Best National Banks of 2020

National banks offer broad account services and far reach.

A national bank is a commercial bank that is a member of the Federal Reserve System. Good national banks typically offer a broader range of financial services than local or regional banks. On top of quality customer service, the top national banks also offer lower fees, higher interest rates and access to physical branches across the country. National banks are one-stop shops for many customers, particularly for those with higher-level financial planning needs, such as estate planning and wealth management.

If you’re looking for specific information about the best national banks of 2020, click on one of the following links to jump ahead to your section of interest:

Best National Banks of 2020
Bank Checking Fee Savings APY 12-Month CD APY Access (ATM)
PNC Bank $7-$25 0.01%-0.10% 0.04%-0.22%  $0 for PNC ATMs; $3/$5 for non-network ATMs domestically/internationally
US Bank logo 2017 U.S. Bank $6.95-$24.95  0.01% 0.10% $0 for U.S. Bank ATMs; $2.50 at non-U.S. Bank ATMs 
Wells Fargo $10-$30  0.01%-0.05% 0.15% $0 for Wells Fargo ATMs; $2.50/$5 for domestic/international non-Wells Fargo ATMs
Bank of America $4.95-$25 0.03%  0.07% $0 at Bank of America ATMs; $2.50/$5 for domestic/international non-Bank of America ATMs 
Chase bank logo Chase $0-$25  0.01%-0.09%  0.02%-0.05%  $0 for Chase ATMs; $2.50/$5 for non-Chase ATMs in the U.S., Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands/all other countries 

Back to top

More From Your Money
Sponsors of

Best National Banks of 2020

To determine the Best National Banks of 2020, GOBankingRates evaluated national banks using a methodology focused on the following criteria:

  • Checking account fee
  • Savings account annual percentage yield
  • 12-month CD APY
  • BauerFinancial Star Rating for overall financial strength

Further consideration was given as to whether or not banks offered the following services:

  • Auto loans
  • Mortgage loans
  • Credit cards
  • Investment services
  • Insurance services

Accessibility also was considered, including customer service and live chat capability. To qualify for the list, a national bank had to have a presence in at least 20 states.

Individual Bank Reviews

Here are the features, benefits, pros and cons of each individual bank on the Best National Banks of 2020 list.


PNC Bank

Where It’s Located: Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Why We Like It: PNC Bank has a broad product line and a decent CD APY for national banks.

Products Offered: Checking, savings, CDs, investment accounts, IRAs, managed accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, insurance

More From Your Money
Sponsors of

Benefits:

  • Broad product line
  • One of the higher CD APYs for national banks

Drawbacks:

  • High ATM fees
  • Low checking APY
  • Potentially high fees

Checking Fees: $7-$25

Minimum Deposit

  • Checking: $25 
  • Savings: $0
  • CD: $1,000-$5,000 

Minimum Balance:

  • Checking: $25 
  • Savings: $0 
  • CD: $1,000-$5,000 

Rates (APY):

  • Checking: 0.01% 
  • Savings: 0.01%-0.10%
  • CD: 0.04%-0.22%  

Access (ATM): No charge at PNC Bank ATMs; $3 charge at non-PNC Bank ATMs within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; $5 charge at non-PNC Bank ATMs in all other countries 

How to Open: You can open an account online with PNC Bank in minutes. You’ll need your Social Security number and a government-issued ID. You can also visit a branch location.

Deep Dive: PNC Bank Review: Is It the Right Bank for You?

Back to top


U.S. Bank

Where It’s Located: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Why We Like It: U.S. Bank offers the solid financial banking of a well-known name coupled with geographic exposure over more than half of America; the bank also has a broad and deep product line, including money market accounts.

