Our pick for an online California-based bank: CIT Bank Savings Builder High Yield Savings Account
- Monthly fees: $0
- Interest compounded daily
- Minimum deposit to open: $100
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CIT Bank is an online-only institution headquartered in Pasadena, California. Although it serves customers nationwide, its California roots make it a great option for those who want to bank online and support a local institution. As of 2016, the bank has reinvested nearly $5 billion in the Southern California community to promote affordable housing, economic development, education and access to credit.
Another attractive perk is that it doesn’t charge monthly fees for any account, so you won’t have to worry about meeting certain requirements every month. The only downside is that you need at least $100 to open most accounts.
It has a robust mobile app, which allows you to e-deposit checks, pay bills, manage your transaction history and more.
This bank has extended customer service hours on the weekdays and Saturdays, which is ideal if you work during normal business hours and don’t have time to get assistance during the day.
Union Bank also has a user-friendly mobile app, which allows you to deposit checks on the go, pay bills and set up customized alerts for your account and debit card.
All of Golden 1’s basic checking and savings accounts are free of monthly fees and have a low, $1 opening deposit. Although you’re required to keep a $100 minimum balance to earn dividends for some accounts. The bank’s APYs aren’t the highest, but they’re still better than what you’ll find at most traditional banks.
Golden 1 is part of the CO-OP ATM network, which gives its members free access to over 30,000 ATMs across the country.
As with most credit unions, it’s known for its strong customer service reputation. You can chat with a representative by phone, email or at a local branch — giving you the ability to get help when and how you need it.
As a Golden 1 member, you get access to free financial tools that help you create a budget, organize transactions and track your monthly spending.
Consumers and businesses alike can find a wide variety of checking, savings and CD accounts at Bank of the West. It has low opening deposits, with some accounts requiring as little as $0 to get started. There are some monthly fees, but there are fewer hoops to jump through to avoid them.
Businesses may find this regional bank extra appealing thanks to its straightforward checking accounts. It offers one basic account with 100 monthly transactions and a premium account with unlimited transactions.
Its customer service options are convenient. You can chat with a customer support representative by phone, live chat on the bank’s website or face-to-face at a local branch. It even offers in-person appointments for those needing one-on-one help.
East West is one of the largest independent banks in Southern California. It opened its doors in 1973 to serve Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles. Today, it has over 125 branches spread throughout the US and Greater China.
East West Bank has a string of checking and savings accounts, including those specifically for students and seniors. Perhaps its biggest perk is that most accounts come with an ATM or debit card, so you can access your money on the go.
Most checking accounts are free to open and maintain. There are monthly fees for some savings accounts, but you can avoid them when you meet certain direct deposit or minimum balance requirements.
East West Bank has over 130 branches in the US and China. It partners with Allpoint and MoneyPass to bring you over 88,000 free ATMs worldwide. This means that even if you bank with this regional institution, you’ll have free access to your money wherever you go.
Customer service is available on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. You can also send a secure message on its website or visit a local branch if you prefer.
To find the best banks and credit unions in California, we researched over 20 institutions to find which ones are headquartered in or primarily serve Californians. From there, we looked at factors like account types, features, branch locations, customer service and accessibility to narrow down our list to the top five.
California has a lot to offer when it comes to banking options. Whether you’re looking for high APYs or a personal banking experience, there’s bound to be an institution that’s right for you.
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