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Compare the best banks and credit unions of 2020

Get the most out of your money by balancing fees, rewards, interest rates and additional offerings.

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Our pick for ATM reimbursements: Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank Rewards Checking logo

Up to 1.25%

APY

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • No monthly minimum balance requirements
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The best banks make it easy to save and spend money. They’re transparent and don’t try to bury unnecessary fees in pages of fine print. For these reasons, our research focused on evaluating institutions based on criteria like accessibility, fees, account type offerings, interest rates, and special features. If any banks had associated monthly fees, we made sure there were reasonable ways to waive them.

10 best banks and credit unions

Bank Best for… More info
Axos Bank Best bank for ATM refunds Go to site
Synchrony Best savings bank with no ATM fees Go to site
Ally Bank Best online bank Read Review
Bank of America Best for a brick and mortar bank Read Review
Alliant Credit Union Best for credit unions Read Review
TIAA Bank Best bank for small businesses Read Review
HSBC Best bank for savings account rates Read Review
PNC Financial Services Group Best bank for budgeting Read Review
Discover Best bank for no-fee products Read Review
Capital One Best bank accounts for teens Read Review

Best banks for checking accounts

Axos Bank

Best bank for ATM refunds

Axos Bank is a digital institution with low overhead costs and almost nonexistent account fees. It offers many interest-bearing checking account options with special perks like unlimited domestic ATM refunds.

Discover

Best bank for no-fee products

Your checking, savings, credit card, IRA, CD, money market, student loan and personal loan accounts can all be fee-free with Discover.

Capital One

Best bank accounts for teens

Capital One offers two personal checking accounts: one for you and one for your teen. It may not have a broad selection of products, but it makes up for it in perks.

Best banks for savings accounts

Synchrony

Best savings bank with no ATM fees

Synchrony is the second largest online-only bank in the US that offers great interest rates and unique perks like identity theft resolution services, travel and leisure discounts and more.

HSBC

Best bank for savings account rates

HSBC is one of the largest international banks with more than 37 million customers across 70 countries. Its savings accounts stand out for their competitive APYs and low minimum deposit requirements.

PNC Financial Services Group

Best bank for budgeting

PNC Financial Services Group offers two savings accounts that help you set savings goals and reach them with competitive APYs. Plus, this bank offers a wide selection of other financial products.

Best banks overall

Ally Bank

Best online bank

Straightforward products and services are paired with a completely online experience through Ally. Where it truly shines is its top-notch interest rates.

Bank of America

Best for a brick and mortar bank

Bank of America is dependable and accessible. Plus, it offers a huge selection of banking products and special features like cashback rewards and automated savings.

Alliant Credit Union

Best for credit unions

An almost-completely online credit union, Alliant offers transparent services and financial education resources for its members.

TIAA Bank

Best bank for small businesses

TIAA Bank offers a suite of business banking products for commercial, nonprofit and small business use. These accounts go beyond simple cash management with tools that help you stay organized.

How do I find the best bank for my situation?

There are several aspects you can look at when trying to find the best bank.

  • Accessibility. Ease of application is one of the biggest points of accessibility, but it’s not the only one. If you’re set on being able to talk to a banker in person, having access to branch locations is going to be a strong influencer. You might also want to check the ATM network to see if you’ll be struggling to find a surcharge-free machine. Some banks will even let you use out-of-network ATMs without tacking on an extra fee.
  • Products and eligibility. Before you select a bank, consider your future banking needs. If you think you may need a credit card; or want to take out a home loan down the line, you may want to only look for banks that already offer these. Having a long-term relationship with a bank can get you discounts and advantages when applying for new products or services.
  • Fee structure. If you’re primarily interested in keeping your fees to a minimum, the best bank might be a credit union. Credit unions don’t need to charge fees for everything, largely because they don’t have the costs of keeping shareholders happy like bigger banks do. Many banks also provide low- or zero-fee accounts — but the requirements tend to be more specific, while credit unions typically offer them more broadly.
  • Rewards. Being rewarded for credit card purchases is fairly common, but cashback deals when you swipe your debit card are much more rare. Check out the types of deals being offered by banks, and consider whether they fit into your normal spending habits.