More From Your Money
Sponsors of

Products Offered: Checking, savings, CDs, money markets, investment accounts, IRAs, managed accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, insurance

Benefits: 

Drawbacks

  • Low checking and savings APYs

Checking Fees: $6.95-$24.95

Minimum Deposit:

  • Checking: $25 
  • Savings: $25 
  • CD: $500 

Minimum Balance:

  • Checking: $0; may need an open U.S. Bank loan or a minimum balance to avoid fees 
  • Savings: $0; may need a relationship package or a minimum balance to avoid fees 
  • CD: $500 

Rates (APY):

  • Checking: 0%-0.01% 
  • Savings: 0.01% 
  • 12-month CD: 0.10% 

Access (ATM): No fees at U.S. Bank ATMs; $2.50 at non-U.S. Bank ATMs; higher-level checking packages may waive certain fees 

How to Open: You can open a U.S. Bank account online in about five minutes if you’re a legal resident of the United States, age 18 or older. You’ll need your Social Security number or Tax ID number along with a valid driver’s license, state ID or military ID. You’ll also need to provide banking information to fund your minimum deposit of $25.

See: US Bank Review: In-Branch to Google Home Banking Options

More From Your Money
Sponsors of

Back to top


Wells Fargo Bank

Where It’s Located: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming 

Why We Like It: Among the major national banks, Wells Fargo offers the best rates for savings accounts and CDs; coupled with 24/7 customer service, Wells Fargo ranks among the Best National Banks of 2020.

Products Offered: Checking, savings, CDs, investment accounts, IRAs, managed accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, insurance

Benefits:

  • Broad range of banking products
  • For a national bank, relatively high rates for savings accounts and CDs

Drawbacks

  • Checking fees are some of the highest among national banks

Checking Fees: $10-$30

Minimum Deposit:

  • Checking: $25  
  • Savings: $25 
  • CD: $2,500 

Rates (APY):

  • Checking: 0%-0.05% 
  • Savings: 0.01%-0.05% 
  • CD: 0.15% 

Access (ATM): No charge for Wells Fargo ATMs; $2.50 for domestic non-Wells Fargo ATMs and $5 for international non-Wells Fargo ATMs, plus any third-party fees.

How to Open: You can open a Wells Fargo account online or in a branch. You’ll need your Social Security number, valid ID and your current checking account information to fund the required opening deposit.

More From Your Money
Sponsors of

Check Out: Wells Fargo Review: Is It the Right Bank for You?

Back to top


Bank of America

Where It’s Located: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington

Why We Like It: Bank of America has the greatest geographical reach of all the major banks on the list; it also boasts a highly rated mobile app and a broad product line, including investments offered through its subsidiary Merrill Lynch.

Products Offered: Checking, savings, CDs, investment accounts, IRAs, managed accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, insurance

Benefits:

  • Branches in 37 states
  • Broad product line
  • Strong investment partner in Merrill Lynch
  • Some checking account fees are low for the category

Drawbacks

  • Low APYs
  • High non-Bank of America ATM fees

Checking Fees: $4.95-$25 

Minimum Deposit:

  • Checking: $25-$100 
  • Savings: $100 
  • CD: $1,000 

Minimum Balance:

  • Checking: $0; $1,500 or more to avoid fees
  • Savings: $0; $300 or more to avoid fees
  • CD: $1,000 

Rates (APY):

More From Your Money
Sponsors of
  • Checking: 0.01%-0.02%
  • Savings: 0.03% 
  • CD: 0.07% 

Access (ATM): No fees at Bank of America ATMs; for non-Bank of America ATMs, $2.50 for domestic withdrawals and $5 for international withdrawals, plus any third-party fees.

How to Open: You can open a Bank of America account online in about 10 minutes, or you can visit a branch. You’ll need your Social Security number, date of birth, phone number, email address, physical U.S. address, and debit card or account information of your current bank so you can fund your new account.

Learn More: How to Open a Bank Account Online: Everything You Need to Know

Back to top


Chase Bank

Where It’s Located: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Why We Like It: Chase offers a wide range of popular credit cards and has a broad product line beyond that, in addition to a wide geographic presence that reaches 34 states. It’s also one of the few banks that offers 24/7 customer service, including live chat with a human. Current sign-up promotions are also enticing.

