When it comes to choosing a financial institution, the branch next door might not be the best match for you
. Finding a bank or credit union you love and that’s right for your financial situation might require you to cast a wider net. Savvy consumers search for a checking account that doesn’t come with the baggage of high fees and a savings account that pays more than a pittance.
Best banks in America:
Bankrate collected thousands of data points to find banks and credit unions that offer the ideal combination of accounts — a free checking account (or one as cheap as possible) and a savings account that pays a high interest rate (or at least keeps the monthly fees at bay).
Not many banks and credit unions do both types of accounts well. Those that do earn their title as one of the best banks in America. Here are our picks.
Best big bank: Capital One
Named America’s best big bank for the third year in a row, Capital One offers top-rated checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards and auto loans. All of Capital One’s deposit products are fee-free, Capital One 360-branded online accounts.
> Complete list of best big banks
- No fees or minimums: There are no minimum balance or deposit requirements, and no fees to worry about on checking and savings accounts.
- High rates: CD and savings account yields are consistently higher than what other big banks offer. Checking account customers can also earn some interest.
- Lots of branches and ATMs: Customers have access to more than 39,000 ATMs through the Allpoint network and more than 700 branches.
Best online bank: Radius Bank
Not quite a household name, Radius Bank earned the top spot among online banks and stands out for its mobile banking app, generous ATM fee rebates, and the payout on checking and savings accounts.
> Complete list of best online banks
- Cash back on debit purchases: While most banks don’t pay perks on their checking accounts, Radius stands out for paying 1 percent cash back (or more) on certain debit purchases.
- Rebates for ATM surcharges: There are an unlimited amount of ATM fee rebates if you go out of the bank’s network.
- Low minimums to open and no minimum balance after that: The minimums to open a checking or savings account at Radius are fairly low. Just $100 to open, and no minimum balance requirement after that.
Best regional bank: Western State Bank
Western State Bank — with branches located in Arizona and North Dakota — is Bankrate’s best regional bank for the second year in a row.
> Complete list of best regional banks
- Low-cost checking: The bank offers a free checking account that keeps monthly checking service fees low.
- ATM access: Western State Bank customers have access to thousands of MoneyPass network ATMs. The bank also offers up to $20 per month in ATM fee refunds.
- Highly-rated mobile app: The bank offers a high-scoring app for Android and iOS devices.
Best credit union: Alliant Credit Union
Chicago-based Alliant Credit Union ranks as the best credit union for the second straight year.
> Complete list of best credit unions
- Competitive APY: The credit union’s High-Rate savings account currently pays 1.65 percent APY.
- Low-cost checking: Alliant’s High-Rate checking account charges no monthly service fees and doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement.
- Highly-rated app: The credit union scores high marks for its digital features and mobile app.
How we chose the best banks
Bankrate gathered checking and savings account data from dozens of brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions and online financial institutions. In doing so, we examined thousands of data points, looking at the fees each institution charges and the deposit rates it offers.
Big banks generally had more than 500 branches across multiple states and regions. Regional banks generally had fewer than 500 branches located in one state or region. Online banks were those without branches or operating as digital financial institutions whose products are widely available online. Credit unions were membership-based organizations regulated by the National Credit Union Administration. Our editorial team used its judgment in cases where there wasn’t a clear delineation between categories.
We chose one checking account and one savings account from each institution. When an institution offered more than one checking account, we chose the one that offered free checking or the fewest barriers to avoid a monthly fee. In cases where an institution offered multiple free checking accounts, we chose the one that paid the highest APY. If it offered more than one savings account, we chose the one that offered the highest APY at the lowest monthly fee.
We assigned a number grade to each institution on a 100-point scale, looking at criteria including monthly service fees, interest rates, ATM fees, mobile app ratings and minimum deposit and minimum balance requirements. We gave the most weight to savings interest rates and low-cost or free checking accounts.