the monthly fee if you maintain a certain minimum balance. For a completely free checking account, you’ll usually have to go to one of the many online banks.
Along with low fees, the most popular item demanded of banks is the highest possible interest rate. Although interest rates are fairly low across the board, you’ll still find a huge range. Most checking accounts don’t pay any interest, and some savings accounts only begin paying interest once your balance is above several thousand dollars, making them very impractical for savers with low balances.
After considering the fees and rates on offer by different banks, consider how easy it is for you to manage your money. The best rates might be less important than being able to pop into a nearby branch on your lunch break or quickly handle your accounts online.
When looking at traditional banks, it’s good to check the number of branches nationwide and in your own area. Online-only banks have the advantage of being always open and always close at hand, but smaller banks can have a very limited network of free ATMs. If there are none in your area, you could find yourself paying a lot in ATM fees.
The financial tools offered by some banks are an extremely useful bonus that may just tip the balance if you’re trying to decide between 2 banks.
Many banks have useful mobile apps for daily banking tasks like depositing checks, paying bills, and transferring money, while others up the ante with intuitive mobile check deposits, text alerts, and an ATM finder. Some of the banks on our list provide customers with budgeting tools for managing cash flow and tracking spending as well as mobile check depositing and money transfers, and even stand out with virtual wallet services that allow you to divide your money into three categories—spend, reserve, and grow—and manage them all online and from your phone. These tools can help you to create budgets, use a bill payments calendar, and keep track of your money.
Online banking has changed the way we manage our money. Most large banks today offer online platforms, dedicated mobile apps, and at least some innovative tools that allow you to manage your money, make remote deposits, move funds around, and pay bills.
Some banks today are entirely online, foregoing the expenses of brick-and-mortar operations in order to provide lower fees, increased accessibility, and better customer support. Whether you’re opting for a financial institution with mobile banking options or a bank that’s entirely online, it’s important to make sure that the platforms are secure and responsive to the way you manage your money.
It would be nice to think that you’ll never need to use a bank’s customer support, but the chances are good that you’ll need it at some point. If you have questions about your account, notice unusual fees, suspect identity theft, or need to replace a lost debit card, it’s good to know that you have a bank that will help you deal with it.
With a history stretching back nearly 250 years and a clientele that includes 66 million customers across the US and 35 countries internationally, Bank of America has proven itself to be an established financial institution with plenty of attractive features. It boasts one of the highest numbers of ATMs across the country and a wide slate of account services. Checking accounts start with as little as a $25 opening deposit with zero overdraft fees and offers options to waive monthly fees if you sign up for its Preferred Rewards program. BoA also has a secure mobile app that allows you to manage your accounts, transfer money, and pay bills safely while on the go.
No matter what part of the country you find yourself in, there’s a chance you’ll find a local Chase branch or ATM nearby. One of the fastest growing nationwide banks, Chase has more than 4,500 branches and 16,000 ATMs. But despite its broad physical reach, Chase also offers some of the most convenient online banking services, including Chase Quick Pay with Zelle and mobile check deposits, all through the Chase app. Chase offers solid checking and savings accounts and generous sign-up bonuses, though its service fees can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.
Wells Fargo has the largest network of banks in America, with nearly 5,500 brick-and-mortar branches in all but a few states in the midwest and northeast corner of the country. This monolith offers about every financial service you could want and offers some tempting perks. For example, Wells Fargo rescinds the variable monthly fee for customers who make ten debit card purchases each month as well as those who keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or direct deposits of $500 or more each month.
Ally is an internet-only bank that has been attracting attention as more people shift to online banking. The lack of physical locations is more than balanced out by its secure and seamless online platform, not to mention its network of 40,000-plus ATMs across the country that members can use for free. Ally Bank is a rare find that pays interest on your checking account balance with an APY of between 0.1% and 0.6%. Its savings account offers a high rate of 1.25% APY, although this rate is variable, and the one year CD carries rates of 1.75% with no minimum deposit.
Founded in 1812 and today boasting more than 100 million customers throughout the world, Citibank is a megabank with all the perks you’d expect: large network of branches and ATMs, solid interest and CD rates, and a rich slate of account options and financial services. Citibank particularly shines when it comes to helping customers deal with identity theft or fraud. They’ll give you a dedicated Citi Identity Theft Solutions Specialist to help with your case, monitor your credit report, and update you about any changes until the case is closed.
Capital One is the only big national brick and mortar bank that doesn’t charge any monthly fee for its checking account. Among traditional big banks, Capital One has the best interest rates with 0.2% APY on balances in its 360 Checking account and 0.75% APY for its 360 Savings account, both without fees.
PNC stands out with its virtual wallet, which allows you to divide your money into three categories—spend, reserve, and grow—and manage them all online and from your phone. It helps you to create budgets, use a bill payments calendar, and keep track of your money. PNC’s branches are limited to the east coast and some of the midwest, though it does offer more than 18,000 PNC and partner ATMs for customers across the country.
TD Bank features most prominently in the east coast, so those living in midwest or western states may want to look elsewhere. However, it has done plenty to earn the respect of those who live near one of its 1,300 branches. TD’s Convenience Checking account, for example, requires just a $100 minimum balance to avoid monthly fees, includes free mobile deposits, and has student perks for those between the ages of 17-23. The 24/7 live customer support telephone line also gets a lot of appreciation from customers, as does its policy of keeping many of its branches open 7 days a week.
Many banks waive or reimburse the monthly fee if you maintain a certain minimum balance. US Bank waives its $7 fee if you keep a minimum monthly balance of $1,500 or make at least $1,000 per month in direct deposits. US Bank’s live 24/7 customer support has earned it accolades, though its rates are typically less competitive than other major banks.
Formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, Axos was the first all-online bank and has continued to thrive as more people turn to the internet for their banking needs. It has many features in place to accommodate the lack of physical locations; for one thing, zero monthly fees. It’s also one of the few internet banks to accept remote cash deposits. Axos also offers online wire transfers, biometric identification, and offers refunds any ATM charges. Despite being a newer bank, Axos has earned scores of attention for innovation and accessibility.
Ultimately, you're the only one able to decide which is the best bank in America for your needs. You might give more weight to the bank with branches near you, prefer internet banking, want the lowest fees, or be willing to pay higher fees if it also means higher interest rates. Whatever your preferences, you’ll find the best bank for you with one of these 10 best banks in America.