Associated Bank Review: Regional Powerhouse in the Upper Midwest

GOBankingRates Score

4.0
Quick Take: Associated Bank offers extensive account options and banking services for a regional bank, but it's best for customers living in its three-state branch network in the upper Midwest.
  • Branch Access
    4.0
  • Mobile App
    4.0
  • Breadth of Products
    5.0
  • Account Minimums
    3.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Multiple options for personal, business and commercial accounts
  • Surcharge-free access to more than 30,000 ATMs

Cons

  • Low annual percentage yields
  • High fees

About Associated Bank

Associated Bank bills itself as the largest Wisconsin-based bank, with branches in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois and commercial services in a handful of other states. The bank traces its roots to 1861 and today boasts more than $34 billion in customer assets. Its stock trades on the NYSE under ASB. Associated offers a full lineup of products and services, personal banking and lending accounts to wealth management, business accounts and commercial services. All this and more has landed it on GOBankingRates’ list of Top 100 Banks of 2022.

Associated Bank Checking Accounts

Associated Bank offers three checking accounts: Associated Choice Checking, Associated Balanced Checking and Associated Access Checking. The Associated Choice Checking account is the flagship offering, and the only one of the three to pay interest. All come with free eStatements and Overdraft Transfer Protection Service. The Access account is the only one with no monthly maintenance fee and also has the lowest minimum deposit requirement, at $25.

Associated Banking has a $100 minimum opening deposit requirement. The $9 monthly maintenance fee is waived during the first two statement cycles. After that it can be waived one of three ways: maintain a $1,000 minimum daily balance; making direct deposits or Associated SnapDeposits of $500 or more per statement cycle; or holding $2,500 in combined deposit accounts with the same statement cycle date or having a Health Savings Account or investment account.

The Associated Choice Checking account has a $100 minimum opening deposit as well. Its $25 monthly maintenance fee is waived during the first two statement cycles. After that it can be waived by holding $10,000 in combined deposit accounts within the same statement cycle or having either an HSA or investment account. Although this is an interest-bearing account, it pays a rock-bottom APY of 0.01% on all account balances.

Associated Bank Savings Accounts

Associated Bank also offers three types of basic savings accounts — Associated Savings, Zero Interest Savings and Relationship Savings.

The Associated Savings account has a $25 minimum opening deposit and a $5 monthly maintenance fee for all customers 18-years-old and older. It can be waived by maintaining a $300 minimum daily balance or making at least $25 in recurring automatic deposits. Associated Savings has a low APY of 0.01% on all balances.

Relationship Savings offers preferred rates with a qualifying Associated Bank checking account. There is a hefty $25,000 minimum opening deposit requirement. To avoid the $20 monthly maintenance fee, you’ll have to maintain a $10,000 daily balance. This account offers tiered interest rates, with an APY of 0.03% on balances up to $25,000; 0.05% on balances of $25,000-$100,000; 0.01% on balances of $100,000-$1 million; and 0.12% on balances of $1 million and above.

As you might expect, the Zero Interest Savings account pays no interest at all. It has a $25 minimum opening deposit and a $5 monthly maintenance fee that can be waived by maintaining a $300 minimum daily balance or making at least $25 in recurring automatic deposits.

Associated Bank Money Market Account

Associated Bank offers a single money market account that provides convenience checks to access it and offers preferred rates when combined with an Associated checking account. There is a $1,000 minimum opening deposit. Rates are pretty low, ranging from 0.01% for balances up to $25,000 to 0.03% for balances of $1 million or more.

Associated Bank CD Accounts

You can choose between two types of CDs at Associated Bank: regular term CDs and fixed-rate, add-on CDs. Terms are from 30 days to five years. There is a $1,000 minimum deposit for regular CDs and $100 minimum deposit for add-on CDs. For regular CDs, the APY ranges from 0.02% to 0.10%, with longer terms getting the higher rates.

Associated Bank Features

Branch Access

Associated has more than 220 branch offices in its three-state service area, with most located in Wisconsin. That’s not a huge amount when compared to a national bank, but for customers in Wisconsin especially, it provides ample access from just about anywhere in the state.

Mobile App

Associated Bank’s mobile app gets pretty divergent customer reviews, depending on who is using it. The App Store version for those who use Apple’s iOS system, gets 4.8 stars out of 5. But the Google Play app, for Android users, gets only 3.6 stars. Features include all of the basic functionality to be expected in a banking app, including fingerprint sign-in (Touch ID available for iOS), mobile check deposit, bill pay, ATM finder ad branch locator. The bank also offers separate apps for business applications.

Breadth of Products

Associated Bank is a full-service institution offering a broad lineup of banking, lending and investment products to both individuals and businesses. In addition to the normal lineup of deposit accounts, Associated offers IRAs, brokerage and investment management services, mortgages and other loans and insurance products.

Account Minimums

This is not Associated Bank’s strong suit. You won’t find any $0 minimum deposits on any of its accounts, and in some cases the minimum to open is quite high, such as with the $25,000 required to open a Relationship Savings account. In addition, some accounts have pretty high minimums to avoid monthly service charges.

Editor’s Favorite

Associated Bank’s strongest feature is its breadth of products. Even though it is a regional bank, it offers all the products and services you can expect from any bank, including the biggest in the industry.

Associated Bank vs. Competitors

Associated Bank has a limited service area but still competes with banks both large and small. Here’s how it stacks up against some of its competitors.

BANK BEST FOR
Associated Bank Diversity of accounts for regional customers in the upper Midwest
BMO Harris Fee-free ATM network
U.S. Bank Branch coverage in 25 states
Chase Bank Global and national branch access, credit card rewards

Associated Bank vs. BMO Harris

BMO Harris competes in Associated Bank’s service area of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but it also has branches in Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Kansas and Florida. BMO Harris has more than 500 branches vs. Associated Bank’s 220-plus. Associated Bank offers a better APY with its Relationship Savings account than BMO Harris does with its Savings Builder account.

Associated Bank vs. U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank ranks as the fifth-largest bank in the United States, with more than 2,000 branches in 26 states, so it’s a better choice for customers who want a wider network. Associated Bank has the edge with its Relationship Savings account, which pays up to 0.12% APY versus the flat 0.01% APY with the U.S. Bank savings account.

Associated Bank vs. Chase Bank

Chase Bank is a domestic and international banking powerhouse. It boasts more than 4,700 branches and one of the strongest stables of rewards credit cards in the business. It also offers commission-free stock trading through its investment arm.

Although Associated Bank doesn’t offer the best APYs in the business, its rates are downright generous compared to Chase when it comes to savings accounts. When coupled with a checking account, Associated Bank pays a top APY of 0.12% on its Relationship Savings account, while Chase pays just 0.01% APY. 

Final Take

Associated Bank offers a wide range of products and services, and customers can pick and choose the account types that best serve their needs. The bank does come up short when it comes to APYs and fees, but it is still a solid option for those living within reach of one of its 220-plus branches in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Associated Bank FAQ

Here are answers to some of Associated Bank’s more commonly asked questions.
  • How many ATMs does Associated Bank have?
    • Associated Bank has more than 220 branch locations and offers surcharge-free access to more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide.
  • Does Associated Bank have Zelle?
    • Yes; Associated Bank offers Zelle services for no additional charge. 
  • How soon are deposits available at Associated Bank?
    • Deposits at Associated Bank are typically available on the first business day after the bank receives them. Cash, electronic direct deposits, wire transfers and checks drawn on Associated Bank accounts will be available on the same business day the bank receives them.

Vance Cariaga contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Apr. 20 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Associated Bank. 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 Associated Bank.

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About the Author

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.

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