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12 best banks and credit unions in the US

Selected from 130+ financial institutions that offer high rates, low fees and accessibility.

This article was reviewed by Marguerita Cheng, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning advocate for ethical financial planning for over 20 years.

The best bank or credit union offers features that make it easy to save and spend money. They’re transparent and don’t try to bury unnecessary fees in pages of fine print. We researched more than 130 financial 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.

What’s changed in 2021?
We broke up our recommendations by category, so you can clearly see the top institutions for checking accounts, savings accounts and overall. We replaced TIAA Bank with BlueVine as the best bank for small businesses because it has fewer fees and higher interest. We replaced HSBC with American Express as the best bank for savings account rates because HSBC’s rates have dropped quite a bit over the past year. We added new categories for the best bank for signup bonuses and the best bank for CD rates.

12 best banks and credit unions

Use this table to compare the 12 best banks and credit unions and see why they made our list.

BankBest for…More info
Axos BankBest for checking accountsGo to site
American ExpressBest bank for savings account ratesGo to site
ChaseBest for signup bonusesGo to site
SynchronyBest bank for ATM accessRead review
Ally BankBest online bankRead Review
Bank of AmericaBest for a brick and mortar bankRead Review
Alliant Credit UnionBest credit unionRead Review
TIAA BankBest bank for small businessesRead Review
HSBCBest bank for savings account ratesRead Review
PNC Financial Services GroupBest bank for budgetingRead Review
DiscoverBest bank for minimal feesRead Review
Capital OneBest bank accounts for teensRead Review
BlueVineBest for small businessesRead Review
MarcusBest for CD ratesRead Review

Best banks for checking accounts

These financial institutions stand out for their superior checking account options:

Axos Bank

Best for checking accounts

Axos Bank has a wide range of checking accounts, including those that earn interest and rewards and special accounts designed for seniors, teens, business owners, those with bad credit and more.

Pros

  • No fees. Most accounts don’t have overdrafts, insufficient funds or monthly fees.
  • Unlimited ATM reimbursements. Axos Bank reimburses any and all domestic ATM fees you incur.
  • Interest-bearing accounts. Every Axos Bank checking account earns interest or cash back except for the Essential Checking account.

Cons

  • Opening deposit. Most accounts require a minimum $50 opening deposit to get started.
  • Limited customer service. Axos Bank is almost entirely online, so you can only reach customer service by phone or live chat.

BlueVine

Best for small businesses

BlueVine is a free business checking account boasting unlimited transactions, a $0 opening deposit and a competitive 1% APY on your total balance.

Pros
  • No cap on deposits. Unlike other business checking accounts, BlueVine doesn’t limit how many free deposits you can make each month. There are also no fees for monthly maintenance, incoming wires and non-sufficient funds.
  • Earns interest. Get a whopping 1% interest on account balances up to $100,000. This APY is higher than most high-yield savings accounts.
  • Software integrations. You can sync BlueVine up with QuickBooks Online, Wave, Freshbooks, PayPal, Stripe and more.

Cons

  • Fee for cash deposits. BlueVine is one of the only online banks that accepts cash deposits, but you’ll pay a $4.95 fee to the retailer when you do it.
  • No savings account options. BlueVine doesn’t offer any other bank accounts, but considering its flagship account earns 1% APY, this may not be a dealbreaker.

Discover

Best bank for minimal fees

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

Pros

  • No fees. Choose from a range of financial products with $0 fees.
  • Easy ATM access. Over 60,000 ATMs come without Discover fees.
  • Rewards. Earn 1% back on up to $3,000 purchases per month with your debit card.

Cons

  • One branch. Discover has one location in Greenwood, Delaware. Unless you live near this branch, you’re limited to phone and online support.
  • High minimums for some accounts. You need at least $2,500 to open a money market or CD, which is higher than the competition.

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.

Pros

  • Earns interest. Both of Capital One‘s checking accounts earn 0.20% interest on all balances.
  • Perks for teens. The Capital One Money account allows teens to set savings goals and track their spending straight from the bank’s mobile app.
  • Large ATM network. Use your debit card for free at over 94,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATMs nationwide.

Cons

  • Overdraft fees. If you’re not enrolled in overdraft protection, you’ll pay $35 each time you overdraw on your account.

Best banks for savings accounts

These banks and credit unions offer straightforward savings accounts with low fees and competitive interest rates:

American Express

Best bank for savings account rates

You may think of credit cards when you hear of American Express, but its High Yield Savings account has one of the best rates in the country. You’ll also enjoy no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Pros
  • Competitive APY. You’ll earn an attractive 0.4% APY on your total balance.
  • No fees. No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements means your savings can grow unhindered.
  • 24/7 customer service. American Express offers round-the-clock customer support so you can get help anytime you need it.

Cons

  • No ATM access. As with most savings accounts, this one doesn’t come with an ATM card. You’ll need to transfer money to another account first if you need cash.
  • No in-person support. American Express is online only and therefore doesn’t have any branch locations. However, you can contact customer support 24/7 by phone.

Synchrony

Best bank for ATM access

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.

