The Best Bank for You, 2019

We’ve identified the banks and credit unions that offer the best combination of high rates, low fees and a customer-friendly focus.

Think your bank could be a better fit? Just as styles change over time, so do bank accounts and services—and the features you use most. To settle on the kind of bank that suits you now, ask yourself a few questions: Do you prefer to interact with tellers and advisers at a branch, or are you fine handling transactions with a computer or smartphone? Do you chase the best yields on deposit accounts, or do you prioritize features such as an extensive ATM network and access to wealth-management services? Do you keep enough money deposited that you don’t worry about meeting balance minimums, or are free, no-minimum accounts a must?

Once you’ve taken stock of your preferences, look over our list of banks that shine. With the help of Informa Financial Intelligence, we’ve crunched the data on interest rates, fees, minimum-balance requirements, free perks and other features for a variety of deposit accounts to see which banks rise to the top.

Although big brick-and-mortar banks aren’t known for offering high yields and low fees to lure customers, they are starting to reveal an appetite for competing with online institutions. Two of our top banks, Citibank and PNC, are now peddling high-rate savings accounts—recently yielding 2.36% and 2.35%, respectively—to customers outside their standard markets. In recent years, Chase and U.S. Bank have dropped fees to have money transferred to checking from a linked deposit account in case of an overdraft. TD Bank—our winner among national banks and for retirees—no longer charges a fee for transferring funds to another bank (even next-day delivery is free).

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Although branches are becoming less numerous and physically smaller, banks are striving to push the ones they have left into the 21st century. Fifth Third Bank, for example—one of our regional bank winners—is redesigning branches with a more modern and friendly feel, featuring entryways with open spaces where clients meet with bankers. Capital One is making its banks inviting places to hang out with its cafés, where customers can buy a latte and connect to the bank's Wi-Fi.

Here, we’ve named the top institutions in four general categories—national banks, internet banks, credit unions and regional banks—as well as the ones that are best for five customer profiles: high-net-worth families, retirees, frequent travelers, families with students, and those who want no fees or fuss. Pick one bank that checks all the boxes, or cobble together accounts from a few institutions for a tailor-made package.

Best National Banks

Large nationwide banks offer customers extensive networks of branches, a range of advisory and wealth-management services, and digital tools for account management. These two banks offer patrons plenty of perks at a variety of locations.

Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families

Banks court customers who can keep big balances by dangling lots of free and discounted benefits, preferred rates on loans and deposit accounts, and financial guidance, such as investment and wealth-management services. Here's a look at our top picks.

Best Internet Banks

Our picks have low fees, solid savings accounts and slick digital tools that make online-only banking easy. See which online banks made the cut.

Best Banks for Families With Students

These two banks include accounts tailored to kids and teens that give them the freedom to manage their own money. Take a look.

Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss

These banks suit tech-savvy customers in their twenties, thirties and beyond who want a bank that’s simple to navigate and is easy on fees. Take a look at our top bank picks that offer customers a hassle-free experience.

Best Credit Unions

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions owned by their members, so they can reward account holders with higher rates and lower fees. Our top credit unions are open to anyone in the U.S.

Best Banks for Frequent Travelers

The ideal bank for travelers eliminates sneaky ATM and foreign-transaction fees. Here are two of our favorites.

Best Regional Banks

Many regional banks (by our definition, those with branches in fewer than 15 states) offer accounts and services that are just as robust as those of nationwide institutions—and they may be more involved in their communities. These three banks are all contenders for top regional bank but operate in different regions.

How We Chose the Top Financial Institutions

With data from Informa Financial Intelligence, as well as information from financial institutions and other sources, we studied 44 national and regional banks, 14 credit unions, and 15 online banks (including online accounts from brokerage firms) to choose winners and runners-up. We included standard and interest-bearing checking accounts, savings and money market deposit accounts, and certificates of deposit. Among the criteria we considered were interest rates; minimum-balance requirements; monthly maintenance fees and ease of waiving the fees; ATM benefits (such as waived or refunded out-of-network surcharges); availability of free or discounted perks, such as personal and cashier’s checks, money orders, identity-theft protection, overdraft protection and wire transfers; and certain miscellaneous fees, such as for external transfers.

Informa Financial Intelligence (opens in new tab) compiled the data as reported by the financial institutions that it tracks; the information is subject to change.

Miriam Cross
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Miriam lived in Toronto, Canada, before joining Kiplinger's Personal Finance in November 2012. Prior to that, she freelanced as a fact-checker for several Canadian publications, including Reader's Digest Canada, Style at Home and Air Canada's enRoute. She received a BA from the University of Toronto with a major in English literature and completed a certificate in Magazine and Web Publishing at Ryerson University.