The Ascent's 2020 Bank and Bank Accounts Awards Winners
Where you park your cash matters. Which is why The Ascent compiled a shortlist of the best banks and banking accounts of the past year. These awards winners led the pack with high APYs, low-to-no fees, modern online and mobile experiences, great customer satisfaction, and more.
Best Bank for Customer Service
Ally Bank is one of the most popular online banks, and for a good reason. Its customer service is among the best in the banking world. There's a myriad of support options available to Ally customers all day, every day. Live customer support is at hand 24/7 by phone. You can also get help via chat support, secure messages, and an extensive online knowledge base. Plus, most support options are accessible through Ally Bank's highly-rated mobile app.
Best Bank Customer Loyalty Program
Bank of America
Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program has no equal, going beyond common perks like waived fees and higher APYs to offer unique and lucrative rewards to customers with multiple accounts. If you open a Bank of America checking account and keep at least $20,000 in all your Bank of America accounts, you can earn bonus rewards on your Bank of America credit cards, take advantage of fee-free out-of-network ATM transactions, lower fees on loans, and discounts on Merrill Guided Investing services.
Best Modern Banking Experience
Varo Bank offers a modern spin on banking. You no longer need to drive to your local bank to open an account, make deposits, or get support. Help is right at your fingertips thanks to Varo Bank's highly-rated app and online access. Deposit checks, set up automatic savings rules, make payments, or send money to family and friends -- all from your mobile phone. Enjoy contactless transactions through Varo's debit card. You can also lock your debit card through the mobile app in seconds if it's lost or stolen.
Most Innovative Bank
Chime goes the extra mile to make managing your money intuitive and effortless. It's one of few to give customers access to their direct-deposited funds right away -- up to two days earlier than you could access them at traditional banks. Customers who also have a savings account can leverage its high APY and automated savings tools to grow wealth more quickly, and they won't have to worry about fees cutting into their profits. While fees tend to be minimal with online banks, Chime goes further than its competitors, offering up to $100 in fee-free overdraft protection to eligible customers.***
Best Bank for ATMs
Charles Schwab Bank
Other banks may offer ATM fee reimbursements, but few go as far as Charles Schwab Bank. Schwab customers can get ATM fee reimbursements worldwide. Yes, you read that correctly -- worldwide. No more worrying about whether an ATM is in-network or not. No matter where your travels take you, you'll never have to deal with pesky fees to access your money. Plus, Charles Schwab Bank is one of the rare banks that offer an ATM card with your savings account.
Best Bank for Branch Access
Though Chase no longer leads in terms of the most bank branches in the U.S., it stands out for having over 4,700 branches in 38 states and Washington, D.C., giving it one of the largest service areas of any bank in the country. This, coupled with its variety of services and largely favorable customer reviews, make it a popular choice for those who aren't quite ready to cut ties with traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
Best Bank for Travelers
Charles Schwab Bank
With unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking® account saves you money on every withdrawal. You can also use it for international purchases, as it doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. To top it off, there are no service fees, maintenance fees, or minimum account balances.
Best Checking Account Overall
Axos offers the perfect marriage of low fees and high returns with its Axos Rewards Checking account. It offers the highest APY of any popular checking account by a wide margin. On top of this, it's not too hard to qualify for the highest-earning tier. You won't have to pay any monthly maintenance fees and you'll get unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, so you don't have to worry about fees eating into your balance. If you use your card regularly and deposit more than $1,000 into your account each month, this checking account is a no-brainer.
Best High-Interest Checking Account
You'll be hard-pressed to find another checking account that offers a higher interest rate than the Axos Rewards Checking account. Plus, while other high-yield checking accounts require you to keep a five-figure balance to max out your returns, this one's requirements are within reach for most people. With no monthly maintenance fees and unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, you can milk those returns for all they're worth.
Best Checking Account for ATMs
If you're looking for a bank with an extensive ATM network, Radius Bank more than fits the bill. Radius checking accounts come with access to 325,000+ fee-free ATMs through partnerships with several large ATM networks. If that isn't enough, you'll also receive unlimited ATM fee rebates for out-of-network ATM use worldwide. No fees means your money stays in your account where it belongs.
Best No-Monthly-Fee Checking Account
Few banks offer as much as Radius Bank when it comes to checking accounts. In addition to not charging monthly fees, Radius Rewards Checking is packed with perks. You can earn interest and cash back rewards, get free ATM use worldwide and a free first checkbook, and much more. There's also an option to receive direct deposits up to two days early. It's hard to argue with the value found with Radius Bank checking accounts.
Best CD Account Overall
Synchrony combines flexibility with some of the highest CD rates on the market. With a minimum deposit of $2,000, you can open a Synchrony CD for terms ranging from three months to five years. Unlike many other banks, Synchrony even lets you withdraw interest earnings penalty-free before your CD has matured.
Best Online Bank for CDs
Ally Bank is home to some of the highest CD rates among online banks. The APYs for all seven Ally CD term lengths are competitive. And none of them have minimum deposit requirements or monthly fees. You'll even earn extra loyalty rewards when you renew an Ally CD, building up your savings even more. If high-yield CDs aren't enough, Ally's Raise Your Rate CDs and No Penalty CDs could provide flexibility too.
Best Big Bank for CDs
Among the big banks, U.S. Bank has competitive CD rates and offers a variety of options to fit different financial goals. You can open one of the bank's Standard CDs with just $500, one of the lowest minimum deposits. Available terms start at one month and stretch to five years. For a $1,000 minimum deposit, U.S. Bank also offers Step Up CDs and Trade Up CDs, which give you the opportunity to increase your rate during your CD's term.
Best Online Savings Account
The Synchrony Bank High-Yield Savings account checks all the boxes. It offers one of the highest APYs of any savings account, so you can rest assured you're earning as much interest as possible. There are no maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements to worry about. Last but not least, you'll get a debit card so you can make ATM withdrawals, which is a rarity among online savings accounts.
Best Big Bank Savings Account
Citi Accelerate Savings’ high APY is impressive for a big bank. While most big banks offer a savings account rate that’s practically 0%, Citi goes the other route, offering a 0.70% APY that competes with the highest-yielding online savings accounts. You’ll be hard pressed to find a higher rate with a national, brick-and-mortar bank.
Best Money Market Account
The Ally Money Market Account includes the essentials we covet, including a high APY, ATM fee reimbursements, high-quality online and mobile app experience, and no monthly maintenance fees. The cherry on top is Ally’s well-rounded banking offerings that allow you to consolidate your banking and investing needs under one roof, with high APYs and low fees across the board.
*A complete list of 2020 award winners, from credit cards to mortgages, can be found here.
**You can also find more bank accounts and rates to compare by checking out The Ascent's best bank accounts and rates page.
***Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC
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