Updated October 31, 2023

Best Banks in California

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Are you in California and searching for a new bank? Finding one is easy with this helpful guide to the best banks and credit unions in California.

Banking in the Golden State?

You may be wondering if you're getting the best features, rates, and service that you could be. Luckily, this guide can help you find your ideal bank.

Below, review the best banks and credit unions in California for savings, checking, and more.

Best Banks in California

We looked at a variety of factors to find the best banks in California, including accounts offered, interest rates, and convenience.

Choosing the right bank is a decision that you shouldn't make lightly. Your bank is a major part of your financial future, and it will impact your everyday life. Find your ideal bank below.

How do you choose the right bank? The perfect bank for you will depend on your own needs. Do they serve your area? Are you looking for personal banking or business banking? Does the bank offer the services you're seeking at a price you can manage? And, of course, do you need convenient branch access?

Bank of America: Best National Bank

If online banking isn't your thing, you'll find a lot to like about Bank of America, one of the largest national banks in the U.S.

Convenience and access are some of the biggest perks to working with a national bank. Bank of America has nearly 450 branches across California, which means it's easy to find an ATM when you need one, and get access to in-person help.

Their savings APY won't be as high as you'll find at an online bank, but they do offer a wide range of other products, including credit cards, home and auto loans, and investing through Merrill.

As for checking, their Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® is a great start for students and young adults, with monthly service fee waived for those under 25 years old, or when you maintain a minimum daily balance of $500 or more in your account, and no overdraft fees.

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking® offers overdraft protection and will waive the $12 monthly fee for fulfilling a few simple requirements.

The Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking® will even earn interest, monthly service fee is waived when you maintain a minimum daily balance of $20,000 in your account during each statement cycle.

You can also avoid monthly maintenance fees for qualifying Bank of America checking and savings accounts by being a member of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program.

Wells Fargo: Best for Small Business

If Bank of America isn't right for you, but you're still interested in choosing a major US bank, consider Wells Fargo, our top pick for small business owners in California. With over 1,000 branches in the Golden State, Wells Fargo offers convenient access no matter where you are.

Wells Fargo provides customers a full array of banking services, including checking and savings accounts, investing and wealth management services, credit cards, home and auto loans, and plenty more. And according to the Small Business Association (SBA), Wells Fargo is one of the nations top lenders to small businesses,[1] with transparent interest rates on their loans.

Chase: Best for Checking

If convenient checking is your priority, Chase is a bank worth your consideration. Chase takes a two-pronged approach to offering their customers the most convenient access to their money.

On the one hand, Chase has nearly 900 branches in California, meaning that there's always a branch not too far away. And on the other, Chase's easy-to-use mobile banking app, which is one of the best in the industry.

The app means you can track your activity, send and receive money, pay bills, deposit checks, and more, all from the comfort of your phone. But if you ever do need to visit a branch, you're sure to find one nearby.

BMO: Best Regional Bank

For Californians looking for a big bank with a local touch, consider our pick for the best regional bank in California, BMO (formerly Bank of the West). BMO operates more than 220 branches in California, mostly in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area.

Expect all of the same quality service from BMO that you would from their larger national competitors. The BMO Smart Advantage Checking has no monthly fee. They also offer a range of savings accounts, credit cards, and lending services.

And on top that, they've been named one of the world's most ethical banks. They're committed to environmentally-friendly practices and inclusive banking for all communities.

Did Bank of the West become BMO?
Yes, BMO acquired Bank of the West in February 2023.[2] This increased BMO's footprint to 32 states and more than 1,000 branches in the US. BMO is currently one of the top 15 banks in America by assets.

US Bank: Best Customer Service

For those who value customer service and a quality banking experience over all else, US Bank is a strong contender. US Bank operates over 460 branches in California, meaning that while it doesn't have quite as many locations as the biggest banks it's competing with, customers around the state shouldn't have too much trouble finding a branch if they need one.

A dedication to customer service means that US Bank representatives are available at all hours, day or night, every day of the week, either by phone, or via social media.

Plenty of other banks still want their customers to abide by banking hours, but as many of us know, problems don't always occur conveniently between 9am and 5pm. US Bank makes sure that you're taken care of no matter what time it is.

Golden 1 Credit Union: Best Credit Union

Typically credit unions offer a smaller range of services than banks, but they make up for it in lower costs. Our pick for the best credit union in California is Golden 1 Credit Union.

While many credit unions have stringent location or background requirements for joining, Golden 1 Credit Union is open to join for all California residents and employees, and the minimum deposit is just $1.00.

There's no monthly service fee with Golden 1, and in terms of convenience it ranks highly compared to others, with more locations around the state than many of its popular competitors (over 70 branches at time of writing).

While there are only 240 Golden 1 Credit Union ATMs in California, members also have access to 30,000 CO-OP ATMs nationwide, meaning it shouldn't be too hard to find a place to withdraw or deposit cash.

The APY on their savings account won't compete with online banks like Ally, and interest compounds monthly instead of daily. However, if you maintain a balance of $10,000 or more, you can earn a higher APY with Golden 1.

Citibank: Best for Savings and Checking

While Citibank doesn't have the most branches in the state, they do have over 600, meaning you shouldn't struggle to find a branch near you. And as a new Citibank customer, you can easily find bonuses and promotions when you sign up for an account.

Citibank has a wide range of options, each with its own perks, rewards, and fees.

How to Choose the Best Bank in California

Just like you're laying down roots in California, your money also needs a financial home. Here's what to consider when choosing the right bank:

Convenience is key. Choose a bank with branches close to your home and work, so you have easy access to ATMs and in-person support.

Checking and savings accounts
Pick a bank with the accounts and features you need. For example, some banks' checking accounts may have overdraft assistance or free budgeting tools.

Monthly fees
Some banks (especially traditional banks) charge a monthly fee unless you maintain a certain minimum balance or meet other criteria. This doesn't have to be a dealbreaker, as long as you can easily meet the requirements.

Additional services
Looking for more than banking? Banks usually also offer credit cards, loans, investment tools, and small business products. Look into the bank's other services if you want a one-stop-shop.

Bottom Line

Residents of California have plenty of excellent options when it comes to choosing a new bank or credit union.

For those looking for the widest access and national coverage, Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo deliver well. If the environment is your main priority, consider eco-friendly Bank of the West.

Citibank has excellent options for those looking for a diverse array of banking services, and if you prefer a credit union over a bank, Golden 1 Credit Union offers relatively easy access and low rates compared to banks.


  1. ^ U.S. Small Business Administration. 100 most active SBA 7(a) lenders, Retrieved 5/1/2022
  2. ^ BMO Capital Markets.
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Best National Bank

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