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By Kerri Anne Renzulli
October 21, 2019
Illustrations by Jared Oriel

As Americans do more and more of their banking online, finding the right bank has only gotten more complicated. The good news: For those that put in the homework, the perks and payouts banks are offering to win your business keep getting better too.

Illustration by Tim Boelaars

It’s been more than 30 years since the first experiments with digital banking began and in that time Americans have become savvier and more demanding of our banks — both in branch and onscreen.

Mobile check deposit, account balance updates, even texts sent when your account dips below $50 are old news. Today, we expect banks to offer it. To woo us, the best banks instead boast Venmo-like person-to-person payment options, digital trouble-shooting so you don’t have to go in-branch, and money management help for those who need it, says Paul McAdam, senior director of banking services for J.D. Power. That way you’ll never again have to wait till 9 a.m. Monday to get the answer you need.

And we’re likely to see the best banks continue focusing on our onscreen experiences over in-branch ones because already 29% of people do all their banking digitally, while another 13% admit to visiting a branch only once every three months, according to J.D. Power.

But that doesn’t mean the branch isn’t still an important factor in our banking. More than two-thirds of us still pop into our bank for something at least a few times a year.

Overall, we feel happier after opening an account inside a bank than we do online, J.D. Power’s data show, and that’s because we have a better understanding of the product and its fees, says McAdam.

Whether you lean to the comfort of a branch or the convenience of online, finding the best bank for you can pay off — literally.

With new online banks and other financial startups appearing on the scene to compete for your business, banks have been fighting more fiercely than ever for your deposits. That’s translated into better interest rates, improved mobile apps, and fewer fees available to savvy customers willing to look beyond the big nationally recognized banks.

“You’re always going to come out ahead by shopping around, says Brian Karimzad, founder of MagnifyMoney, Money's data partner for this edition of our annual Best Banks rankings.

But that does mean you’ve got to be open to both looking for these gems and switching your accounts over when you do spot one.

To help you find the banks offering the best combination of modern-day convenience, quality products, and friendly customer service, Money analyzed accounts at more than 235 financial institutions. We’ve named the best banks by region as well as the best online bank, the best credit union, and the best big bank. (We also found the best CD and high-yield checking and savings accounts.)

Our eight regional Best Banks winners were chosen because of their free or low-cost checking and savings account options, competitive ATM fees, and above-average customer service, based on J.D. Power’s 2019 Customer Satisfaction study.

Read on to find the Best Bank no matter where you live:

Pacific: Banner Bank

Why it wins: Banner’s approach to fees makes it a rarity among traditional banks. Not only does it not charge out-of-network ATM fees, it will reimburse surcharges for withdrawals made from any U.S. ATMs. The best part? You don’t need a fancy account to get those perks. Its basic checking account option comes with no monthly service fees, only requires $50 to setup, and will cover four ATM surcharges each month. Banner also has the happiest customers in the region, topping J.D. Power’s 2019 Retail Banking Satisfaction survey for the Northwest for the third year in a row.

Caveat: All of Banner’s savings account options come with a monthly service fee, which can be waived if certain conditions are met. Its basic savings account charges a $3 monthly fee, unless you set up an automatic transfer of at least $25 a month from your Banner checking account or maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $100.

Where you can find it: Calif., Idaho, Ore., Wash.

Key account: Interest Checking

Monthly service fee: $7. The fee can be waived with a minimum daily balance of $1,500.

Interest rate: 0.05% on any balance, plus $.05 back on every debit card purchase.

Outside ATM fee: $0

Mountain West: WaFd Bank (formerly Washington Federal)

Why it wins: Washington Federal, or WaFd Bank, as it has now rebranded itself, offers a checking account with no monthly service fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no out-of-network ATM fees when you sign up for e-statements and direct deposit. It’s easy to avoid surcharges other ATM owners might charge too, as the bank belongs to the MoneyPass network, meaning its customers get fee-free access to more than 32,000 ATMs across the country. Its savings account option only requires a $100 minimum balance to earn an above-average interest payout of 0.1% and avoid a $3 monthly service fee.

Caveat: With only 236 branch locations spread across eight states, fans of in-person banking may struggle depending on where they live.

Where you can find it: Ariz., Idaho, Nev., N.M., Ore., Texas, Utah, Wash.

Key account: Free Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $0

Finalist: Montana and Wyoming residents should look at Glacier Bank or one of its divisions. Glacier’s Totally Free Checking Account comes with no monthly service fee and no minimum balance requirements, though it does charge $2 every time you use another company’s ATMs.

Great Lakes: Huntington National

Why it wins: Huntington’s Asterisk-free checking account comes with no monthly service fee or necessary minimum balance.

If you’ve got $5,000 or more to park, you can sign up for another account that earns 0.05% interest on all balance amounts and refunds five out-of-network ATM surcharges per statement period. And both accounts offer free a 24-hour grace period to deposit cash to prevent overdrawing. Your savings can earn between 0.05% and 0.20% interest, depending on the checking account you link to it.

Finally, Huntington lands among the top two banks for customer satisfaction in the region, while its online and mobile app experience made customers happier than any other traditional bank’s did, according to J.D. Power’s Banking Satisfaction studies.

