Best Banks of 2019

Millennials ask a lot of our banks. We want security, convenience, and simplicity. We want guidance but also freedom.

Several thousand banks now operate in the U.S., and many can deliver these needs. Some even go above and beyond.

The Best Banks for Millennials

Here are some of my favorite options for banking, especially for millennials and younger adults looking for a bank:

CIT Bank

CIT bankCIT Bank is an online bank that offers good rates with no monthly service fees – and with that alone, it definitely ticks a lot of the boxes for millennials.

CIT Bank operates as an online-only bank offering:

The competitive rates CIT bank offers make it a top choice for anyone looking to earn interest on their savings.

CIT Bank is also backed by the FDIC, meaning that all deposit accounts that are held at CIT are insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Pros

  • Online Access
  • No Monthly Fees
  • Competitive Interest Rates

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • No checking account option
  • N/A

CIT Bank CIT Bank is an online-only bank that offers accounts with no monthly fees. Offering competitive rates on high-yield savings accounts, MMA's and CDs, you can't go wrong! Learn More CIT Bank

Chime

chime bank logoChime Bank offers another streamlined banking option for millennials looking for convenience and flexibility.

Chime encourages saving money by rounding up checking transactions and depositing the difference in savings. You can also easily program your account to save a percentage of your deposits.

Unfortunately, Chime does not compete with other online banks with its savings rate. You can find much better rates elsewhere.

Like Simple, Chime does not charge overdrafts. In fact, the bank doesn’t allow overdrafts. If the money isn’t in your account, Chime will decline the transaction.

This is possible, in part, because a Chime account does not allow traditional checks.

Pros

  • Solid apps and text alerts
  • No fees of any kind
  • More open to applicants with lower credit

Cons

  • Low-interest savings accounts
  • Cash and check deposits can be difficult

Chime Chime bank offers no hassle online banking with a quick and easy to use app that allows you to manage all or your accounts in one place, and best of all, there are no fees to worry about. Learn More Chime

Discover Bank

discover bank logoDiscover Bank uses Ally Bank’s low-fee, high-interest approach, and I like Discover’s 1-percent cash back option when you use your checking account.

You could get up to $30 a month cash back just by using the debit card associated with your checking account.

If you’re spending the money anyway, you may as well claim this automatic reward which also has no service fees.

Here’s an idea: Direct that 1 percent cash back into savings. Discover Bank has solid savings rates.

If you max out the reward, you can save an extra $360, plus interest, a year while doing nothing out of the ordinary.

Discover Bank lets account holds use Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs fee-free. The bank, of course, has apps and mobile deposit options like every bank on this list.

Pros

  • Simple account options
  • 1-percent cash back on debit card transactions
  • 24/7 customer service even on social media

Cons

  • $30 overdraft fee a touch steep
  • Can’t deposit cash

Discover Discover Bank offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month along with no monthly fees or balance requirements. Learn More Discover

Radius Bank

radius bank logoI recommend Radius Bank because of its interest checking. A lot of banks will pay interest on your checking account balance, but very banks few pay interest on a free checking option.

You would need to keep at least $2,500 in your checking account to gain interest, and I know this can be a steep hurdle for some customers.

But people who keep a large checking account balance can benefit.

Naturally, Radius Bank has a robust online platform for its customers: mobile deposits, on-app transfers. You’ll also get solid interest rates on your free savings account.

Unlike many online banks, you can deposit cash at ATMs in the NYCE network. Speaking of ATMs, Radius Bank will reimburse you for all ATM fees charged by other banks — very unusual.

Pros

  • Free checking can still pay interest
  • Cash deposits possible
  • Reimbursement of all ATM fees

Cons

  • $2,500 balance needed to earn interest in checking
  • $5-a-day fee for an overdrawn account (after the fifth day) on top of $25 per transaction

Radius Bank Radius Bank offers great rates on checking and savings accounts along with certificates of deposit. You will also earn 1% cashback on your debit card purchases. Learn More Radius Bank

Huntington Bank

Huntington Business CheckingHuntington Bank has a growing presence in the Midwest, especially among younger customers looking for higher interest on savings.

For a brick-and-mortar bank, Huntington pays out a healthy interest rate in its Money Market accounts, rivaling some online banks’ high-yield accounts.

Of course, along with better-than-average interest on savings, the bank also offers a full online experience and an impressive array of loans, checking accounts, and budgeting tools.

You won’t find a Huntington Bank branch outside of its eight-state territory (Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan).

But within that region, you’ll have access to about 1,800 ATMs, and you’ll have a checking account without hefty fees or unreasonable overdraft policies.

Huntington offers a 24-hour grace period for most overdraft charges, giving you time to make a deposit before facing a cascade of insufficient funds fees.

However, if you do incur overdraft fees, you’ll pay $37.50 per overdraft item, up to four times per day. This is several dollars higher than many other banks’ charges.

