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.
Best National Bank: 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 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.
All you need is $25 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 by 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) that earns interest on a tiered basis. This means your rate will climb as your balance does and at different intervals. And you can earn its peak APY of 1.00% (depending on your zip code) when your balance reaches $250,000.
Still, that’s a rate that climbs well beyond the national average and can even compete with some of the best online high-yield savings accounts out there. Some banks don’t offer that high a rate no matter how high your balance is. So if you’re an Illinois resident looking to park a large sum of money and expect a decent return, BMO Harris is a great option.
Tips for Better Banking
- These days, brick-and-mortar banks aren’t offering the best interest rates on their savings accounts. But you can still find some good options. To make it easier for you, we’ve developed a tool you can use to compare savings accounts across the banking industry.
- Banks offer a variety of investing options like HSAs and individual retirement accounts (IRA). And while these can be extremely beneficial, they can also be complex. You’d need to watch out for some rules in order to make the most out of tax benefits and avoid penalties. If you’d like some professional advice, you can use SmartAsset's financial advisor matching tool. It connects you with up to three financial advisors in your area who can help.