Products Offered: Checking, savings, CDs, investment accounts, IRAs, managed accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, insurance

Benefits:

  • Broad product line and geographic presence
  • Well-known line of credit cards
  • 24/7 customer service with a live person
  • $200 checking and $150 sign-up promotion

Drawbacks

  • Very low APYs
  • High non-Chase ATM fees

Checking Fees: $0-$25 

Minimum Deposit:

  • Checking: $0 
  • Savings: $0
  • CD: $1,000 

Minimum Balance:

  • Checking: $0 if certain requirements are met, such as having a $1,500 minimum balance at the beginning of each day 
  • Savings: $0 if certain requirements are met, such as having a $300 minimum balance at the beginning of each day  
  • CD: $1,000 

Rates (APY):

  • Checking: 0%-0.01%  
  • Savings: 0.01%-0.09% 
  • 12-month CD: 0.02%-0.05% 

Access (ATM): No fee for Chase ATMs; $2.50 for non-Chase ATMs in the U.S., Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands; $5 for non-Chase ATMs in all other countries; may be waived with certain account types 

How to Open: You can open a Chase account online in a few minutes, or you can visit a branch. You’ll need your Social Security number and driver’s license or state ID. You’ll also be asked personal verifying information such as your name, address, date of birth and other information.

More: Chase Bank Review: Is It the Right Bank for You?

Back to top


How To Choose a National Bank

Once you’ve decided that you want to bank with one of the major institutions, you’ll need to determine which one is best for you. Here are some of the factors you might want to consider:

Check the Fees

Fees can vary greatly from bank to bank, and from account to account. National banks often lower fees for customers with larger deposits, so if you fall into this category, make sure to see if you can qualify for lower fees and/or higher interest rates. Look beyond the obvious expenses such as monthly maintenance fees and into fees that the banks charge for other services or events. For example, you might not send wire transfers or overdraw your account often, but most national banks charge for these services and you should be aware of them ahead of time. In many cases, overdraft fees are quite high.

Up Next: Chase Interest Rates: How to Get the Bank’s Best Rates

Read the Fine Print

Since banks are entrusted with customer assets, they have extensive legal departments that work up the fine print to keep the bank safe from litigation. It’s in this fine print that you’ll often find fees or restrictions that you might not be expecting. For example, your account might have inactivity fees or requirements to avoid monthly maintenance fees. Be sure to read all of the terms and conditions on your account so you can compare them with other banks.

Read: 9 Types of Checking Accounts

Check the APY

For some customers, the APY a bank pays on its accounts can be one of its most important features. While some banks proudly advertise their high APYs, many of those that pay low rates tuck them away in a footnote or on a back page on their website. Since national banks, in general, are not known for high APYs on their checking and savings accounts, you might have to dig a little to find out exactly how much you’ll be earning on your accounts.

Read: PenFed Review: Is It the Right Credit Union for You?

Check Out the Website and App

A bank’s digital presence, such as their website or app might not be as important to you as a bank’s APYs and fees, but they’re still something to consider. If you intend to do most of your banking online or on your smartphone, your experience as a user can go a long way toward your long-term happiness with a bank. Imagine that you’re using a smartphone to transfer funds or make a time-sensitive stock trade; if your bank’s app is slow or cumbersome to use, you probably will get frustrated with the whole experience.

FDIC Insurance

All national banks carry at least the standard FDIC insurance, which covers depositors for $250,000 per eligible account type. However, many national banks also supplement this insurance with additional private insurance, oftentimes running into the millions of dollars. If having a large level of supplemental account insurance is important to you, be sure to compare the policies of the banks you are considering.

Back to top

National Banks vs. Regional Banks

National banks are more than just larger versions of regional banks. Here are some of the important differences between national banks and regional banks.

