New technology may mean fewer reasons to go into a bank.
But even though simple transactions can be conducted online or using a mobile app, the number of branches in the U.S. has only seen a slight decline, according to Bankrate’s analysis of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) data as of Sept. 10. This includes branches and main offices.
Wells Fargo is still the bank with the most branches in the U.S. In fact, about 6 percent of bank branches in America are Wells Fargo branches.
It has hundreds more branches than Chase and nearly 1,200 more than Bank of America. Wells Fargo also has the most branches in nine states and Washington, D.C.
Here’s a look at the bank that has the most locations in each state, and the nation’s capital.
Overall, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has about 5,400 full-service branches, according to the FDIC data analyzed by Bankrate.
JPMorgan Chase isn’t far behind with about 5,000 full-service branches nationwide. The bank headquartered in New York has the second most branches in the U.S., including the most in six states.
Overall, the number of Wells Fargo branches declined 2.86 percent from June 30, 2020 compared with a year earlier. Meanwhile, the total number of bank branches/offices in the U.S. declined around 1.6 percent over the same time period.
Noteworthy changes from 2019
BB&T had the most branches in North Carolina and Virginia in 2019, and retained both titles as Truist this year.
Here’s a look at banks that changed top ranks in certain states:
- Truist replaced Wells Fargo in Florida.
- Truist replaced Wells Fargo in Georgia.
- Truist replaced PNC in Maryland.
- Trustmark National Bank replaced Regions Bank in Mississippi.
- TD Bank replaced Citizens Bank in New Hampshire.
- Wells Fargo replaced PNC in New Jersey.
- Bancfirst replaced Arvest Bank in Oklahoma.
Branches are slowly disappearing
Some experts predict bank branches are heading for extinction. Indeed, there has been a consistent net loss of locations operated by financial institutions for the last several years. Since there are fewer in-bank transactions, there are also fewer tellers.
New players in the space such as Ally Bank have sprung up without any physical locations for customers to transact. Other institutional players have spun out online-only subsidiaries such as Citizens Access, HSBC Direct, Investors eAccess, Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Popular Direct from Popular Bank.
Online banking customers deposit checks by snapping a picture, get their cash at ATMs and open new accounts from their phone or computer. And without having to pay to operate physical locations, online banks are often able to offer higher interest rates and lower fees on deposit accounts than their traditional competitors.
“Banking online-only is certainly feasible most of the time for many consumers,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst. “But the occasional need for a safe deposit box, a signature guarantee, a cashier’s check or just making a large cash deposit are a lot easier if you have access to a local branch.”
You can have accounts with both online-only and traditional financial institutions and easily transfer funds between the two, McBride says.
“Different consumers value different attributes. Aspects like a large branch network, a national or regional presence, broad product lineup, and convenience will carry different levels of importance depending on your individual needs and circumstances,” he says.
JPMorgan Chase vs. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo still leads Chase for the most branches, even though it has around 159 fewer branches as of June 30, 2020, compared with a year earlier. But Chase’s total of branches only decreased by around 45 during that one year period.
“Branches continue to play an important role in the way we serve our customers, but as customer preferences change, so will our branches and the experiences customers have in them,” says a Wells Fargo spokesperson.
“We are expecting it [the pandemic] to accelerate branch consolidations,” says Brandon Larson, executive vice president at fintech firm Novantas.
Larson says there are a couple of factors going into that.
- A down rate environment that puts more pressure on cost saving as banks try and find ways to reduce expenses.
- Changing channel preferences: People are becoming more digital. That has been accelerated through COVID-19, but was going on well in advance of the pandemic as well.
“More consolidation is expected across the industry, for sure,” Larson says.
Larson says Novantas saw some people go from using technology a little bit to a lot.
“Some of the smaller banks did see increased adoptions of digital capabilities,” Larson says. “Larger banks had kind of mixed results on that front. But everybody saw increased utilization.”
Wells Fargo and JPMorgan are certainly trying to create seamless omnichannel experiences by balancing out their large brick-and-mortar presences with growing suites of digital offerings.
Wells Fargo is on pace to fall behind JPMorgan Chase Bank as the No. 1 operator of bank branches. Although both financial institutions consolidated their locations in recent years, Wells Fargo is shrinking at a faster pace than its closest competitor.
Chase has expanded its presence, according to FDIC data. As of June 30, 2019 the bank was in 29 states. A year later it’s in 39 states.
JPMorgan’s consumer and community banking serves roughly 63 million U.S. households, according to its 2019 annual report. Wells Fargo boasts serving one in three households in the United States.
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Note: Adrian Garcia contributed to a previous version of this story.