Best Banks in California

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According to the FDIC, there are 136 financial institutions actively operating in California, not including online-only banks and fintechs such as Chime Bank. 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 2022. 

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

If you’re in search of the “best banks near me” for the state of California, the following eight are GOBankingRates’ picks.

A Better Way to Bank

1. Chase Bank

Why it stands out: Chase is the largest bank in the U.S. with over $3 billion in assets and has a major presence in California. There are over 4,700 branches nationwide and in nearly 400 California cities.

Besides the number of branches, Chase stands out for the breadth of products available. Besides checking, savings and CD accounts (each with a number of account options) you'll have access to personal loans, mortgages and credit cards for a one-stop financial solution.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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. Consider signing up for Chase overdraft protection, which could save you $34 per overdraft by transferring funds to cover your debits. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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2. Bank of America

Why it stands out: Bank of America is another large, national bank with a solid presence in California. You'll find branches in 469 cities throughout the state. While you'll find a good variety of account options, Bank of America 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
Cons:
  • High $25 monthly maintenance fee for Advantage Relationship Checking 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
What to look for: Bank of America's CD rates are currently 0.03% for 6 month terms. However, a balance of at least $10,000 is required to open one. You'll need to maintain a balance of at least $20,000 to qualify for Preferred Rewards but it's worth it. Depending on the tier you qualify for, you can earn an interest rate booster of five to twenty percent on your savings APY, earn higher credit card rewards and receive discounts on loan fees and rates. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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3. Wells Fargo

Why it stands out: Wells Fargo has the most branches in the U.S. with over 5,000. 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 4.6/4.8 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:

  • Nearly 1,000 branches in California
  • Account monthly maintenance fees are waivable
  • Foreign currency available at branches
  • Mobile banking app is a customer favorite
Cons:
  • Up to three overdraft fees of $35 each may be charged per day
  • Relatively low APY on interest-bearing accounts and CDs
What to look for: Wells Fargo is a good option if you're in need of regular visits to a local branch. However, the mobile banking app can hold its own, providing you with access to your accounts 24/7. Besides personal accounts, Wells Fargo is a great option for small business owners in need of business accounts and loans. If you plan on carrying a high account balance, keep in mind that the bank doesn't offer the most lucrative rates on your savings, even on its relationship rates. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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4. U.S. Bank

Why 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 500 branches in the state. Pros:
  • Free, customizable debit cards for checking and savings accounts
  • User-friendly mobile app and website
  • Higher-yield interest rate for Platinum checking
  • Accounts have minimal opening balance requirements of $25 to $100
Cons:
  • Can charge up to four overdraft fees per day of $36 each
  • CD interest rates for terms of 48 months are 0.05%
What to look for: If you like the flexibility of a money market account, U.S. Bank's versions are among the best. The Elite Money Market Account ranked as one of the Best Money Market Accounts of 2022 in the latest GOBankingRates study. If you're hoping to earn as much interest as possible, you may be better off skipping a CD since you can earn the same rate without the time commitment if you qualify for Platinum checking. However, to avoid the monthly maintenance fee, you'll need to keep a minimum balance of $25,000. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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5. First Citizens

Why 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 35 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
Cons:
  • The bulk of the 35 bank branches are concentrated in Southern California
  • Minimal interest rate of 0.01% earned on premium checking accounts
What to look for: First Citizens is a good bank for CDs. If you don't need the funds for four to five years, you could earn 0.15% APY on amounts over $500. Otherwise, the best shorter-term rate of 0.10% APY requires a balance of $5,000 and term of one year. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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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 222 branches in the state, focused in Central and Northern California, with headquarters in San Francisco.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:
  • 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.
    READ OUR FULL REVIEW

    7. FirstBank

    Why 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
    Cons:
    • Low yields on nearly all account types and balances
    • Only four branches in California
    What to look for: The Bloom package is ideal for individuals just getting started with banking. The combination provides a linked basic checking and savings account, with no monthly maintenance fees or minimum opening requirements. You can set up automatic savings transfers to grow a rainy day fund and even round up your debit card transactions to contribute spare change to your savings. READ OUR FULL REVIEW

    8. Citibank

    Why it stands out: Citibank is one of the best-known banks and credit card issuers. There are approximately 275 branches statewide, plus a robust mobile app and website for banking anytime. You'll find plenty of financial services from Citibank ranging from checking, savings, loans, investing and wealth management. Best of all, Citibank plans on dropping costly overdraft fees -- the first of the largest banks to make the move. Pros:
    • Full-service banking
    • Coming soon: no more overdraft fees
    • Account options for all balances and needs
    • Wide network of bank branches and ATMs nationwide
    Cons:
    • Many of the best account perks and options come as part of a premium package.
    • Premium accounts have a monthly maintenance fee as high as $30 or a balance requirement of six figures or higher.
    What to look for: Choosing a banking package takes a lot of the guesswork out of setting up your banking. Citibank does a great job with its packages, with the Basic Banking Package ranking in the GOBankingRates 20 Best Checking Accounts review. Accountholders that sign up for Basic Banking get unlimited check writing and maintenance fees waived if they make at least one bill payment and receive at least one monthly direct deposit or maintain a combined balance of $1,500 or greater. READ OUR FULL REVIEW

    Final Take

    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:

    To discover the Top 100 Best Banks, GOBankingRates looked at all institutions with available published data (National, Regional, Local, and Online) from the 2022 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 May 13, 2022. Additional requirements may apply. Offers and terms are subject to change.

    Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

    Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

    About the Author

    Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

    Best Bank Accounts of July 2022

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