Best banks for customer experience
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Decades ago, banks with extended branch hours and friendly phone support stood out for providing superior customer experiences. Now, financial institutions also need to dazzle you with their digital banking offerings.
While it’s more complicated for banks to juggle ever-more channels that are equal parts high-touch and high-tech, it’s easier for you to get what you need done on your own terms whenever you wish.
The most impressive banks these days will offer easy-to-use mobile apps as well as make their customer representatives available on the phone 24/7. They will also support a large ATM network in addition to newer services like Zelle and Apple Pay.
Of course, what features matter most in bank interactions will vary. You may prefer withdrawing cash at ATMs to using mobile wallets to buy stuff. You may want to speak to a human rather than a robot to get your questions answered.
But here is the good news: There are more options than ever before to meet your specific needs. We examined data from Bankrate’s bank reviews to determine the top bank providers of customer experience more broadly. These banks scored well in their mobile apps, ATM network and convenience of customer support hours and locations, among other factors. Here are the top banks.
The top banks for customer experience:
Chase is well-known and widely used. It is the largest bank by assets and it invests in its oldest and newest channels.
Chase supports a robust branch network and continues to expand its footprint in new markets. More recently, the bank started hosting small group events held at some of its branches. Called “Chase Chats,” the series of live events explores financial health-related subjects, like finding ways to save more.
The bank also supports an impressive mobile banking app that has earned favorable reviews in the app stores. On the app, you can open accounts, pay bills, set up travel notifications for your cards, among other time-saving features. More recently, the app started supporting something less typical: it publishes a daily highlight of your money’s comings and goings (visuals included) in what it calls “today’s snapshot.”
Chase offers 24/7 representatives on the phone. If you prefer to avoid a wait on a 1-800 number, you can send a message to a bank representative from within the app.
The bank has won accolades for customer satisfaction in previous years. In 2018, Chase earned the highest marks of the largest banks in a J.D. Power study that analyzed customer satisfaction.
Chase earned 5 out of 5 stars for customer experience in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Makes investments in digital and physical channels.
Where it could offer more: You can find banks, such as Ally Bank and Chime, with a larger ATM network elsewhere.
The San Francisco-based bank is another option for those wanting a banking experience that delivers on two fronts: Wells Fargo boasts more branches than any other bank in the U.S. and it offers a mobile app with progressive features.
Two things in particular set Wells Fargo apart in digital banking: One, the app includes a feature that helps you understand what you’re paying for and when. It’s called Control Tower and it shows you where you’ve shared your card data to get recurring services, like a gym membership or Hulu. Think of it as a reminder service. Two, the bank lets you share your data on popular apps, like Mint, in a safer and more reliable way than in years’ past.
The megabank supports 13,000 ATMs. When you use the bank’s ATMs, the screen will highlight your most common transactions, such as the amount you most often take out. The ATM screen will also wish you happy birthday when it’s your big day. You can also reach bank representatives on the phone 24/7.
Wells Fargo earned 5 out of 5 stars for customer experience in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Provides progressive digital banking features and a large branch network.
Where it could offer more: It’s still recovering from a major sales scandal where customer accounts were opened without their permission.
The online bank has long been recognized for its killer customer service and for good reason. Not only are bank representatives available 24/7 by phone and by live chat, but the bank establishes expectations on how long you have to wait before you even try to call them. You can find the estimated wait time on its website as well as on its mobile app.
The direct bank has also been a leader in other customer experience initiatives. For example, Ally has offered a virtual assistant in its app that lets customers ask their questions verbally (a la Apple’s Siri) or typed (a la text messaging) since 2015. You can also interact with Ally on Alexa-enabled devices to find out your account balance and get other information while your hands are tied up with cooking or something else.
While you will give up access to branches by choosing Ally, you will gain access to a larger ATM network. By partnering with Allpoint network, Ally provides free access to 43,000 ATMs. More strikingly, the bank gives you the option to put controls on your payment cards. On the mobile app, you can set spending limits, for example. If you tend to overspend, this feature might help you.
Ally Bank earned 5 out of 5 stars for customer experiences in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Makes 24/7 agents available and offers a virtual assistant.
Where it could offer more: You are giving up on being able to bank at a branch.
Bank of America
The big bank offers edgier digital features, an extensive branch network and more than 16,000 ATMs — that is fewer ATMs than what Ally offers but more than what Wells Fargo makes available.
In what may be (arguably) most impressive, the bank has earned accolades as a top performer in how quickly customer problems are resolved. According to J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Bank of America is a leader at letting customers solve their problems through self-serve channels — no branch representative required.
At Bank of America, you will have access to a mobile app that stands out from many of its rivals. There, on the app, you can ask an automated assistant, Erica, all kinds of financial questions. You can also get warnings if and when the bank’s technology believes you are in danger of overdrafting.
If you need to visit a branch, the bank lets you schedule an appointment online.
Bank of America earned 4.8 out of 5 stars for customer experience in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Supports a useful mobile banking app and excels at solving customer problems.
Where it could offer more: As a deposit customer, you won’t have access to phone agents 24/7.
Citibank provides the kind of access you ought to expect from a big bank: It offers 65,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. and makes bank representatives available 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the phone. You can find banks with a larger branch footprint, but you will still have in-person options. All told, Citi supports more than 700 branches.
But it’s more striking in other customer experience areas. For example, Citibank lets everybody use its bank app *without* having to sign up for a Citi account. In other words, you get to test a bank online before committing to it. But you won’t have access to the full menu of the bank’s mobile features until you get an account. Some of those app features include letting you: deposit checks, pay bills, turn your card off if it goes missing and click to connect to a financial adviser.
If you’re still underwhelmed by their digital products, you can play an active role in crafting future ones. Through the bank’s Canvas community, you can provide Citi input on what you want to see out of its financial products.
Citibank earned 4.6 out of 5 stars for customer experience in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Offers a large ATM network and provides useful digital banking tools.
Where it could offer more: You can find banks with a larger branch network elsewhere.
PNC Bank offers a robust branch network, with about 18,000 ATMs and digital tools that plenty of banks don’t have.
Since 2009, PNC has offered a mobile app for Virtual Wallet customers that comes stocked with atypical digital banking features. For example, customers can get alerts about days that they’re at risk of running out of money. PNC also supports standard mobile banking features, like mobile check deposit and sending someone money through the app.
It is among the banks going countertrend and opening branches in new markets. Beyond opening accounts and other standard transactions, PNC uses its branches to train consumers on digital banking tools.
PNC is hard at work on new ideas, too. It recently launched a startup subsidiary to test and nurture new products, including bank products.
To make it easier for customers to access cash, the bank recently expanded access to free ATMs: PNC owns 9,000 ATMs and provides access to another 9,000 ATMs at convenience stores through a partnership.
PNC Bank earned 4.6 out of 5 stars for customer experience in Bankrate’s review.
Where it shines: Supports 2,400 branches and offers digital money management tools.
Where it could offer more: You won’t have access to 24/7 customer care consultants via the phone.
Banks are spending a lot of time and resources to improve your banking experiences. If you want a bank that offers a highly regarded app without giving up a branch, you can find it. Do your research to find a bank that offers the features that matter most to you.
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