Motley Fool Banking Philosophy and Ratings

We believe Fools should do their homework when making any financial decision, including to better understand our ratings criteria, how we evaluate the “best” banking solutions, and our version of the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule

Our Golden Rule handbook guides every aspect of our business, including how we pick the best banking accounts and how we work with advertisers. Simply put, we fulfill our purpose by guiding Fools to the right solutions, regardless of advertiser compensation relationship. There are too many bad actors on the internet and in the finance industry and you can trust fully in our editorial independence and transparency.

The Motley Fool’s Banking Philosophy

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of what we think is crucial when searching for savings, checking, CD, and money market accounts:

No to low fees – Accountholders should expect a fee-savvy relationship with their bank of choice. Fees will vary by offering, of course, but the cost of doing routine business with a bank should approach $0.

Ease-of-use – Time is your most precious commodity. Maintaining your bank account shouldn’t be a drag on your time. That’s why we favor banks that are easily accessible through various means, including those with simple-to-use online tools and mobile-friendly experiences. This means our reviews may bias toward larger, national banks that have the resources necessary to build a simple experience for banking members.

Interest rates – Earning interest on your cash is an important factor that ensures your money is working for you.

Banking Ratings Methodology

We’ve vetted some of the most popular brick-and-mortar and online banks to help Fools cut through the noise and find what could be their ideal bank account. So, let’s dive in to understand the pillars of our ratings philosophy and how we narrow down the mountain of offers to a select few.

  • Fees – Editorial opinion is biased toward bank accounts with compelling offers to reduce out-of-pocket fees, including three of the following common fees: Maintenance fees, ATM fees, and withdrawal fees
  • Interest rates – Fool rankings will favor accounts with compelling annual percentage yield (APY) offers relative to competitors.
  • Presence of a sign-up bonus – Bonus rewards can serve a meaningful purpose to better make your money work for you.
  • Ease-of-use – We assess the following criteria to determine the ease of doing business with banking providers: Mobile experience and deposit options, online tools and account management, availability of branch access, ATM access, minimum balance requirements, and general assessment of customer service based on online reviews.


*The Motley Fool’s Golden Rule is our north star and we’ll guide you to best-in-class offerings, regardless of advertising relationships. The Motley Fool does receive compensation from some banks on this list but know that we value editorial independence and reviews are not influenced by compensation. Compensation may influence placement within our list of the best savings accounts, but not inclusion. Read our disclosure policy to learn how we make money. We work feverishly to maintain current offer details and some offers may vary from what’s included on this page. Review bank sites for full details on costs, fees and other important details before opening an account.