Bank accounts are a dime a dozen. But the best ones are transparent, flexible and offer perks that help you reach your financial goals. That’s why we looked at factors like interest rates, ease of use, ATM access, deposit requirements, monthly fees and additional perks to bring you the best overall bank accounts for checking, savings and CDs.
For 2020, we added the best overall bank accounts for checking, savings and CDs. The HSBC Direct Savings was originally on our list, but we replaced it with the Synchrony High Yield Savings account. Although HSBC offers a slightly higher APY it doesn’t let you access your money at an ATM. Because of this, we chose Synchrony as our best overall bank account for savings.
We've dubbed this free Capital One 360 Checking account best overall for its reliable interest rate, flexible overdraft options and convenient ATM access. Plus, Capital One doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, so it's a good choice for traveling overseas.
0.2% APY. This account earns more interest than most traditional savings accounts, but there are stronger rates out there.
No fees. You won't pay any monthly maintenance, foreign transaction or ATM fees with this account. But ATM owners may charge a fee when you use non-network ATMs.
Flexible overdrafts. Capital One gives you four ways to avoid overdraft fees: auto-decline, next-day grace, free savings transfer or an overdraft line of credit.
Large ATM network. Use your debit card for free at over 39,000+ Capital One and Allpoint ATMs worldwide.
Not 100% free. Although you won't pay routine fees charged by some banks, Capital One will charge you $25 for above-and-beyond services like overnight card replacements and stop payment requests.
Expensive outbound wires. It's free to receive domestic and international wire transfers. But you'll pay $40 for each domestic wire transfer you send.
Possible credit check. If you choose an overdraft line of credit as your overdraft protection option, Capital One will do a hard-pull on your credit.
This Synchrony account wins for best overall bank account for savings because it grows your money fast with a strong APY and gives you plenty of ways to access it when the time comes.
Strong APY. Your savings grows even faster with a 1.05% APY that's compounded daily.
Free ATM card. Unlike other savings accounts, this one comes with an ATM card for easy withdrawals. Plus, Synchrony refunds up to $5 in non-network ATM fees each month.
No fees. There's no monthly maintenance or ATM fees.
Limited transactions. Typically, you can't make more than six outgoing transactions a month without running the risk of having your account closed. But due to the temporary suspension of Regulation D, this policy could be on pause.
Daily withdrawal limits. To prevent fraud, you can't withdraw more than $1,000 from ATMs and $500 from point-of-sale retailers a day.
One branch. Synchrony's only branch is in Bridgewater, New Jersey, so you'll need to be comfortable managing your account online if you live outside this area.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs High-yield CDs takes home the gold for best overall bank account for CDs thanks to its hassle-free online application process, low minimum opening deposit and strong APYs across all CD terms.
Several term options. Lock your money away for as little as six months or as long as six years.
30 days to fund account. Most banks give you 10 days to fund your account. But Marcus lets you make as many deposits as you want for your first 30 days.
Strong APYs. Marcus offers consistently high rates for both its short-term and long-term CD options, making it an ideal choice for any CD length.
10-day rate guarantee. If Marcus raises its rates within 10 days of you opening and funding your CD, you'll automatically get bumped up to the higher rate.
No branches. Marcus by Goldman Sachs High-yield CDs is online-only, so you can't visit a branch for in-person support. But you can call customer support daily.
No partial withdrawals. If you need to dip into your CD before it matures, you'll have to withdraw the full balance.
Early withdrawal penalties. Like most banks, you'll pay a penalty fee if you withdraw money before your CD matures. But Marcus has a no-penalty CD option available if you're worried about needing your money before it's time.
For more accounts that fit your savings goals, compare our list of best CDs.
How to choose the best bank account for you
Here are a few pointers to help you choose the best bank account for your unique needs:
Take a closer look at your spending habits and work out approximately how many transactions you make each month. Most checking accounts will allow you to make unlimited transactions, but be sure to read the fine print or ask the bank if there are any limits on the account.
Considering that your checking account will be used for most transactions, it’s important to consider what features each account offers. This may include things like:
Free replacement cards
If you don’t like to carry a lot of cash and prefer to pay with your debit card, a checking account offering high or unlimited transactions each month is best for you. If you want to access cash, you can still withdraw your money using an ATM.
If you prefer to use a credit card, you could make most of your purchases on that, then transfer money from a savings account to pay off the balance.
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your bank accounts, compare all the fees associated with your lifestyle.
For example, if you do a lot of online shopping and purchase items from overseas, check to see what the international transaction fees are. Compare the best debit cards to uses overseas with low or no foreign international transaction fees.
If you use ATMs often, you may want to consider a bank account that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
Some banks may charge a transaction fee on specific transactions, while some may limit the number of transactions you can make before they charge fees.
Other banks require you to hold a minimum balance to waive a monthly fee. Still, some others require a direct deposit to be made to avoid fees.
Find an option that works best for your lifestyle.
Do you have convenient access to your bank’s ATMs? Most big banks seem to have ATMs everywhere. Some smaller banks team up with larger banks, allowing for cross-bank transactions. Assess the convenience of the ATMs and bank branches near your home, school or work. And if you travel internationally often, find out if there are branches or ATMs in the destination country.
While almost every bank offers secure online banking, not all websites and apps are created equally. Some banks let you make deposits with your phone, transfer money between accounts, and more, while others simply let you check your balances and pay your bills. Ask customer service or compare accounts online to find out more about online and mobile banking accessibility.
