What Makes a Bank the Best?

These are the main features the best banks in America have in common.


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If you’re going to entrust your money to a bank, choose one of the best banks in America so you can reap some benefits from your deposits and transactions. Banks are competing with each other by offering services like mobile apps and live chat in addition to features like higher interest rates, a surcharge-free ATM network, FDIC insurance and no overdraft fees. But the best banks take their features to the next level, creating services or perks designed to enhance your banking experience. Compare your current bank's offerings to these features to find the best bank account for you.

The Best Banks Make Your Life Easier
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The Best Banks Make Your Life Easier

Not all banking benefits appeal to everyone, but the best banks offer their customers convenient banking services. If you use a technology-focused bank, you might never have to visit it in person to conduct routine transactions, which can save you valuable time.

The best banks offer a wide range of online banking services and full-featured mobile banking apps that enable you to bank on the go. Technology-savvy banks typically offer protection from fraud and standard liability agreements, so make sure the one you choose has a policy that limits your financial risk exposure in case you’re the victim of a scam.

Many banks offer account alerts that update customers on their account statuses via their mobile devices. In addition, they typically use data-encryption tools, which scramble data, to protect your personal information. If you’re using online banking, the access portal likely has a time-out feature that helps prevent scammers from retrieving your information if you forget to sign off.

Mobile device security measures include secure authentication access and features that ensure your information — including your PIN, Social Security number, user ID and other personal data — is not stored or transferred. Several also now offer security features with added convenience, such as mobile banking fingerprint login, which allows you to access your account with a single touch rather than having to type in your user name and password.

Related: 7 New Banking Technologies You'll See in the Next 5 Years

The Best Banks Pay You for Being a Customer
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The Best Banks Pay You for Being a Customer

Banks pay customers for their business by giving them interest on their savings and, sometimes, checking accounts, but they also offer perks through loyalty rewards programs. More than 70 percent of bank customers said that rewards programs are important and that the best financial institutions offer a variety loyalty incentives, according to a 2015 CGI consumer survey.

Often, banks’ special offers are tied to opening a specific type of account or to using a service like online banking. Look for a bank with features you value most. For example, generous credit card rewards would be useless for you if you like to pay for things with your debit card.

Generally, top-tier banks offer a variety of options — like cash back on debit card purchases — to match a range of consumer financial habits. Many also offer interest rate incentives to get bundled products, such as signing up for checking and savings accounts or getting a lower loan rate if you have an account with the bank.

Do your homework and research current bank promotions on savings and checking accounts. These can range from bonuses for setting up automatic deposits and maintaining a minimum balance to simply signing up as a new customer. If you plan on making other types of deposits at a bank — like putting money in a certificate of deposit account — check to see if you can snag a promotional offer on that, too.

The Best Banks Offer Exceptional Customer Service
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The Best Banks Offer Exceptional Customer Service

Deciding what constitutes great customer service is subjective. It might mean that the bank has numerous branches and readily available tellers, that it offers services beyond basic banking — like financial planning assistance — or that it provides 24-hour customer support through phone, chat, or email. Make a list of what exceptional customer service means to you based on your personal banking habits. When you find a financial institution that offers most the items on your list, that's likely the bank for you.

Up Next: The 29 Best Banks of 2017


About the Author

Barb Nefer has been writing professionally for nearly 30 years, cutting her teeth as a news writer for the Daily Southtown in Chicago. She’s a doctor of psychology, and her eclectic expertise includes personal finance, psychology, travel and the pet industry. Her work reflects that diversity, with pieces appearing in places like About.com, CBS Local, Yahoo.com, WebPsychology, and Animal Wellness magazine.