National banks offer what online banks can’t: in-person service. And though interest rates may be lower and fees more plentiful than at online banks, access to thousands of branches and extensive ATM networks still makes a traditional brick-and-mortar attractive to many. The best large banks might also offer features like sign-up bonuses, strong digital tools and various ways to communicate with customers.
Here’s a list of our top picks for the best national banks, in alphabetical order.
Bank of America
Best bank experience
Bank of America’s consumer accounts are similar to those at other large brick-and-mortar banks, with minimal interest rates on checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Fees can be avoided through qualifying activities such as linking direct deposit to your account or keeping a minimum balance. To avoid the $12 monthly fee on a Core Checking account, for example, you’ll need to have at least one direct deposit of $250 or more per month or a daily minimum balance of $1,500 per statement cycle.
Chase’s accounts come with monthly fees, but they’re fairly easy to avoid. For example, with Chase Total Checking® you can sidestep the $12 monthly charge with direct deposits of at least $500 a month, a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or by having a total of $5,000 across qualifying linked Chase accounts.
But rates are low for both checking and savings accounts.
Chase has a lot of branches, about 5,100 across roughly 26 states, and 16,000 ATMs. Chase’s mobile apps let you perform daily banking tasks such as making transfers, paying bills and uploading and depositing checks from a mobile device.
» Interested in sign-up bonuses? See what other banks are offering
Best budgeting tool
Customers can dodge the $7 monthly maintenance fee on checking accounts by keeping a combined $500 in the spend and reserve categories or having at least $500 directly deposited to the spend category every month. PNC has about 2,600 branches in 19 states, largely in the eastern parts of the country and the Midwest.
6 largest national banks
Here are the top six national banks that have at least 1,000 branches in at least 15 states, tracked by assets, with links to NerdWallet reviews.
» Wondering if better options are available at smaller banks, online banks or credit unions? See NerdWallet’s best checking accounts for the top accounts overall.
Updated Nov. 16, 2017.
To determine the best accounts, 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. For this roundup, we considered only those banks with at least 1,000 branches in at least 15 states.
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.