The Best National Banks – Buy Side from WSJ

The Best National Banks – Buy Side from WSJ

For many of us, the most important factor in choosing a bank is convenience. While online banks offer snazzy interest rates, the prospect of earning a few extra dollars on your savings isn’t worth it for most people compared with the convenience of being able to walk into a branch and talk to a real person.

It may be no surprise then that even though there are more than 4,700 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., nearly three-quarters of the industry’s market share by assets is held by just the 15 largest institutions. In addition to flesh-and-blood bank tellers, national banks offer easy access to a whole range of financial products, such as mortgages and credit cards, making it possible to conduct all (or at least most) of your financial affairs in one place.



To find the Best National Banks, we sorted through accounts offered by large financial institutions to identify the ones that deliver the best terms and service with a minimum of fees and hassle. We looked at more than a dozen traditional bricks-and-mortar banks as well as some of our highly reviewed online banks. For more detail about how we evaluated banks, scroll to the bottom.

Best for Savings

Capital One 360 Performance Savings

Key stats 

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • 3.3% APY
  • No direct cash withdrawals at ATMs

Why we picked it: Capital One 360 Performance Savings has a generous APY that is competitive not just by the standards of national banks with bricks-and-mortar branch networks, but even when measured against its online-only competitors. Unlike some of those online banks, though, Capital One doesn’t make you jump through a bunch of hoops to get the advertised interest rate. 

There are no gimmicks, account tiers or other conditions that have to be met to earn the top APY—plus, you have the option of opening your account and getting in-person customer service at a branch, as well as linking to a Capital One checking account. 

There are no monthly maintenance charges or other “gotcha” fees that can reduce your returns, and there is no minimum dollar amount to open the account. 

Caveats: As far as national banks go, Capital One’s 360 Performance Savings offers a great interest rate, but if you’re just looking for yield, note that some digital banks and neobanks offer higher APYs. You also can’t withdraw cash directly via an ATM (funds must be transferred to another account first). 

Other banks we considered

Marcus Online Savings

This account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs also offers a generous APY, but since Marcus doesn’t offer a checking account, it’s not as convenient if you want to do all your banking in one place.

TD Signature Savings

Signature Savings also offers a competitive APY, but you need to have at least $250,000 deposited and link to another TD account to get the top rate—and balances below $10,000 earn a fraction of a percentage point.

Best for Checking

PNC Virtual Wallet

Key stats 

  • $0 minimum opening balance if account is opened online
  • $7 monthly maintenance fee (can be waived with conditions)
  • $36 overdraft fee (waived if account is overdrawn by $5 or less by the end of the day)
  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee
  • APY up to 1.25% on funds in eligible “buckets”

Why we picked it: While PNC’s Virtual Wallet doesn’t totally eschew fees, the ones it does have are lower than those of many other big banks, and it’s not hard to get the $7 monthly maintenance fee waived. You won’t have to pay it if you’re 62 years or older, if you keep at least $500 in the account, or if you have monthly direct deposits of $500 or more. 

If you want to bank in person, this account might be a good pick for you: There are only three other U.S. banks (Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America) that have more domestic branches than PNC does. With a footprint of nearly 2,700 locations, it should be easy to find a bank, or a fee-free ATM.

This account is flexible in terms of its structure, offering a checking-savings hybrid designed to incentivize people to establish and work toward long-term goals. When you open a Virtual Wallet, you have the option of adding one or two savings buckets called Reserve and Growth, which is basically like having a separate savings account (or two) without additional monthly fees or minimums. Deposits in Reserve and Growth earn interest, although the APYs are minimal (less than 1%) for balances of less than $100,000.

Caveats: While the opportunity to earn interest is a perk, you do have to make sure your money is in the correct bucket to be eligible, which could be a chore.  

Other banks we considered

Chase Total Checking account

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has more than 4,800 domestic branches, but its flagship Chase Total Checking account has a higher monthly fee (although it’s also waivable under certain conditions).

Citibank Basic Banking Package

This Citibank account makes you jump through more hoops if you want to waive the account’s $12 monthly maintenance fee.


Best for Basic Checking

TD Convenience Checking

Key stats

  • No minimum to open the account
  • $15 monthly maintenance fee (waived if balance is $100 or more, and for students or customers 17 to 23 years old)
  • $35 overdraft fee (waived for overdrafts of $50 or less)
  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee 
  • Non-interest-bearing

Why we picked it: While it’s typical for many big banks to offer “basic” checking with fewer bells and whistles than their flagship accounts, many of these feel like second-string products. Although basic checking often means fewer fees, the trade-offs can be steep and your menu of banking services may be much more limited. In some cases, you might not be able to write paper checks or get in-person service from a teller at a branch.

The TD Convenience Checking account gives you a transparent and uncomplicated experience, starting with no minimum to open the account. It also hits a sweet spot in terms of balancing perks and privileges with minimal fees. The monthly maintenance fee is $15, typical for big banks, but you only need to keep $100 in the account to have it waived. (Many other big banks set minimums of $500 or $1,000, and sometimes more.) Account holders who are students or between the ages of 17 and 23 automatically have the monthly fee waived. 

Convenience Checking also doesn’t load up its fine print with a bunch of ancillary fees, either. The one to watch out for is the $35 overdraft fee—which is a pretty typical penalty—but you won’t be charged if you overdraw by $50 or less, and TD Bank gives you a grace period: If you get your balance back to $0 by 11 p.m. ET the following business day, the bank will refund the fee. While some other banks have courtesy waivers like this one, many limit the overdrawn amount to $5 or $10 before you get hit with the fee, and most don’t give you an extra day to pull your balance out of the red. 