If you plan on making important or drastic financial changes, you may need to change your banking. Maybe you’re getting married and are looking to opening a joint account, buying a house or your starting a big job. Whatever the circumstances, see what your bank can do to support your changing needs.
Editor's pick: American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings
No monthly fee
No minimum balance
Editor's pick: American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account. Accounts offered by American Express National Bank, Member FDIC.
First, you’ll need to think about what you want out of a bank account. Is it flexibility you need, or are you happy to trade some of that flexibility for no monthly fees? The considerations listed below can help you prioritize what features are important to you.
It’s linked to your other accounts
There are many banks that serve the US, all offering a range of different banking products. To make managing your money easier, you may want to consider doing all of your banking with one institution. If not, make sure the card can be linked to any of your other accounts.
It can pay interest
If you’re lucky, you might come across a checking account that pays interest. While you’ll generally earn more interest with a savings account, some checking accounts can pay a solid APY.
Checking accounts are designed to provide access to your money, so you shouldn’t be required to pay when you need to make a withdrawal. Some banks will even waive fees when you make a transaction on an ATM that’s outside the bank’s network
You can bank online and on your phone
Many banks are now online, giving you better access to your money with internet, phone or mobile banking. If you prefer to do your banking through a smartphone, check for the availability of an app.
Customer service is available when you need it
Look to see if the institution is strictly online or if you have the option of calling or visiting a local branch. If you prefer to talk to a teller for your financial decisions, you may want to consider a financial institution that has a physical presence.
There are a large number of ATMs available
This is important to consider if you make frequent ATM withdrawals. Charges quickly accrue if you don’t use the ATMs in the bank’s network. Find a bank with a large ATM network in your area or one that provides fee-free access to other ATMs. Plus, some institutions operate globally, allowing you easier and cheaper access to your money when traveling abroad.
Since everyone has different banking needs, there is no such thing as the single best bank account. The best account for you will depend on what you plan on using it for, so it’s important to identify what you value in your banking experience.
There are benefits to online banking — online financial institutions tend to have less overheads, and in turn, pass on their savings to their customers. The ideal bank account for a digital nomad is a bank that has an accessible online banking platform. In the US, CommBank was voted as the best bank for online banking and Beyond Bank as the best customer-owned institution. See our moving to the US guide for more information
Teens and students
If you’re about to start your first job and want to save up some extra cash, there are plenty of banks to help you, so be sure to shop around to find the best deal. Remember that if you’re under 14 years old, you’ll probably need to ask your parent or guardian for permission to open a bank account for you.
Using your debit card overseas usually incurs the following charges:
International transaction fees
Overseas ATM fee (charged by your bank)
Local operator ATM fee (charged by the ATM owner)
While exchange rates and operator ATM fees can’t be controlled, you can control the international transaction and overseas ATM fees. There are bank accounts in the market that don’t charge these fees and can save you money when you travel.
Businesses generally conduct far more transactions than consumers, so it’s important to find an account that is designed specifically for business use. These types of accounts make it easier to manage cash flow and keep track for spending for tax and accounting purposes.
Joint checking accounts are an effective way for couples to manage their money. The best couples checking accounts generally offer bill pay services, widespread ATM access and minimal fees, allowing you to make use of more of your money.
It’s never too early to learn responsible financial habits. Kids bank accounts can help children and teens learn how to manage their money and usually don’t have monthly fees. Plus, they often allow parents to control spending and monitor account activity.
If you’re 55 or older, you can enjoy the benefits of senior banking. This usually includes unlimited access to your bank account, including ATMs, branches, Internet and phone banking. Also, you can look forward to reduced or waived fees, as banks try to earn your business.
What kind of fees can I avoid with the best bank account?
ATM withdrawals. Banks often limit the number of ATM transactions, charging a fee for going over. They can also charge for using ATMs that are out of their network. While the big banks tend to have a larger ATM network, you may not want to dismiss the smaller players.
POS transactions. Some banks will charge transaction fees for using point of sale payments over a certain threshold.
Branch assistance. Many banks charge fees for transactions made at physical locations, encouraging customers to use the internet or phone banking options.
Excess transactions. You may be charged fees for exceeding the limits of transactions on your account.
Account overdrafts. If you spend more money than you have available in your account you may be charged an overdraft fee.
We don’t want to change banks for a number of reasons. If it’s not our priority to make a change, it may be because we’re getting exactly what we need from our bank or because it’s too much of a hassle to switch. If you’re satisfied with the services your bank provides, or even just loyal to the company you’ve been with for years, you might feel less inclined to change.
How do the best banks protect my security online?
Banks invest in safety. Banks spend millions of dollars to protect your money, mainly because they are required to refund money to those who have been defrauded.
Banks use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. This gives an added layer of protection from hackers.
There’s always password security. You’ll often find that your password needs to be a certain length and contain certain characters.
Your personal information is encrypted. This means that the lock symbol is displayed in your browser, and the information coming in and out is scrambled.
You’re locked out of your account if there has been too many attempts. In addition, you’re logged out of the account if there hasn’t been any activity after a few minutes. There are also firewalls in place so only authorized people can log in.
You’ll need to use SMS codes. To ensure you say who you are, banks will also send codes to your phone to authorize new transactions.
As the assistant publisher of banking and investing at Finder, Ryan Brinks melds more than a decade of experience in business news and online content into creating comprehensive and helpful comparisons of the companies you trust your money with. He loves to innovate and put money to work while keeping a careful eye on managing risk. Beyond work, Ryan's also passionate about his family and serving his community.
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