Many Americans still have the same bank account their parents opened for them as teenagers. If you haven’t investigated your banking options lately, you should know your options have changed and increased rapidly over the last few years, and that many online and “challenger” banks offer much higher rates and fewer fees than their brick-and-mortar counterparts of old. We looked at the 50 largest banks in the United States — as well as a few new online challenger banks — and compared rates, features, fees, accounts, and customer satisfaction to determine the best banks of 2019.
The 10 Best Banks of 2019
- Ally – Best Full-Service Online Bank
- Betterment – Best for Beginner Investors
- Capital One – Best Customer Service
- Chase – Best Traditional Bank
- Chime – Best Challenger Bank
- Discover Bank, Member FDIC – Best Checking Account
- N26 – Best Mobile App
- SoFi Money – Best Bonus Features
- Synchrony – Best CD Accounts
- Wealthfront – Best Hybrid Investment Bank
Ally – Best Full-Service Online Bank
Ally is a popular online bank with just about every account you could possibly want: checking and savings, CDs, money market accounts, IRAs, as well as many different kinds of loans. There are no minimum balance requirements to open any of these accounts, nor any monthly maintenance fees. Ally has over 43,000 ATMs in the U.S., but since it’s an online bank, there are no brick-and-mortar branch locations; all business and customer support is conducted online or over the phone.
Betterment – Best for Beginner Investors
Betterment is an online bank with a slick mobile app and great rates that’s very attractive for investors, especially beginning investors who prefer a more “hands-off” approach. Betterment’s checking account has zero fees and no minimum balance requirement, and its savings account offers a sky-high rate with only a $10 minimum. In addition to checking and savings, Betterment offers investment accounts where your cash is invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks and funds that is managed by a professional financial advisor. Investment accounts with less than $100,000 total are subject to a 0.25% yearly management fee. Accounts with $100,000 or more are charged a 0.40% yearly management fee.
Capital One – Best Customer Service
Capital One offers many types of online accounts for the whole family, including a checking account for your teen or a savings account specifically for your kids. There are no fees or minimum balance requirements to open any of their accounts. Unlike most online banks, Capital One has opened several cafés across the country if you’d like to speak with someone in-person, including Capital One “ambassadors” who offer free money management classes, even if you don’t have an open Capital One account. Finally, Capital One’s savings, money market, and CD accounts have stellar rates, and it always scores well in customer satisfaction surveys from J.D. Power.
Chase – Best Traditional Bank
If you prefer physical branches, Chase is far and above the best brick-and-mortar bank in America. As one of the oldest financial institutions in the country, Chase offers just about every account you could want, from standard savings and checking accounts, credit cards, college banking options, home and auto loans, business loan options, as well as numerous investment and financial consulting packages. Chase is also known for their exclusive concierge banking which gives high-level investors one-on-one attention. Chase is a great option for consumers who have multiple lines of credit or loans open, as Chase offers discounts and fee waivers for customers with multiple accounts. However, minimum balance requirements are necessary in order to avoid incurring monthly fees, and Chase’s interest rates on savings, money market, and CD accounts are much lower than its online bank competitors.
Chime – Best Challenger Bank
Chime is one of the pioneer online “challenger” banks that offer great rates, no fees, and a slick mobile app. Plus, Chime makes your direct deposits available up to two days earlier than other banks, lets you round up transactions to automatically save the difference, and send money to friends and family instantaneously. It also offers a unique SpotMe feature, which allows transactions up to $100 over your available balance without any overage charges. When your balance comes back into the positive, you have the option to leave a “tip” and pay it forward, which then enables other Chime users to use this feature free of charge.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC – Best Checking Account
Discover Bank, Member FDIC is best known for credit cards, but it’s also an online bank with some really neat perks: chiefly, a rewards checking account with 1% cash back on most debit card transactions. There are no monthly fees on any account, no overdraft charges, and no minimum balance requirements. Unlike some online banks, Discover has a huge network of ATMs throughout the country. If you don’t need a physical location, Discover offers very competitive rates and banking features, and is a great option for those who have multiple accounts (credit cards, banking, loans) as it’s easy to transfer money between them. Discover also offers 24/7 live support via phone, online, and social media every day.
N26 – Best Mobile App
Originally founded in Germany, N26 has a lot in common with Chime. N26’s mobile app lets you manage everything from daily spending limits to bill payments completely from their mobile app. You can also get your direct deposit paychecks up to two days early, making “Wednesday is the new Friday” a popular slogan with N26. There is no minimum balance requirement, no overdraft or foreign transaction fees and no monthly maintenance fees. Like Apple Card, the app allows you to quickly look at your spending habits by sorting every transaction into categories you can filter and analyze by month. You can also send and receive money instantly to other customers who bank with N26, again without any fees attached. An N26 checking account lets you create custom “spaces,” separate holding areas for funds you’re setting aside towards goals, and comes with a choice of “perks,” discounts on a few partnering subscription services like Luminary. However, as of October 2019, there are no interest-bearing N26 accounts, so you’re still better off parking the majority of your savings at another bank.
