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Updated March 23, 2021

The Best National Banks of 2021

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There are over 5,000 FDIC-insured banks in America. How do you choose the best national bank to keep your money safe?

National banks offer a wide range of services and convenient access to branches and ATMs.

Most people stick with their bank for years (or even decades), so it's important that you choose the right bank.

In this article, we have come up with a list of the best national banks. These banks are chosen based on their banking features, fees, and accessibility.

Best National Banks

A national bank means that the bank can be found throughout the country. This makes it easy for you to do your banking and get help wherever you go.

However, not all national banks are traditional brick-and-mortar banks. This list also includes some large online banks.

Here's a quick overview of the best banks in the U.S.:

StatesBranchesATMs
Chase354,700+16,000+
Wells Fargo375,400+13,000+
Bank of America374,600+16,000+
U.S. Bank263,000+35,000+
TD Bank161,3001,900+
Ally BankN/AN/A43,000+

Difference between brick-and-mortar banks and online banks:
National banks with physical locations mean you can get in-person service. However, they tend to have many fees and don't really offer much interest on savings accounts.

Online banks have fewer fees and balance requirements, and offer higher interest rates. But you won't be able to visit a physical branch.

Chase Bank: Best Overall

Chase is the largest bank in the U.S. by assets. It has more than 4,700 locations and 16,000 ATMs, but it doesn't have much of a presence in the Midwestern states. However, customers can bank from anywhere on its top-rated mobile app.

A big draw for Chase is that it frequently offers cash sign-up bonuses for opening a new account. Check out the current promotions.

Chase Bank is also known for their extremely popular rewards credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited. But approval may be a bit tougher than other issues. Having a good banking relationship may give you a better chance of getting a Chase credit card.

Chase
Member FDIC

Introducing Chase Business Complete Banking℠ - $300 Bonus

Expires 7/23/2021
  • Earn $300 when you open a new Chase Business Complete Checking account. For new Chase business checking customers with qualifying activities.
  • More ways to waive fees. Multiple options to waive the Monthly Service Fee, including maintaining a minimum daily balance or purchases on your Chase Ink® Business credit card
  • Convenient access to payment processing. Accept card payments anytime, anywhere in the U.S., and get transparent pricing with Chase QuickAccept℠.
  • Same-day deposits with QuickAccept℠. Free up the cash you need to keep your business moving forward with same-day deposits at no additional cost.
  • Alerts to help you stay on top of your account activity.
  • Easy account management through Chase Business online and the Chase Mobile® app.
  • Unlimited electronic deposits, ACH and Chase Quick Deposit℠.
  • Convenient access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches.

Wells Fargo: Most Number of Locations

If you're looking for a bank with the widest footprint, look to Wells Fargo. Its 5,400 branches are well spread across the U.S. This is a great choice if you often travel domestically.

The Everyday Checking account lets you waive the service fee by making 10 debit card purchases per month. This could be a good option if you don't want to meet direct deposit or minimum balance requirements. This account has a $25 opening minimum.

It also has a checkless Clear Access Banking account that's free for owners age 13-24. This is a great choice to give your teen a head start on learning money management.

Once in a while, Wells Fargo offers cash bonuses for opening a new account. You can keep up with new promotions here.

Bank of America: Best for High Balances

Bank of America has over 4,600 locations in 37 states. It has similar features and services as what you'll find at Chase and Wells Fargo.

The Advantage Plus checking account lets you waive monthly fees as long as you have $250 in direct deposits each month. This account is free for students under 24.

If you usually keep larger balances in your bank account, you can earn more rewards with Bank of America. Its Preferred Rewards program gives you extra benefits, such as higher savings rates, banking fee waivers, loan discounts, and more. You need at least $20,000 balance to join this program.

U.S. Bank: Best in the West and Midwest

U.S. Bank has 3,000 branches in the West and Midwest. In addition to its own ATMs, there's also no surcharge at over 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs throughout the country. So you'll never be far from ATM access.

The basic Easy Checking account has a lower monthly fee than the others. However, you need $1,000 in direct deposits each month to waive it. The opening deposit is $25.

There's also a Gold Checking account with a $15 monthly charge. But you can avoid it just by opening a U.S. bank credit card. This account gives you some extra benefits, like 2 free non-U.S. bank ATM transactions per month and a free money market account.

TD Bank: Best on the East Coast

TD Bank is one of the largest banks on the East Coast, with about 1,300 branches from Maine to Florida.

The most popular TD Convenience Checking account lets you waive the monthly service fee with just $100 daily balance. Students 17-23 can get it for free. This account also gives you a rate discount on personal loans and home equity loans.

TD's savings accounts offer higher-than-average interest rates than other traditional banks. It also awards a higher relationship rate if you have both a checking and savings account.

TD Bank calls itself "American's Most Convenient Bank." It offers some of the longest banking hours, even opening on Sundays and some holidays.

