BEST OF

4 Best National Banks

Sep 21, 2022

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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. One offers brick-and-mortar locations and the 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 4,000 branches and about 17,000 ATMs.

  3. Wells Fargo: Easy-to-waive monthly fees on checking; about 4,900 branches and more than 12,000 ATMs.

  4. U.S. Bank: 24/7 live support available by phone; about 2,200 branches and more than 37,000 ATMs as part of the MoneyPass network.

  5. PNC Bank: All-in-one account experience for easier money management; about 2,600 branches and 60,000 ATMs.

  6. Truist Bank (merger of BB&T and SunTrust Bank): Strong branch presence in southeastern and eastern states; about 2,100 branches and about 3,000 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.

Best National Banks

Our pick for

Sign-up bonus

Chase
Learn more

at Chase, Member FDIC

Chase

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Chase
Learn more

at Chase, Member FDIC


Why we like it

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.

Bonus offers: The bank regularly holds promotions for new customers. Right now, a new checking account can fetch you an additional $200 (offer expires 10/19/2022).

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.

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

Important to consider: As is typical with traditional banks, interest rates are low at Chase. APYs are minimal for savings products.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

High-yield savings

Discover Bank

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Discover Bank

Why we like it

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

High rates: APYs on Discover's savings, money market account and certificates of deposit are highly competitive.

Checking comes with rewards: Earn 1% cash back for up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases per month. Note that Discover's Cashback Debit account is not currently available to new customers.

24/7 customer service: Support is available by phone 24/7 and you can reach the bank through mail and social media. Live chat is also available, but only for Cashback Debit customers.

Strong ATM network: Access to more than 60,000 free U.S. ATMs.

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

Important to consider: This online-only bank doesn’t accept cash deposits.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

ATMs

Alliant Credit Union

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Alliant Credit Union

Why we like it

Alliant, an online credit union, offers nationwide accessibility, highly competitive interest rates, a massive ATM network and no monthly fees across deposit accounts.

Large ATM network: Alliant boasts a network of over 80,000 fee-free ATMs.

24/7 customer service: You can get support by phone at any time.

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

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

Important to consider: Anyone can apply for membership after making a one-time $5 donation to a nonprofit that supports foster children. If you want, Alliant will pay the donation on your behalf. You must open a savings account to become a member at Alliant.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Customer service

Ally Bank

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Ally Bank

Why we like it

Ally, an online bank, has no physical branches, but has 24/7 customer support by phone and by chat, as well as low fees and high interest rates.

Large ATM network: Ally is an online-only bank, but you can access your money with a robust nationwide ATM network of over 43,000 locations.

24/7 customer service: You can reach live help 24/7 by phone or by chat. The website also gives a helpful estimate of the wait time when calling a representative. The bank has a dedicated Twitter account to respond to customers as well.

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

Competitive rates: Interest rates are high across savings and certificates of deposit.

Important to consider: This online-only bank doesn’t accept cash deposits.

Read Full Review

Best national banks

Financial institution

Interest rate on savings

Minimum deposit to open savings

2.10%

$0

2.10%

$0

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

$0

1.80%

$5 (deposit made by Alliant)

» 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 by storing your money in a brick-and-mortar bank, run your balance through our savings calculator.

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. This includes banks with physical branches as well as those that are online-only. Accounts at the online banks are available to people living in almost every state. For banks with branches, we considered only those that had at least 1,000 locations.

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 — 0.17% — or less.

And like other online banks, the best national online banks often have higher APYs than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. It's not hard to find rates of 1.80% 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 when you're 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 across the country but doesn’t serve all 50 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 1.80% APY 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.

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 nearly all states (there are no branches in Alaska) 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 2022 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study℠, Chase is one of just two of the country’s top five largest banks to win any region.

Chase is the best-rated bank for customer satisfaction in the Upper Midwest, and U.S. Bank is the best-rated bank for customer satisfaction in California.

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. Citibank

  4. Wells Fargo

  5. U.S. Bank

  6. PNC Bank

  7. Truist Bank

  8. Goldman Sachs

  9. TD Bank

  10. Capital One

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 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, Bank of America makes it slightly easier than Chase or Wells Fargo to waive fees on basic checking. Bank of America and Chase don't charge fees for overdraft protection transfers. Wells Fargo will charge the fee only if you don’t make a covering deposit or transfer by the next business day. (Read more about Wells Fargo overdraft fees and policies.)

You can read more in 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 in NerdWallet’s list of the best bank promotions.

Last updated on September 21, 2022

Methodology

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at more than 80 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.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best National Banks