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consumer complaints

Few things are more frustrating than trying to get in touch with your bank when something has gone wrong with your checking account or savings account. But when handling bank account-related problems, whether it’s an issue like identity theft or something as simple as needing to change account information, some banks handle their customers’ requests better than others. Below we look at the banks with the best customer service records when it comes to handling bank account disputes.

In order to rank the best banks at handling consumer complaints, we looked at data from the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). We compared the banks across four factors: response rate, consumer dispute rate, closed with relief rate and explanation rate. Check out our data and methodology section below to see where we got our data and how we put it together.

Key Findings

  • Consumers struggle with bank accounts. According to our data from 2012 to 2017, there were over 86,000 complaints about bank accounts or services. That makes it the fourth-most popular category to complain about, behind mortgage, debt collection and credit reporting.
  • Wide variance. In each of our metrics there is a wide variance in results. For example, Charles Schwab offered its consumers a personalized explanation 90% of the time when resolving complaints while Scottrade Bank did the same for only 15% of incidents. The chance of a consumer receiving compensation of some sort after complaining ranges from 38% with Empowerment Ventures to less than 1% with Netspend Corporation.

consumer complaints

1. Barclays Bank

Barclays tops our rankings of the banks with the best customer service. According to our data, Barclays Bank responded to every single consumer complaint in a timely manner. In addition to responding to complaints on time, the bank also typically offered a resolution that the consumer accepted. Data from the CFPB shows that only 15.5% of consumers disputed the resolution from Barclays, the 11th-best score in our study.

Apart from the great customer service, consumers banking with Barclays also have access to some of the most competitive certificates of deposit rates.

2. Synchrony Financial

Synchrony Financial takes second. This is an online-only bank known for its competitive high-yield savings accounts. Like Barclays, Synchrony responded to 100% of consumer complaints filed through the CFPB’s consumer complaints database in a timely manner.

The bank also excelled at coming to a resolution with its customers. According to our data, over 11% of complaints were closed with some kind of relief for the consumer lodging the complaint.

3. Ally Financial

Ally is another online-only institution that offers its customers some of the best online checking accounts in the market. This financial institution took the third spot thanks to its low dispute rate and high compensation rate.

The bank offered some kind of compensation to just over 17% of its customers. Consumers tended to accept the resolution offered by Ally and only disputed 13.6% of complaint outcomes. For both of those metrics, Ally ranks in the top 10.

4. Netspend Corporation

Netspend took fourth. This company is primarily known for helping customers build credit through pre-paid debit cards. This company offering a tailored explanation for over 88% of consumer complaints it received.

Another reason Netspend Corporation ranks so high is the low dispute rate. Only 9.5% of consumers disputed Netspend’s resolution to their complaint, the second-lowest rate in our study.

5. (tie) Fifth Third Financial Corporation

Fifth Third Financial Corporation is a bank with locations in the Midwest and the South. This financial institution took a balanced approach to secure the fifth spot. Fifth Third Financial Corporation had three top 20 scores but no top 10 scores.

The bank’s best score came in its explanation rate. It responded to complaints with a tailored explanation over 68% of the time according to CFPB data, the 13th-highest rate in the study.

5. (tie) New York Community Bank

New York Community Bank is a bank headquartered in New York with branches extending into New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Arizona. As of 2016, it had $48.93 billion in total assets.

Like some other banks atop this list, New York Community Bank had a 100% timely response rate. This bank also offered a personalized explanation in over 85% of complaints.

7. First Citizens BancShares

First Citizens has branches concentrated in the West and the South. This bank tends to manage customer complaints by offering relief for customers. In total just under 8% of all complaints were closed with relief, a top 25 rate.

This in part led to mostly satisfied customers. Just under 17% of consumers disputed the outcome of their initial complaint.

8. Navy Federal Credit Union

It is a tight race for the last three spots in our top 10. Navy Federal Credit Union beat Charles Schwab and BOK Financial for eighth by only 2 points on our index.

Navy Federal Credit Union owes its place in this top 10 due to the high value it places on constructing personalized responses to consumer complaints. Just under 82% of all complaints are responded with a personalized explanation.

9. Charles Schwab Corporation

Charles Schwab is one of the most recognizable names on this list. In total Charles Schwab responded to 100% of its banking service complaints on time and provided an explanation in 90% of incidents.

However, 0% of consumers making a complaint received financial relief, hurting its overall score.

10. BOK Financial Corporation

BOK Financial Corporation takes our final spot. While this company scored relatively low marks for explaining its actions to its customers, customers complaining to BOK Financial Corp had low dispute rates. BOK Financial scored in the top 10 for its timely response rate and consumer dispute rate.

consumer complaints

Data and Methodology

In order to rank the best banks for customer service, we looked at data for 59 banks which had at least 90 complaints in the bank account or service category in the CFPB’s consumer complaint database. We compared the banks across the following four metrics:

  • Timely response rate. This is the percent of complaints that received an initial response within 15 days and a final response within 60 days.
  • Consumer dispute rate. This is the percent of complaints where the consumer disputed the resolution made by the financial institution in relation to their complaint.
  • Complaint closed with relief rate. The is the percent of complaints which were closed where the consumer received some kind of relief from the financial institution. Examples of relief include receiving monetary compensation or having information taken off a credit report.
  • Explanation rate. This is the percent of incidents where the bank offered a personalized explanation to the consumer making a complaint.

Data for all metrics comes from the CFPB consumer complaints database and is from 2012 – 2017.

After ranking each bank in each metric, we found each bank’s average ranking. We then used this average ranking to create our final score. The bank with the best average ranking received a 100. The bank with the worst average ranking received a 0.

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Savings Account

  • Consider going online. Some of the best account options can be found at online-only banks. That includes Synchrony and Ally Bank which are ranked above. Other options are GoBank, Moven and Simple. These online companies offer some of the most competitive interest rates meaning the money you saved is earning money for you.
  • Shop around. While interest rates are one of the important parts of a savings account, there are other metrics to consider. For example if you are still at the early stages of saving and don’t have much to put away, you will probably want to choose a savings account that has low or no minimum balance requirements. Or if you are the kind of person who likes to stop at a branch and handle your banking needs in person, it makes sense to bank with a company that has local branches. In that case an online-only savings account would probably not work for you.

Questions about our study? Contact us at

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Derek Miller, CEPF® Derek Miller is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he studied economics. He is passionate about using data to help people make better financial decisions. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He is a data journalist whose expertise is in finding the stories within the numbers. Derek's writing has been featured on Yahoo, AOL, and Huffington Post. He believes the biggest financial mistake people make is waiting too late to save for retirement and missing out on the wonders of compounding interest. Derek lives in Brooklyn.
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