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NerdWallet’s Best Banks and Credit Unions on the West Coast

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Choosing a bank or credit union is an important, sometimes difficult decision. You have to find the best combination of low account fees, convenience and features, as well as harder-to-measure factors, like customer service.

The West Coast — California, Oregon and Washington — has no shortage of financial institutions with solid accounts and services. To help make the choice easier, we scoped out some of the best banks and credit unions in the region.

Great choices on the West Coast
BECU
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Boeing Employees Credit Union

Overall bank rating:
Chase
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at Chase Bank
Chase Bank

Overall bank rating:
First Tech Federal Credit Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
First Tech

Overall bank rating:
Golden+1+Credit+Union
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on NerdWallet
Golden 1

Overall bank rating:

Boeing Employees Credit Union

NerdWallet has rated this credit union:

BECU
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Boeing Employees Credit Union is one of the biggest credit unions nationwide, so it’s no surprise that it’s able to offer strong accounts and tools. Despite the name, you don’t need to be a Boeing employee to join. If you have some connection to Washington state, such as living, working, owning a business or having family there, you’re likely eligible. Living in some counties in Oregon also makes you eligible.

BECU deposit accounts are free, including online and mobile banking. Checking accounts have no minimum balance requirements, but to open one, you’ll also need to open one of the credit union’s savings accounts. The Member Advantage savings and checking accounts have high rates for balances up to $500, but after that, rates drop to close to zero. BECU is part of the nationwide Co-op network with over 30,000 free ATMs and more than 5,000 shared branches. This lets you make deposits, withdrawals and more throughout the U.S. (See more details in our BECU review.)

» Compare rates and features on our list of the best credit unions

Chase

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Chase
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at Chase Bank
Of all national banks, Chase has some of the best checking options. Chase Total Checking is its most basic account, with a monthly fee that you can get waived in several ways, such as maintaining a certain minimum daily balance or receiving direct deposits. Like its premium, interest-bearing checking options, Chase’s savings accounts and certificates of deposit have low annual percentage yields. If you’re looking for maximum growth for your savings, you’ll be better served elsewhere, like at an online bank or credit union.

Chase has over 1,000 branches on the West Coast, along with thousands of ATMs scattered around the country. Even if you aren’t near a branch, you can turn to Chase’s mobile app to do things like pay bills, send money to people and upload and deposit checks. (For more details, see our Chase review.)

» See other banks with stellar checking options on our roundup of best checking accounts

First Tech Federal Credit Union

NerdWallet has rated this credit union:

First Tech Federal Credit Union
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on NerdWallet
First Tech is a good credit union overall, but its best feature is its Dividends Rewards account. Members can earn an APY above 1% on up to $10,000 if they fulfill certain requirements each month. Savings account rates are relatively low, but share certificates have strong rates, especially for five-year terms. Because First Tech participates in the Co-op network, members have access to over 5,000 branches and about 30,000 free ATMs around the country. The credit union also has a handful of branches of its own.

Becoming a member is easy. You’ll get in the door if you live or work in Lane County, Oregon; work for the state of Oregon or for a company that sponsors First Tech such as Google, Intel or Cisco; or are related to a current First Tech member. You can also become a member by paying a one-time fee of $8 to join the Financial Fitness Association. (See more details in our First Tech review.)

Golden 1 Credit Union

NerdWallet has rated this credit union:

Golden+1+Credit+Union
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on NerdWallet
The California-based credit union has solid checking and savings offerings, especially for teens and college students. It offers four checking accounts with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. The premium checking account is the only one that earns dividends — credit unions’ version of interest — but you need to maintain a minimum balance of $1,000. The account has a monthly fee, which you can get waived in a couple of ways, including keeping that $1,000 balance or receiving direct deposits.

No regular savings accounts have monthly fees, but there’s a $100 minimum to earn dividends. The rates for both savings and savings certificates beat those of the biggest banks, but they lag behind online banks’ yields.

Golden 1 has its own ATMs and is part of the Co-op network, giving free access to thousands of ATMs, but the credit union’s branches are only in California. That doesn’t mean membership is limited to that state, though. You can join Golden 1 simply by paying an $8 fee to become a member of the Financial Fitness Association. (Read more about Golden One in our review.)

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd. NerdWallet writer Tony Armstrong contributed to this report.

Updated Nov. 16, 2017.


METHODOLOGY

For this review, the West Coast was defined as California, Oregon and Washington. We only considered institutions with significant retail presence in those states, taken from the same list in our standard methodology:

We took a close look at 70 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. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage rates, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Bank5 Connect, BankDirect, Bank of America, Bank of Internet, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, PurePoint Financial, Qapital, Radius Bank, Regions Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Simple, Star One Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions