“What’s the best bank?” might just be the most common financial question you’ve asked yourself at some time or another. Each major banking institution has its positives and its negatives, so choosing the financial institutions to bank with is challenging.
What Makes Wells Fargo the Best Bank of 2016
With a history spanning more than 150 years, Wells Fargo’s presence is second to none in the industry, offering a full range of products and services to cater to any personal finance need. Those features and more accounted for its No. 1 ranking among the Best National Banks category. Here are a few other reasons it’s one of the best banks in America.
Low Account Fees and Minimum Balances
Wells Fargo’s checking and savings accounts are tiered depending on your needs — from the simple Everyday Checking to the interest-bearing Preferred Checking and higher-balance PMA Package Account. On the savings end, the Platinum Savings account is an APY-based option, though the popular choice is the Wells Fargo Way2Save account, which automatically transfers money from purchases made through your checking account.
To open a savings or checking account, you’ll need $25 to $50, but the real winner is the $2,500 minimum balance requirement for its intro CDs of 3, 6 and 12 months. For both checking and savings, monthly maintenance fees run as low as $5 up to $30 for the more premium accounts — though for CDs, there are no fees (provided you adhere to the no-withdrawal and other deposit rules). However, minimal fees often means that interest rates aren’t always the most competitive.
Convenience and Availability
To start with, Wells Fargo has 12,000 ATMs across the country and more than 6,500 walk-in locations. This is more than any other major bank making accessibility to your accounts easy.
The Wells Fargo online banking site and app are also both easy to navigate making managing your accounts effortless. Account-to-account transfers are simple to make, and pending transactions are always updated, especially for debit transactions. If you have a Wells Fargo rewards card, you’ll have access to a separate site allowing you to view and redeem points earned. The highlighted app feature is mobile check deposit — use it and you won’t need to visit an ATM ever again.
Wells Fargo provides customer service access in person during normal bank hours, over the phone or online (24/7), where Twitter has proven one of the fastest ways to receive a response. Whether your checking account gets compromised or you lose your debit card while traveling, Wells Fargo’s customer service is readily available and eager to protect your money.
Methodology: To determine its Best Brick-and-Mortar Bank category ranking, GOBankingRates examined the top 90 banks by asset size according to the FDIC, excluding nonactive 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.