Finding the Best Banks in Illinois
Illinois is home to thousands of banks from major players to regional powerhouses. With that said, every type of customer should be able to find a right fit here. Whether you prefer basic checking accounts, the best savings accounts or all the latest mobile and online banking features, you’re likely to find it here. And at SmartAsset, we’ve made it easier to narrow down your choices. So read on for a glimpse at the best banks in Illinois.
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How We Determine the Best Banks in Illinois
The banking experts at SmartAsset started out by gathering data on the 17 biggest banks in Illinois based on branch amounts. We then dove deeper into what makes some of these stand out. We examined topics like product offerings, best CD rates, APYs on savings accounts and overall fee structure. The result was the best seven banks in Illinois.
Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account
Ally has a wide range of banking products, led by the Online Savings Account. This savings option comes with a 0.50% APY, which the bank’s website claims is around 10x the national average. On top of this high-end rate, Ally’s interest compounds on a daily basis, giving you maximum growth potential. This account has no monthly fees or minimums, so it’s easily attainable even if you’re just beginning your savings journey.
Banking customers rarely have just a savings account, so Ally’s Interest Checking Account may be worth looking into. In the end, the interest rate you receive depends on your minimum daily balance. More specifically, if your minimum daily balance is below $15,000, you’ll get a 0.10% APY, while those above that mark earn a 0.25% APY. Again, Ally has no fees or minimums for this account.
As a web-based bank, Ally’s Apple and Android mobile apps are its centerpieces. Between the two competing app stores, Ally averages a rating of 4.35 stars out of 5. Features include digital account statements, mobile check deposit and a peer-to-peer money transfer program called Zelle®. Moreover, the app can help you find Allpoint ATMs if you need to make a fee-free withdrawal. Ally will reimburse up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at out-of-network ATMs too.
Best National Bank With Branches in Illinois: Chase
Chase stands as a giant in the banking industry, and Illinois alone houses more than 300 branches. So if you want easy access to physical locations and superb customer service, Chase should be a fine option for you.
It’s also a great place to get all your banking done. Chase offers just about every financial product around from basic checking accounts to investment options like stocks and mutual funds. This means everyone from an average Joe to a risk-taking trader can feel right at home at Chase bank.
But unless you’re parking large sums of money there, Chase isn’t necessarily the place where you’d find the best savings accounts. Its certificates of deposit (CD) pack a little more punch, but you can still find the best CD rates elsewhere.
Nonetheless, Chase offers a range of inexpensive products like a basic checking account with no monthly service fee as long as you maintain direct deposits of at least $500. Its clients also get access to one of the best mobile banking apps we’ve examined.
Best Regional Bank: Fifth Third Bank
If you want to work with a large regional bank that commits itself to the communities it serves, you may find Fifth Third Bank to be nice place to park your money. The bank currently operates out of Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
And despiste the fact that you can't find it from coast to coast, you can get about any product you’d expect from a large, national bank here. It even offers health savings accounts (HSAs). These options help you save for future medical expenses while enjoying a few tax breaks. Your funds are also linked to a Fifth Third Bank debit card and an HSA mobile app. Even some of the biggest players in the banking industry don’t offer that.
Plus, the bank gives you the option to invest in a 529 college savings plan. This account helps you save for your child’s future college expenses as early as possible.
And to enhance its connection with its customers, the bank offers relationship rates on one of its money market accounts. This means customers with multiple Fifth Third Bank accounts get a bump on their money market interest rates.
In addition, Fifth Third Bank offers specialty checking account options designed for students and members of the United States Military as well as their families. Military members also have access to special VA home loan rates.
However, the bank doesn’t offer the best rates on its standard savings accounts. Still, you’re likely to find something beneficial and affordable considering its vast range of products especially those designed for specific segments of the population. Plus, Illinois residents would have easy access to physical branches, fee-free ATMs and stellar customer service.
Best Savings Account Rate: CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
CIT Bank’s Savings Builder account features up to a 0.40% APY, which is one of the best rates on the market. To ensure that you earn this, you’ll either need to maintain an account balance of at least $25,000 or make $100 in monthly deposits to your account. Otherwise, your rate will fall to 0.28% APY. This account also requires just a $100 minimum deposit to open.
Savings products are what CIT heavily focuses on, and it shows when you take a look over everything it has to offer. Here’s a breakdown of other ways you can save with the bank:
- Money market account
- Premier High-Yield Savings account
- 6-month to 5-year term CDs
- 2-year to 5-year jumbo CDs
- 1-year to 4-year “RampUp” CDs
- No-Penalty/11-Month CD
As an online bank, the quality of CIT mobile experience is especially important. Through this platform, customers can take advantage of mobile check deposit, inter-account transfers, digital account statements and up-to-date transaction histories. In addition to this, CIT money market account holders can use “People Pay,” a direct money transfer service.