Top 11 banks in the US

Traditional banks offer a wide variety of products, including savings and checking accounts, mortgages, personal loans and credit cards. The table below shows the top 11 banks in the US, along with the location of each institution. The list is ranked by asset size according to the Federal Reserve’s latest findings.

Bank Headquarters Number of offices
Bank of America North Carolina 4,475
JPMorgan Chase New York 5,146
Wells Fargo California 5,875
Citigroup New York 717
US Bank Minnesota 3,131
Capital One Virginia 605
PNC Pennsylvania 2,481
Charles Schwab California 2
Morgan Stanley New York 3
BB&T North Carolina 1,971
Suntrust Banks Georgia 1,243

Top 11 credit unions in the US

Credit unions are focused on community because they’re owned by their members rather than a group of shareholders. Here are the top 11 credit unions by asset size, along with the number of branch locations owned by each institution.

Credit union Number of offices
Navy Federal 330
SECU 365
PenFed 50
BECU 57
SchoolsFirst 52
Golden 1 73
Alliant 2
America First 128
First Tech 43
Security Service FCU 67
Suncoast Credit Union 67
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Should I use a major bank or a smaller one?

It’s all about finding the one that’s best for you. Consider these pros and cons of big banks when making a decision.

Pros

  • Many options. Bigger banks tend to offer a good variety of services and products to choose from. For example, if you open a checking account you can choose from a range of different tiers and types to find what’s most preferable, while a smaller bank might only have one or two different types of accounts.
  • Nationwide presence. The largest banks have a strong presence in the US, while mid-sized institutions might be present in some states but not others and small banks and credit unions may have very few branches and limited services.

Cons

  • Fees and charges. Big banks typically aren’t particularly competitive with the fees and charges they impose on customers. This doesn’t mean you can’t find low- or zero-fee accounts with them, but smaller institutions are typically more likely to have lower fees on a given product.
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What else should I consider when picking the best bank?

The products and services are the core of what a bank offers, but you may also want to consider how they offer them and their reputation. The major banks all offer comprehensive online banking services, but some smaller establishments have yet to catch up. If you know you’ll be depending on online banking, you may want to be sure it’s available.

To get a sense of their reputation and customer service record, you might look through consumer ratings. You’ll get an indication of how existing customers view their banking relationships, and they may highlight deal breakers. Word of mouth can also work well, so if you know someone who banks with that institution ask them about their experiences.

Ideally you will be able to access all your financial needs in one place, through the same bank. This can make it significantly easier and quicker to manage your finances. It can also mean you’re eligible for loyalty rewards and discounts.

What’s the first service to look for in a bank?

It depends what your top priority is. An effective place to start is often by looking at available checking and savings accounts, because these are often a core component of banking services, and you may be required to open one in order to use other products.

Bottom line

Pay attention to the factors that are most important to your financial health when comparing top banks. If you’re still not sure where to get started, use our guide to bank accounts to figure out differences between accounts so you can understand what will work best for your situation.

Compare even more bank accounts

Name Product Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
HSBC Premier Checking
$1
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
Get a 3% cash bonus, up to $600 (max. $100 per month) during first six months after account opening. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by September 30, 2020, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
BBVA Online Checking
$25
No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
$3
A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
$50
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free. A spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC.
N26
N26
$0
Fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
$0
A digital bank account with no hidden fees, no minimum account balance and no maintenance charges.
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$
$
months
Name Product Interest rates (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open Interest earned
American Express® High Yield Savings
0.60%
$0
$0
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account. Accounts offered by American Express National Bank, Member FDIC.
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
0.61%
$0
$250
No monthly maintenance fees. No minimum balance requirements. Interest compounded daily.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account

1.00% on $0 to $10,000 but you’ll need to be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and make at least $1,000 in debit card purchases a month
$0 per month or $7 per month for Aspiration Plus ($5.75 per month if you pay annually)
$10
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
CIT Bank Money Market
0.50%
$0
$100
A savings account with a higher-than-average rate and minimal fees.
Central Bank of Kansas City Savings
0.40%
$0
$1
The Central Bank of Kansas City Savings account, offered through SaveBetter, has a $1 opening deposit and earns 0.4% APY.
SoFi Money
0.25%
$0
$0
SoFi Money® is a cash management account that charges no account fees to save, spend, and earn cash back rewards when you spend on brands you love.
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