Compare Reviews for Banks & Credit Unions
With the rise of online-only options and mobile banking apps, competition among banks and credit unions has grown fierce. Most banks and credit unions now offer convenient features, such as mobile deposit, online bill pay and easy online account access so consumers no longer need to worry about banking during traditional business hours.
In addition to traditional savings and checking accounts, many banks offer loans and credit cards for customers. Using one bank for all of your financial needs can be a convenient way to stay organized and reach your financial goals.
Top 10 Best Rated Banks & Credit Unions
|Read 1254 Reviews|
Merrick Bank was originally founded in 1997 in South Jordan, Utah. The company is FDIC insured, and specializes in settling credit card transactions and clearing payments for consumers looking to improve their credit rating.
|Read 6 Reviews|
Ledyard National Bank is a full-service financial institution for personal and business banking. They also offer investment and wealth management services. Ledyard has locations in New Hampshire and Vermont.
|Read 9 Reviews|
Arvest offers a variety of financial services to individuals, businesses and investors. Sam Walton’s, the Walmart founder, heirs own a majority share of the bank. Arvest has locations in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.
|Read 26 Reviews|
Huntington Bank was founded in 1866 in Columbus, Ohio. Today, it has over 750 branches and twice as many ATMs. Full-service branches are located across Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.
|Read 59 Reviews|
Armed Forces bank has been serving active and retired military members and families since 1907. The bank provides a range of services for military customers, including checking and savings accounts, loans, and financial education.
|Read 12 Reviews|
Arrowhead Credit Union serves San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California. Members enjoy discounts at national retailers, personalized service and the convenience of mobile apps and online banking.
|Read 86 Reviews|
Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers membership to military personnel, members of certain organizations, government employees and more. They offer numerous benefits to members, including insurance policies and real estate rewards.
|Read 10 Reviews|
Wescom Credit Union is a credit union in Southern California. The company offers checking, savings, money market accounts and IRAs to credit union customers. They also offer auto loans and insurance, as well as home mortgages.
|Read 76 Reviews|
Charter One Bank is a bank that was sold to Citizens Bank in 2004. Branches of the bank that are located in the Midwest kept the name Charter One Bank, while branches in New York and Vermont changed to Citizens Bank.
|Read 125 Reviews|
Crescent Bank, formerly Crescent Bank & Trust, offers traditional banking and has a niche for automobile loans to high-risk customers in more than 12 states. The bank operates nationwide, but with a focus on Louisiana.
Personal Finance Contributing Editor
Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.
What features matter most?
Technology is ever-evolving, and today's customers want to access their banking information online and on the go.
- Account access: At a bare minimum, consumers should look for a financial institution that offers activities such as reviewing the accounts, ordering checks and transferring money between accounts online.
- Mobile banking apps: Consumers with a smartphone, may want to take advantage of the mobile banking apps for check deposit, bill pay, money transfer and general account access on the go.
- Online bill pay: The convenience of paying bills online, allows customers to quickly pay their bills with the touch of a keystroke.
Hidden fees can make for nasty surprises on a monthly statement. When choosing a bank, especially a checking account, understand fees before signing up.
- Minimum balance: Some accounts require customers to maintain a minimum balance at all times to avoid a monthly surcharge. Others waive these fees for those with direct deposit and/or for student accounts.
- ATM: While most banks and credit unions allow customers free ATM use, consumers may be charged a few dollars per transaction when using an out-of-network ATM. Out-of-network ATMs may result in a dual charge, one from the customer’s bank and one from the ATM owner.
- Withdrawal fees: Some types of accounts limit the number of free withdrawals or other services. Once that minimum is met, future transactions can carry a small fee.
When borrowing, the consumer’s credit score is a determining factor in the interest rate. When opening a savings account, customers can request the interest rate structure in advance. Rates may vary by institution and credit unions occasionally offer higher saving and lower lending rates.
- Loans: The interest rate makes a significant difference in the amount of a monthly mortgage or auto payment, so it's important to shop around for a bank with low interest rates. In addition to considering interest rates, customers should investigate fees and points associated with generating a loan.
- Accounts: Most interest-bearing checking accounts require a substantial minimum balance, but savings accounts often come with no-strings-attached interest payments. In today’s low rate environment, the interest payments are low. Yet, money deposited at a bank or credit union is easily accessible for withdrawal and insured.
- Revolving credit APR: Consumers with bank credit cards need to be aware of the interest rates charged on the card’s balance. These interest rates can be quite high for consumers that don’t pay their bill in full at the end of the month.
- Branch access: Retail branches are important for those who want to purchase cashier’s checks, cash a check made out to them or simply interact with a bank employee. Consumers who prefer branch access should investigate the proximity of bank locations.
