If you live in the U.S. and you’re looking for a bank account, there are thousands of options. You can pick national banks, local banks, digital banks, credit unions, fintech, and more.
While your local banking options come with a host of benefits, there are reasons you may want to consider banking at a national bank. National banks have several advantages and can accommodate most, if not all, of your banking needs.
Below is a list of eight of the best national banks in the U.S. Read on to see which one is best for you.
Table of Contents
What Is a National Bank?
The technical definition of a national bank is a bank that is chartered and supervised by the federal government, specifically the OCC.
When we chose our list of national banks, we chose banks that were chartered by the government and that have extensive features that allow for banking anywhere in the U.S.
Best National Banks In the U.S.
Each national bank listed here has different features, benefits, strengths, and weaknesses.
Along with being able to offer low fees and multiple account options, national banks can offer extensive online features.
Many offer thousands of bank locations for you to bank at as well. Scroll through the details to figure out which option might best fit your banking needs.
1. Discover Bank
Best for Cash Back
Discover Bank is an online bank with some of the most attractive features when it comes to national banks.
Its online checking account offers no minimum balance or activity requirements, no fees, and pays 1% cash back on debit card purchases of up to $3,000 per month.
You won’t even pay for standard checks, cashier’s checks, or insufficient funds instances with the Discover checking account.
Discover’s online savings account also offers no fee and no minimum deposit and pay an interest rate that’s among the highest in the nation.
The one downside to this national bank is that they have just one physical location in Delaware.
However, they still offer a comprehensive list of services you can transact online.
In addition, you can’t beat the debit card cash back amount, and the cash back on debit card purchases comes with very few restrictions.
Discover Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $12.95 Billion
Number of Employees: 17,600
# of bank locations: One (in Delaware)
# of in-network ATMs: 60,000
BBB Rating: A+
What makes it stand out: 1% cash back on all debit card purchases up to $3,000 per month
Watch Out For: Online bank with only one physical branch location
2. Bank of America
Best For College Students
Bank of America (also known as BoA) was introduced in 1956, although its predecessor, Massachusetts Bank, was founded in 1784.
The company’s Advantage line of checking and savings accounts offers something for almost every banking customer.
Although each account does charge a fee, there are multiple ways the monthly fee can be waived.
Some options for waiving fees include setting up a Direct Deposit, keeping a minimum balance, or enrolling in BoA’s rewards program.
Also, it’s important to note that you will find a minimum deposit requirement when you open a BoA account.
Bank of America’s Advantage SafeBalance banking account is a great choice for students.
There’s no monthly fee with this account as long as you are age 24 and under and are enrolled in a high school, college, or vocational education program.
Interest rates on Bank of America’s checking and savings accounts are very low, as is the standard for most larger national banks.
Keep in mind that with larger national banks you can expect to pay mightily for occurrences such as overdrafts on your checking account. Learn more about the Bank of America Checking Account Bonus.
Bank of America Facts
2020 Revenue: $85.5 Billion
Number of Employees: 200,000
# of bank locations: 4,600+
# of in-network ATMs: 16,000
BBB rating: A+
What makes it stand out: Student-friendly accounts
Watch Out For: Dismal interest rates and some fees
3 . Ally Bank
Best Online Bank
Ally Bank has been around since 2009; however, its predecessor, GMAC Financial, was founded in 1919.
Though the company started with auto financing, it branched out into personal banking in 2000.
Through a series of ownership changes and rebranding, Ally Bank is now owned by what is known as Ally Financial.
Ally Bank offers checking, savings, and money market accounts with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees.
In addition, you won’t pay fees for incoming wire transfers or cashier’s checks.
Another great feature about Ally Bank is that it pays interest on all accounts, regardless of your balance.
And you can write checks with the checking account and get a free debit card as well. Note that Ally Bank limits the ways you can deposit money.
You can use Ally’s echeck deposit feature to deposit checks remotely. You can also set up Direct Deposits, wire transfers, or send checks for deposit by mail. For more information, check out our Ally Bank review.
Ally Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $10.7 Billion
Number of Employees: 8,700
# of bank locations: None
# of in-network ATMs: 43,000 (Allpoint)
BBB Rating: D
What makes it stand out: All accounts are interest-bearing
Watch Out For: No cash deposits allowed
4. Chase Bank
Best For New Customers
Chase Bank stands out because it offers attractive deals for new customers. They offer cash bonuses and bonus cash back percentages when you become a new customer.
Chase will waive the $12 monthly fee on their Total Checking account if you set up a recurring direct deposit of $500 or more each month. They have an excellent lineup of checking accounts for students from age six through 24, not to mention branch locations in nearly every U.S. state.
Chase Savings accounts are fee-free when you keep a minimum balance, set up an auto-transfer, or tie the savings account to a Chase checking account to use for overdraft protection purposes. Don’t forget to find out more about Chase Bank promotions.
Chase Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $122.9 Billion
Number of Employees: 189,000
# of bank locations: 4,700+
# of in-network ATMs: 16,000
BBB Rating: A+
What makes it stand out: Great new customer offers
Watch Out For: Subpar savings rates
5. Capital One
Best Customer Service
Capital One offers a simple but attractive group of banking accounts. There are checking, and savings accounts for both adults and teens.
All of the accounts come with a $0 minimum balance and no monthly fees. The checking and savings accounts pay some of the higher interest rates in the nation for both adults and kids.
