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NerdWallet’s Best Banks and Credit Unions in the Midwest

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NerdWallet’s Best Banks and Credit Unions in the Midwest

Reduced to “flyover country” by some and simply too cold in the winter for others, the Midwest doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. When it comes to top-notch financial institutions, though, service in the region doesn’t disappoint. The Midwest is home to several national juggernauts as well as a few smaller regional outfits.

Here are four banks and credit unions that warrant a closer look.

Alliant Credit Union

4.5 stars out of 5

Alliant+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Alliant Credit Union’s reach isn’t quite as extensive as that of bigger banks in the region. But that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. From its free interest-bearing checking account to its stellar savings certificate options, this Chicago-based credit union holds its own with competitors. In many ways, it even leapfrogs them.  

To qualify for an annual percentage yield of 0.65% on Alliant’s High-Rate Checking account, members simply have to opt out of getting paper statements and deposit money electronically at least once a month. That can be done either by direct deposit, ATM, mobile deposit or money transfer from a different financial institution. There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Alliant’s savings account has an APY of 1.11%. Its savings certificates have terms ranging from one to five years, with APYs of up to 1.85%. The credit union has an excellent mobile tool with which members can deposit up to $50,000 per day, which is an unusually high limit.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit unions

Chase

3.5 stars out of 5

Chase
Learn more
at Chase Bank
Chase Total Checking, the bank’s most straightforward checking option, gives customers access to about 16,000 free ATMs and provides several ways to avoid the $12 monthly fee. You can meet one of these criteria: have direct deposits of at least $500 a month, maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or have a total of $5,000 across linked Chase accounts.

The two interest-bearing checking accounts have high monthly fees that are hard to avoid, and the corresponding rates are barely above zero. The APYs on Chase’s savings options and certificates of deposit are also low.

On the plus side, Chase’s mobile app lets customers pay bills and upload and deposit checks while they are on the go, convenient if you don’t live near a branch.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best national banks

Consumers Credit Union

4.0 stars out of 5

Consumers+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Like many not-for-profit financial institutions, Consumers Credit Union offers a free checking account. But unlike most credit unions, it lets account holders earn an APY of as much as 4.59% on balances of up to $20,000 if they fulfill a handful of requirements. What’s more, becoming a member is easy: All it takes is a one-time membership fee of $5.

Because Consumers participates in shared branching, members have access to around 30,000 free ATMs and thousands of branches across the country. Consumers’ website is straightforward and easy to navigate, and members can use the mobile app to pay bills and deposit checks while on the go.

Its savings options don’t quite measure up, though. The most basic savings account pays just 0.05% APY, and rates on share certificates are lower than those at other credit unions and online banks.

Huntington Bank

3.5 stars out of 5

Huntington+Bank
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Huntington Bank’s website has the glossy look and feel of an online bank, and customers will even find some of the same kinds of perks there.

Those seeking no-frills checking will probably gravitate toward the Asterisk-Free Checking Account, which has no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance requirement. Although the bank also has a couple of interest-bearing checking accounts that come with free non-Huntington Bank ATM withdrawals, you’ll have to keep a substantial chunk of change as a balance to dodge a monthly fee.

Regardless of which account you select, you can benefit from Huntington’s 24-hour grace program. If the cost of a purchase exceeds your available funds, you’ll have a day to put more cash in before being slapped with an overdraft fee. This is the kind of service that can make banking with a regional institution pay off.

Midwest offers good options

When it comes to providing customers with excellent banking options, the Midwest isn’t much different from other parts of the country. Whether you’re planning on depositing your cash at a national bank or a smaller institution, good accounts and innovative tools won’t be too far away. Just be sure to compare your various options to find the best fit.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: tony@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @tonystrongarm.

Verified Jan. 11, 2017. 


METHODOLOGY

Of the 50 largest U.S. financial institutions ranked by assets, 10 are based in the Midwest, which for this report includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The institutions without a significant retail banking presence — 10 branches or fewer — were eliminated from consideration. The rest were added to the list of financial institutions evaluated here. Additionally, out of the 15 largest U.S. financial institutions based outside the region, those with a significant branch presence in the Midwest were added. Also considered were the five largest credit unions — ranked by assets — based in the Midwest, as well as those we have given star ratings. The four selected here were drawn from that list based on comparisons of various features.

The financial institutions surveyed included Alliant Credit Union, Bank of America, BMO Harris Bank, BOKF, Chase, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Citizens Equity First Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, DFCU Financial Credit Union, Fifth Third Bank, KeyBank, PNC Bank, State Farm Federal Credit Union, Huntington Bank, Northern Trust, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Wings Financial Credit Union.

NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each category: checking, savings, CDs, customer experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, 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:
5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best
4.5 stars out of 5 — Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
4 stars out of 5 — Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
3.5 stars out of 5 — Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
3 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution
2.5 stars out of 5 (or below) — Best to avoid