Associated Bank Review: Regional Powerhouse in the Upper Midwest

GOBankingRates Score

4.4
Our 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
    4.5
  • Breadth of Products
    4.5
  • Account Minimums
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

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

Cons

  • Low APYs
  • High fees

About Associated Bank

Associated Bank is a regional bank with branches in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. The bank traces its roots back to 1861, and it is now the largest bank based in Wisconsin. The bank is publicly traded with more than $35 billion in customer assets, making it a large institution that still retains its small-town feel. Associated Bank offers everything from personal banking and lending accounts to wealth management, business accounts and commercial services. 

Associated Bank Products

Associated Bank is a full-service institution offering a broad lineup of banking, lending and investment products.

Product Details
Savings Accounts
  • Three types of accounts
  • Enhanced APYs when combined with a checking account
Money Market Account
  • Enhanced APYs when combined with a checking account
  • Check writing capability
  • Low $1,000 minimum opening deposit
CD Accounts
  • Maturities from 30 days to 60 months
  • Enhanced APYs when combined with a checking account
Checking Accounts
  • Three checking account options
  • Top-tier account offers extensive perks
IRAs
  • Starter, fixed-rate and fixed-rate add-on options 
Investment Options
  • Advisory, brokerage and investment management
  • Full-service, self-directed, discount and online brokerage solutions
Loans
  • Personal loans, home mortgages, refinancing and HELOC options
Business Accounts 
  • Business checking, cash management, credit and lending options
Insurance
  • Life insurance, long-term care insurance
Sponsors of

Associated Bank Savings Accounts

Associated Bank offers three types of savings accounts — Associated Savings, Zero Interest Savings and Relationship Savings — as well as a health savings account.

Features

  • $25 minimum opening deposit for Associated Savings 
  • $300 minimum daily balance, $25 or more in recurring deposits or under age 18 to avoid $5 monthly fee for both Associated Savings and Zero Interest Savings
  • Preferred rates when linked with Associated checking account 
  • Overdraft grace zone of $5 to $50 when coupled with Associated checking account 
  • $25,000 minimum opening deposit for Relationship Savings 
  • $10,000 minimum to avoid $20 monthly fee on Relationship Savings 

Pros

  • Enhanced savings rates reach a 0.11% APY when combined with checking account and a $100,000 balance 
  • Tiered rate structure pays higher rates on larger deposits 
  • Monthly fees easily waivable for Associated Savings and Zero Interest Savings accounts

Cons

  • Basic APYs are below average, starting at a 0.01% APY 
  • High fees and waiver requirements for Relationship Savings

Associated Bank Money Market Account

Associated Bank offers a single money market account

Features

  • $1,000 account minimum opening deposit
  • Convenience checks to access account
  • Preferred rates when combined with an Associated checking account
Sponsors of

Pros

  • Relatively low minimum for a money market account
  • Check-writing access

Cons

  • Rates are very low, starting at a 0.01% APY and topping out at a 0.03% APY, even with preferred rates 
  • High $16 fee if balance below $1,000 

Associated Bank CD Accounts

You can choose between two types of CDs at Associated Bank: regular term CDs and fixed-rate, add-on CDs. 

Features

  • Maturities from 30 days to 60 months
  • $1,000 minimum deposit for regular CDs 
  • $100 minimum deposit for add-on CDs 
  • Enhanced APYs when connected with Associated checking account
  • APYs from 0.01% to 0.10% 

Pros

  • Minimum as low as $100
  • Add-on feature available
  • Rate boost with checking account

Cons

  • Low APYs even with rate boost

Associated Bank Checking Accounts

Associated Bank offers three checking accounts: the Associated Choice Checking account, 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. 

Features

  • Overdraft grace zones of $5 with Associated Access Checking and Associated Balanced Checking, or $50 with Associated Choice Checking
  • Free electronic statements
  • Free paper statements with Associated Balanced Checking and Associated Choice Checking
  • Associated Choice Checking offers free checks, two out-of-network ATM fee rebates per month, free cashier’s checks and money orders, enhanced funds availability, Premier ID theft protection, Boingo Wi-Fi access and $600 in cell phone insurance 
  • No account fees for Associated Access Checking 
  • $9 monthly fee for Associated Balanced Checking waived with $1,000 minimum daily balance, monthly direct deposits of $500, or $2,500 in combined Associated Bank balances or an HSA or investment account   
  • $25 monthly fee for Associated Choice Checking waived with $10,000 in combined Associated Bank balances or an HSA or investment account  
Sponsors of

Pros 

  • Low minimums of $25 to $100 to open  
  • Associated Choice Checking account earns interest and carries extensive additional perks
  • Opening a checking account raises interest rates on other accounts, such as savings, CDs and money market

Cons

  • Rock-bottom APY on Associated Choice Checking account 
  • No checks with Associated Access Checking 
  • High monthly fee on Associated Choice Checking if not waived

Banking Experience

Associated Bank is a regional institution, but it provides a robust array of products and services. Customers who live outside of the bank’s three-state service area can access their accounts via mobile and online technology. 