Pros

  • Competitive savings rate on Money Market accounts
  • Strong presence within its 8-state region
  • Low/no fees on basic checking accounts

Cons

  • Physical branches in only 8 states
  • High overdraft fees ($37.50 per transaction)
  • Extended overdraft fees ($25 every 5 days account is overdrawn)

Huntington Bank Huntington Bank offers competitive savings rates on Money Market Accounts and a Low/No Fee Basic Checking Account that is worth checking out! Learn More Huntington Bank

Ally Bank

ally bank logoI like online banks because they can pay higher-than-average interest rates on your savings and sometimes even on your checking.

Ally Bank sets a high standard for online banks. Ally can deliver great savings rates, low fees, and a broad variety of account options.

You can find higher interest rates at other online-only banks, but it’s harder to beat Ally’s convenience.

You can access your accounts using the bank’s app or you can use an Allpoint ATM fee-free. If you use another bank’s ATM, Ally will reimburse up to $10 in that bank’s fees each month.

Pros

  • Variety of accounts
  • Low fees on standard checking
  • 24/7 customer service

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • Can’t deposit cash

CapitalOne Bank

CapitalOne Bank offers a hybrid approach: It’s an online bank with a brick-and-mortar presence in the New York City and Washington, D.C, areas, along with parts of Texas and Louisiana.

If you don’t live near a branch, that’s OK: You’ll still get one of the best online banking experiences out there, including customer service via chat or Twitter and nice budgeting tools.

You won’t get as much out-of-network ATM support from CapitalOne but the bank is betting you won’t need to use an ATM since its online tools perform so well.

Like all the banks on this list so far, CapitalOne’s interest rates exceed the national average. But the bank’s typical savings rates can be beaten.

If you’re looking into certificates of deposit, though, CapitalOne can outperform most other banks.

Pros

  • Both online and in-person banking in NYC, D.C., Texas, Louisiana
  • Great CD rates
  • A great option for small businesses
  • Occasional bonuses for opening money market savings accounts

Cons

  • A steep overdraft fee of $35, though you can opt into overdraft protection
  • Online-only banks can offer better savings rates

Simple Bank

Simple Bank is aptly named: It strips away traditional bank fees and replaces them with budgeting tools.

The bank does not even charge overdraft fees or fees to replace a lost debit card. You may want to consider this bank if you have trouble sticking to a spending plan.

The app considers scheduled bills as it identifies how much money you can “safely spend” at the moment.

If you don’t need this kind of guidance, you’ll do better with another bank on this list. Simple Bank doesn’t offer online bill-pay and you won’t be able to deposit cash.

Pros

  • Budgeting tools built into the app
  • Solid guidance for avoiding overdrafts
  • No fees for overdrafts

Cons

  • Lacks some basic features such as online bill-pay
  • Customer service can be spotty

PNC Virtual Wallet

PNC virtual wallet logoPNC Bank is a large East Coast institution with a traditional approach to banking. The bank also pioneered online banking in the early years of this century with Virtual Wallet.

The Virtual Wallet app gives real-time, visual analysis of your accounts while also giving customers access to some nice budgeting tools.

As a traditional bank, PNC has branded ATMs and branches throughout its East Coast market.

Also like a traditional bank, you’ll notice monthly fees, though these can be avoided by maintaining a combined $500 balance in all your PNC accounts.

Though it does have the convenience of an online bank, PNC Bank does not compete with online-only banks’ high-yield savings rates.

Pros

  • Virtual Wallet a pioneer in online and mobile banking
  • Wide network of branded ATMs and branches
  • Wide variety of banking products and loans

Cons

  • High overdraft fees of $38 up to four times a day
  • Monthly fees can not be easily waived

Aspiration

Aspiration offers a lot: an interest-earning checking account with no fees and a cashback rewards program attached to your checking account.

The bank even reimburses all ATM fees charged by other banks. And, the bank donates 10 percent of its profits to charities!

So why didn’t the bank appear higher on this list? Customer service has been an issue as the bank has grown quickly over the past few years.

This makes it more difficult to give the bank an unqualified recommendation.

Still, if you don’t anticipate needing to call for help very often, Aspiration will be worth a close look.

Pros

  • 0.5% cashback on debit card transactions
  • 1% cashback when you shop at socially conscious retailers
  • No fees
  • Solid mobile apps
  • Great savings rate (for customers who deposit every month)

Cons

  • Potential for customer service delays
  • Does not offer CDs
  • No cash deposits
  • The debit card doesn’t always work internationally

Honorable Mentions

The following banking options did not make our list of the best banks but still have some great features worth checking out.

Which Is The Best Bank For You?

best banks for millennialsMoney can give you a lot of freedom, but only because it can give you time.

If you’re spending too much time contesting fees or reading the fine print of your bank account’s terms and conditions, you’re losing freedom.

That’s why the banks on this list offer the convenience of mobile and online banking and the freedom of avoiding fees.

Most of these banks excel at helping you save money through higher interest rates or easy-to-use tools.

All of these banks are insured by the FDIC, the federal government’s insurance company that guarantees your deposits will be safe (up to $250,000).

If you’re considering another bank or credit union, make sure it’s an FDIC member.

Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House). Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Money Magazine and many others. He uses Personal Capital to manage his money in 10 minutes a month.

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