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Best National Banks for March 2024

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
By: Matt Frankel, CFP®

Our Banking Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield

Online banks, regional banks, and credit unions can be great, but they aren't the best option for everyone. There's a reason U.S. consumers keep trillions of dollars in deposits at large national banks.

Do you like having the ability to visit a banking branch or find an ATM to use wherever you travel? Will you be moving in the near future and don't want the hassle of switching banks when you do? If so, you're probably a great candidate for an account at a national bank. Below is our list of the best national banks to consider.

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Ratings Methodology
Rates as of Feb 27, 2024

Ally Spending Account

Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
APY
Up to 0.25%
Min. To Earn APY
$1
  • Strong online and mobile tools
  • No monthly maintenance or overdraft fees
  • Monthly ATM fee reimbursements
  • Competitive APY
  • Early direct deposit
  • Higher APY available at other financial institutions
  • No physical locations
  • No cash deposits

With no monthly maintenance fees and great features like a competitive APY, mobile check deposit, and robust mobile app, Ally Bank is a one-stop shop for managing one's finances. Ally has over 43,000 fee-free Allpoint ATM locations and reimburses ATM fees up to $10 per statement cycle. Ally offers protection against accidental overspending with a double line of defense through its Overdraft Transfer Service and CoverDraft service. Customers can get paid up to two days sooner with early direct deposit. Ally also offers free standard and official checks, as well as free domestic and international wire transfers.

Capital One 360 Checking

Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
APY
0.10%
Min. To Earn APY
$1
  • Branches and Capital One Cafes in some states
  • Variety of accounts
  • Robust digital platform and app
  • Great customer service
  • Higher APY available at other financial institutions

Capital One 360 Checking offers account holders a no-fee, no-minimum account with access to more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs. Account holders can add cash to their 360 Checking account at any of the 9,600 CVS locations. If account holders need help in person, they can also visit hundreds of branches throughout the U.S. including a growing number of Capital One Cafes. Capital One also has a robust mobile app and online banking tools.

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.75 out of 5 stars.
4.75/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.75 out of 5 stars.
4.75/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
APY
0.45%
Min. To Earn APY
$0.01
  • Competitive APY
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide
  • Great customer service
  • Free linked investment account with checking account
  • Higher APY available at other financial institutions
  • Physical locations for investment services

Schwab is known for its investing platform, but also offers a no-fee checking account with a competitive APY. Schwab is rated high in customer satisfaction. Its Retirement Plan Services was ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power’s U.S. retirement plan digital satisfaction study for two years in a row. Schwab also offers benefits for frequent travelers. There are no foreign transaction fees, unlimited ATM fee rebates, and it offers the Schwab Security Guarantee, which means it covers losses in any of your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. The account is best for those who want to manage their investment accounts and checking accounts in one place.

How to choose the best national banks

Shopping for a big American bank offering the best perks? Here's what to look for:

  • High APY: Shop around for the best interest rates big banks offer.
  • Investment accounts: Banks let you invest your money in different ways. They may offer savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and more. What's your priority?
  • Easy access: Some banks offer mobile apps for on-the-go travelers. Others have bank branches nationwide. Choose a bank that meets your needs wherever.
  • Low fees: The top national banks don't slap you with big monthly fees.
  • Perks: Look for sign-up bonuses that you actually qualify for. Read the fine print!

What does it mean to be a national bank?

The biggest difference between a national bank and any of the other types is that it has a national banking charter and is a member of the Federal Reserve System.

Here a few things that define a national bank:

  • It's a commercial bank (offers banking products to individuals and businesses)
  • It has a national banking charter and is a member bank of the Federal Reserve
  • A national bank usually does its transactions with local Federal Reserve banks
  • It's always a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

National banks typically have a broad geographic presence. They do not have to maintain a set number of branches or have a physical presence throughout the United States. In fact, many have a very localized presence.

Other types of banks include:

  • Trusts
  • Federal savings associations
  • State banks
  • Credit unions

Are national banks more secure?

To be sure, most U.S. banks are very secure, regardless of the type of banking charter they hold. All chartered banks offer FDIC insurance (or equivalent such as National Credit Union Administration protection), and all provide some protection against theft. And all banks are required to maintain adequate capital levels at all times to prevent them from running out of money in tough times.

That said, there's a solid case to be made that the largest banks are the most secure. For starters, they have more resources to invest in things like cybersecurity protection than smaller banks do. And they tend to offer additional protections if your money is stolen, even if it wasn't the bank's fault. For example, large banks typically guarantee your money in the event someone hacks into your account, and some even take it a step further to reimburse your stolen cash the next day while investigations are ongoing.

Should I choose an online or brick-and-mortar national bank?

Here are some things to consider when deciding between an online bank and a brick-and-mortar bank:

  • Customer service: Support is typically superior at brick-and-mortar banks. Many offer specialized, in-person services at branches, such as mortgage application assistance and investment services.
  • Technology: It's a common assumption that online banks have superior technology (such as mobile banking portals), but that isn't always the case. In fact, Bank of America has won numerous awards for its technology, as have other brick-and-mortar national banks.
  • Interest rates: Online banks tend to offer far better interest rates on deposits than brick-and-mortar banks.
  • Convenience: Brick-and-mortar banks have a convenience factor, especially if you deal with cash often. It can be difficult to deposit cash into an online bank account, and while many have ATM networks, they're not all as convenient as the major national banks.

Tips for finding the best national bank for you

Make sure the bank offers features that matter most to you. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for the right fit.

Interest rates

You're not likely to find the highest interest rates on deposit accounts at national banks. If this is your top priority, check out our favorite high-yield savings accounts. But if a national bank is the best bank type for you, it's still a good idea to shop around for the highest interest rate as part of your research.

Investment services

If you want investment help, for example, choose a national bank that focuses on that. The same can be said with competitive deposit interest rates. If you plan to keep significant amounts of money in your savings account or CDs, you should prioritize this in your search.

Bank locations

If you choose a branch-based national bank, make sure it has a physical presence not just near where you live, but in other areas you frequently visit. Even some of the largest national banks don't have branches in certain large markets. Branch locations also are the places where you can typically withdraw cash without an ATM fee.

Online capabilities

Technology is a key factor these days, especially if you plan to do most of your banking through online and mobile channels. And it isn't just online banks that do this well -- some branch-based banks offer excellent mobile and online platforms. So if this is a priority, be sure to read some app reviews before deciding.

Read more: Best Banking Apps

Fees

Try to keep fees as low as possible. Online banks typically have minimal fees, while branch-based banks often have higher ones. However, you can generally avoid fees on checking accounts by meeting certain requirements (such as setting up direct deposit), so be sure to read the fine print when it comes to fees.

Learn more: Checking Account Fees and How to Avoid Them

Other perks

As you'll see in our list of picks, some national banks offer excellent sign-up bonuses for new accounts. That said, the most important thing is making sure a bank is a good fit for you. But all other things being equal, it's worth paying attention to bonus offers.

Related pages:

Our Methodology: How we decide which national banks are the best

So how did we decide which national banks to recommend on this page? Here's our bottom line: We at The Ascent only recommend national banks we'd pass along to our brothers, sisters, and mothers. Big banks can't pay to be listed, and we'd be bummed if they could -- we recommend these national banks to family members who ask. And sometimes when they don't. We wouldn't wish crummy banks upon anyone -- no, not even that guy.

Our Banking Expert