While Americans spend more and more time online, relatively few of us want to go fully digital when it comes to banking.
Illustration by Tim Boelaars
More than two-thirds of us still pop into a branch at least a couple times a year, according to research from J.D. Power, preferring the option to chat in person about an issue or to get advice.
“Even consumers who don’t use branches anymore find big comfort in knowing they are there if they have a problem,” says Adam Stockton, director of consumer pricing strategy and analytics for consulting firm Novantas.
That’s where the country’s largest national banks hold a lot of appeal. Their top-notch digital offerings often outpace those of smaller regional banks while still providing the convenience of large-scale branch and ATM networks. And they’re increasingly winning over the hearts and business of the under-40 crowd because of it, according to data from J.D. Power.
There are drawbacks to going big. MONEY’s annual analysis of accounts found that these banks have higher-than-average fees and below-average interest rates. But, if you value digital innovation and convenient access to branches and ATMs across the country, these nationally-known names can be hard to beat.
To find the best national bank, MONEY partnered with MagnifyMoney.com to review account terms at the 19 largest traditional banks that manage more than $2 billion in assets. As with all our Best Banks winners, we paid close attention to fees and how easy it is to waive them. But we also looked closely at branch numbers, geographic reach, and, through data provided by Yelp, branch operating hours. Finally, we took into account what customers said about each bank’s mobile app experience and how each ranked in J.D. Power’s 2019 Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study.
Best National Bank: Chase
Why it wins: When it comes to easy accessibility, you can’t top Chase.
The bank offers access to more than 16,000 ATMs across the country and operates nearly 5,000 branches that are open, on average, more than 50 hours a week. Only T.D. Bank clocks in more time, according to Yelp. And you can get away with skipping the bank’s monthly service fee for its most popular checking account if you have $500 or more deposited directly into the account each month or maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500.
Chase also excels when it comes to customer service, both in-branch and online. It ranked among the top five banks in eight of the 11 regions J.D. Power looked at for its 2019 Banking Satisfaction study. In California and Florida, Chase took the top spot. Additionally, the bank’s online offerings earned it fourth place overall in J.D. Power’s Online Banking Satisfaction study.
Caveat: Chase offers no free checking accounts, meaning you have to meet its minimum balance, direct deposit or other requirements to waive a monthly service fee that ranges from $12 to $25. Its basic savings account comes with a monthly fee as well and offers an almost nonexistent return of 0.01%. Use an out-of-network ATM and Chase will charge you $2.50 each time.
Where you can find it: Ariz., Calif., Colo., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Mass., Md., Mich., Minn., N.C., Nev., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., Texas, Utah, Va., Wash., Wis., W.Va.
Key account: Chase Total Checking
Monthly service fee: $12. Can be waived with monthly direct deposits totaling $500, a minimum daily balance of $1,500, or an average combined daily balance of $5,000 or more in this account and another linked Chase account.
Outside ATM fee: $2.50
MONEY partnered with MagnifyMoney.com to produce this year’s Best Banks rankings. MagnifyMoney.com provided account terms for the 19 largest traditional banking institutions that have physical branches and manage more than $2 billion in assets. Our team reviewed account minimums and qualifications, interest rates, monthly service fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, overdraft protection fees, insufficient funds fees, debit card replacement fees, domestic wire transfer fees, and online banking capabilities. When selecting finalists, priority was given to checking and savings accounts with no or easily waived monthly fees, free ATMs, and higher interest rates. In naming free accounts, we assumed customers would be okay with receiving e-statements to avoid a monthly fee. When available, we weighed customer service ratings from J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study and 2019 Online Banking Satisfaction Survey. MONEY’s edit team independently fact-checked information in September and October.