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The Top Banks for December 2023


Best Banks 2023

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We’ve compared 80 nationally available banks—both traditional brick-and-mortar institutions and online-only banks—to find the best options available. Read on to learn more about why we picked these banks, to see the pros and cons of each and to access individual bank reviews.

Interest rates and other account details are accurate as of December 1, 2023.

Best Bank for Savings

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Varo Bank

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Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Why We Picked It

Varo comes out on top thanks to its attractive interest rates, lack of bank fees and handy automated savings tools.

The Varo Savings Account—our top pick among the best online savings accounts—earns an annual percentage yield (APY) of 3.00% APY without charging a monthly fee and up to 5.00% APY by meeting specific requirements each month.

The account’s “Save Your Pay” feature lets you steer a percentage of your paycheck or other direct deposits automatically to savings, and “Save Your Change” rounds up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference to savings.

Varo’s checking account (the “Varo Bank Account”) has no monthly maintenance fees and no overdraft fees or other common bank charges.Customers have access to more than 55,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs.

Read our full Varo Bank Review.

Pros & Cons

  • Competitive APY on savings account
  • No minimum balance required to open an account
  • No monthly fees
  • Access to Allpoint ATM network
  • Limited account options
  • No paper checkbook
  • Cash deposits available only through third-party retailers (fees apply)

Details

Varo accounts come with no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, in-network ATM fees or card replacement fees. But the bank does charge $3.00 per transaction for out-of-network ATM use.

There are no minimum deposit requirements to open a Varo Savings Account, but you must meet minimum balance requirements to earn interest. And, to qualify for the higher APY, customers must satisfy the following monthly requirements:

  • Receive direct deposits of $1,000 or more within each qualifying period
  • Maintain a daily savings balance of $5,000 or less for the entire calendar month
  • Maintain balances above or equal to $0 in both savings and checking accounts for the entire calendar month (in other words, no overdrafts)

Best Bank for No Fees

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Discover Bank

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Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Why We Picked It

Discover is a high scorer in multiple Forbes Advisor best lists, including our ranking of the best banks for digital banking. The online bank is known for charging virtually no fees and for its popular account options.

Its Discover Cashback Debit Checking account earns cash-back rewards and offers perks like early direct deposit and access to more than 60,000 fee-free Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs across the U.S. Customers can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. See website for details.

Discover also offers several competitive interest-bearing accounts, including its online savings account, money market account and certificates of deposit (CDs). Discover CD terms range from three months to 10 years.

Discover’s online savings account earns 4.35% APY on all balances. Money market accounts earn 4.20% APY for balances under $100,000 and 4.25% APY for balances $100,000 and over. There is a $2,500 minimum deposit requirement to open a CD through Discover.

Read our full Discover Bank review.

Pros & Cons

  • Charges very few fees
  • Competitive APYs and cash back earnings
  • Highly rated mobile app
  • Extensive ATM network
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Higher rates are available from other banks and credit unions
  • Doesn’t pay interest on checking account

Details

Discover Bank offers a cash back checking account, a high-yield savings account, a money market account and CDs with terms from three months to 10 years. The mobile app is highly rated on the App Store and Google Play.

Best Online Bank

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Quontic Bank

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Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Why We Picked It

Quontic offers competitive APYs, low minimum deposit requirements, low fees and access to 90,000+ surcharge-free ATMs throughout the U.S. As a Quontic customer, you get all the features you may expect from a digital bank, including 24/7 access to online banking and a mobile app.

In addition to its traditional banking products—High Interest Checking, High Yield Savings, money market accounts and CDs—Quontic offers a couple of other innovative accounts. The bank has a Cash Rewards Checking account that pays up to 1.00% cash back on qualifying debit card transactions each statement cycle. And, in select states, Quontic offers a Bitcoin Rewards Checking account that pays 1.00% Bitcoin on eligible debit card purchases.

Customer service is available via live chat, email and phone.

Read our full Quontic Bank Review.

Pros & Cons

  • Offers cash-back checking and interest checking
  • Mobile and online banking
  • Access to more than 90,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Designated as a CDFI
  • Full-service bank
  • May find higher rates are available from some banks and credit unions
  • Customer service isn’t available 24/7

Details

Quontic Bank offers one savings account, two checking accounts, a money market account and five CDs with terms ranging from six months to five years.

Best Large Bank

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Capital One 360

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Fees

No monthly or ATM, $35 overdraft

Fees

No monthly or ATM, $35 overdraft

Why We Picked It

Capital One—America’s 10th-largest bank by assets, according to the Federal Reserve—is a hybrid bank, offering in-person and online banking. However, its local branches are spread out, so you may not live near a location. But you will enjoy free transactions at more than 70,000 Capital One, MoneyPass and Allpoint ATMs.

