10 Best National Banks of 2016Here's how the top 10 national banks set themselves apart from other brick-and-mortar banks.

best national banks 2016

Despite the growth of online banks with their competitive rates and low fees, traditional brick-and-mortar institutions still appeal to many Americans. In fact, nearly 30 percent of consumers cited convenient branch locations near where they live and work as the top reason for staying with their bank, according to a 2015 survey by consulting firm Accenture.

If you’re among those who prefer a bank with a physical presence, GOBankingRates has identified the 10 best banks in America. For its Best Banks of 2016 rankings, GOBankingRates looked at the 90 largest, national brick-and-mortar banks by asset size, according to the FDIC, and evaluated them on the following criteria:

  • Yields, fees or other terms on checking, savings and one-year certificate of deposit accounts
  • Products offered, including auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, investment services and insurance services
  • Accessibility, including branch locations and customer service
  • BauerFinancial Star Rating indicating overall financial strength

By looking at the range of products and services the best banks in the U.S. offer, you can assess whether you are getting what you need from your bank. You might find that it’s time to try new banking options.

Best: Wells Fargo

Why: Wells Fargo offers a full range of products and the most branches of any bank in the Best National Banks category.

Review: Wells Fargo can be a one-stop financial shop for its customers because it offers all five of the products considered in this category of the Best Banks of 2016 rankings: mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, insurance and investment services. However, the savings account and CD yields aren’t as competitive as those at other banks in the 2016 rankings. The monthly checking account fee is $10, which can be avoided if you meet balance, direct deposit or debit card purchase requirements. One of the most appealing features of Wells Fargo is its accessibility. It has about 6,200 branch locations and 12,500 ATMs.

How to join: You can open an account online or at any branch location.

Banks That Rounded Out the Top 10

U.S. Bank

Why: U.S. Bank has a slightly lower checking fee and higher CD yield than Wells Fargo, but it doesn’t offer insurance products and offers only half as many branch locations and ATMs as the top national bank on the list.

Review: The $6.95 monthly checking account fee — which is waived if you meet certain requirements — beats Wells Fargo’s $10 monthly fee. And the 0.10% APY on U.S. Bank’s 12-month CD tops the 0.05% APY on Wells Fargo’s CD of the same term length. Customers with a Platinum checking account get 25 free trades if they open a brokerage account through U.S. Bank. But the fifth-largest bank in the U.S. doesn’t offer insurance. It has 3,151 banking offices in 25 states and 5,001 ATMs — which is about half as many as Wells Fargo has.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

Related: 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2016

Citibank

Why: Citibank offers one of the highest 12-month CD yields of the banks on this list but also has one of the highest checking account fees.

Review: Citibank is one of three banks in this 2016 top 10 group that charges a hefty $12 monthly checking account fee unless customers meet certain requirements. However, customers can access their money at more than 34,000 ATMs in the U.S. and 3,280 branches in 700 cities worldwide. Citibank also offers tiered interest rates on its savings account — from 0.01% to 0.10% APY — depending on the account balance.

How to join: You can open an account online or in a branch.

HSBC Bank USA

Why: HSBC has one of the lowest checking account fees but also has the lowest 12-month CD APY of the banks on this list.

Review: HSBC has a monthly maintenance fee of just $3 on its Basic Banking checking account and no minimum balance requirement. There’s also no monthly maintenance fee on its Everyday Savings account, but the APY is just 0.01%. HSBC is one of two banks on this list that doesn’t offer auto loans. Although it’s one of the world’s largest banking service providers, HSBC Bank has just 230 branches in the U.S.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

Bank of America

Why: Its savings account and CD yields match those offered by Wells Fargo, but Bank of America charges higher checking fees and has fewer branches.

Review: Like Citibank and Chase, Bank of America charges a $12 monthly maintenance fee on its checking account unless you meet balance or direct deposit requirements. However, account holders can access their money at 4,700 locations and more than 16,000 ATMs. In addition to accessibility and a range of products — except insurance — Bank of America offers free online financial education in partnership with Khan Academy at BetterMoneyHabits.com.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

Chase

Why: Chase has one of the highest checking account fees and one of the lowest 12-month CD APYs in the 2016 GOBankingRates top 10 rankings. But the bank has more than 5,300 branches and serves nearly half of America’s households with its broad range of financial products.

Review: The nation’s largest bank by asset size offers a variety of products from checking accounts and credit cards to student loans and investment services; however, its fees are higher and its yields are lower than other banks in the 2016 rankings. For example, the Chase Total Checking account charges a $12 monthly maintenance fee unless you meet certain balance or direct deposit requirements. Its savings account has an APY of just 0.01% and a $5 monthly service fee unless you meet certain requirements. But customers have easy access to their money at 15,500 ATMs in the U.S. and overseas.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

Great Western Bank

Why: Great Western Bank is one of only two banks in this top 10 to offer free checking. However, it has branches in only seven states.