- Convenience: Some banks are regional, and the proximity of branch locations may vary. For in-person banking, customers should check out the location of the closest bank branches. For convenience, and to keep fees low, customers should check on the ATM locations as well.
- Customer service: Banking is a customer-driven industry, and the financial institution should offer easy access to knowledgeable customer service representatives. Find out when, where and how to contact the customer service representatives—by phone, email, online chat and/or in a bank branch.
- Service hours: Given many customers’ busy schedules, should be aware of branch, phone and electronic communication hours when choosing a bank.
More and more banks are popping up, and it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of new customer promotions. However, consumers must read the fine print to make sure the bank is insured up to the legal limits and that the website is equipped with the highest security levels.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): Created in 1933, the FDIC is an independent agency that ensures the security of depositor's funds. The FDIC typically insures accounts up to $250,000.
- National Credit Union Administration (NCUA): The credit union's equivalent of the FDIC, the National Credit Union Administration regulates credit unions and protects consumers. This insurance typically covers balances of up to $250,000 per share owner.
- Encryption software: Stolen personal identifiable information makes it crucial for banks to utilize more sophisticated security measures to protect your accounts. Many banks have moved to a tokenized and end-to-end encryption to help protect consumer funds, so consumers should look into banking with an institution at the forefront of security technology.
It's easy and convenient for consumers to take care of all banking needs in one place. It’s a good idea for customers to look for banks or credit unions with a wide range of services for now and the future.
- Loans: Auto and home loans are fairly standard, but one might also need a home equity line of credit or personal loan. When borrowing, consumers should read all the fine print to avoid extra charges or fees.
- Credit cards: Most banks offer a range of credit card options from debit to secured credit and everything in between.
Certificates of Deposit
CDs are similar to savings accounts in that they pay an agreed upon rate of interest on the deposit amount. They differ from savings accounts in that they are issued for a specific length of time. Some banks offer higher rates of return and products that allow the customer to withdraw the funds early, with limited penalties.
What are different types of banks and credit unions?
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions created to serve their members. They typically offer the same products and services found at a bank.
Investment banks are typically business to business banks. These institutions specialize in large and complicated financial transactions such as underwriting a new stock issue. Some investment banks also have retail arms that cater to the public.
Also known as consumer banks, these are what most people think of when they picture a bank. Retail bank’s services and products focus on the individual consumer with local branches, ATM access, auto and home loans and more.
Retail banks deal directly with the retail customer. Most banks today are broader in scope with several divisions representing their client base. The commercial banks encompass both retail banks and all other types of banking activities except those of investment banking. A commercial bank accepts deposits, provides loans and offers investment products for a range of clientele. Historically a commercial bank is a brick and mortar operation, however, today there are online commercial banks as well.
Financial services companies
Today the lines between investment brokerage firms and banks are blurred with many banks offering investment products and investment companies providing banking services as well.
Who's it for?
Business owners looking for convenient financing options, interest-bearing accounts and easy access to their funds. This demographic may also want credit and debit cards that offer cash back and other rewards or discounts on checks.
Attracting first-time home buyers can net a loyal bank customer and future business. Potential homeowners are looking for competitive interest rates as well as knowledgeable and customer-focused bank representatives.
Military and union members
Retired or active-duty service members and those who are affiliated with unions or government organizations may be more interested in a local credit union that connects them to the community. These individuals might seek exclusive offers such as discounted loan interest rates or flexible accounts.
Heavy debit card users
These customers pay attention to minimum balance requirements and usage fees. They may desire cash-back rewards on their purchases and online banking options.
Most customers use a bank or credit union to pay bills, save, invest and secure lending solutions.
What does the expert have to say?
Chase is the consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), a major global financial services firm. Chase Bank’s reach spans almost half of America’s households.
For 200 years, Bank of America has helped their customers, client’s and the community meet their financial goals. Bank of America prides itself in its competitive financial offerings and strong investment in the community.
Founded in 1812, Citi is a leading global bank with approximately 20 million customer accounts in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citibank works to provide consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial services and products.
Wells Fargo was founded in 1852 in New York City. The bank is known for its financial services throughout the western part of the country during the gold rush. Today, Wells Fargo serves both U.S. and international customers at physical locations and online.
PenFed Credit Union provides financial services and quality customer care to military members, government employees and their families. Established in 1935, PenFed has over 1.4 million members and more than $20 billion in assets. Their members span the United States and military bases in Puerto Rico, Guam and Okinawa.
TD Bank is one of the 10 largest U.S. banks. The bank offers retail, small business and commercial banking products and services to more than 8.5 million customers through its approximate 1,300 locations in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. TD Bank belongs to TD Bank Group, a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto.
PNC bank serves individuals, small businesses, corporations and government entities. Their banking division has over 6 million customers across 19 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, PNC has 2,600 branches and 9,000 ATMs, along with online and mobile services.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.