Best Customer Service: U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank stands among the best banks in the nation when it comes to customer service, according to a recent study by J.D. Power. The U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction by surveying thousands of customers regarding six factors of service including problem resolution, communication and advice.
And while J.D. Power specifically recognized U.S. Bank in the California region, the bank runs more than 200 branches in Illinois. In fact, its reach spans through more than 2,000 locations nationwide. So even if you’re traveling out of your region, you’re likely to find easy access to your funds and award-winning customer service.
But no matter where you are, you’d have 24/7 access to mobile and online banking. You can view all account balances, deposit checks, pay bills, transfer cash and pay friends through the Zelle service anywhere you have an Internet connection. And if you need help right away, the U.S. Bank website displays a Q&A section that can answer your questions without the need to pick up the phone or make a trip to the bank. But if you do, rest assured U.S. Bank has Illinois covered.
Best Free Checking Account: BMO Harris
Some people just want the basics without all the bells and whistles. And BMO Harris comes through for this type of customer with SmartAdvantage, its most popular checking account. The bank charges no monthly service fee for this account as long as you enroll in eStatements. By doing so, the bank will also waive the $2 monthly fee for paper statements.
And all you need to open this account is a $25 minimum deposit, which is considerably low among big banks. Plus, you’d have easy access to your funds via more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs in the nationwide AllPoint network. And you’d still get access to all of the bank’s mobile and online banking features including mobile check deposit.
Considering these benefits, SmartAdvantage definitely can compete with the best checking accounts in the market today.
Best Mobile App: PNC Bank
The world of mobile banking has come a long way since being able to deposit checks with your phone’s camera was considered cutting edge. But some banks are still going above and beyond when it comes to the online and mobile capabilities they extend to their customers.
PNC Bank is one of them. First off, its mobile app covers all the basics, including the following:
- Mobile check deposit
- Money transfers
- Bill pay
- Account balance view
- Text banking
- Customizable notification and alerts
In addition, you get access to Popmoney. This service allows you to make easy transfers to others with just their phone number and email address. So no need to exchange sensitive information like bank account and routing numbers.
And PNC also allows you to turn your phone into a digital wallet. So you can make purchases at participating merchants using just your phone. There's no need to carry your debit card with you or share card information with merchants.
The bank also allows you to redeem credit card rewards directly from the app. Furthermore, you can access your accounts via several mobile devices including leading smartwatches and tablets. The PNC mobile banking app is compatible with Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Microsoft Wallet.
Best for Students: Chase
If you’re embarking on your road to college, you might be interested in the Chase College Checking account. The bank designed this option specifically for customers between the ages of 17 and 24. It will waive the $6 monthly service fee for up to five years while you’re in college. You can still avoid the fee if you set up direct deposit or maintain an average ending day balance of at least $5,000.
There is no minimum deposit to open this account. And you’d get access to Chase’s exceptional mobile banking app as well as thousands of branches and fee-free ATMs throughout the nation.
You can also benefit from diverting the savings you get from zero fees into one of the best savings accounts for kids.
Best Money Market Account: BMO Harris
BMO Harris offers a money market account (MMA) called the Premier Money Market account. Its central benefit is that it earns interest on a tiered basis. This means your rate will climb as your balance does, though these balance requirements are quite high and apply to all of your accounts at BMO Harris rather than just your MMA. The bank refers to this as your "quarterly combined balance."
While your base rate will be 0.05%, you can get it as high as 0.12% if you meet certain balance requirements. The balance tiers that offer bonus APYs are listed in the table at the end of this section.
BMO Harris used to call for a large minimum deposit to become an MMA account holder. But today, the bank only asks that new customers have at least $25 ready to deposit at opening. You'll also have to contend with a $10 monthly maintenance fee, though you have the opportunity to waive it if your account's minimum daily balance surpasses $10,000. There's also no shortage of ATMs at BMO Harris, as the bank provides its customers with 40,000 fee-free ATMs.
|Premier Money Market Account APYs|
|Rate Tier||Deposit Rate|
|Base (no balance requirement)||0.05% APY|
|Premier Gold ($25,000 - $99,999.99)||0.08% APY (Base + 0.03% bonus)|
|Premier Platinum ($100,000 - $249,999.99)||0.10% APY (Base + 0.05% bonus)|
|Premier Platinum Elite ($250,000+)||0.12% APY (Base + 0.07% bonus)|
Additional SmartAsset Bank Reviews in Illinois
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