Physical Branch Locations

There are more than 220 Associated Bank locations across Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  

Mobile and Digital Experience

Associated Bank’s mobile apps are fairly well-regarded by its customers. The bank’s Google Play app, for Android users, has a respectable rating of four starts out of five, while the App Store version, for those preferring Apple’s iOS system, gets 4.8 stars. Features include all of the basic functionality to be expected in a banking app, including the following:

Sponsors of
  • Fingerprint sign-in (Touch ID available for iOS)
  • Instant Balance feature to quickly check balances
  • Transaction review
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Bill pay and viewing
  • SnapPayments to add new billers
  • Funds transfer
  • ATM finder
  • Branch locator

The bank also offers separate apps for business applications.

How To Open an Account

You can open an account online at Associated Bank in as little as five minutes. To get started, you’ll need a Social Security number and a U.S. driver’s license, state-issued ID or passport. You’ll also have to agree and consent to receive electronic copies of all documents and disclosures. 

You also can visit a branch if you live in the bank’s tri-state service area to open your account. 

Customer Service

You can reach Associated Bank customer service at 800-236-8866. You can access customer service 24 hours a day. 

Key Information

Customer Service: 800-236-8866 

Routing Number: 075900575

Promotions: See Newest Associated Bank Promos and Bonuses

Login: Associated Bank Login Help

Associated Bank Fees

In addition to the monthly maintenance fees on some accounts, which can be as high as $20 in the case of the Associated Relationship Savings account, Associated Bank also has some high transaction and service fees. Some of the most noteworthy are as follows: 

Sponsors of
Type Amount
Non-network ATM withdrawal $2.50
International ATM/debit card transactions 3% of transaction amount
Money order $5
Deposit items returned unpaid $12
Overdrafts $35
Stop payment order $35
Domestic wire transfer $15 incoming/$25-$28 outgoing
International wire transfer $15 incoming/$45-$90 outgoing

One thing that stands out is that although Associated Bank provides international services, it’s not the bank to use for most international customers. International ATM/debit card fees of 3%, plus wire transfers reaching as high as $90, make the costs prohibitive.

Associated Bank vs. Competitors

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

Bank Best For
Associated Bank Regional powerhouse in the upper Midwest, diversity of account types
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, and its fee-free ATM network is 40,000 strong vs. the 30,000-plus offered by Associated Bank. 

Sponsors of

Associated Bank has its own roster of fees, but it doesn’t charge the $50 that BMO Harris does for account closures in the first 90 days.

Associated Bank vs. U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank offers three different money market accounts vs. Associated Bank’s one. It also has branches in 25 states and one of the largest ATM networks in the country, in addition to the same MoneyPass ATM network used by Associated Bank. 

Associated Bank has better savings rates and money market rates than U.S. Bank. The Associated Bank savings account can pay up to a 0.11% APY, while the U.S. Bank savings account pays a flat 0.01% APY. Associated Bank’s top money market APY of 0.03% isn’t spectacular, but U.S. Bank pays just 0.01% on all of its money market accounts. 

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 have high APYs overall, it’s downright generous compared to Chase when it comes to savings accounts. When coupled with a checking account, Associated Bank pays a top APY of 0.11% on its 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. For example, customers who simply need a free checking account can find one at Associated Bank, and those who want a full complement of banking perks can choose the $25 per month Associated Choice Checking account. 

The bank does come up short when it comes to APYs and fees, however. Even with the enhanced rates offered in conjunction with a checking account, Associated’s Money Market Account and CDs pay well below average, as does the Associated Choice Checking account. Savings APYs, however, can reach double digits when coupled with a checking account. 

Fees are another bugaboo at Associated, with high out-of-network ATM costs of $2.50 and non-sufficient funds fees of $35. International fees are even worse, with a 3% ATM/debit card foreign transaction fee and costs of up to $90 to send an outgoing international wire.

For those living within reach of one of Associated Bank’s 220-plus branches in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the bank does offer a good choice of accounts and services. For those outside of its service area, or those looking for low fees and high APYs, other options might be better.

Editor’s Favorite

Considering the range of services it offers and the relative ease with which customers can avoid the high $25 monthly fee, the Associated Choice Checking account can be a good choice.

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. 
  • Why is Bank Mutual becoming part of Associated Bank?
    • By combining resources, Associated Bank and Bank Mutual will be able to offer customers more branch locations, a wider range of services and ongoing support to their respective communities. The two entities are expected to become one by mid-2021.
  • How soon are deposits available at Associated Bank?
    • Deposits at Associated Bank generally are 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.
  • Do Associated Bank customers pay a fee at Bank Mutual ATMs?
    • As part of the merger process, Associated Bank and Bank Mutual customers can use either bank's ATMs free of charge.
  • Does Associated Bank offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • Customers opening a new Associated Bank checking account can earn a bonus of up to $500. To qualify, customers need to have direct deposits totaling $500 or more in the new account within 90 days of account opening. Bonuses will be paid within 120 days of opening the account. Average daily balances of $1,000-$4,999.99 will earn $200, $5,000-$9,999.99 will earn $300, and over $10,000 will earn $500.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Jan. 25, 2021.

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.

Associated Bank Review: Regional Powerhouse in the Upper Midwest
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