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 online bank

best banks ally 2
  • Winner: Ally Bank
  • Branches: None

Repeating last year's performance, online banks walloped all sizes of brick-and-mortars; the 15 web-only institutions MONEY surveyed commonly offered free checking and high rates on savings. Plus, since the banks typically don't have their own ATMs, you won't be charged to use another bank's machine -- and you may even be reimbursed for that institution's surcharges.

Why Ally is a winner

Ally offers stellar interest rates on fee-free checking and savings accounts. For checking, the bank has the best yields on balances below $50,000, with 0.4% on up to $15,000 and 0.75% above it. Plus you can use any ATM free, no fees or surcharges.

Related: What will the bank of the future offer?

On savings, Ally's flat 0.84% APY handily beats the averages for online banks across all balances. You also have the option of a money-market account at the same rate. Another plus: Customer reps -- real live people! -- are available by phone and instant message 24/7.

Caveat

Savings yield is lower than some competitors', including standalone savings co-winners Barclays and GE Capital, but they don't also have checking.

Standout accounts

Ally Interest Checking

• Maintenance fee: $0
• Out-of-network ATM fee: $0, plus reimburses unlimited surcharges
• Interest rate on $3,000: 0.4%

Ally Online Savings

• Maintenance fee: $0
• Interest rate on all balances: 0.84%

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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