5 Best National Banks

Tony ArmstrongAug 6, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

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.

6 largest national banks

If you're most interested in being able to visit a bank branch, you might want to explore the largest national banks instead. Here are the top six in the U.S., based on their assets, that also have at least 1,000 branches across 15 or more states. You can read more about each in our reviews.

Read more about these banks by clicking on their names:

  1. Chase: Great sign-up bonus for checking; more than 4,700 branches and 16,000 ATMs.

  2. Bank of America: Polished online experience and a virtual financial assistant in the mobile app; about 4,300 branches and about 17,000 ATMs.

  3. Wells Fargo: Easy-to-waive monthly fees on checking; about 4,900 branches and more than 13,000 ATMs.

  4. U.S. Bank: Competitive promotional CD rates; about 2,300 branches and 4,000 ATMs.

  5. Truist Bank (merger of BB&T and SunTrust Bank): Easy online banking; about 2,500 branches and 3,700 ATMs.

  6. PNC Bank: All-in-one account experience for easier money management; about 2,300 branches and 18,000 ATMs.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines 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 evaluating banks and credit unions.

» If you're interested in the best banks and credit unions overall, check out NerdWallet's picks

Brick-and-mortar banks

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®
NerdWallet rating 

at Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC

Bank of America: Best for online banking

  • In-app virtual financial assistant can help with banking tasks.

  • About 4,300 branches in about 35 states and Washington, D.C.

Chase Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 

at Chase, Member FDIC

Chase Bank: Best for sign-up bonuses

  • Offers sign-up bonus of $225 on Chase Total Checking® (expires 1/19/2022).

  • More than 4,700 branches in about 45 states and Washington, D.C.

Online banks

Discover Bank Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Discover Bank: Best for cash back 

  • 1% cash back on debit card purchases, and competitive savings and CD rates.

  • 60,000+ free U.S. ATMs.

Alliant Credit Union Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 

at Alliant Credit Union, Federally insured by the NCUA

Alliant Credit Union: Best for ATMs

  • 0.55% APY on savings with a $100 minimum balance, and solid checking APY.

  • 80,000+ free U.S. ATMs.

Ally Bank Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Ally Bank: Best for customer service

  • 0.50% APY on savings with a $0 minimum balance.

  • 43,000+ free U.S. ATMs.

Best National Banks

Bank of America: Best for online banking

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®
NerdWallet rating 

at Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC

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

  • Robust branch and ATM coverage: The bank has about 4,300 branches in about 35 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Easy to reach customer service: Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Bank of America's customer service through Twitter, handle @BofA_Help, is prompt, and chat support is available online, along with in-app virtual financial assistance.

  • Low rates: The interest is minimal on checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

  • Fees are avoidable: Fees can be avoided through qualifying activities such as using direct deposit or meeting minimum balance requirements.

Chase: Best for sign-up bonuses

Chase Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 

at Chase, Member FDIC

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.

  • Get a bonus: The bank regularly holds promotions for new customers. Right now, a new checking account can fetch you an additional $225 (offer expires 1/19/2022).

  • Fees are avoidable: Sidestep monthly charges on checking by using direct deposits, maintaining minimum daily account balances or keeping a certain amount deposited across linked Chase accounts.

  • Low rates: APYs are minimal for savings products.

  • Many branches and ATMs: Chase has more than 4,700 branches across 45+ states, and 16,000 ATMs.

» Interested in sign-up bonuses? See what other banks are offering

Discover Bank: Best for cash back

Discover Bank Overall Star Rating
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

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

  • Checking comes with rewards: Earn 1% cash back for up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases per month.

  • High rates: APYs on Discover Savings and certificates of deposit are highly competitive.

  • Strong ATM network: Access to 60,000 free ATMs.

  • Fee-free: No monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements on checking and savings accounts.

» Find savings accounts with rates around 0.40% on NerdWallet’s list of best savings accounts

Alliant Credit Union: Best for ATMs

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
NerdWallet rating 

at Alliant Credit Union, Federally insured by the NCUA

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

  • Online credit union with many ATMs: Easy to join and accessible online, Alliant boasts a network of over 80,000 fee-free ATMs.

  • High rates: APYs on deposit accounts are competitive with other online banks.

  • Easy-to-avoid fees and no minimum balances: Monthly fees can be easily dodged, and there is no minimum balance requirement on checking accounts.

Ally Bank: Best for customer service

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

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

  • Online bank with many ATMs: Ally is an online-only bank, but you can access your cash with a robust nationwide ATM network of over 43,000 locations.

  • 24/7 customer service: You can reach live help 24/7 via phone.

  • No monthly fees: There are no monthly fees on checking and savings accounts.

  • High rates: Interest rates are competitive across savings and certificates of deposit.

» Compare rates on certificates of deposit with NerdWallet's best CD rates this month.

Best national banks

Financial institution

Interest rate on savings

Minimum deposit to open savings

Bank of America

0.01%

$100

Chase Bank

0.01% (Rate effective as of 8/6/21. Interest rates are variable and subject to change.)

$0

Discover Bank

0.40%

$0

Alliant Credit Union

0.55%

$5 (deposit made by Alliant)

Ally Bank

0.50%

$0

» Wondering if better options are available? See NerdWallet’s list of best banks and credit unions 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.

Best National Banks

  1. Bank of America: Best for online banking, brick-and-mortar bank with many customer service options.

  2. Chase: Best for bonuses, brick-and-mortar bank with great checking sign-up bonuses and a large branch network.

  3. Discover: Best for cash back, online bank with a competitive savings rate and cash-back checking.

  4. Alliant Credit Union: Best for ATMs, online credit union with high rates and a huge ATM network.

  5. Ally Bank: Best for customer service, online bank with high APYs and no monthly fees.

National banks FAQs

What does it mean to be a national bank?

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.

What makes big banks different from smaller banks?

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.

How much interest do the best big banks pay?

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 — 0.06% — 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 NerdWallet’s best high-yield online savings accounts

Are national banks better than other kinds of banks?

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.

Are the best national banks brick-and-mortar banks?

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.

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.

What makes the best national brick-and-mortar banks different from the best national online banks?

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.

Pros and cons of online banks
Want to manage your money online? Here's everything you need to know about the advantages and drawbacks of online banking.

Is my money safer in a national bank vs. a regional bank (or a national credit union vs. a regional credit union)?

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 FDIC insurance

What is the No. 1 bank in America?

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: How to choose a bank

Which bank is the best rated in America?

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.

What are the top 10 banks in the United States?

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

  1. Chase Bank

  2. Bank of America

  3. Wells Fargo

  4. Citibank

  5. U.S. Bank

  6. Truist Bank

  7. PNC Bank

  8. TD Bank

  9. Capital One

  10. Goldman Sachs

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.

Which is better: Chase vs. Wells Fargo? Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America?

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:

Which national banks will pay me a bonus?

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 best bank promotions.


Methodology

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.

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.