SoFi Money – Best Bonus Features
You may be familiar with ’s loans, but it’s also a full-service online bank with great interest rates on all cash accounts. SoFi Money has absolutely no fees and even reimburses all ATM fees worldwide. Since it offers an APY on all cash, it has a hybrid checking-savings account, as well as joint account options. Money transfers to other SoFi Money customers is instantaneous. SoFi Money also offers numerous loan, insurance, and investment options, and provides a free tool called Relay that helps you track spending, set goals, and pay down debt. SoFi Money allows customers easy access to begin investing and has a host of other benefits, including career coaching, an advisory board, member “experiences,” and discounts on loans just for being a member.
Synchrony – Best CD Accounts
Synchrony is an online savings and investment bank with no minimum balance requirement to open a savings account. If you’re looking for a high-yield CD and have at least $2,000 to deposit, Synchrony offers an outstanding APY. However, Synchrony doesn’t currently offer a checking account; it does provide a debit card for some of its savings accounts, but by law, savings accounts are limited to six transactions per month, so you won’t be able to use it for everyday spending. But if you’re looking for a high-yield account to park and grow your savings, Synchrony is worth a look. Additionally, Synchrony offers travel and leisure discounts to members that increase the longer your accounts are open with them and the more money you’ve deposited.
Wealthfront – Best Hybrid Investment Bank
Like Betterment, Wealthfront is an online investment bank that offers hands-free investing options. Wealthfront recently announced a “cash account,” which is essentially a high-yield hybrid of checking and savings. However, you can’t pay bills online through this account. There are no fees associated with accounts that have less than $5,000 but any more than that and there is a 0.25% yearly management fee. Wealthfront allows you to track all of your money at once through their app (it allows you to link accounts from other banks) and helps you save for specific events or future investments. Wealthfront is a great option for those looking to save long-term or who want to do more investing, but it isn’t a great option for everyday spending.
|Bank||Max Savings APY||1-Year CD Rate||Monthly Fees||Key Benefit|
|Ally||1.70%||2.00%||None||No minimum balance or monthly fees|
|Betterment||1.78%||N/A||None for checking/savings||Optional investment accounts|
|Capital One||1.80%||2.10%||None||Very high customer satisfaction|
|Chase||0.01%||0.05%||$12-$25||Best brick-and-mortar bank|
|Chime||N/A||N/A||None||Community banking options|
|Discover Bank, Member FDIC||1.70%||2.00%||None||1% cashback checking account|
|N26||N/A||N/A||None||Set savings goals with “spaces”|
|SoFi Money||1.60%||N/A||None||Great budgeting and savings tools|
|Synchrony||1.80%||2.00%||None||Savings account comes with an ATM card|
|Wealthfront||1.82%||N/A||Varies||Hands-off investing options|
Traditional Banks vs. Online Banks
When it comes to weighing the pros and cons of traditional banking and online banking, consumers need to determine their needs and their goals. Online banks don’t have to pay for physical branches, so they pass those savings on to their customers through higher interest rates and fewer fees. Online banks also consistently score higher than traditional banks in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction surveys. The downside to online banking, of course, is the lack of physical branches. If you prefer in-person customer service, counseling, or deposits, you’ll need to stick with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank.
Types of Bank Accounts
A checking account is the most common (and most necessary) bank account in the U.S., because there are (usually) no limits to the number of transactions you can make per month. It’s where you should keep enough money to cover your daily and monthly expenses, so it’s usually where people deposit most (or all) of their paychecks.
A savings account is the second-most common bank account. It’s where you can earn interest on the money you don’t need on a daily basis, so the best savings account is one with a high interest rate. However, by federal law, savings accounts are limited to six withdrawals or transfers per month.
A money market account is a hybrid between checking and savings. Like a savings account, money market accounts accrue interest. But like a checking account, many money market accounts come with added privileges like check-writing and debit cards. However, it’s still limited to the same six transactions or withdrawals per month as a savings account. At a traditional bank, money market accounts usually have a slightly higher interest rate than a savings account.
A certificate of deposit (CD) account is like a savings account you can’t touch for a predetermined period of time, usually somewhere between six months and five years. In exchange for locking up your funds, CDs offer the highest interest rates in the industry. But if you withdraw cash before the CD term expires, you’ll face a stiff penalty fee.
Investment accounts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. At an online stock broker, it’s where you deposit cash to invest in stocks, bonds, funds, and other securities. At hybrid investment banks like Betterment, Wealthfront, Acorns, and Stash, it’s where your savings are invested in a portfolio, either automatically (based on an investing profile you’ve chosen) or by a financial advisor (in exchange for a fee).
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re looking for a basic checking and savings account, stepping into investing, learning how to set savings goals, or looking for a bank that will grow with you and your needs, you have more options today than at any time in history. If you aren’t quite ready to switch to an online bank, most traditional banks offer plenty of mobile and online banking features. But if you want to make the most out of your money, online banks offer the best rates, the best perks, and often the best customer service.
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