Best Banks of 2021
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.
So let’s talk about some of my favorite options for banking, especially for millennials and younger adults looking for a bank.
10 Best Banks of 2021
Here are the best banks of 2021:
- 🏆 CIT Bank: Best Overall
- Chime: Best Bank for Millennials
- Discover Bank: Best National Bank
- Betterment Bank: Best Bank for Robo-Investors
- Radius Bank: Best Online Checking Account
- Ally Bank: Best for Customer Service
- CapitalOne Bank: Best Online Bank
- PNC Virtual Wallet: Best for the East Coast
- Aspiration: Best for Earning Cashback
- Huntington Bank: Best for the Midwest
CIT Bank: Best Overall
CIT Bank is an online-only 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:
- Money Market Accounts (MMAs)
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- High Yield Savings Accounts
- Checking Accounts
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.
- Online Access
- No Monthly Fees
- Competitive Interest Rates
- ATM Fee Reimbursement
- No physical branches
Learn More: Read our CIT Bank Review.
Chime: Best Bank for Millennials
Chime 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.
They recently promoted a significant increase in their high yield savings account and it’s definitely competitive with other banks.
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.
- Competitive high-yield savings interest rate
- Solid apps and text alerts
- No fees of any kind
- More open to applicants with lower credit
- Cash and check deposits can be difficult
Learn More: Read our Chime Bank Review.
Discover Bank: Best National Bank
Discover 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 holders use Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs fee-free. The bank, of course, has apps and mobile deposit options like every bank on this list.
- Simple account options
- 1-percent cash back on debit card transactions
- 24/7 customer service even on social media
- $30 overdraft fee a touch steep
- Can’t deposit cash
Learn More: Read our Discover Bank Review.
Betterment Bank: Best Bank for Robo-Investors
I’ve been excited about this for a while. Betterment, the innovative robo-advisor, has now officially launched Betterment Checking.
Now you can move money back and forth in and out of your robo-advisor seamlessly. No more waiting a couple of days or more for money to transfer to or from checking.
And Betterment Bank stands alone as a solid choice even if you don’t use Betterment for robo-advising. You’ll get:
- Mobile-first design
- All ATM fees reimbursed worldwide with no action required by you
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance required
- No overdraft fees
- No branches
- No cash deposits
- Bank can pull from your investment account if you overdraw checking
Radius Bank: Best Bank for Online Checking
I 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.
- Free checking can still pay interest
- Cash deposits possible
- Reimbursement of all ATM fees
- $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
Learn More: Read our Radius Bank Review.
Ally Bank: Best Bank for Customer Service
I 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.
- Variety of accounts
- Low fees on standard checking
- 24/7 customer service
- No physical branches
- Can’t deposit cash
Learn More: Read our Ally Bank Review.
CapitalOne Bank: Best Online 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.
- 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
- A steep overdraft fee of $35, though you can opt into overdraft protection
- Online-only banks can offer better savings rates
Learn More: Read our Capital One Bank Review.
PNC Virtual Wallet: Best Bank for the East Coast
PNC 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.
- Virtual Wallet a pioneer in online and mobile banking
- Wide network of branded ATMs and branches
- Wide variety of banking products and loans
- High overdraft fees of $38 up to four times a day
- Monthly fees can not be easily waived
Aspiration Spend & Save™: Best for Earning Cashback
Aspiration offers a lot: an interest-earning checking account with no fees and a cashback rewards program attached to your checking account.
They even reimburse all ATM fees charged by other banks, and donate 10 percent of their profits to charities!
So why didn’t Aspiration appear higher on this list? Customer service has been an issue as the company has grown quickly over the past few years.
This makes it more difficult to give them an unqualified recommendation.
Still, if you don’t anticipate needing to call for help very often, Aspiration will be worth a close look.
- 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)
- Potential for customer service delays
- Does not offer CDs
- No cash deposits
- The debit card doesn’t always work internationally
Huntington Bank: Best for the Midwest
Huntington 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.
- Competitive savings rate on Money Market accounts
- Strong presence within its 8-state region
- Low/no fees on basic checking accounts
- Physical branches in only 8 states
- High overdraft fees ($37.50 per transaction)
- Extended overdraft fees ($25 every 5 days account is overdrawn)
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?
Money 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.
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.