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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 are high, and it offers little incentive to savers.

The bottom line

  • KeyBank’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%
  • The bank has a Relationship Rewards program with points that can be redeemed for gift cards or cash

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Our Ratings
Checking accounts3.5 stars out of 5
Savings 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

The Key Express checking account comes with a $7 monthly fee, but it’s easy to waive. You just have to deposit $500 a month or make at least eight transactions, such as deposits, withdrawals or transfers, per statement cycle. The account does not earn interest.

The bank offers an optional Relationship Rewards program, which lets you earn points for making checking account transactions. You can redeem those points for gifts and cash. If you have a KeyBank Hassle-Free or Express checking account, however, 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. These three accounts have higher monthly fees, along with higher balance requirements to waive the fees.

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

  • 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
  • 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 only 0.01% APY 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 to avoid the $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 deposit at least $25 each month 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 above that amount

    • Key Saver personal savings account requires $300 minimum balance to avoid monthly fee of $4
    Account reviewed for rating: Key Saver

    Certificates of deposit

    2.5 stars out of 5
    2.5 / 5.0

    KeyBank’s standard CD rates are low, starting at just 0.10% APY. The bank offers slightly higher promotional rates to customers who have an eligible checking account and deposit at least $10,000.

    • For existing KeyBank checking customers with high balances who want all their accounts with one bank, KeyBank offers promotional rates that are better than the standard APYs

    • Nonpromotional APYs are low, even for CDs with long terms. For example, a 10-year CD with a deposit of $25,000 or more earns just 0.75% APY.

    • Requires a high minimum opening deposit of $2,500

    • To earn a promotional Relationship Rewards rate, you’ll 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, online Ally Bank offers a five-year CD that earns 2.25% APY.

    KeyBank branches by state

    Customer experience

    4.0 stars out of 5
    4.0 / 5.0

    If you prefer to do your banking in person, KeyBank has more than 1,200 branches spread across several regions of the U.S., including the Northeast, Northwest and parts of the upper Midwest. Customers also have access to a network of more than 1,500 ATMs.

    Customer service options include live chat, phone, email and social media. Representatives are available for extended hours seven days a week.

    KeyBank Online

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

    KeyBank also offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, which receive average ratings in the app stores. Users on the iOS platform give good marks for the TouchID feature. But there have been complaints about glitches after a recent redesign.

    Overdraft fees

    2.0 stars out of 5
    2.0 / 5.0

    KeyBank will make you pay a high price if your account goes below zero. Depending on the state you live in and the number of overdrafts or non-sufficient funds items you’ve had, fees range from $28 to $39 per transaction, with a cap of five fees per day.  To compare, the national median overdraft fee for large banks is about $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 have the option of using a KeyBank savings account for overdraft protection; the bank charges $10 per day for 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. The annual percentage rate ranges from less than 10% to above 20%, depending on your credit. It’s not free, but it’s likely less pricey than multiple overdraft fees a day.

    Keep fees in check

    Learn more
    at KeyBank
    If you don’t need frequent and easy access to bank branches, you might want to try an online bank that has lower fees, such as Ally Bank. Its overdraft charge is $25 and 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 a basic checking account and you live in an area where KeyBank does business.

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

    Updated May 26, 2017.

    Ratings methodology

    NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, 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 technology, customer service and innovation.

    The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.