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KeyBank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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KeyBank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0
3.0 stars out of 5

Learn more
at KeyBank
KeyBank’s approach to banking includes no-frills checking accounts and convenience, with 1,200 branches in 15 states. But the Cleveland-based bank’s overdraft fees sometimes exceed the national median, and it offers little incentive to savers.

The bottom line

  • KeyBank offers a checking rewards program, but you have to pay to join if you don’t have a premium account.
  • The bank’s basic checking accounts have either no monthly fees or fees that are easy to waive.
  • The basic savings account’s annual percentage yield is only 0.01% to 0.02%.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Our Ratings
Checking accounts3.5 stars out of 5
Savings & money market accounts2.5 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit (CDs)2.5 stars out of 5
Customer experience4.0 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees2.0 stars out of 5
Overall3.0 stars out of 5

Read on for more details about KeyBank’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.


3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

You need only $10 to open a KeyBank Hassle-Free checking account, and there’s no monthly fee. But the account doesn’t earn interest, and you can’t use paper checks.

If that’s a deal-breaker, KeyBank also offers an Express checking account with paper checks. But it comes with a $7 monthly fee and also doesn’t earn interest. It’s easy to get the monthly fee waived, though: You just have to deposit $500 a month or make at least eight transactions, such as deposits, withdrawals or transfers, per statement cycle.

KeyBank also has an optional Relationship Rewards program, which lets you earn points for making checking account transactions. You can redeem those points for gifts and cash. But if you have a KeyBank Hassle-Free or Express checking account, you’ll have to cough up $40 a year to enroll.

The program costs less if you open a Key Advantage interest-earning account, and it’s free with the premium Key Privilege or Key Privilege Select accounts, which also earn interest. But all three accounts have higher monthly fees, along with higher balance requirements to waive the fees.

If you’re interested in opening an account, there’s good reason to act fast. KeyBank has a promotional $400 bonus for new customers who open a Key Express account or an interest-earning premium account by April 28, 2017. You’ll need to make a minimum $500 deposit within 60 days to qualify.

  • No monthly fee for the KeyBank Hassle-Free Account.

  • Monthly fee on Key Express Checking is waived with $500 in deposits or eight customer transactions per statement cycle.

  • Only $10 required to open a KeyBank Hassle-Free Account and $50 to open a Key Express Checking account.
  • $2.50 fee for non-network ATM transactions.

  • No interest paid for the KeyBank Hassle-Free and Key Express Checking accounts.
Account reviewed for rating: Key Express Checking.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts


2.5 stars out of 5
2.5 / 5.0

The Key Saver account earns next to nothing for balances less than $2,500 and just a tiny bit more for higher balances. You need only $50 to open an account, but you’ll have to keep a balance of at least $300 — otherwise there’s a $4 monthly fee.

KeyBank also offers two types of money market accounts, Key Silver and Key Gold, which earn slightly more interest. But you’ll need to maintain minimum balances that start at $5,000 or make $25 monthly deposits to avoid monthly fees that start at $12.

  • Requires a low minimum deposit of $50 to open an account.
  • Earns only 0.01% APY on Key Saver accounts with less than $2,500, and only 0.02% APY with balances more than that amount.

  • Key Saver personal savings account requires $300 minimum balance to avoid monthly fee of $4.

Certificates of deposit

2.5 stars out of 5
2.5 / 5.0

KeyBank’s standard CDs rates are pretty low, starting at just 0.10% APY. The bank does offer slightly higher promotional rates to customers who have an eligible checking account.

  • No monthly fee.

  • Nonpromotional APYs are low: just 0.75% for a 10-year CD with a deposit of $25,000 or more.

  • To earn a promotional Relationship Rewards rate, you’ll also need to open a KeyBank Advantage, Privilege or Privilege Select checking account.

  • The highest promotional rate is only 1.25% APY, and that's for a CD with a 10-year term and a deposit of at least $25,000. For the same amount, Ally Bank offers a CD that only has an 18-month term, but earns more, 1.30% APY.

  • Requires a high minimum balance of $2,500.

Customer experience

4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0
If you prefer to do your banking in person, KeyBank has you covered in several regions of the U.S., including the Northeast, Northwest and parts of the upper Midwest. The bank has over 1,200 branches spread across these areas. Customers also have access to a network of more than 1,500 ATMs.

For those who bank online, KeyBank has standard offerings, including online bill pay and the ability to set up transfers between accounts. The KeyBank website is straightforward and easy to navigate, though it’s hard to find information about a few account features, such as overdraft fees.

If you’re considering opening a new account, you may need to contact customer service to get some of your questions answered. Customer service options include live chat, phone, email and social media. Representatives aren’t available 24/7, but the department is open for extended hours seven days a week.

KeyBank also offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, which receive average ratings in the app stores. Users seem to be happy with the apps’ intuitiveness. And for iOS devices, the TouchID feature gets good marks. Most complaints seem to come from a recent redesign that introduced some bugs.

Overdraft fees

2.0 stars out of 5
2.0 / 5.0

KeyBank will make you pay the price if your account goes below zero. Depending on the state you live in, overdraft and nonsufficient-funds fees range from $30 to $39 per item. The national median is $34.

If your balance stays below zero for five days in a row, you’ll be charged an additional one-time fee of $28.50. Customers do have the option of using a KeyBank savings account for overdraft protection; the bank charges $10 for those overdraft transfers.

You could also apply for an overdraft line of credit. You’d still be charged a transfer fee, and you’d have to pay interest on the amount you borrow for the transfer. Rates range from under 10% to about 15% APY, depending on your credit. It’s not free, but it beats being charged up to $39 per item.

Keep fees in check

Learn more
at KeyBank
If you don’t need to access bank branches a lot, you might want to try an online bank that has lower fees, such as Ally Bank. Its overdraft charge is $25 and is only imposed once a day, regardless of the number of overdraft items on the account. Also, Ally offers better rates on checking and savings accounts.

You can do better than KeyBank. But it may be OK for you if you’re looking for just a basic checking account and branch access and you live in one of the states where KeyBank does business.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @margarette.

Ratings methodology

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:
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