Best Banks and Credit Unions of 2021

NerdWalletJanuary 5, 2021
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The best bank, credit union or nonbank for you depends on what you’re in the market for: a savings account, a checking account, or both.

NerdWallet spent more than 200 hours comparing and rating dozens of financial institutions, including banks, nonbanks and credit unions, to identify those with the best deposit accounts. (Nonbanks provide many of the same services that traditional institutions offer, but are not technically banks themselves.)

Top Overall: Seven financial service providers earned excellent marks in both our checking and savings categories. If you want to keep your checking and savings accounts at the same institution, go with one of these options.

Our list includes a few credit unions. Generally speaking, credit unions emphasize customer service more than banks do and pay higher interest rates — although online accounts, like the ones on this list, tend to pay great rates, too. Read our article for more on credit unions vs. banks.

Top Savings Accounts: If you’d like to split your accounts between different providers, consider one of these savings accounts. They have annual percentage yields that are much higher than the national average of 0.05%. This is important because people typically use savings accounts to set money aside for goals, such as a trip or a down payment on a house. Your savings will grow faster with one of these accounts. Read more in our article about savings accounts.

Top Checking Accounts: If you’re more interested in checking accounts, these providers offer perks, such as interest or ATM fee reimbursements. And, crucially, they have large ATM networks and don’t charge monthly fees. Since checking accounts hold most people’s daily spending money, they should be easy to access and cheap to maintain. Read more in our article about checking accounts.

Best banks and credit unions:

  • Best overall, best for customer service: Ally Bank

  • Best overall, best for cash-back rewards: Discover Bank

  • Best overall, best for ATM availability: Alliant Credit Union

  • Best overall, best for overdraft options: One Finance

  • Best overall, best for rates: Varo Bank

  • Best overall, best for tools: Chime

  • Best overall, best for interest checking: Connexus Credit Union

  • Best for savings, 0.50% APY (annual percentage yield) as of 11/17/2020: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

  • Best for savings, 0.40% APY: Barclays

  • Best for checking, 0.25% APY: FNBO Direct

  • Best for checking, 0.25% APY: NBKC Bank

  • Best for checking, up to 1.25% APY: Axos Bank

Some of our top overall institutions

Varo Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
  • Over 55,000 free ATMS, no foreign transaction fees.

  • Up to 2.80% APY on savings.

  • Read more in our Varo review.

Alliant Credit Union Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
Ally Bank Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
  • Over 43,000 free ATMs, strong customer service.

  • 0.50% savings APY.

  • Read more in our Ally review.

Discover Bank Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
  • Over 60,000 free ATMs, cash-back rewards.

  • 0.40% savings APY.

  • Read more in our Discover review.

One Finance Spend
NerdWallet rating 
  • Over 55,000 free ATMs; rewards for using auto-save feature.

  • 1.00% savings APY.

Chime Spending Account
NerdWallet rating 

at Chime, Deposits are FDIC Insured

  • Over 38,000 free ATMs; up to $100 in no-fee overdrafts.

  • 0.50% savings APY.

  • Read more in our Chime review.

Connexus Credit Union CD
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
  • Over 54,000 free ATMs; interest checking available.

  • 0.25% savings APY.

  • Read more in our Connexus review.

Some of our top savings accounts

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account
NerdWallet rating 

at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Member FDIC

Barclays Online Savings Account
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

» Looking for more excellent savings options? Browse our best savings accounts

Some of our top checking accounts

Axos Bank® Rewards Checking
NerdWallet rating 

at Axos Bank®, Member FDIC

FNBO Direct Online Checking
NerdWallet rating 
Read review
nbkc bank Everything Account
NerdWallet rating 

at nbkc bank, Member FDIC

» For more checking options, take a look at our best checking accounts

Did you have something more specific in mind? If so, check out these articles:

Savings and money market accounts

Checking accounts

Banks, credit unions and cash management accounts

Best banks and credit unions

Financial institution

Best for ...

Ally Bank

Overall, customer service

Discover Bank

Overall, cash-back rewards

Alliant Credit Union

Overall, ATM availability

One Finance

Overall, flexible overdraft options

Varo Bank

Overall, high rates

Chime

Overall, budgeting tools

Connexus Credit Union

Overall, interest for checking

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Savings, 0.50% APY (annual percentage yield) as of 11/17/2020

Barclays

Savings, 0.40% APY

FNBO Direct

Checking, 0.25% APY

NBKC Bank

Checking, excellent APY

Axos Bank

Checking, 24/7 phone support

Understand how APY works

Find out how compounding interest works in this quick and complete guide to annual percentage yield.

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