The fundamental challenge facing the banking industry is that the core product is a commodity. At its most basic level, every bank offers the same standard bank account, car loan, mortgage, and so on. Thus a bank's ability to provide other services and features that keep their customers coming back is paramount to retaining deposits and making profitable loans.
Below, we'll explore the nine banks ranked most highly on customer loyalty as measured by Brand Keys, from first to the worst.
1. JPMorgan Chase
The largest bank by assets in the United States, JPMorgan has its hands in virtually everything related to banking and finance. The company boasts that it has a relationship with 60 million households in the United States. Its Chase credit card unit scores highly among everyday spenders and the affluent alike, receiving high marks for rewards and customer service, which gives it the No. 1 position in cards.
Unlike the others in the Big Four U.S. banks, Citi is really a global banking institution. It operates out of the world's largest metropolitan areas and has only a modest presence in smaller cities in the U.S. Yet it has remarkable reach into consumer spending through its credit cards business, which recently won a partnership with Costco, giving it the ability to tap into the wallets of the wholesale retailers' 53 million members with its highly rated Costco co-brand card. Customers love its cards' Price Rewind feature, which enables its cardholders to get a refund automatically when a product is advertised at a lower price within 60 days after purchase.
3. Bank of America
When Brian Moynihan took the job as Bank of America's chief executive officer, he made the customer experience paramount in rebuilding the bank's image -- and its profitability. Bank of America has invested heavily in its mobile and online banking services to improve customer satisfaction even as it has reduced the number of branches across the United States.
The investment has paid off handsomely in the form of increased customer loyalty and approval ratings. Customers processed 108 million checks through the mobile app versus 170 million deposits in one of its branches last year. The bank brought private banking services to all of its clients with a banking-by-appointment feature so that its customers never have to wait in line to speak to a representative.
4. Bank of New York
Bank of New York is hardly a traditional bank. It operates as a custodian bank that holds assets for institutional clients and provides the back-end accounting services to keep everything running smoothly. Custody banks have inherently loyal customers due to the fact that moving billions of dollars of assets to another custodian is no easy task, and because the bank benefits from scale that enables it to manage its customers' assets at a price other banks would struggle to match.
Like Bank of America, PNC is ahead of the curve in creating products that are more convenient for customers while being more profitable for the bank. Thanks to investments in its online and mobile banking products, it recently reported that 60% of its customers use its "non-teller channels" for the majority of their transactions, up from 40% just three years ago. Its Virtual Wallet service enables its customers to make a budget, manage bills with the help of a calendar, and quickly see how they spend each and every dollar that flows into their accounts.
6. Capital One Financial
Once a pure-play credit card issuer, Capital One has become a bona fide banking operation that offers everything from checking and savings accounts to auto loans and even commercial banking services. The bank made inroads with consumers when it acquired ING Direct in 2011, which brought the bank more than 7 million customers who used its online banking services.
Capital One has built on its ING Direct acquisition with an online banking service that its customers love -- a recent presentation notes that its mobile applications score the highest ratings in the iOS App Store. The bank also offers some of the highest-yielding money market accounts of any bank on this list, which certainly helps to keep its customers' loyalty.
Once known as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC is a worldwide banking operation that operates primarily as a corporate bank and credit card issuer in the United States. The company makes its "internationally minded" customers its priority through HSBC Premier, which provides banking and wealth management services to the mass affluent who live in large cities spanning from Seattle to New York City. With 2.4 million customers in the U.S., it has the smallest domestic operation of any of the banks on this list, given its focus on wealthier, international customers.
8. TD Bank
Calling itself "America's Most Convenient Bank," TD Bank provides retail banking services to 9 million customers through approximately 1,300 branches along the East Coast. Its TD Select Savings Account offers free ATM services and reimburses customers for ATM fees charged at non-TD ATMs around the country.
The company has mastered campaigns designed to promote customer loyalty, famously turning its ATMs into "Automated Thanking Machines" to deliver gifts to its customers -- cash, a trip to Trinidad to see a family member, and a unique experience throwing out a first pitch at a Blue Jays home game, for example.
9. Wells Fargo
Known colloquially as "America's largest community bank," Wells Fargo has always operated as a simple retail banking institution. Convenience is key to customer loyalty, and Wells Fargo has the largest retail branch network of any U.S. bank, providing service to its customers through 6,200 banking locations and 12,000 ATMs scattered from coast to coast. Thanks to its large mortgage servicing business, it also has a relationship with millions of homeowners who aren't located near one of its branches.