Caveats: While this probably won’t be a concern for many, there is a minimum balance threshold of $100. Drop below that and you’ll be charged a $15 monthly maintenance fee. TD Bank’s $3 out-of-network ATM fee, while pretty typical among its peers, could be a drawback if you travel frequently outside the Atlantic Coast states, where TD’s branch footprint is concentrated. 

Other banks we considered

U.S. Bank’s Easy Checking Account

The Easy Checking Account has a fairly low monthly maintenance charge of $6.95, but to avoid it, you have to keep at least $1,500 in the account or have monthly direct deposits of at least $1,000.

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

This BofA account also has a low monthly maintenance fee—$4.95—but you give up the ability to write paper checks.

Best for Businesses 

American Express Business Checking

Key stats

  • No minimum opening balance
  • 1.3% APY on balances up to $500,000
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No overdraft fee
  • No way to deposit cash directly
  • No transaction fees for electronic deposits/payments/ACH transfers 
  • No out-of-network ATM fee

Why we picked it: This small-business checking account is attractive because it doesn’t pile on nickel-and-dime charges and it offers a generous APY. It has no opening minimum, no monthly maintenance fees and no transaction limits or fees (which are common in business checking). 

This account is one of the new business checking accounts we evaluated that has a high APY on deposits. Currently, customers can earn 1.3% on up to $500,000, and there are no conditions or requirements you have to meet in order to earn interest. The combination of decent terms and high interest makes for an attractive offering. 

While access to American Express Business Checking Account is limited to American Express cardholders, if you already have an Amex card in your wallet and you need a business checking account, this is a solid pick that has very few drawbacks. And if you’re not already an Amex cardholder, Buy Side can recommend some personal and business cards that are good choices in their respective categories. The no-annual-fee Blue Cash Preferred was highlighted in our roundup of the Best Cash Back Cards, and the American Express Business Gold Card is our top pick in our roundup of the Best Business Credit Cards.

Caveats: Since American Express doesn’t have branches, you can’t bank in person, and you can’t deposit cash into the account directly. (You do get ATM access through the 37,000 fee-free MoneyPass ATMs in the U.S.) 

Other banks we considered

Capital One Basic Checking 

This account also avoids piling on the fees, but it also doesn’t give you the opportunity to earn interest on your money. 

Axos Small Business Interest Checking

This Axos account has a competitive APY, but the highest rate is only available on balances of less than $50,000, and there’s a monthly maintenance fee unless you keep a $5,000 minimum balance.

Best for Businesses (if You’re Looking for Lots of Branches)

Chase Business Complete Banking

Key stats

  • No minimum opening balance
  • $15 monthly maintenance fee (waivable with conditions)
  • $34 overdraft fee (if overdrawn by more than $50)
  • $5,000 monthly cash deposits (not including ATM deposits)
  • Unlimited debit/in-network ATM transactions
  • 20 in-person transactions monthly
  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee

Why we picked it: Megabank JPMorgan Chase has three different small-business checking accounts, and we think even the smallest startups and entrepreneurships looking for a traditional bank will find their needs met by Chase Business Complete Banking

There are a number of ways you can have the $15 monthly maintenance fee waived: You can keep at least $2,000 in the account, charge $2,000 on an affiliated business credit card, receive $2,000 or more in deposits via a Chase payment platform each month or link to Chase Private Client Checking. Chase also waives the fee for military members. 

You get unlimited debit and Chase ATM transactions, and up to $5,000 in cash deposits monthly without a fee. While personal checking accounts typically let you deposit cash without a hassle for free, this is a key distinction in business banking, since many of the online banks that cater to this niche don’t have an easy way to deposit cash—an important consideration if your business handles mostly cash transactions. 

Chase has more than 4,800 domestic branches, so even if your business grows or moves, you won’t have to switch banks. It offers business customers an (optional) integrated platform, QuickAccept, for processing credit card payments. Chase also issues two business credit cards that were among Buy Side’s top picks for business credit cards.

Caveats: This account gives you 20 in-person transactions a month (defined as deposits or withdrawals made through a teller, or paper checks written) without a fee, which is a low number compared with some other small-business accounts offered by other big banks. If you make more in-person transactions per month, each will cost you a 40-cent fee. 

Other banks we considered

CitiBusiness Streamlined Checking

This account from Citibank has a $5,000 monthly cash deposit limit as well, and you need to keep a balance of $5,000 or more to have the $15 monthly maintenance fee waived. There are also fewer branches (a bit under 1,000 domestically) for in-person banking, and Citi’s bricks-and-mortar footprint is concentrated around just six big cities: New York; Chicago; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and San Francisco.

Bank of America’s Business Advantage Fundamentals Banking

This account has a $7,500 monthly cash deposit limit, which might make this a good option for business owners who handle a lot of cash, and lets you make up to 200 monthly check or teller transactions.

But if you’re not a “Preferred Rewards” member (BofA’s term for high-balance customers), it takes a minimum of $250 in monthly debit purchases or a $5,000 minimum account balance to avoid the $16 monthly maintenance fee. And if you lose your debit card or have it stolen, you’ll have to pay a $5 fee for a new one. 

How we picked

To choose Buy Side from WSJ’s Best National Banks, we looked at basic personal and business checking accounts, or savings accounts that were user-friendly, transparent and offered the best combination of minimal fees and high interest rates (when applicable).

We gave priority to accounts that charged low or no monthly maintenance fees, as well as minimal service charges and penalty fees. We evaluated accessibility in terms of low (or no) minimum balance requirements, availability of in-person and online services, and customer reputation.

All of our Best National Banks are members of the FDIC, which protects account holders’ deposits up to $250,000.

The interest rates used in our evaluation were current as of January 2023, but as APYs change frequently, this story is periodically updated. The rates quoted here are current as of the dateline at the top of the story.

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of the Buy Side from WSJ editorial team, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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