5 Best National Banks

Tony ArmstrongAug 6, 2021

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The best national banks are available across the country and offer extensive ATM networks as well as features like sign-up bonuses and strong interest rates. Some have brick-and-mortar locations, and others are available only online.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict to make sure our coverage is fair and accurate, so you can choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for .

» If you're interested in the best banks and credit unions overall,

Bank of America offers good accessibility and communication channels, but like other large brick-and-mortar banks, interest rates are minimal.

Chase's checking sign-up bonus sets it apart from other large banks, and it has locations and ATMs across the U.S. Accounts come with monthly fees that are fairly easy to avoid, but interest is low on checking and savings accounts.

» Interested in sign-up bonuses? 

Discover is an online bank with a rewards checking account and competitive yields on savings and certificates of deposit.

» Find savings accounts with rates around 0.40% on 

Alliant offers nationwide accessibility, highly competitive interest rates and no monthly fees across deposit accounts.

Ally has no physical branches, but has 24/7 customer support as well as low fees and high interest rates.

» Compare rates on certificates of deposit with this month.

» Wondering if better options are available? See  overall.

Keep in mind that having branch access usually means paying more in fees and earning less interest. If you're curious what you'd be giving up in returns, run your balance through our calculator.

For the purposes of this roundup, national banks are financial institutions with a presence in at least 15 states. For banks with branches, we considered only those that had at least 1,000 locations, but some of the banks are online and have no branches. Accounts at these online banks are available to people living in almost every state.

Big, national banks serve more of the country than regional or community banks do. A regional bank might serve only a few neighboring states; a community bank might serve only one city within a state.

National banks tend to have more technological resources and a wider variety of products than a smaller bank; on the other hand, smaller banks can offer more personalized service.

The best national brick-and-mortar banks don't always pay the highest interest rates on savings products. Like other brick-and-mortar banks, they might pay around the national average for savings — — or less.

And like other online banks, the best national online banks often have higher APYs. It's not hard to find rates of 0.40% or above.

» Find the best rates on savings with 

That depends on what you're looking for. If your biggest priority is in-person accessibility, a national, brick-and-mortar bank might be a good fit. You're more likely to find a branch no matter where you live. If you're interested in the best rates and large ATM networks, one of the best national online banks might be a good fit.

If having access to a branch far from home isn't a priority and you really value in-person, personalized service, a regional or community bank might be better for you.

Not necessarily. Many of NerdWallet's picks for best national bank are online, because they often offer better interest rates on deposits than brick-and-mortar banks do. But some brick-and-mortar banks stand out for other reasons, such as solid sign-up bonuses or customer service.

» Find out what

Many online banks allow people to sign up from almost anywhere in the U.S., while most brick-and-mortar banks have some states they don't serve. For example, Chase has branches along the East and West coasts but doesn’t serve some Western states.

The best national brick-and-mortar banks and the best national online banks have different pros and cons. Brick-and-mortar banks are more likely to offer promotions or welcome bonuses for new accounts, while online banks are more likely to pay higher rates on deposits, often above 0.40% for savings.

While both are available to many people in the U.S., brick-and-mortar banks offer more in-person accessibility, and online banks tend to offer longer customer service hours via phone. Online banks can also offer large ATM networks.

Your money is equally safe in any bank that's insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. As long as your bank has this protection — and most banks do — you're insured for up to $250,000 per person, per ownership category, per bank.

Similarly, your money is equally safe in any credit union that’s insured by the National Credit Union Administration. Credit unions that have this protection insure your money for up to $250,000 per person, per account, per credit union.

» Read up on

Currently, the largest bank in America by deposits is Chase Bank. It has branches in about 45 states and about 16,000 ATMs, as well as extended hours for customer service via phone.

That doesn't necessarily mean Chase is the bank you should choose, though. Weigh its interest rates, fees and additional factors against other options in your area before making a choice.

» Learn more:

There are many ways of rating a bank, but customer satisfaction is an important one. According to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study℠, Chase is the only one of the country’s top five largest banks to win any region.

Chase is the bank best rated for customer satisfaction in Florida and Illinois. It scored 80% or higher with surveyed customers in most other regions.

According to the most recent Federal Reserve data, the top 10 retail banks in the U.S. by assets are:

These banks typically have large branch and ATM networks and offer many different products, as well as long customer service hours. But before signing up with one, you should consider your priorities, including interest rates and accessibility.

The best bank for you depends on which specific services you use the most and which bank has the most branches and ATMs nearby, so it’s worth digging into the details. For example, Wells Fargo makes it slightly easier than Chase or Bank of America to waive fees on basic checking. And Chase doesn’t charge fees for overdraft protection transfers, while Bank of America does. Wells Fargo will charge the fee only if you don’t make a covering deposit or transfer the same day.

You can read more at NerdWallet’s head-to-head comparisons of the country’s biggest banks:

Many national banks consistently offer sign-up bonuses for new customers who open accounts. These days, it’s not unusual to find bonuses of around $150.

You can learn more about bonuses at NerdWallet’s list of the .

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at more than 85 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, internet search traffic and other factors; the nation's largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. For this roundup, we considered only those brick-and-mortar banks with at least 1,000 branches in at least 15 states and broadly available online banks.

Financial institutions surveyed include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Comerica Bank, , , , , E-Trade, , , , , , , , , , , LendingClub, , , , , , , , , Salem Five Direct, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Woodforest Bank and Zions Bank.

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