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Updated April 11, 2022

Best National Banks

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

National banks offer some big perks that smaller banks don't. Not only are they more convenient, they usually offer more features and services.

So, what's the best, most reliable national bank to use?

In this article, review the top national banks, chosen for their features, fees, accessibility, and customer satisfaction. Plus, learn the most important things to look for when choosing a bank.

What are national banks?

A national bank is a bank that services people throughout the entire country. Keep in mind, this definition is specific to the United States. Around the world, a national bank is a bank operated by a country's national government.

Not all national banks are brick-and-mortar banks. Some national banks featured in this list are online banks, but people nationwide can still bank with them.

National banks are usually FDIC-insured, as well. This means the FDIC insures the bank's deposits if the bank were to fail.

Here are the best national banks:

BankBest for
ChaseOverall Best National Bank
Wells FargoMost Branches
Bank of AmericaBest Mobile Banking
US BankWest and Midwest
PNC BankEast and Southwest
TD BankEast Coast
Huntington BankNorth Central
CitibankBig Bank with International Branches
Ally BankFull-Service Online Bank
Discover BankFee-Free Banking
Capital OneGood Benefits & Features
Alliant Credit UnionBest National Credit Union

Best National Banks

The banks in this list stood out for several reasons, including their range of services, bonus offers, and overall customer satisfaction. We also considered accessibility, reputation, and whether their fees were easy to waive.

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

States Branches ATMs
Chase 35 4,700+ 16,000+
Wells Fargo 37 4,900 13,000+
Bank of America 37 4,200 16,000+
U.S. Bank 26 2,000+ 37,000+
PNC Bank 27 2,600+ 19,000+
TD Bank 16 1,100+ 1,900+
Huntington Bank 11 1,100 1,700+
Ally Bank N/A N/A 43,000+

What's the difference between brick-and-mortar banks and online banks?
Brick-and-mortar banks offer physical locations where you can get in-person service. However, these tend to be bigger banks that have more fees and lower savings APYs.

On the other hand, online banks have fewer fees, lower balance requirements, and offer higher interest rates because of the money they save by being online only.

1. Chase Bank: Best Overall

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: Chase's generous bonus offers and full-service banking is perfect for people who want multiple products under one bank.

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 bonuses for opening an eligible 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. Getting approved may be a bit tougher than with other banks, but having a good banking record will help.

Chase Bank Pros and Cons

  • More than 4,700 branches
  • Generous promotions
  • Easy to waive fees
  • Fewer branches in some states
  • Lower interest rates on savings

2. Wells Fargo: Most Number of Locations

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: Wells Fargo has more branches than other top banks. Although it's a long-standing institution, it offers specialty products that many banks don't, like a second-chance account and a teen checking account.

If you're looking for a bank with the widest footprint, look to Wells Fargo. Its 4,900 branches are well spread across the U.S. This is a great choice if you often travel domestically.

We like Wells Fargo because it has very reasonable requirements to waive service fees for its checking and savings accounts.

It even has a Clear Access Banking account that's designed for teens and those needing a second chance to get back into banking.

Besides banking, Wells Fargo also offers credit cards, loans, business accounts, stock trading, and wealth management services.

Wells Fargo Pros and Cons

  • More branches than other banks
  • Wide range of services and less-common offerings
  • 24/7 fraud monitoring
  • Suboptimal interest rates
  • Overdraft protection fees

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

3. Bank of America: Best Mobile Banking

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: Bank of America is ranked #1 in mobile banking app satisfaction, perfect for those who do most of their account management on the go.

Bank of America has over 4,200 locations in 37 states. It has similar features and services as what you'll find at Chase and Wells Fargo.

It offers a flexible checking account with 3 settings. You can pick the one best for your needs. And if you need to upgrade or downgrade, just switch it up.

Bank of America ranked #1 in banking mobile app satisfaction, in a recent J.D. Power study.[1]. The app has tons of cool features, like budgeting tools, digital wallet, and cash rewards program. Erica, the virtual assistant can also help you manage bills, track FICO score, lock debit card, and more.

