According to the FDIC, there are over 100 financial institutions actively operating in California, not including online-only banks. Although online-only banks can save you on fees and keep transactions simple, banking with a financial institution with a strong regional presence has its upsides.
Being able to pop in to a local branch can be vital for the times you need to deposit cash, verify your identity or speak face-to-face with a customer service representative. To help you navigate all the options, GOBankingRates evaluated the state’s offerings to bring you the best banks in California as of February 2023.
Best Banks Near Me: How Banks in California Made the List
GOBankingRates continuously researches and evaluates how the top 100 banks in the U.S. perform using a ranking system. Ranking criteria includes fees, branches, market share, digital presence, customer service, interest rates and breadth of products. The best banks in California list consists of the top eight performers with branches in the state.
8 Best Banks in California of February 2023
If you’re in search of the “best banks near me” for the state of California, the following eight are GOBankingRates’ picks.
1. Chase Bank
Why it stands out: Chase is one of the largest banks in the U.S. and has a major presence in California. There are over 4,700 branches nationwide and they can be found in numerous California cities.
Besides the number of branches, Chase stands out for the breadth of products available. In addition to checking, savings and CD accounts, you'll have access to personal loans, mortgages and credit cards for a one-stop financial solution.
- Three types of checking accounts plus accounts for kids, high school and college students
- Regular cash bonuses for opening a new account
- Relationship rates for mortgage holders
- Full-featured ATMs and mobile app make it possible to pay bills and Chase credit cards, make deposits and more
- Less-than-competitive interest rate of 0.01% on savings
- Monthly maintenance fees as high as $25 require a higher balance or linked mortgage with autopayments to waive
What to look for: When choosing an account, know the ins and outs of how to avoid the monthly maintenance fees, which can be waived for some of the accounts with a mortgage, minimum balance of $1,500 or more or direct deposits of $500 or more. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
2. Bank of AmericaWhy it stands out: Bank of America is another large, national bank with a solid presence in California. While you'll find a good variety of account options, Bank of America, Member FDIC, is also a good source for vehicle loans, mortgages and investing through its partnership with Merrill Edge, a subsidiary of B of A that helps you grow your nest egg through self-directed or guided investing options. Pros:
- Preferred Rewards members get special rates and savings
- Fees on many accounts can be waived
- Checkless to premium bank account options
- Robust mobile app
- High monthly maintenance fee for Advantage Relationship Banking if you don't maintain a balance of at least $10,000 in qualifying linked accounts
- Non-relationship interest rates on checking and savings accounts are low
3. Wells FargoWhy it stands out: Wells Fargo has over 4,700 branches in the U.S. Despite the strong physical presence, its digital platform is also superior. Millions of users award the Wells Fargo mobile banking app with a near-perfect score of 4.8 out of 5. The app is capable of managing your accounts, investments, loans, cards and insurance through a simple, clean design -- all in one place. Pros:
- Large branch availability in California
- Account monthly maintenance fees are waivable
- Foreign currency available at branches
- Mobile banking app is a customer favorite
- Up to three overdraft fees of $35 each may be charged per day
- Relatively low APY on interest-bearing accounts and CDs
4. U.S. BankWhy it stands out: Californians banking with U.S. Bank will have plenty of checking and savings account options. Accounts have small opening balance requirements and waivable monthly maintenance fees for receiving direct deposits, opening a credit card or loan, or maintaining a minimum balance. Banking can be handled using the well-designed mobile app or by visiting one of the nearly 400 branches in the state. Pros:
- Free, customizable debit cards for checking and savings accounts
- User-friendly mobile app and website
- Accounts have minimal opening balance requirements of $25 to $100
- Can charge up to four overdraft fees per day of $36 each
- CD interest rates are very competitive
5. First CitizensWhy it stands out: First Citizens has one of the lowest thresholds for opening a bank account. Minimum opening requirements are low and there are free checking and savings account options. Southern California residents can make the most of banking with First Citizens. The bulk of the 121 branches are concentrated in the Los Angeles-Orange County area and provide special perks such as unlimited transactions for money market holders. Pros:
- Free checking with a $50 minimum to open
- Low minimum of $500 for CDs
- Better-than-average interest rates for savings, CDs and money market accounts
- Mobile banking app compatible with smart devices including watches
- Unlimited transfers and withdrawals allowed at branches for money market account holders
- The bulk of the branches are concentrated in Southern California
- Minimal interest rate of 0.05% earned on premium checking accounts
6. Bank of the West
Why it stands out: Unlike the best banks in California featured so far, Bank of the West is a smaller, community bank. It's one of the top regional banks in the GOBankingRates study. If you prefer working with a smaller operation that still has a wide branch presence, you'll find Bank of the West has over 200 branches in the state, focused in Central and Northern California, with headquarters in San Francisco.
