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Best National Banks of 2018

Oct. 23, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
NerdWallet’s Best National Banks
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The best national banks offer extensive ATM networks as well as features like sign-up bonuses and strong interest rates.

» Looking for the largest national banks? Jump ahead to our list.

Discover Bank
Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

4.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Ally Bank
4.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Chase Bank
3.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

4.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Bank of America
3.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Best National Banks

Discover Bank

Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

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

  • Strong ATM network: Access to 60,000 fee-free ATMs
  • Checking comes with rewards: 1% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases, up to $3,000 a month
  • High rates: APYs on Discover Savings and certificates of deposit are highly competitive
  • Fee-free: No monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements on deposit accounts

» Find savings account with rates over 1% on NerdWallet’s list of best savings accounts

Ally Bank

Ally has no physical branches, but fees are low and interest rates are high.

  • Online bank with many ATMs: Ally is an online-only bank, but you can access your cash with a robust nationwide ATM network of over 43,000 locations
  • No fees: There are no monthly fees on checking and savings accounts
  • High rates: Interest rates are competitive across all deposit accounts — checking, savings and certificates of deposit

Chase

Bonuses set Chase apart from other large banks. Accounts come with monthly fees that are fairly easy to avoid, but interest is low on checking and savings accounts.

  • Get a bonus: The bank regularly holds promotions for new customers. A new checking account can fetch you an additional $200, and a new savings account gets you $150.
  • Fees are avoidable: Sidestep monthly charges by linking direct deposits, minimum daily account balances or keeping a certain amount across all Chase accounts
  • Low rates: APYs are minimal for both checking and savings accounts
  • Many branches and ATMs: Chase has about 5,100 branches across roughly 26 states, and 16,000 ATMs

» Interested in sign-up bonuses? See what other banks are offering

Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Alliant offers nationwide accessibility, highly competitive interest rates and no monthly fees across deposit accounts.

  • Online credit union with many ATMs: Easy to join and accessible mostly online, Alliant boasts an ATM network of over 80,000
  • High rates: APYs on deposit accounts are competitive with other online banks
  • No fees, minimum balances: No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements on checking or savings accounts, or certificates of deposit

Bank of America

Bank of America offers good accessibility and communication channels, but like other large brick-and-mortar banks, interest rates are minimal.

  • Robust branch and ATM coverage: The bank has about 4,400 branches in approximately 35 states
  • Easy to reach customer service: Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Bank of America’s customer service Twitter handle @BofA_Help is prompt, and chat support is available online to logged-in customers.
  • Low rates: The interest is minimal on checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit
  • Fees can be avoided: Fees can be avoided through qualifying activities such as linking direct deposit to your account or keeping a minimum balance

Best national banks 2018

Financial institutionInterest rate on savingsMinimum deposit to open
Discover Bank1.90%$0
Ally Bank1.90%$0
Chase Bank0.01% Rate effective as of 6/15/18. Interest rates are variable and subject to change$25
Alliant Credit Union1.95%$5
Bank of America0.03%$100

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.

  1. Chase
  2. Wells Fargo
  3. Bank of America
  4. U.S. Bank
  5. PNC Bank
  6. TD Bank

» Wondering if better options are available at smaller banks, online banks or credit unions? See NerdWallet’s best banks and credit unions for the top accounts 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, run your balance through our calculator.

 


METHODOLOGY

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, TIAA Bank, 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