Pros

  • Strong APY. Earn 0.4% APY with a High Yield Savings account and up to 0.8% APY on CDs.
  • Optional ATM card. The Synchrony High Yield Savings account comes with an optional ATM card that lets you withdraw money for free at any ATM nationwide. But you’re still subject to ATM operator fees.

Cons

  • No branches. This is a fully-only bank, so you can’t visit a branch for in-person support.
  • Small product selection. It offers one savings account, one money market account and a handful of CDs.
  • Difficult cash deposits. You either have to mail a check or money order to deposit cash since Synchrony is an online bank.

Marcus

Best for CD rates

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings is an online bank offering up some of the best CD rates in the nation. You’ll also find relatively low opening deposits, making this bank a win for anyone who wants to lock in a competitive rate.
Pros
  • Several term options. Marcus CDs start at six months with a 0.15% APY and go up to six years with a 0.6% APY.
  • 10-day CD rate guarantee. This guarantee means you’ll automatically get bumped up to a higher interest rate if APYs increase within 10 days of funding your account.
  • Marcus no-penalty CD. This 7-month CD earns a competitive 0.45% APY and lets you make penalty-free withdrawals after seven days of opening.

Cons

  • No branches. Marcus is entirely online, which means you can’t visit a branch for support.
  • No partial withdrawals. You’ll have to withdraw your full balance and close out your account if you need to access funds before your CD matures.

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.

Pros

  • Strong rates. The HSBC Direct Savings account earns a solid 0.15% APY.
  • Account incentives. HSBC Advance and Premier savings account holders can enroll in a rewards program and gain exclusive access to HSBC perks.
  • 24/7 customer service. Customer support is available weekly by live chat.

Cons

  • Inconsistent rates. While the HSBC Direct Savings account has one of the highest rates we’ve seen at 0.15%, other HSBC savings accounts top out at 0.01%.
  • Slow customer service. This bank has 24/7 customer service but many customers complain about sluggish wait times.

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.

Pros

  • Strong APYs. Interest rates range from 1.75% to 1.90% depending on which account you choose.
  • Management tools available. Virtual Wallet is a checking and savings account in one that allows you to strategically organize and keep track of your money.
  • Sign up bonuses. Open a Virtual Wallet account and get a $50, $200 or $300 bonus.

Cons

  • Limited availability. Anyone in the US can open a Virtual Wallet account, but you must live in a state with a PNC Financial Services Group branch to open a High Yield Savings account.
  • Monthly fees. Some of PNC Financial Services Group‘s savings accounts have monthly fees, but you can avoid them by keeping a monthly balance or setting up auto transfers.

Best banks overall

These institutions are known for offering strong banking products across all categories: checking, savings, CDs and more.

Chase

Best for signup bonuses

Chase has plenty of enticing signup bonuses to get you in the door, but monthly fees and low APYs may counteract the upfront cash. Before signing up, review the terms and conditions of the account to make sure you can comfortably meet any minimum requirements.

Pros

  • Sign up offers. Get $300 when you open a Chase Total Business Checking with qualifying activities and more.
  • Convenience. Chase has over 16,000 ATMs and 4,700 branches across the US. You can also manage all your Chase accounts, credit cards and loans in one place using the mobile app.

Cons

  • Low interest rates. Chase does a good job of getting people in the door with attractive signup bonuses, but some of its underlying accounts only earn around 0.01% APY.
  • Monthly service fees. Most accounts have service fees of $5 to $25 or more.
  • Below-average customer service. Chase is one of the four largest banks in the nation, which means you may get stuck with long wait times if you need assistance.

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.

Pros

  • Interest rates. Ally’s checking option comes with up to a 0.15% interest rate, and its high-interest savings account has a 0.5% APY.
  • Low fees. Benefit from $0 monthly maintenance and account opening fees.
  • Financial education. Ally has a comprehensive learning center on its website that teaches customers how to establish good financial habits.

Cons

  • No branches. This bank operates entirely online, so it’s hard to deposit cash or bank in person.
  • Withdrawal limits. You can’t withdraw more than $1,000 a day from your Ally checking account.
  • Limited product selection. Ally doesn’t offer any business accounts, credit cards or personal loans.

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.

Pros

  • Round up. The Keep the Change Savings Program takes the difference between each debit purchase and its value rounded up to the nearest dollar, then stashes money in your savings account.
  • Cashback deals. Select cashback deals every month with BankAmeriDeals and get rewarded for credit and debit purchases.
  • Wide suite. Bank of America offers checking, savings, CD, business, credit card, home loan, auto loan and investing accounts.

Cons

  • Account fees. All checking accounts have monthly fees, but BoA waives them if you meet certain requirements.
  • Low interest rates. You’ll find much higher rates with online-only banks.

Alliant Credit Union

Best credit union

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

Pros

  • Accessible ATMs. With 80,000 $0-surcharge ATMs, Alliant has one of the largest networks.
  • No minimum deposits. Many accounts don’t carry a minimum deposit.
  • Solid interest rates. Savings can earn 1.65% APY, and checking can earn 0.45% APY.
  • Easy membership eligibility. Anyone can join Alliant if they make a $5 donation to Alliant’s partner charity, Foster Care to Success.