If you usually keep larger balances in your bank account ($20,000+), you can earn more benefits with the Preferred Rewards program. You can get higher savings rates, banking fee waivers, loan discounts, and more.[2]

Bank of America Pros and Cons

  • Top-tier banking app
  • Flexible account options
  • Wide range of products
  • No free checking options
  • Miscellaneous banking fees

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

Lorie Shaull (CC BY 2.0)via Flickr

Why it stands out: U.S. Bank has a bigger presence in the West and Midwest, and their account options are attractive if you have a higher balance.

U.S. Bank has more than 2,000 branches in the West and Midwest. Even if you don't live near a branch, you can do all your banking on the highly rated mobile app. You can even open a new checking, savings, or credit card account right from the app.

In addition to its own ATMs, there's also no surcharge at over 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs throughout the country. So you'll never be far from ATM access.

US Bank offers a range of checking and savings accounts for different needs. However, the minimum requirements to waive fees may be a little higher than other banks.

U.S. Bank Pros and Cons

  • Promo CD with high APY
  • Free student account
  • 24/7 customer service
  • High minimums to waive fees
  • Low savings APY

5. PNC Bank: Best in East and Southwest

Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: PNC's Virtual Wallet feature packages a checking and savings account in one, helping you manage your finances in one place.

PNC Bank was a large regional bank on the East Coast. And with their acquisition of BBVA, it now has extended its footprint to the south and west as well.[3] With more than 2,600 branches across 27 states, it has become one of the largest national banks.

PNC's most popular product is the Virtual Wallet. This is a checking and savings package with digital tools to help you manage your financial life. You can create a budget, set savings goals, know how much is free to spend, get low cash alerts, and more.

PNC often offers cash bonuses for opening a new account. Check them out below.

PNC Bank Pros and Cons

  • Virtual Wallet tools
  • Easy to waive fees
  • Free student account
  • Limited branches
  • Low APY

6. TD Bank: Best on the East Coast

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: TD Bank offers extended banking hours when many banks don't, including on some national holidays. When you can't go in, you can always reach a real person over the phone.

TD Bank is one of the largest banks on the East Coast, with over 1,100 branches from Maine to Florida.

TD Bank calls itself "America's Most Convenient Bank." It offers extended banking hours, even opening on some holidays. Plus, you can call customer service 24/7 and always reach a real, live person.

The most popular TD Convenience Checking account lets you waive the monthly service fee with just $100 daily balance. If you're looking for something else, there are also special accounts for teens, seniors, and premium checking

TD Bank Pros and Cons

  • Extended banking hours
  • Low requirement to waive fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No free checking
  • Only on east coast

7. Huntington Bank: Best in North Central

Tim Evanson (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: Huntington's free checking account is a rarity among big banks, ideal for those who don't want to worry about monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Based in Ohio, Huntington Bank has a large presence in the North Central region, with over 1,000 branches spread across 11 states.

It has a great Asterisk-Free Checking free checking account with no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements. It's loaded with awesome features too, like $50 free overdraft protection and up to 2 days early direct deposit. [4]

Plus, Huntington consumer checking accounts offer Standby Cash, which lets you borrow up to $1,000 line of credit. You just pay it back over 3 months. And it's free when you set up automatic payments. Terms and conditions apply.[5]

Huntington Bank Pros and Cons

  • Free checking account
  • Deposit checks via mobile app
  • All-day deposit
  • Mostly in the Midwest
  • Low savings APY

8. Citibank: Best Big Bank with International Branches

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: Citibank has an international presence, fee-free ATMs, and perks for high-balance customers.

Citibank, a CreditDonkey advertiser, 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 65,000 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 known for having higher requirements.

Citibank Pros and Cons

  • Perks for high-balance customers
  • Many fee-free ATMs
  • Global presence
  • Higher balance requirements
  • Low savings APY

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.

9. Ally Bank: Best National Online Bank

Why it stands out: Ally is an online bank with a user-friendly website, a broad range of products, and good customer service; they also often offer higher rates than brick-and-mortar banks.