Caveat: Unless you use one of the bank’s 1,800 ATMs to get cash, you’ll face a steep $3 out-of-network fee.

Where you can find it: Ill., Ind., Ky., Mich., Ohio, Pa., W.Va.

Key account: Asterisk-Free Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $3

Mid-Atlantic: Capital One

Why it wins: Capital One may be well-known for its online banking, but it’s not just a digital presence. The bank’s 492 branches and cafes (yes, cafes that actually sell coffee as well as financial products) allow customers to enjoy a human touch while taking advantage of the higher interest rates typically offered by online-only banks.

Capital One’s 360 Checking Account requires $0 to open, comes with no monthly fees, and pays 0.2% interest on balances under $50,000. Plus, free access to more than 39,000 Capital One or Allpoint ATMs. It’s 360 Performance Savings account also comes with no monthly service fees but pays 1.9%, or more than 20 times the average interest rate, no matter how much or how little money you keep in there.

And as you might expect from a bank that operates digitally in every state, it’s a top scorer when it comes to online and mobile banking customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.

Caveat: Depending on where you live, there may not be a convenient full-service branch location. Cafes cannot perform all typical banking functions, such as providing a cashier’s check.

Where you can find it: Conn., D.C., Del., La., Md., N.J., N.Y., Texas, Va.

Key account: 360 Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $0

New England: Berkshire Bank

Why it wins: Berkshire offers a couple checking account options that come with no monthly fees or necessary minimum balance, but its standout account, called GPS checking, gives you free ATM access to any cashpoint in the country and waives all foreign ATM fees the bank usually charges.

The catch? You must use your debit card at least 15 times per statement cycle to receive those ATM surcharge refunds. Its Statement Savings Account pays an above average 0.25% on balances greater than $10 and only requires a $250 minimum daily balance to avoid the $5 monthly maintenance fee.

Caveat: If you don't make at least 15 debit transactions per month, it will be difficult to avoid paying the bank's $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee as it only operates 135 branches across seven states.

Where you can find it: Conn., Mass., N.J., N.Y., Pa., Vt.,

Key account: GPS Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $2.50

Finalist: If you live in New Hampshire or Maine, check out NBT Bank. It charges a below-average, $1.25, out-of-network ATM fee and offers a free online checking account that pays a small amount of interest.

South: Bank OZK

Why it wins: Bank OZK offers a free checking account that comes with no monthly service fees or balance requirements, beyond the $100 needed to open it. Plus, its $1 out-of-network ATM fee falls well-below average for the region. Set up direct deposit and you can upgrade to a free checking account that reimburses four ATM surcharges a month or pays a small bit of interest.

Caveat: It’s only savings account option comes with a low 0.05% interest rate and a $3 monthly service fee, if the balance dips below $100.

Where you can find it: Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., N.C., N.Y., S.C., Texas

Key account: My Choice Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $1. Bank OZK will waive the fee and reimburse up to four ATM surcharges charged by other banks each month if enrolled in direct deposit.

Finalist: If you live in Louisiana, check out our Mid-Atlantic region winner, Capital One, which also operates more than 100 branches within the state.

Texas: Frost Bank

Why it wins: In Texas, the happiest customers bank with Frost. J.D. Power rated it the best bank in the state for customer satisfaction both this year and in 2018. It’s checking account does come with an $8 monthly service, but it can easily be waived with a $100 monthly direct deposit or a minimum daily balance of $1,000. Keep more than $5,000 in the account and it will begin earning 0.03% interest.

Caveat: While Frost has more than 1,200 ATMs throughout Texas, you’ll have to pay the $2 out-of-network ATM fee if you venture beyond the border and need cash.

Where you can find it: Texas

Key account: Personal Checking

Monthly service fee: $8. The fee can be waived with a $100 direct deposit or daily minimum balance of $1,000.

Outside ATM fee: $2

Midwest: First National Bank of Omaha

Why it wins: First National Bank of Omaha’s approach to fees makes it a clear winner. It offers several checking account options that require no minimum deposit or monthly service fee.

The bank also participates in a large national network of ATMs, making it easier to avoid out-of-network surcharges, and won’t charge you for using another company’s ATM. Finally, First National will automatically refund one $33 overdraft fee every 12 months. All of that is likely why the bank ranks in the top two for customer satisfaction in the region, according to J.D. Power.

Caveat: With only a 100 or so locations, you may be a long ride away from your nearest branch.

Where you can find it: Colo., Ill., Iowa, Kans., Neb., S.D., Texas

Key account: First National Checking

Monthly service fee: $0

Outside ATM fee: $0


Money partnered with to produce this year’s Best Banks rankings. provided account terms for more than 130 traditional banking financial institutions that had physical branches. Our team reviewed account minimums and qualifications, interest rates, monthly service fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, overdraft protection fees, insufficient funds fees, debit card replacement fees, domestic wire transfer fees, and online banking capabilities.

When selecting finalists, priority was given to checking and savings accounts with no or easily waived monthly fees, free ATMs, and higher interest rates. In naming free accounts, we assumed customers would be okay with receiving e-statements to avoid a monthly fee.

When available, we weighed customer service ratings from J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, 2019 Online Banking Satisfaction Survey, and 2019 Mobile Banking Satisfaction Survey. Money’s edit team independently fact-checked information in September and October.