BBVA USA: Best in the South

BBVA USA has 600 branches in only 7 states (mostly across the South). But it does offer online accounts and a wide ATM network.

Not many brick-and-mortar banks offer free checking accounts. But BBVA has a basic Free Checking account with a cash-back program. This account only gives you free access to BBVA ATMs.

If you don't live near BBVA locations, there's also a free Online Checking that everyone can open. You get free access to over 64,000 BBVA, Allpoint, and participating 7-Eleven ATMs.

As for savings, you have several options, including a free Online Savings account. There's also a unique Build My Savings that offers a match bonus when you reach your savings goals.

BBVA

Free Checking

  • No monthly service charge
  • Free online & mobile banking
  • Member FDIC

BBVA also offers second-chance checking if you've made past banking mistakes and don't qualify for standard checking accounts. However, this account has a monthly charge that can't be waived.

Citibank: Best Big Bank with International Branches

Citibank has a smaller footprint in the U.S. (mostly in California and New York), but it has a huge global presence. In addition to almost 700 branches in the U.S., there are 1,800 overseas locations. If you travel a lot, you'll still have access to branches and ATMs.

In the U.S., you get fee-free access to more than 60,000 Citi, Allpoint, and MoneyPass ATMs, as well as participating machines in popular stores like Target, CVS, and Rite Aid.

Citi's accounts come in packages with a checking and savings combo. Citi is generally known for having higher requirements, but the Basic Banking Package is very reasonable. You can waive the monthly fee by having one direct deposit and one online bill payment per month. There's no minimum to open.

If you have a larger balance, Citibank's premium banking packages give you more benefits. You can earn reward points, higher savings rates, and ATM fee waivers. The top tiers even offer investment guidance and wealth management.

Citibank has one of the highest-rated mobile apps. Its personal finance tools are open to everyone - even non-Citi customers. You can link all your financial accounts to get an overview of your financial life. Tools include budgeting, spending analysis, goal tracking, and investment tracking.

Ally Bank: Best National Online Bank

We're now getting into the online banks portion of the list. Starting off, Ally is the best online bank if you're looking for the full spectrum of banking products. Ally offers checking and savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages, and investment services.

All deposit accounts have no monthly fees and no balance requirements. Ally offers higher interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks, so you can grow your money faster. Even the checking account earns interest on all balances.

Though it has no physical branches, withdrawing cash is not a problem. You get free access to over 43,000+ Allpoint ATMs. And if you go out-of-network, Ally will provide up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursements per month.

Ally consistently gets high ratings for customer satisfaction. It offers 24/7 customer service via phone and live chat. You'll always speak to a real person.

Ally Bank

Interest Checking

  • 0.10% APY for daily balances less than $15,000
  • 0.25% APY for daily balance over $15,000
  • Be reimbursed $10/month for ATMs outside of Ally Network
  • $0 Minimum Opening Deposit
  • No Fees to Open or Maintain Account
  • FDIC insured
  • Daily Compounding Interest

Discover Bank: Best Fee-Free Banking

Discover Bank is another popular online bank. You get 24/7 customer support and free access to over 60,000 ATMs nationwide.

The Cashback Debit checking account is as close to fee-free checking as you can get. You get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance.

You pay $0 for standard checks, stop payments, insufficient funds, and incoming wires. The only costs you may encounter are for using out-of-network ATMs and sending wire transfers.

Discover was first famous for its lineup for credit cards. All credit cards offer good rewards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Discover Bank
Member FDIC

Online Checking Account - Earn Cash Back

  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
  • No fees
  • Access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs in the U.S.

Discover also offers personal loans and student loans at competitive interest rates.

CIT Bank: Best for Online Savings

CIT Bank was originally known for its high-yield savings accounts. The popular Savings Builder account motivates you to save money by offering a higher APY if you deposit $100 every month. There's a $100 deposit and no monthly fee.

CIT also offers a money market account and a few different CD options (including a no-penalty CD) with competitive APYs.

Recently, CIT launched a free eChecking account with tiered interest. You get all the normal features, such as online bill pay, mobile deposits, and a card for purchases. However, there's no check writing.

CIT is not part of any ATM networks, but it doesn't charge any ATM fees. And plus, you get up to $30 in ATM reimbursements per month.

CIT Bank
Member FDIC

CIT Savings Builder - Earn 0.40% APY

Earn up to 0.40% APY. Here's how it works: Maintain a minimum balance of $25k OR make at least a $100 minimum deposit every month. Member FDIC

Alliant: Best National Credit Union

If you want to consider a credit union instead of a bank, check out Alliant Credit Union. Credit unions are nonprofit financial institutions owned by its members. They often offer lower fees and more personalized service than traditional banks.

Anyone is eligible to join by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success (FC2S). Alliant will even pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member's behalf.

Alliant offers a great High-Rate Checking account with no monthly fee. To earn interest, you must opt for eStatements and have a recurring monthly electronic deposit. You get access to over 80,000 fee-free ATMs, as well as up to $20 in ATM fee refunds per month.