Review: Great Western is the only bank on this list to have the highest BauerFinancial Star Rating possible: 5. The bank offers free checking, free online banking and bill pay, 24-hour phone banking, and free mobile banking. But Great Western has only 158 branch locations in the West and Midwest. Its savings account has an APY of just 0.01%, and its 12-month CD has an APY of 0.15%.

How to join: You can open an account by visiting a branch.

First Niagara Bank

Why: First Niagara Bank offers the highest savings and CD account yields in this top 10, but this bank has branches in only four states.

Review: The 0.10% APY on First Niagara Bank’s savings account tops the national average of 0.06%, according to the FDIC, and is 10 times the 0.01% APY offered by other national brick-and-mortar banks in GOBankingRates’ 2016 rankings. The bank’s 12-month CD APY of 0.50% is better than the national average of 0.21% APY. The low $5 monthly maintenance fee on its Simple Checking account is waived if you deposit just 1 cent per payment cycle into the account.

First Niagara offers 24/7 telephone customer service, online and mobile banking, and a full lineup of products, including mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, credit cards, insurance, and investment services. It has about 390 branches across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

How to join: You can open an account at a branch or online.

Keep Reading: 10 Best CD Accounts of 2016

First Midwest Bank

Why: First Midwest Bank offers no-fee checking and a full range of products but only 100 locations in three states.

Review: This bank only has locations in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, so it’s not as accessible as many of the larger banks on this list. However, it offers free ATM access through Allpoint’s network of 50,000 ATMs, free checking and free mobile banking. And customers who have a Diamond or Midwest checking account are eligible for auto and home equity loan discounts and mortgage closing-cost rebates.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

PNC Bank

Why: PNC Bank’s savings account yield is slightly more competitive, but it has fewer branches than the bigger banks in this group and higher checking fees than the smaller banks listed here.

Review: At 0.05%, the APY on PNC Bank’s savings account relationship rate beats the savings account yield at all of the banks in this top 10 except First Niagara Bank. PNC has more than 2,600 branches in 19 states and the District of Columbia as well as 9,000 ATMs. PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet checking accounts offer a variety of money management tools and features; however, monthly checking account fees start at $7 unless you meet balance or direct deposit requirements.

How to join: You can open an account online or at a branch.

Related: 10 Best Online Banks of 2016

Compare the Best National Bank Products and Services

Bank Checking Fee Savings APY 12-Month CD APY Products Offered Branch Locations 24/7 Customer Service Bauer Rating
Wells Fargo Bank $10 0.01% 0.05% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 6,200 yes 4
U.S. Bank $6.95 0.01% 0.10% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services 3,151 yes 4
Citibank $12 0.01% 0.15% Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services 4,000 yes 4
HSBC Bank USA $3 0.01% 0.01% Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 230 no 4
Bank of America $12 0.01% 0.05% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services 4,700 no 4
Chase Bank $12 0.01% 0.02% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services 5,300 no 4
Great Western Bank $0 0.01% 0.15% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 158 no 5
First Niagara Bank $5 0.10% 0.50% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 390 yes 4
First Midwest Bank $0 0.01% 0.04% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 100 no 4
PNC Bank $7 0.05% 0.04% Auto & Mortgage Loans, Credit Cards, Investment Services, Insurance 2,600 no 4

Methodology: To determine its Best Brick-and-Mortar Banks category ranking, GOBankingRates examined the top 90 national banks by asset size according to the FDIC, excluding non-active institutions, those with less than $1 billion in assets, investment banks and any institutions that require customers to use investment services to access commercial bank accounts.

Criteria for ranking: GOBankingRates scored the banks from most to least favorable for the following factors: (1) checking account fee, (2) savings account annual percentage yield, (3) 12-month certificate of deposit APY and (4) BauerFinancial Star Ratings for overall financial strength. Banks were then scored according to whether they offered each of the following services, all of which contributed to a single weighting: (5) auto loans, (6) mortgage loans, (7) credit cards, (8) investment services and (9) insurance services. Next, banks were scored according to accessibility factors: (10) branch locations, (11) international ATM access and (12) 24/7 customer service with a live person. Banks were then ranked according to their total accessibility score, then by their service offering score and lastly by their overall score.

Data was compiled via the GOBankingRates interest rate database and verified against the individual institutions’ websites between Oct. 29 and Nov. 23, 2015. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some banks mentioned in the Best Banks of 2016 survey are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.

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