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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Lisa Gerstner, Contributing Editor
| July 1, 2019
Large nationwide banks offer customers extensive networks of branches, a range of advisory and wealth-management services, and digital tools for account management.
Here’s a look at our top picks for national banks.
Informa Financial Intelligence compiled the data as reported by the financial institutions that it tracks; the information is subject to change. All rates as of June 20, 2019.
Why it won: It offers low-minimum accounts that should make almost any customer happy.
Standout account: The Beyond Checking account serves up perks with wide appeal, and travelers may be especially pleased.
Where it is: More than 1,200 branches in 15 eastern and southern states (and Washington, D.C.), extending from Maine to Florida.
For the third year running, TD Bank tops our national ranking. Calling itself “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” TD opens most of its branches on Saturdays and Sundays, and it often keeps them open until 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. To make branch visits a little more pleasant, the bank provides customers with freebies such as pens, lollipops and biscuits for their dogs, which are allowed to tag along.
Beyond Checking waives the $25 monthly fee if you hold a reasonable $2,500 daily balance (or meet certain other requirements), and perks include free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and overdraft transfers. Plus, all ATM surcharges are reimbursed for both domestic and international transactions if you keep $2,500 in the account, one domestic or international outgoing wire transfer is free per statement cycle, and the bank charges no foreign-transaction fee when you use your debit card abroad. And if you let TD cover the transaction in the event you overdraw your Beyond account, the bank will reimburse you for two overdraft fees per year. (TD recently lowered its overdraft transfer fee from $10 to $3. But the bank is reportedly settling a lawsuit involving excessive overdraft fees, paying $43 million to customers and canceling $27 million in account fees.)
TD’s basic Convenience Checking requires a low $100 minimum daily balance to waive a $15 monthly fee—and the account is free for customers ages 17 through 23. (TD also has a strong checking account for those 60 and older; for more on it as well as TD’s other savings and wealth-management options.) Preferred Savings (a $20,000 balance is needed to avoid the $15 fee) offers 1.25% on $50,000 up to $100,000 if you have a linked loan or active checking account (the rate is for customers in Orlando, Fla.).
Why it won: PNC has accounts that help you stick to the basics or integrate budgeting into banking.
Standout accounts: Standard Checking offers free ATM usage, up to certain limits, and it’s easy to avoid minimum-balance fees. Promotional CD rates (you must have a linked checking account) recently included 2.25% on a 13-month term with a $25,000 minimum deposit.
Where it is: About 2,400 branches in 21 states in the Midwest, South and Mid Atlantic, plus Washington, D.C.
Standard Checking (which requires a minimum $500 average monthly balance or a $500 monthly direct deposit to avoid a $7 monthly fee; it’s free if you’re 62 or older) provides up to $5 monthly in refunds for out-of-network surcharges from ATM owners, plus reimbursement of two non-PNC ATM fees monthly. Performance and Performance Select checking require larger minimums to waive the monthly fee but come with higher ATM reimbursements and other perks, such as a free money market or savings account, free cashier’s checks, and a safe-deposit box discount. The Virtual Wallet system combines a primary “Spend” checking account with an interest-bearing, secondary “Reserve” checking account—designed to set aside funds for near-term expenses—and a “Growth” savings account for longer-term goals. The program also includes digital tools, such as one that categorizes your spending.
You can earn a decent yield on your money with the Premiere Money Market account if you have Performance Select checking and meet certain activity requirements—for example, the rate was recently 1.65% on a balance of $50,000 to $100,000. (Interest rates listed are for customers in Pittsburgh.)
PNC offers wealth-management services including retirement, tax and estate planning and investment management. Its Private Client program comes with a relationship management team offering financial guidance, and you get priority customer service.
These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:
Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees