Best Banks in Chicago

Downtown Chicago Skyscraper Cityscape along the Chicago River.
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Chicago is one of the leading financial hubs in the U.S. As such, it can be overwhelming to choose among its many credit unions, local banks and national banks to make the right financial decisions.

Top 8 Banks in Chicago  

To find the best banks in the region, GOBankingRates started with the Top 100 Banks in the U.S. and filtered for the banks with branches in Chicago. These best banks in Chicago — American Airlines Credit Union, Citibank, First Midwest Bank, Cathay Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Chase, Wells Fargo Bank and U.S. Bank — were then compared against the following factors:

  • Total assets
  • Savings account APY
  • Bauer rating
  • Number of branch locations
  • Checking account annual fee
  • Services and products offered

Based on these factors, here are the top eight banks in Chicago:

American Airlines Credit Union

Why it stands out: American Airlines Credit Union is a member-owned financial institution reserved for current and retired American Airlines employees, air transportation industry employees, employees who work in regulation, administration, or security of airports or air transportation and family members of AA Credit Union members. You can access this award-winning credit union's finance educational products and tools if you meet the eligibility requirements. Standout features include direct deposit discounts, bonus dividends, a user-friendly online research tool for locating vehicle dealers and seminars.

Pros:

  • Bonus dividends
  • Multiple discounts for direct deposit, being a new member, and loan loyalty
  • Variety of credit cards
  • High APY for checking, savings and share certificates

Cons:

  • Only available to individuals and families with connections to the airline industry
  • No money market accounts offered

What to look for: AA Credit Union offers many benefits for its members, including Visa Platinum credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. It also offers robust savings and checking accounts with APY as high as 0.30% and 0.40%, respectively. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
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Citibank

Why it stands out: Citibank is a national bank that provides a full suite of financial services and products, including a sprawling mobile and digital banking network, four checking account packages and several credit card options. It has also announced plans to eliminate returned item fees, overdraft fees and overdraft protection fees by Summer 2022.

Pros:

  • No returned item fees, overdraft fees and overdraft protection fees by Summer 2022
  • Many credit cards to choose from, including airline rewards credit cards
  • Various account choices, including "Everyday" and "Premium" checking account packages

Cons:

  • Low APYs depending on location
  • Must open top-notch savings accounts as part of banking packages

What to look for: Citibank is a reliable bank providing a wide range of financial products and choices. It's also one of the most accessible banks as it has more than 65,000 fee-free ATMs across the U.S., located in popular retail locations, such as CVS Pharmacy, Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Duane Reade. 

READ OUR FULL REVIEW


First Midwest Bank 

Why it stands out: With a Bauer Rating of 4 out of 5 stars, First Midwest Bank offers a range of financial services, including certificates of deposit, checking and savings accounts. Like other brick-and-mortar banks, this bank also provides investing ideas, online and mobile banking, loans and commercial solutions.

Pros:

  • Has over 55,000 free ATMs
  • Four checking account choices
  • Borrow as much as $35,000 for up to seven years and no collateral required

Cons:

  • Low APYs across the board
  • Branches are limited to four Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin

What to look for: The First Midwest Bank has a robust set of tools for individuals and businesses. It provides face-to-face specialized expertise for different industries, including real estate, agribusiness, professional services, government and non-profit. 

READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Cathay Bank

Why it stands out: First created to serve the Chinese-American community in Los Angeles, Cathay Bank has now expanded to several other areas with large Asian American populations, including Chicago. It currently has 60 branches nationwide, a branch in Hong Kong and three representative offices in Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing. It has a community-oriented outlook with a Vendor Diversity Program to establish equal opportunities for diverse vendors through education and external outreach.

Pros:

  • Customer service and website available in English, Spanish and Chinese
  • Full suite of financial products, including home mortgage loans, checking and savings, and personal credit cards

Cons:

  • Branch locations are limited to nine states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, California, Washington, Nevada and Texas
  • Not every account offers interest rates

What to look for: A multilingual and multicultural bank, Cathay Bank has everything required to start saving. It has a wide range of products for homeowners. The Student Advantage Checking is particularly great for post-secondary students as they can transfer funds, track spending and pay bills effectively and efficiently. In addition, the minimum opening deposit is $10 and there's no monthly maintenance charge.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Navy Federal Credit Union

Why it stands out: Navy Federal Credit Union was founded in 1933 by Navy Department employees who wanted to help themselves and others reach their financial goals. It has grown to include enlisted people of all branches of the military, officers, veterans, Department of Defense employees, as well as all family members. Like many other credit unions, it's not-for-profit and member-owned. As such, surplus funds are always returned to members as dividends, improvements to products and services and reduced loan interest.

Pros:

  • Wide range of accounts, including an Education Savings Account that you can use to grow education savings tax-free
  • The National Credit Union Administration insures members' IRA funds up to $250,000 and savings up to $250,000
  • Receives periodic audits from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Share shavings account has a competitive APY of 0.25%
  • Offers a Money Market Savings Accounts

Cons:

  • Membership is restricted to people and families who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Only 350 branches worldwide

What to look for: Navy Federal Credit Union has many products with competitive APY rates, including education savings accounts, retirement savings, certificates, and checking and debit cards. It particularly stands out for offering Money Market Savings Accounts and Jumbo Money Market Savings Accounts, which allow you to earn more than a standard savings account and earn dividends with a minimum balance of $2,500.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Chase

Why it stands out: Chase is the banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co, a financial company that owns $2.6 trillion in assets and operations. One of the most visible U.S. banks, Chase has over 4,700 branches nationwide, making it a great choice if you prefer in-person banking. Like Citibank, it offers a comprehensive range of services, including credit cards, home loans, investing options, and checking and savings accounts.

Pros:

  • Over 16,000 ATMs nationwide
  • Several options for credit cards, accounts and loans
  • Great investing services

Cons:

  • Low CD rates
  • Low APY on its basic account, Chase Savings, depending on location

What to look for: Chase is one of the most accessible banks in the U.S. and boasts a staggering range of financial services and products. It also offers special accounts and different methods for waiving monthly fees.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW


Wells Fargo Bank

Why it stands out: Henry Wells and William G. Fargo started Wells Fargo Bank in 1852 as a start-up to help people manage money and build businesses. A large brick-and-mortar bank with a nationwide presence, Wells Fargo offers many banking products and services, including a mobile app, checking and savings accounts, home loans, personal loans, auto loans, and debit and credit cards.

Pros:

  • Debit card is attached to your savings account
  • Automatic transfers from checking to savings account

Cons:

  • Low rates across the board
  • Requires relatively high minimum balances to avoid monthly service fees

What to look for: Wells Fargo offers a variety of outstanding starter accounts, such as its Way2Save. Account-holders can transfer $1 from their Wells Fargo checking account to their Way2Save savings account whenever they use their debit card for one-time purchases or complete Bill Pay transactions via online banking.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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US Bank 

Why it stands out: U.S. Bank was founded in 1863 during the Lincoln administration. Besides being one of the 2021 World's Most Ethical Companies according to the Ethisphere Institute, it's also one of DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity. U.S. Bank was also named the most essential bank during the COVID-19 pandemic by The Harris Poll for its response to employees, customers and communities. The bank offers a wide range of products, including wealth management tools, corporate and commercial services, a highly rated mobile app, credit cards and loans.

Pros:

  • Numerous accounts and cards to choose from
  • Many accounts don't require monthly maintenance fees or have fees that are easily waivable
  • High-tech mobile banking app that comes with smart features like the U.S. Bank Smart Assistant

Cons:

  • Most savings accounts require minimum opening deposits
  • Low APY for savings accounts

What to look for: U.S. Bank offers quick and convenient access to ATMs and branches. It also has a powerful mobile app for sending and receiving money on the go. 

READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Good To Know

Money market accounts have interest rates similar to high-yield savings accounts, but they also provide check-writing access. Many of these accounts come with fees if a minimum balance isn’t maintained, but not all of them do. Researching the fine print is key.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on promotions is accurate as of March 30, 2022. Additional requirements may apply. Offers and terms are subject to change.

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 the 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 were 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.

About the Author

Imelda Wei Ding Lo is a freelance writer and lawyer with a background in legal, historical, and sociological research. She received her B.A. from University of Toronto at St. George and her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. After graduating from law school, she interned at Sony Music Entertainment, where she did a lot of research on tech and legal topics, particularly on the intersection between copyright and technology.

Best Bank Accounts of May 2022

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