Most people choose a big National Bank for their money needs, drawn to a variety of factors that let them do all kinds of banking in one place. This article gives us a rundown of the top 5 best National Banks.
Before we begin, a National Bank is a commercial bank that is a member of the Federal Reserve System. Good national banks typically offer a broader range of financial services than local or regional banks.
On top of quality customer service, the top national banks also offer lower fees, higher interest rates and access to physical branches across the country.
National banks are one-stop shops for many customers, particularly for those with higher-level financial planning needs, such as estate planning and wealth management.
How to choose a National Bank
Once you’ve decided that you want to bank with one of the major institutions, you’ll need to determine which one is best for you. Here are some of the factors you might want to consider:
Check the Fees
Fees can vary greatly from bank to bank, and from account to account. National banks often lower fees for customers with larger deposits.
So if you fall into this category, make sure to see if you can qualify for lower fees and/or higher interest rates. Look beyond the obvious expenses such as monthly maintenance fees and into fees that the banks charge for other services or events.
Read the Fine Print
Since banks are entrusted with customer assets, they have extensive legal departments that work up the fine print to keep the bank safe from litigation. It’s in this fine print that you’ll often find fees or restrictions that you might not be expecting.
For example, your account might have inactivity fees or requirements to avoid monthly maintenance fees. Be sure to read all of the terms and conditions on your account so you can compare them with other banks.
Check the APY
For some customers, the APY a bank pays on its accounts can be one of its most important features. While some banks proudly advertise their high APYs, many of those that pay low rates tuck them away in a footnote on their website.
Since national banks, in general, are not known for high APYs on their checking and savings accounts, you might have to dig a little to find out exactly how much you’ll be earning on your accounts.
Check Out the Website and App
A bank’s digital presence, such as their website or app might not be as important to you as a bank’s APYs and fees, but they’re still something to consider.
If you intend to do most of your banking online or on your smartphone, your experience as a user can go a long way toward your long-term happiness with a bank.
All national banks carry at least the standard FDIC insurance, which covers depositors for $250,000 per eligible account type.
However, many national banks also supplement this insurance with additional private insurance, oftentimes running into the millions of dollars.
The Best National Banks
1. Chase Bank
Chase Bank is the big winner in the best national bank category. Its stands out because of its full range of deposit accounts, lucrative credit cards, and extensive financial services and investment offerings.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is arguably the most popular travel rewards credit card right now.
When it comes to convenience, Chase has a large branch- up to 5,300 and 15,000 ATM network, highly rated customer service, and an intuitive mobile app. Chase even offers a program that provides free credit scores to everyone and are focused on innovation.
2. Wells Fargo
If you like the option of in-person banking and prefer an institution with a large number of branches and ATMs, Wells Fargo has you covered. This banking behemoth claims 8,200 branches and 13,000 ATMs.
Wells Fargo charges high fees and offers poor interest rates, in line with other nationwide banks. It also was the subject of a string of controversies, including bankers opening fraudulent accounts in customers’ names.
Wells Fargo offers just about every kind of personal and business bank account you could want.
3. PNC Bank
PNC Bank is a strong national bank that offers “Virtual Wallet” accounts for a smarter way to manage money. You can divide your account into separate funds for spending, saving, and growing. This allows you to plan how you use your money and save for financial goals.
Their Best Features include virtual wallet Account, high-yield free checking and free ATM access worldwide
Even better, the account doesn’t have a monthly fee. If you don’t make withdrawals and transfers at a branch, your monthly fee is waived.
With PNC’s strong online and mobile options, this is shouldn’t be a problem.
4. Bank of America
With higher debit and ATM withdrawal limits for student accounts, Bank of America is our recommendation for student checking among national banks.
Bank of America is the third-largest in the US, with 4,700 branches nationwide, so there’s a decent chance that you’ll find a branch wherever you happen to live or study.
While most banks will give students a specific college or high-school checking account, Bank of America gives you a standard Core Checking Account for free, as long as you’re an active student under 23.
Having a standard account as a student means that you’ll have more generous daily limits on your debit card and ATM withdrawals compared to the more restrictive student accounts at other banks.
5. TD Bank
National brick-and-mortar banks typically post very weak deposit interest rates, but TD Bank represents the best of a bad bunch. While most big banks never raise their savings rates past 0.01% APY, TD offers a slightly elevated 0.05% on all balances.
In addition, its more expensive accounts benefit from relationship rates for customers who open both a checking and a savings account with the bank.
As with many national banks, the interest rate you get on your savings account at TD depends on your balance. At minimum, you’ll need to maintain $300 to avoid paying the monthly maintenance fee.
Alternatively, you can get a free savings account if you also open a TD checking account.
What We Compared – National Bank Features
The features compared depended on the category, but overall the features that factored into this study included:
Number of locations
Number of states
Savings account rates
Fee waiver requirements
Overdraft fee caps
Benefits of National Banks
Why should you consider a national bank? After all, as a group they don’t tend to have the most competitive savings account rates, nor do they offer the cheapest checking accounts except on those for special groups like students and seniors.
On the other hand, a broad geographic presence can be a real benefit. Knowing that there is likely to be a branch or an ATM of your bank nearby when you go out of town can save you the cost and inconvenience of having to do your business through another bank.
This can be very helpful to people who travel a lot. Also, as the baby boom generation ages there are more and more snowbirds, retirees who spend their summer months up north and winter in the south. It is helpful for those snowbirds to be able to work with the same bank in both locations.
At the other end of the age spectrum are students who may work in their hometowns during the summer then go to school out of state. It can be similarly helpful to them to have access to the same bank in both locations.
You might also find that a large national bank has a broader range of product offerings than a small local institution, from loans to investment management services. This can be convenient if you like the idea of one-stop shopping for your financial needs.
1. What does it mean to be a national bank?
For the purposes of this article, national banks are financial institutions with a presence in at least 15 states. For banks with branches, we considered only those that had at least 1,000 locations, but some of the banks are online and have no branches
2. What makes big banks different from smaller banks?
Big, national banks serve more of the country than regional or community banks do. A regional bank might serve only a few neighboring states; a community bank might serve only one city within a state.
National banks tend to have more technological resources and a wider variety of products than a smaller bank; on the other hand, smaller banks can offer more personalized service.
3. Is my money safer in a national bank?
Your money is equally safe in any bank that’s insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. As long as your bank has this protection – and most banks do – you’re insured for up to $250,000 per person, per ownership category, per bank.
4. How much interest do the best big banks pay?
The best national banks don’t always pay the highest interest rates on savings products. they might pay around the national average for savings – 0.09% – or less.
5. Are national banks better than other kinds of banks?
That depends on what you’re looking for. If your biggest priority is in-person accessibility, a national, brick-and-mortar bank might be a good fit. If you’re interested in the best rates and large ATM networks, one of the best national online banks might be a good fit.
6. What is the #1 bank in America?
Currently, the largest bank in America by deposits is Chase Bank. It has branches in about 30 states and about 16,000 ATMs, as well as 24/7 customer service via phone.
When you start thinking about a bank, the names of the top national banks are likely to pop into your head, as advertisements and news stories about them are ubiquitous.
This alone doesn’t make them any better or worse than any other type of bank. To determine if a national bank is for you, consider your needs as a customer.
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