Cons

  • Few branches. Alliant only has two branch locations, so in-person support is limited.

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.

Pros

  • Large ATM network. TIAA Bank has over 80,000 free ATMs through the Allpoint and MoneyPass networks.
  • Low fees. Some accounts don’t have associated monthly fees. Others have fees you can avoid by maintaining a certain account balance.
  • Earns interest. The only two accounts that aren’t interest bearing are the TIAA Bank Business Checking and Business Analysis accounts.

Cons

  • $1,500 to open. Every TIAA Bank business account has a minimum $1,500 opening deposit.
  • Limited free transactions. There’s a cap on how many free transactions come with each checking account. Once you hit that limit, you’ll pay a small fee for each deposit.

How do I find the best bank for me?

Ideally, you want to be able to manage all of your finances through one bank. This can simplify your life and increase the likelihood you’ll qualify for loyalty rewards and discounts. To find the best bank for you consider the following:

  • Products and services. Start by comparing the products and services offered by the institutions you’re considering. Most major banks offer online banking services, but some smaller establishments have yet to catch up. If you’ll be depending on online banking, be sure it’s available.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reputation. Check customer reviews and ratings to get a sense of a bank’s reputation. Ask friends and family if they’ve used the bank before and be mindful of any red flags.

Bank and credit union alternatives

If you’re trying to get away from traditional banks and credit unions, here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Digital banks. These institutions offer fully digital bank accounts on the cutting edge of technology. Most come with budgeting tools, early direct deposits and ways to automate your savings.
  • Cash management accounts. Accounts like Betterment Cash Reserve and SoFi Money are offered by brokerage firms and integrate seamlessly with your investment account. They’re typically FDIC insured through a partner bank.
  • Prepaid cards. With a prepaid card, you can spend money in real-time without having to worry about overdrawing your account or racking up credit card interest. They’re also a good option for those with no credit or bad credit.

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.

BankHeadquartersNumber of offices
Bank of AmericaNorth Carolina4,475
JPMorgan ChaseNew York5,146
Wells FargoCalifornia5,875
CitigroupNew York717
US BankMinnesota3,131
Capital One Virginia605
PNCPennsylvania2,481
Charles SchwabCalifornia2
Morgan StanleyNew York3
BB&TNorth Carolina1,971
Suntrust BanksGeorgia1,243

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 unionNumber of offices
Navy Federal330
SECU365
PenFed50
BECU57
SchoolsFirst52
Golden 173
Alliant2
America First128
First Tech43
Security Service FCU67
Suncoast Credit Union67
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Best banks and credit unions by state

Use this list to compare top banks and credit unions in California, New York and Texas:

Online vs. Brick-and-mortar: Which is better?

Online-only banks generally offer a better mobile-banking experience and they can afford to offer more attractive interest rates because they have lower operating expenses than brick-and-mortar banks. On the other hand, physical banks make it easier to deposit cash and access ATMs. Plus, they allow you to meet with bank tellers and bank managers face-to-face.

Ultimately, online banks and brick-and-mortar banks each have appealing features and choosing between them boils down to your specific needs and expectations. But if you want the best of both, look for an online bank that offers many ways for you to get a hold of customer service and allows you to deposit cash and offers mobile check deposits.

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.

Large banksSmaller banks
More products and services
National presence
Lower fees
Better customer service
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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 APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 1.00%
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
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.
Citibank® Account Package
Citibank® Account Package
0.50%
$0
No access to ATMs
$2.50
Earn a $300 bonus after opening new eligible checking and savings accounts and completing required activities.
HSBC Premier Checking
Finder Rating: 2.7 / 5: ★★★★★
HSBC Premier Checking
0.01%
$1
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
Get a 3% cash bonus in the first six months (up to $600) or $450 welcome bonus when you open your account with qualifying activities. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by June 30, 2021, 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.
Chime Spending account
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Spending account
N/A
$0
38,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$2.50
Get rid of fees with this financial app offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
Finder Rating: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank Essential Checking
N/A
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
OnJuno
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
OnJuno
Up to 2.15%
$0
more than 85,000 ATMs nationwide
$0
OnJuno embraces an open banking system for everyone, regardless of their age, location, or income.
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Compare up to 4 providers

$
$
months
Name Product Annual percentage yield (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open Interest earned
American Express® High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
American Express® High Yield Savings
0.40%
$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.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
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 $15 per month for Aspiration Plus ($12.50 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.
Chime Savings
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Savings
0.50%
$0
$0
Grow your savings automatically with recurring transfers, round-ups on debit card purchases and 0.5% APY.
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
0.61%
$0
$250
No monthly maintenance fees. No minimum balance requirements. Interest compounded daily.
Discover Online Savings Account
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Discover Online Savings Account
0.40%
$0
$0
Take advantage of a high-interest online savings account with no fees, no minimums and more.
UFB Direct High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
UFB Direct High Yield Savings
0.20%
$0
$100
Earn an APY when your balance is higher than $10,000 with this no-monthly-fee savings account.
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