The bank is a top choice for teen checking accounts. Capital One MONEY Teen Checking has no fees or minimum deposit requirements and comes with a free debit card. The account also provides a unique mobile app experience, allowing teens to manage some aspects of their accounts while parents have access to activity tracking, automatic allowance payments and security features.

Capital One customers can earn high APYs with a 360 Performance Savings Account (4.30% APY) and 360 CD accounts (4.10% to 5.00% APY). Capital One’s kids’ savings account isn’t too shabby either, earning 2.50% APY on all balances.

Read our full Capital One 360 banking review.

Pros & Cons

  • Capital One Cafés, with in-person banking support
  • Branch access
  • Customer service available seven days a week
  • Large ATM network
  • No minimum deposit or balance requirements
  • $35 overdraft fee
  • No money market account
  • Capital One Cafés and branches only in select states

Details

Capital One 360 offers a savings account (360 Performance Savings), checking account (360 Checking) and CDs (360 CDs). It also offers a Kids Savings Account and MONEY Teen Checking.

Best Bank for Checking

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Axos Bank

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Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Learn More

On Axos Bank's Website. Use Promo Code "SUNNYBONUS " by 12/31/23 for an up to $300 bonus.

Products

Savings, Checking, MMAs, CDs

Fees

No monthly, overdraft or ATM

Why We Picked It

Axos is a full-service online bank, but its checking accounts are what make it a popular choice among consumers. The online bank offers several attractive no-fee checking accounts that earned it the top spot in our best checking accounts ranking.

Axos Bank Essential Checking is a basic checking account with access to early direct deposit; Axos Bank Rewards Checking earns up to 3.30% APY total. Balances above $50,000 do not earn interest, and Axos Bank CashBack Checking earns 1% cash back on transactions that require a signature. All three accounts come with unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, so there’s no need to worry about whether an ATM is in-network or not.

The bank also offers high-yield savings and money market accounts and CDs, but the interest on its savings products tends to be meager. The APY on Axos’ five-year CD is 0.20%, while competitors are paying 3.00% or more.

Read our full Axos Bank review.

Pros & Cons

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Low fees and unlimited ATM fee reimbursement
  • Highly rated mobile app
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Full-service bank
  • Higher rates are available from some banks and credit unions
  • Below-average CD rates for an online bank

Details

Axos offers five different checking accounts, one savings account, one money market account and CDs with terms that range from three months to five years.


Summary of Best Banks 2023

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Methodology

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To create this list, Forbes Advisor averaged the star ratings of banks that were the top finishers across more than 20 of our “best of” banking studies, such as our lists of the best high-yield savings accounts, best free checking accounts and best CD rates. Those studies were based on analyses of 60 online banks and 20 traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions that were reviewed for a variety of data points, including fees, APYs, ATM and/or branch access, customer experience, digital experience and account minimums. Banks that made only one of our best lists were excluded from this ranking.

To learn more about our rating and review methodology and editorial process, check out our guide on How Forbes Advisor Reviews Banks.


Table Of Contents

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Navigating the world of banking can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to it. Familiarizing yourself with the banking landscape can help you make the most informed decisions when choosing banking products.


Types of Banks

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Several types of banks and financial institutions are out there to meet a variety of needs for individuals, families, businesses and more. These are some of the more common types of banks for consumers.

  • Retail banks: Also known as consumer banks. Retail banks offer personal banking products and services, including savings accounts, checking accounts and other financial products.
  • National banks: A commercial bank regulated by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
  • Brick-and-mortar banks: Traditional banks with physical branches. Many brick-and-mortar banks offer online banking services too.
  • Online banks: Digital banks that operate entirely online or through mobile services.
  • Neobanks: Nonbank financial technology companies that offer accounts and services similar to banks. Typically neobanks partner with banks to provide bank accounts and services.
  • Private banks: Banks that provide one-on-one concierge-style services, including wealth management, estate planning and more, typically for wealthier clientele.

Services Offered by Banks

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Banking products and services vary depending on the bank or financial institution. Full-service banks tend to offer a wider variety of products and services than other banks. Here are some of the products and services you may find at a bank.

Savings Accounts

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A savings account is a deposit account you can add money to while potentially earning interest. Savings accounts are often subject to monthly withdrawal limits and may require monthly maintenance fees. You’d typically open a savings account to hold money you don’t need to access regularly.

Checking Accounts

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Checking accounts allow you to deposit money, make purchases with a linked debit card, write checks or pay bills online. Many banks also let you link a savings account to your checking account for overdraft protection. Some checking accounts earn interest or rewards on purchases, though they’re exceptions rather than the rule.

