The Best Banks in America

While high fees and low yields are still the norm, MONEY's annual survey uncovered a few financial institutions that are offering the opposite. You may just want to move your money to one of them.

Best big bank

best banks td
  • Winner: TD Bank
  • Branches: 1,300 in 15 states and D.C.

Understanding that some people prefer a physical institution with a wide national presence, MONEY looked for a pick among the 13 banks with more than 1,000 branches. It was tough going since these big banks were still the worst of the worst in terms of account terms. Only 2% of checking accounts were free, and hurdles to waive fees were high compared with all banks: a median minimum balance of $5,000 or direct deposit of $500 a month. On savings, the average yield on $20,000 was a grim 0.07% -- 14 bucks a year.

Why TD Bank is a winner

Good perks on high-balance accounts, decent lower-balance options, and an impressive commitment to customer service.

The simplest checking account, TD Convenience Checking, makes it easy to skirt maintenance fees: Just keep a very low $100 daily minimum. Simple Savings requires only a $300 balance and earns a flat 0.05% -- not jaw dropping, but it is the median rate for balances below $15,000 across all surveyed.

For those who stash more -- at least $2,500 -- the perks on checking are among the best from large banks. You get ATM surcharge reimbursements and a bit of interest. With $10,000 in savings, you get better-than-average interest. In addition, TD has 24/7 customer service on the phone and extended branch hours that include evenings and weekends (70 hours total a week, vs. 47 on average among banks we surveyed).

Caveat

TD Relationship Savings requires linked checking, credit card, or mortgage.

Standout accounts

TD Premier Checking

• Maintenance fee: $25 ($24 if paperless)
• Minimum balance to avoid maintenance fee: $2,500 daily
• Out-of-network ATM fee: $0, plus reimburses unlimited surcharges with a $2,500 balance
• Interest on $3,000: 0.05%

TD Relationship Savings

• Maintenance fee: $15 ($14 if paperless)
• Minimum balance to avoid maintenance fee: $10,000 daily
• Interest rate on...

$20,000: 0.3%,
$40,000: 0.4%,
$100,000: 0.5%

MONEY looked at the 40 biggest retail banks by consumer deposits and number of branches, plus the 15 biggest online banks and three biggest credit unions by deposits, according to financial services consulting firm Novantas. Banks with more than 1,000 branches were in the running for Best Big Bank, while those with fewer were up for Midsize. All banks surveyed were candidates for best customer experience, business accounts, app, and standalone accounts.

The top consideration for checking picks was maintenance fees and ease of waiving them, followed by other charges, restrictions, and perks, like interest. For savings and CDs, MONEY weighted rates first, followed by fees, minimums and other rules. For customer experience, we looked at the availability of service; for mobile, breadth of features and ease of use. As a tiebreaker, MONEY used data from independent customer service studies.
  @CNNMoney - Last updated November 06 2013 03:03 PM ET
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