The bank’s checking accounts are solid, and they even come with a generous sign-up bonus. But those are among the few bright spots customers will encounter at Associated.
Associated may be right for you if:
- You live in Illinois, Minnesota or Wisconsin, where all of the bank’s 234 branches are located.
- You want a straightforward checking or savings account and can meet one of the requirements to avoid the monthly service fees.
|Savings & money market accounts|
|Certificates of deposit (CDs)|
Read on for more details about Associated’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.
4.0 / 5.0
Associated has two checking options: a standard account and Elite Checking, which bears interest, comes with free checks and doesn’t charge fees at non-Associated ATMs. However, customers will only be able to avoid its $25 monthly fee by keeping their accounts well padded.
Savings and money market accounts
2.5 / 5.0
Associated offers a standard savings option, a kids’ savings account and a money market account. Rates are low across the board, but fees are relatively easy to avoid.
Certificates of deposit
2.5 / 5.0
Associated’s standard CDs come with rates that top out at a disappointing 0.60%. However, the bank offers a few CD specials with rates as high as 1.50%. That’s not far off from what some of the best online banks and credit unions offer. The only downside is that these CDs require a much higher minimum initial deposit. The bank also has add-on and mini-jumbo CDs, but rates are so low that customers would be better off avoiding them.
3.0 / 5.0
With branches clustered in three states, Associated is very much a regional bank. It does, however, offer 20,000 surcharge-free ATMs, so customers shouldn’t have a hard time finding a nearby cash machine.
The bank doesn’t offer much in the way of extras, and while that will suit some customers just fine, it may frustrate others who want services such as budgeting tools and an automatic savings program. Associated’s mobile app comes with standard features like online bill pay and check deposit, but it receives mixed customer reviews on the various app stores.
3.0 / 5.0
Associated charges a $35 overdraft fee, which customers can incur up to four times per day. An account that is overdrawn for more than five consecutive days incurs an additional fee of $7 for every day that the account remains in the red. Elite Checking account holders can enroll in free overdraft protection transfers, while basic checking account holders will have to pay $10 for each transfer. There’s a 3% ATM and debit card foreign transaction fee.
If you live near a branch and are simply looking for a place to stash your income, Associated should do fine. But for a high-yield savings account, consider turning to a credit union or an online-only bank, which, incidentally, generally also offer great checking options.
Updated June 24, 2016.
For banks and credit unions, NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each subcategory: checking accounts, savings and money market accounts, CDs, customer experience and other fees. Factors we consider, depending on the subcategory, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing tech and customer service. Several Nerds contribute to each financial institution’s ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.
What the ratings mean:
— Among the very best
— Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
— Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
— Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
— Poor; proceed with great caution
(or below) — Best to avoid