Advantages of National Banks

  • National banks often have broader or more diverse product lines
  • National banks typically have representation in all major population centers
  • National banks often lower fees for customers with higher balances

Disadvantages of National Banks 

  • It can be hard for national banks to provide the community feeling offered by many regional banks
  • National banks might not have branches in smaller communities
  • National banks often cater their accounts to a wealthier clientele
  • National banks might not have community-specific loans, bonuses or rates as some regional banks do

Back to top

    Summary

    If you’re looking to open a new bank account, congratulations. More than 30% of Americans in a recent GOBankingRates study indicated that they didn’t have a bank account. Additionally, 58% of Americans said they have less than $1,000 in savings, so opening a new account hopefully will provide some direction to your financial life and get you to start saving more.

    When you start thinking about a bank, the names of the top national banks are likely to pop into your head, as advertisements and news stories about them are ubiquitous. This alone doesn’t make them any better or worse than any other type of bank. To determine if a national bank is for you, consider your needs as a customer. Do you need the convenience of having multiple branches in your city? Do you feel more comfortable with the backing of a name-brand bank with national or global reach? Or are you simply searching for a bank with the highest fees and lowest rates? These and other questions can help you determine if one of the big national banks is right for you.

    Back to top

    FAQ

    Although national banks can be found in communities across the country, many customers still have questions about how they operate and what makes them different. Here’s a look at some of the most common questions regarding national banks.

    What Makes Big Banks Different From Smaller Banks?

    Big banks primarily differ from small banks in terms of their services. Larger banks typically offer a wide variety of accounts, from checking and savings options to loans, mortgages, credit cards and investment services, among others. Smaller banks might only offer basic checking and savings accounts and perhaps some CDs.

    Do National Banks Pay Higher Interest?

    If you’re like one-third of Americans in a recent GOBankingRates survey, you may not be sure which types of accounts pay the highest interest. Larger banks typically pay lower interest rates than other types of banks, especially online banks. This is because large banks have extensive branch networks and a large number of employees, resulting in higher expenses. Coupled with the additional services many national banks offer, there’s not as much room to pay out the highest interest rates.

    Compare: Are High-Yield Savings Accounts Worth It? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

    Are National Banks Better Than Other Kinds of Banks?

    National banks aren’t inherently better or worse than other kinds of banks. What matters is what you need out of a bank. If you need a bank branch on every corner and someone to talk to in person about credit cards, mortgages and investments, you might find that a national bank is better than an online or regional bank. However, some states are still dominated by regional banks, in which case you might prefer the local flair of a regional bank. Do-it-yourselfers who just want a no-fee, high-APY checking or savings account might find an online bank to be a better option.

    Check This: Insider Tips for How To Choose the Best Bank

    Is My Money Safer in a National Bank?

    National banks share the same FDIC insurance as regional and licensed online banks. In that sense, your money isn’t any more or less safe at a national bank. However, national banks might be stronger financially than online or smaller institutions, making it less likely that they could fail. Although FDIC insurance will protect you up to federally mandated limits, it’s always a good idea to check out the financials of a bank before you decide to commit money to it.

    More From GOBankingRates

      Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the Best National Banks of 2020 based on the following factors: (1) average monthly fee across all checking account offerings, (2) average APY across all savings accounts, (3) the APY for 12-month certificates of deposit and (4) BauerFinancial Star Rating for overall financial strength. Banks were also scored according to whether they offered each of the following services: (5) auto loans, (6) mortgage loans, (7) credit cards, (8) investment services and (9) insurance services. Next, banks were scored on their accessibility, including (10) 24/7 customer service with a live person and (11) live chat availability. Banks were then ranked according to their total score. To be considered a Best National Bank of 2020, all banks had to have a physical branch presence in at least 20 states. GOBankingRates’ rankings for the Best Banks of 2020 were based on rates and other information compiled from individual institutions’ websites and/or conversations with representatives from the financial institutions throughout September 2019 and October 2019. All rates and other information pertaining to each account listed in the article were last verified in November 2019. All costs, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of each financial institution. For more information, see the complete methodology for the rankings.

      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.

      Related Video

      About the Author

      John Csiszar

      After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

      Read More