You can pair that with a High Rate Savings account, which earns a competitive APY if you maintain a $100 average daily balance.

Alliant also offers personal finance tools to help you manage your money. You can add your external financial accounts to see your finances all in one place.

Are credit unions as safe as banks?
As long as the credit union is backed by NCUA, your money is safe. Just like the FDIC, the NCUA insures your money up to $250,000.

Other Banks to Consider

HSBC
Member FDIC

HSBC Premier Checking - $450 Welcome Deposit

Expires 6/30/2021
  • Get a $450 Welcome Deposit for eligible new customers who open a new HSBC Premier checking account and complete the following qualifying activities.
  • Open your new HSBC Premier checking account online by June 30, 2021; and
  • Make recurring monthly Qualifying Direct Deposits totaling at least $5,000 from a third party to your HSBC Premier checking account(s) for 3 consecutive calendar months from the second full calendar month after account opening.
  • You will automatically receive the $450 Welcome Deposit in your new HSBC Premier checking account approximately eight weeks after completing all qualifying activities. It's that simple.
  • Deposit products are offered in the U.S. by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
BBVA

Free Checking and Savings - $250 Bonus

Expires 4/26/2021
  • You could get a $200 bonus by opening a Free Checking account and receive at least one (1) qualifying Direct Deposit of at least $500 by June 30, 2021.
  • Increase your bonus to $250 by adding a BBVA Savings account and having a savings balance of at least $1000 on June 30, 2021.
  • (Offer only available in TX, AL, AZ, CO, CA, FL, NM)
  • Member FDIC.
Axos Bank
Member FDIC

Basic Business Checking Account - $100 Bonus

Expires 6/30/2021

Use promo code EARN100 on your application. Restrictions apply.

TD Bank
Member FDIC

TD Beyond Checking - $300 Cash Bonus

  • New customers who apply online for a TD Beyond Checking account can earn a $300 cash bonus after receiving direct deposits of $2,500 or more within 60 days. To qualify for this offer, you must be a U.S. resident and apply for the offer online. Offer is available in these states: CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, ME, MA, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA
  • Earn $300 when you receive direct deposits totaling $2,500 or more within 60 days
  • Get more from your checking account. With TD Beyond Checking with Payback Plus, you'll earn interest and get reimbursed for non-TD ATM transactions, Rush Bill Payments and more.
  • Monthly maintenance fee waived when you receive monthly direct deposits of $5,000 or more, or maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,500, or a combined balance of $25,000 across eligible TD accounts.
  • TD fees waived at any ATM and non-TD fees reimbursed when you keep at least a $2,500 daily balance
  • Overdraft Payback - Get overdraft fees automatically reversed up to two times a year.
  • Get your money where it needs to go —fast— with Rush Bill Payments, Send Money with Zelle®, incoming wires and a reimbursement for one outgoing wire (domestic or international) per statement cycle.
  • TD checking accounts come with an instant-issue debit card. And, you can pay with confidence with Zero Liability protection and 24/7 fraud monitoring.
  • Monthly maintenance fee waived on one TD Simple CheckingSM account and any Savings and Money Market accounts. Plus, get free standard check orders, money orders, official bank checks and stop payments.

How to Choose the Best Bank

For the most part, banks all offer the same features (such as online bill pay, mobile deposits, Zelle, alerts, etc.).

To decide on the best bank for you, carefully compare accounts, fees, and customer reviews. Here are some things to consider:

Monthly fees
Brick-and-mortar banks usually charge a monthly service fee. To avoid the fee, you have to fulfill certain direct deposit or minimum balance requirements. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if the bank fits your needs and you can easily meet it.

Locations
If you often bank in person, start with seeing which banks are closest to where you live and work. If you're okay with online banking, then an online-only bank can help you save. They partner with nationwide ATM networks so you still have convenient ATM access.

Overdraft fees
Americans pay billions in overdraft fees every year. You can avoid this by seeing what kind of overdraft services the bank offers. Some banks (like Bank of America) charge for overdraft protection transfers, while Chase does not.

Additional services
Besides just comparing the checking and savings accounts, see what other services the bank provides. A lot of banks also offer credit cards, loans, small business products, and investment tools.

If you may potentially want any of these in the future, having a good banking relationship could help. It's also good if you want to do everything under one roof.

Customer service
How can you contact the bank if you have a problem? What are their hours? Also read reviews from existing customers to get an idea of their experience with the bank.

Sign-up bonuses
If all other features are similar, this may be the final deciding factor.

What the Experts Say

As part of our series on banking and saving, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions. Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Going with a national bank is a good choice if you're looking for convenience. They often offer nationwide access and more products and services.

If you don't need to visit a physical branch, consider an online bank. These usually provide higher interest rates and have fewer fees.

Anna G is a content manager at CreditDonkey, a bank comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at anna@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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