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.[6]

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 Pros and Cons

  • No monthly fees or min. balance
  • Wide range of services
  • Highly-rated mobile app
  • No physical locations
  • ATM reimbursement capped at $10

10. Discover Bank: Best Fee-Free Banking

Why it stands out: Discover cuts out many fees that other banks profit from, and you won't be charged any account opening or maintenance fees.

Discover Bank is another popular online bank, offering traditional products like checking, savings, CDs, and a variety of loans.

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. See website for details.

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 is best known for its lineup for credit cards. All credit cards offer good rewards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Discover Pros and Cons

  • Higher yields than other banks
  • No fees
  • 24/7 customer service
  • No interest checking
  • Higher deposit for CDs

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

11. Capital One 360: Best Benefits and Features

Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why it stands out: As an online bank, Capital One saves on overhead and passes on its savings to you in the form of perks, less fees, and no account minimums.

Capital One offers checking and savings accounts all with no monthly fees and higher-than-average interest rates. Plus, it has a great lineup of credit cards, from cash back to travel rewards.

The Capital One 360 debit card and all credit cards have no foreign transaction fees. This makes Capital One ideal for frequent travelers.

Depositing cash can be an issue with online banks, but Capital One makes it easy. You can make cash deposits at any CVS store. Just hand the cash to the cashier and confirm the deposit on the mobile app.

They also try to humanize banking with their Capital One 360 cafes. You can get help, meet with financial advisors, and engage with the community while getting a cup of coffee. In fact, you don't even need to be a Capital One customer.

Capital One Pros and Cons

  • No account minimums
  • "Cafes" for in-person support
  • No monthly fees
  • Few cafes
  • Higher wait times for customer support

12. Alliant: Best National Credit Union

Why it stands out: As a credit union, Alliant lacks the same physical accessibility as other big banks, but it makes up for this in interest rates, customer service, and extra perks.

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.[7]

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.[8]

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.

Alliant Credit Union Pros and Cons

  • Competitive APYs
  • Personal finance management tools
  • Good customer service
  • Requires credit union membership
  • Few branches

Are credit unions as safe as banks?
If the credit union is backed by NCUA, your money is safe. Just like the FDIC, the NCUA insures your money up to $250,000.[9]

Other Banks to Consider

How to Choose the Best Bank

Banks usually 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 must meet 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 the requirements.

  • Locations
    If you often bank in person, find a bank close 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.

  • Additional services
    A lot of banks also offer credit cards, loans, small business products, and investment tools. If you might 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.

  • Bonus promotions
    If all other features are similar, this may be the final deciding factor.

How We Chose The Best National Banks

We came up with this list of the best national banks by looking at several factors:

  • National footprint and reputation of the bank
  • Range of services and products offered
  • Banking fees and if they are easy to waive
  • Bonus promotions
  • Customer reviews and satisfaction
  • Mobile banking app satisfaction

It's important that the bank offers a lot of services (like checking, savings, credit cards, loans). We don't believe in paying to bank, so account fees and minimums must be reasonable and easy to waive. And with 41% of banking customers going digital-only,[1] it's more vital than ever to have a good mobile app.

We also considered J.D. Power's studies for the US retail banking satisfaction and best banking mobile app satisfaction.

Common Questions

  • What is the number 1 bank in America?
    Chase is the biggest bank in America by assets, with $2.61 trillion in domestic assets and over 4,700 branches. The second largest bank is Bank of America, with $2.38 trillion in assets.

  • What banks give you money for opening an account?
    Banks that frequently offer cash bonuses to new customers include: Chase, Bank of America, PNC Bank, Huntington Bank, and TD Bank. Typically, you need to deposit a certain amount of money or make a certain qualifying direct deposit.

  • Which bank is safest in USA?
    In general, a bank is considered safe if it's covered by FDIC insurance, has strong security measures, and is a large established bank. Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, and all the other banks on our list meet these requirements.

    FDIC insurance protects your deposits up to $250,000 if the bank defaults. This gives you peace of mind that your money is safe.

  • Which bank is in every state?
    Wells Fargo has the largest footprint, with 4,900 branches in 37 states. There is no bank that's located in all the US states.

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.

References

Anna G is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a bank comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at feedback@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.

This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions expressed are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.

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