And kids as young as eight can open a Teen Money account as long as the account lists a parent or guardian as a joint account holder.
Note that the adult joint account holder isn’t required to have a separate Capital One bank account.
You can transfer money from your current bank into your child’s Teen MONEY account.
Although Capital One bank branches are limited to just a handful of states, new Capital One Cafes are popping up throughout the U.S.
See the Capital One website to find out if there’s a cafe near you.
Bonus: Capital One received J.D. Power’s highest score in its 2020 National Banking Satisfaction Study.
Capital One Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $26.0 Billion
Number of Employees: 22,000
# of bank locations: 700+
# of in-network ATMs: 70,000
BBB Rating: A
What makes it stand out: Commitment to outstanding customer service
Watch Out For: Branch locations are limited to just a few U.S. states
6. Wells Fargo
Best for In-Person Banking
Founded in 1929, Wells Fargo is one of the most well-known national banks in the U.S. With roughly 5,000 bank locations; you can find a Wells Fargo pretty much anywhere.
The company offers various checking and savings account options for any budget. They even provide a teen checking account for teens as young as 13.
And if you need it, Wells Fargo also has available wealth management services.
One downside to Wells Fargo is that most checking accounts don’t pay interest. And, the rates are nothing to cheer about in the accounts that do.
However, as mentioned earlier, this is typical with most large-scale national banks, and Wells Fargo is one of the top five largest banks in the U.S.
If you’re searching for a national bank with a branch location pretty much anywhere you go, Wells Fargo is worth considering. Make sure you check out the latest Wells Fargo promotional offers.
Wells Fargo Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $72.0 Billion
Number of Employees: 268,000
# of bank locations: 4,900+
# of in-network ATMs: 12,000 (Wells Fargo)
BBB Rating: None
What makes it stand out: An abundance of brick-and-mortar locations
Watch Out For: Subpar customer service
Best For Savings
Citi® has four banking packages that can accommodate nearly any financial situation.
Each checking account has a free partner savings account if you meet the checking account requirements.
For example, the Access checking account is free when you make either one qualifying Direct Deposit or one bill pay transaction each period.
The Basic checking account has fee waivers, too, including waivers for having a minor as a joint owner or a senior (62 and above) as a primary owner.
Other available checking accounts offer additional benefits and have steeper requirements for waiving the monthly fee.
The bonus with Citi is that it currently pays the highest savings rate you can find. Note that fees on Citi accounts can be a little steep.
Choose an account where you can easily meet the stipulations needed to avoid fees, and find out more about the various Citi Bank promotions that are available.
2020 Revenue: $74.0 Billion
Number of Employees: 210,000
# of bank locations: 2,600+
# of in-network ATMs: 65,000
BBB Rating: F
What makes it stand out: One of the highest savings rates available
Watch Out For: Stipulations to avoid paying fees on checking
8. Huntington Bank
Best for Basic Accounts
Huntington Bank isn’t as large of a corporation as many of the others listed here. However, it raises the bar when it comes to basic checking accounts, and it has its fair share of new account promotions.
The Huntington Asterisk Free Checking account has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee.
Extras such as the $50 Safe Zone and the 24-Hour Grace Period features help you avoid overdraft fees and returned checks.
With Early Pay you can get your Direct Deposit paycheck up to two days early.
And Money Scout analyzes your checking account activity and moves small dollar amounts to savings when it sees that there’s extra money in your account.
The Premier Savings account is free when you own an Asterisk Free Checking account. It features no minimum balance requirement and pays interest.
Huntington Bank Facts
2020 Revenue: $4.8 Billion
Number of Employees: 25,700
# of bank locations: 900+
# of in-network ATMs: 1,500+
BBB Rating: A+
What makes it stand out: Basic checking with ample extras
Watch Out For: Low-interest rates on savings
Best National Banks FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions people ask about national banks:
The answer to that depends on what you need in a bank. If you tend to stay local, you can probably get away with banking locally. However, you’ll want to ensure your local bank has free access to an abundance of national ATMs. Conversely, if you often travel – whether for work or pleasure–you may be interested in banking at a national bank. National banks often have more features–including branch locations–that you can access around the country.
Again, that depends on your personal needs. If you primarily live, work, and play in and around the area in which you live, a local bank should accommodate your needs just fine. However, if you spend a fair amount of time in other states, you may prefer a national bank with countrywide locations. Some may argue that national banks can offer better features and interest rates because of their larger size. And they’re probably right to some extent. However, banking at a local bank comes with the benefit of knowing your banker personally and gaining some benefits from that relationship.
As long as your local bank is FDIC insured, it should be just as safe as a national bank.
That said, you should keep informed of the operations and earnings for your bank no matter where you bank. That way, you can spot any trouble (such as mismanagement) early on.
Another point to consider is that a nationally located bank might better handle any internal fraud that may occur because they’ve got a more significant net worth.
When searching for the best national bank for you, check out the types of accounts each bank offers. Then check out the features and benefits of those accounts. Think about making a list of which banking benefits are most important to you. Choose the national bank that best fits your banking needs.
Final Thoughts on America’s National Banks
The best national banks offer a variety of great features for their clients. As you decide which national bank you should use, know that you’ve got several options. Before you settle on a specific bank, I recommend that you pay attention to account options, fees, ATM availability, and other features.
Then choose the bank that best fits most or all of your financial needs. I’m interested to know: do you currently bank with one of the national brands, or do you prefer banking locally with smaller banks or credit unions?