- Accounts with no minimum balance requirements
- Monthly maintenance fees can be waived
- Socially responsible checking accounts contribute to environmental causes
- Open accounts online or at a branch
- Low 0.01% APY for savings accounts
What to look for: You'll find low-fee account options including checking, savings and money market accounts. To save on monthly maintenance fees, be aware of the balance requirements, which can be anywhere between $300 and $25,000. Autosave is available to help you put at least $75 per month towards savings. You'll start earning base rates on your savings until you hit a balance of $10,000. Tiered rates rise for higher balances.
7. FirstBankWhy it stands out: FirstBank is smaller than some of the other banks in California that have been reviewed, but it's rapidly growing in market share since its beginnings in 1963. Besides the locations in the Palm Desert area of California, there are locations in Arizona and Colorado. Fortunately, online and mobile app banking is available if you don't live near a branch. Pros:
- Highly-rated mobile banking app
- You can open an account online
- Accounts with no minimum opening requirements available
- Loans, retirement planning and business banking also available
- Low yields on nearly all account types and balances
- Only four branches in California
8. Citi®Why it stands out: Citi® is one of the best-known banks and credit card issuers. There are over 270 branches statewide, plus a robust mobile app and website for banking anytime. You'll find plenty of financial services from Citi ranging from checking, savings, loans, investing and wealth management. Best of all, Citi has dropped costly overdraft fees -- the first of the largest banks to make the move. Pros:
- Full-service banking
- No more overdraft fees
- Account options for all balances and needs
- Wide network of bank branches and 70,000+ fee-free ATMs in the U.S.
- Many of the best account perks and options come as part of a premium relationship tier
California has plenty of options when it comes to banking. To make the best choice, be sure to research a bank’s fees, services and customer service availability before you make a decision. This list only covers the best banks in California, but you have other options such as:
Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
To discover the Top 100 Best Banks, GOBankingRates looked at all institutions with available published data (National, Regional, Local, and Online) from the 2023 Best Banks categories as well as all Credit Unions with over $1 billion in total assets and accessible to a wide audience. GOBankingRates looked at the following factors: (1) total assets as sourced from the FDIC and NCUA; (2) number of branch locations as sourced from the FDIC and NCUA; (3) checking account annual fee; (4) savings account APY rate; (5) 12-month CD APY rate; (6) customer service products offered (24/7 customer service and live chat with a human); (7) Bauer rating (out of 5 stars); (8) products/services offered (auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, investment services, and insurance); and (9) the average mobile app rating between the android and apple stores. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being best. Factors (1) and (4) were weighted 1.5 times in final scoring, factor (2) was weighted 2 times, factor (6) was weighted 0.5 times, and factor (8) was weighted 2.5 times. For all Savings and Checking Account data only the basic accounts/products offered at each institution was analyzed. Rates and fees subject to change.
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 companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article. All fees and rates are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Verify terms and conditions before opening an account. GOBankingRates bases its assessment of “best” and “top” products on the above-stated parameters to create a baseline for comparison. This assessment is an approximation of “best” and “top” designed to help consumers find products that might be appropriate for them. There could be other options available as well. Consumers should consider various options appropriate for their circumstances.
Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on promotions is accurate as of Feb. 6, 2023. Additional requirements may apply. Offers and terms are subject to change.
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- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "BankFind Suite."