CD Rates

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Certificate of deposit (CD) accounts are time deposit accounts. When you open a CD, you deposit money and earn a fixed interest rate for a set time period. Once the CD matures, you can withdraw your initial deposit and the interest earned. CD rates vary by bank, though online banks tend to pay more interest on CDs than traditional banks do.

Credit Cards

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Credit cards can be a convenient way to make purchases and pay them off over time. Some also offer rewards in the form of cashback, points or miles. You’re more likely to find credit cards offered by brick-and-mortar banks and credit card issuers, though some online banks provide them. When comparing a bank’s credit card options, it’s helpful to look at the rewards structure, the annual percentage rate (APR) and any fees you might pay, including the annual fee.

Other Products and Services

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Banks can offer other products and services in addition to the accounts mentioned above. Many of the best banks offer:

  • Mortgage loans
  • Personal loans and lines of credit
  • Auto loans
  • Business loans
  • Student loans
  • Insurance products
  • Retirement accounts
  • Wealth management services

Keep in mind, however, that many of these services involve additional fees.


How To Choose a Bank

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You have several factors to keep in mind when choosing the right bank.

Fees

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A bank may charge fees for specific transactions or to manage and service your account each month. Some banks may provide a way to avoid bank fees, such as by meeting minimum balance or deposit requirements each month. Bank fees can undermine savings efforts unless you can meet the requirements to have them waived. If not, find a “fee-free” bank that may charge only for less common occurrences like wire transfers and late payments.

Accounts and Services

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Full-service banks generally provide the gamut of bank account options and other financial services, like credit cards, lending and retirement and investment accounts and services. Other banks may focus only on a few specific products or services. Choose a bank that offers the types of bank accounts you want to open.

Interest Rates

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Shop around to find the best interest rates to maximize your savings. Earning a higher annual APY will help you grow your account balance faster.

Pro Tip

Savings account interest compounds daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the financial institution. The more frequently your money compounds, the faster it grows. For an apples-to-apples comparison of savings accounts, pay attention to annual percentage yields (APYs) rather than interest rates. APYs account for compound interest, while interest rates do not.

Account Minimums

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Some banks require a minimum deposit to open an account or a minimum ongoing balance to avoid monthly service charges. Make sure you can meet the account minimums before you sign up.

Customer Service

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Support doesn’t look the same at every bank. Some banks focus on in-person services, while others may offer a variety of ways you can get help, including phone support, private messaging and email, live chat and virtual mobile assistants. Find a bank that offers your preferred methods of contact and support.

Convenience

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It’s good to know you can access your money when you need to. Some banks provide ways to reach your funds earlier than others. Look for banks that offer multiple methods to access funds or manage accounts, like ATMs, mobile and online banking services, bill pay and other convenient tools.


How To Open a Bank Account

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To open a bank account, you’ll first need to select a bank and account type. Once you’ve done that, you can decide whether you want to open a bank account online or in person.

In either case, you’ll need a few pieces of information to get your new account started:

  • Your name, date of birth and Social Security number
  • A government-issued ID
  • Minimum deposit

If you’re opening a bank account online, you’ll also need some information to link an external account so you can make your opening deposit electronically. These details include your bank account number and routing number.

You could write a check or deposit cash if you’re opening a bank account at a branch. Keep in mind that online banks might have lower minimum deposit requirements than brick-and-mortar banks when opening a new account.

Once your new account is open, there may be a few additional steps to take. If you’re linking an external account for your initial deposit, you might need to verify one or two small trial deposits before you can add funds. You may also need to enroll in online and mobile banking before you can access those services.

Pro Tip

Some financial institutions offer generous bank account bonuses to lure new customers. While bonus promotions shouldn’t be the only thing you consider, it’s worth looking for welcome offers before opening any new bank account. When applying for an account with a bonus offer, enter the promo code if needed, and follow the instructions to qualify for the bonus.


How Long Does It Take To Open a Bank Account?

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Opening a bank account online can take 10 minutes or less if you’re organized and have everything ready beforehand. Opening a bank account in person at a branch could take a little longer if your banker needs to make copies of your ID or you need to go to a teller to make your initial deposit. How quickly you’re able to access your new account depends on the bank and may range from a few minutes to several days.


Recap: Best Banks of 2023

VIDEO:
  • Varo Bank: Best for Savings

Varo won best bank for savings thanks to its lack of monthly fees and the competitive interest rate on its high-yield savings account.

  • Discover Bank: Best for No Fees

Discover came out on top because of its promise of no fees, which includes no monthly maintenance fees, no overdraft fees and no ATM fees.

  • Quontic Bank: Best Online Bank

Quontic Bank made the list due to its array of digital-forward banking products that charge no monthly fees and come with rewards, high interest rates and access to 90,000+ ATMs.

  • Capital One 360: Best Large Bank

We chose Capital One 360 because its hybrid structure offers the best of both worlds: low-fee, competitive online accounts and access to in-person banking at its nationwide branches and Capital One Cafés.

  • Axos Bank: Best for Checking

Axos Bank ranked highly because it offers several attractive checking accounts with low fees, competitive interest or rewards, and unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.


Credit Union vs. Bank

VIDEO:

While credit unions and banks may seem interchangeable, they’re not. Here are some differences between credit unions and banks.

A bank is a for-profit institution, either privately held or publicly traded. Banks are focused on making profits and pleasing their owners or shareholders—not necessarily on the needs of their customers.

Some banks charge fees for accounts and services, pay lower returns or charge more interest on loans than other financial institutions. Deposits kept in banks are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor for each account ownership category.

Credit unions are cooperative, not-for-profit organizations owned by their members. Membership typically revolves around individuals with a common interest or bond, such as an employer, industry, place of residence, faith or affiliation with other organizations. Because their focus isn’t on making a profit, credit unions tend to charge fewer fees than many banks and offer more competitive rates on deposit accounts.


How To Change Banks

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Changing banks may sound like a hassle, but it’s relatively straightforward. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to switch banks.

  1. Shop around for a new financial institution by comparing fees, interest rates, product offerings, etc., to ensure they align with your financial needs and goals.
  2. Next, open an account at your new bank and transfer any automatic or recurring payments and direct deposits from your old bank to your new one.
  3. Then, close your old bank account. Depending on your financial institution, you may be able to do this online, over the phone, or in person.
  4. After closing your previous account, remember to ask for written verification from your financial institution to ensure it’s closed.

Banks We Monitor

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These financial institutions were included in our research: ableBanking, Acorns, Affinity Federal Credit Union, Affirm, Albert, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Amalgamated Bank, American Express, Aspiration, Axos Bank, Apple Federal Credit Union, BancorpSouth Bank, Bank of America, Bank5 Connect, BankDirect, BankPurely, BankUnitedDirect, Barclays, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Betterment, Blue Federal Credit Union, Bread Savings (formerly Comenity Direct), BrioDirect Banking, Capital One, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chevron Federal Credit Union, CIBC Bank, CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens Access, Colorado Federal Savings Bank, Comerica, CommunityWide Federal Credit Union, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Copper, Credit Union of Denver, Dave, Discover, Dollar Savings Direct, E*Trade Bank, EmigrantDirect, Fidelity, Financial Partners Credit Union, Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, First Internet Bank, First National Bank of America, FNBO Direct, Georgia’s Own Credit Union, Golden1 Credit Union, Greenwood Credit Union, Heritage Bank, HSBC Direct, Hughes Federal Credit Union, Ideal Credit Union, iGoBanking, Investors eAccess, Keybank, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, LendingClub, Limelight, Live Oak Bank, MAC Federal Credit Union, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, My eBanc, MySavingsDirect, Navy Federal Credit Union, nbkc Bank, Northern Bank Direct, Northpointe Bank, Nuvision Federal Credit Union, Pacific National Bank, Paramount Bank, Pen Air Federal Credit Union, PenFed, PNC Bank, Popular Direct, Purepoint Financial, Quontic, Quorum Federal Credit Union, Radius Bank, Regions Bank, Rising Bank, SalemFiveDirect, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander, SFGI Direct, SmartyPig Bank, SoFi, Spectrum Federal Credit Union, State Bank of Texas, State Department Federal Credit Union, Step, Superior Choice Credit Union, Synchrony Bank, TAB Bank, TD Bank, EverBank, TotalDirect Bank, Truist, Union Bank & Trust, U.S. Bank, USAA, USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Varo Bank, Vio Bank, Virtual Bank, Wealthfront, and Wells Fargo.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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The best banks are those that offer a wide range of features, benefits and account types while charging minimal fees. A good bank also offers convenience when it comes to accessing your money. Searching for “best banks near me” can help you locate banks in your area that have a good reputation and offer superior customer service.

The FDIC insures funds held in member banks up to $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership type, per financial institution. This means that even if a depression hits, your money is safe up to the covered limits. The FDIC was established to protect depositors against bank failures, including those associated with severe economic downturns.

Banks are a safe place to keep money, as there’s virtually zero exposure to market risk. When you deposit money in a checking, savings or CD account at an FDIC-member bank, your funds are protected up to the coverage limits. Even in the rare event that your bank fails, your money would still be covered.

Sources


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