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Best Banks in Los Angeles

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by Chris Thompson Updated

Finding the Best Banks in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in America, and residents there have a wide array of banking options to consider. Take a look at the offers below to find the top savings and checking accounts and most accessible banks in L.A.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Chase Bank Open Account Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best National Bank
  • Almost 400 branches in L.A.
Bank of the West Open Account Read More 0.01% $0
  • Best Regional Bank
  • Sizeable ATM network
California Bank & Trust Open Account Read More 0.01% $0.01
  • Best Bank for Customer Service
  • Great banking experience
Bank of Hope Open Account Read More 0.15% $100
  • Best Low-Cost & High Yield Checking Accounts
  • Varied checking offers
Opus Bank Open Account Read More 0.25% $0
  • Best Savings Account
  • Solid APYs
East West Bank Open Account Read More 0.01% $1
  • Best Bank for Students
  • Both checking and savings offers

How We Determine the Best Banks in Los Angeles

SmartAsset’s banking experts found the 15 most popular banks in L.A. by number of branches available in the city.  Among those, we then selected the best national and regional banks and chose the best savings and checking accounts based on their minimum balance requirements, annual percentage yields (APYs), fee structures and overall ease of accessibility.

Best National Bank: Chase Bank

With almost 500 branches in and around L.A., Chase has a significant presence in the City of Angels. In fact, it edged out Wells Fargo, the second most numerous bank in the area, by more than 40 locations. There are also plenty of ATM locations in the city, with more than 480 fee-free Chase ATMs. For those who travel around the country a lot, there are branches in 26 states and 16,000 free ATMs nationwide, making it a convenient banking option when you’re on the go.

You can essentially handle all your financial needs through Chase. The bank doesn’t just feature multiple checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs. It also gives you access to rewards, low-interest and secured credit cards, home and auto loans and financial advisors.

Mobile and online banking is one of the strengths of Chase, as its mobile offering is the fifth most popular app in the Apple store. It features Touch ID® login, mobile check deposit, an ATM locator and online bill pay. The app even includes access to Zelle®, a digital online payment service that’s similar to popular competitors like Venmo. You’ll also be able to see all your Chase accounts (credit cards, banking, mortgages, etc.) through these mobile offerings.

Runner-up: Wells Fargo

Best Regional Bank: Bank of the West

In the L.A. area alone, Bank of the West has 65 branches available for customers to visit. Although the bank has locations in 20 other states, more than 40% of them are in the Golden State. After all, the bank was founded in California in 1874, so it has been a part of the West Coast financial fabric for quite a long time. There are 11 brick and mortar branches in San Francisco, four in Sacramento and four more in Oakland, among others throughout the state.

Bank of the West offers four main account options: checking, savings, CDs and IRA CDs. There are only four checking and savings accounts available, though those options should cover the needs of most prospective customers. With nearly 70 fee-free ATMs in the area, Los Angelenos have plenty of access to cash. For the Premier checking account, though, you’ll be refunded all ATM fees you incur at non-Bank of the West ATMs.

Bank of the West’s mobile app currently holds an average 4.05 star rating between the Apple and Android app stores, giving it one of the top-rated apps for a regional bank on the market. But if you’re looking to expand your financial relationship with this bank further, it offers rewards, cash back, and low-interest and secured credit cards, along with car, RV, boat and home loans. Bank of the West was also recognized by J.D. Power for having the fourth highest-rated customer service in California.

Best Customer Service: California Bank & Trust

For banks that have physical locations in California, California Bank & Trust ranked the highest in J.D. Power’s U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study in 2017. A bank's ability to handle customer issues, the frequency of its branches, its fee schedules and its product offerings are some of the main factors that this extensive study took into account. These provide in-depth insight into how the bank deals with customers, so you should feel confident that this rating is fitting.

With just five branches near L.A., California Bank & Trust’s lack of locations is its biggest weakness. However, because of its solid online and mobile experience, you should have no problems handling your money remotely. There is a Monday through Saturday customer service hotline available nearly 12 hours a day as well as an online, real-time chat service. If you travel around California at all, there are two branches near Fresno, five near San Jose, eight near San Francisco and four near Sacramento.

California Bank & Trust have many checking and savings accounts available to customers. Its accounts typically come with low opening deposits, average APYs and easy-to-meet monthly fee waiver requirements. You can also apply for other financial products such as a credit card, mortgage or home equity line of credit. If you already own or are looking to open a business, the bank provides SBA and term loans, business-specific bank accounts, payroll programs and digital payment services.

Best Low-Cost & High Yield Checking Accounts: Bank of Hope

The Basic Checking account from Bank of Hope is an account that doesn’t require much to open. All you need is an initial deposit of $25 and the ability to pay a $3 monthly fee. You can get rid of that monthly fee, though, if you make five monthly purchases with your debit card or elect to receive e-statements.

If you’re more concerned about earning interest on the money in your checking account, Bank of Hope’s Interest Checking account might be a better choice. Although you’ll need a minimum of $1,000 as an opening deposit, the bank will start you off with a 0.05% APY. You can quickly boost that percentage by adding more money. The following balances earn upgraded rates:

  • $5,000 - $24,999.99: 0.10%
  • $25,000 and up: 0.15%

New customers will also find Regular Checking, Checking Plus and SmarTEEN Checking accounts at this bank. With features, minimums and interest rates similar to the two accounts above, these are worth looking into.

Customers receive fee-free ATM access at Bank of Hope in-brand locations and do not have to pay any extra charges at Allpoint® and MoneyPass® ATMs. This wide range of acceptable ATMs should increase the likelihood that a free ATM will be around no matter where you are in the city. You can log onto the mobile app to locate these ATMs.

Runner-up: Opus Bank (more below)

Best Savings Account: Opus Bank

For anyone looking to earn interest at a strong rate with a money market account (MMA) in the L.A. area, the Opus Bank Crescendo Personal MMA is an attractive option. You need $100 for an initial deposit at the time you open your account to qualify for a 0.15% APY. The more you deposit into the MMA, the better your rate will get. Unlike many MMAs on the market today, though, you can make unlimited withdrawals from this account, so long as they’re completed at a branch location. This provides better access to your money.

Customers can open goal-driven savings accounts through Opus Bank too. These include Traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and a Coverdell Education savings account. Opus also has CDs available for up to 60 months, with APYs ranging from 0.10% to 1.80%.

 

Headquartered in California, Opus Bank has 24 branches in the L.A. area. In addition to that, there are more than 500 fee-free ATMs in the city since Opus customers have access to common MoneyPass® ATMs.

APY Starting At Ending At
0.15% $0 $24,999.99
0.40% $25,00 $49,999.99
0.65% $50,000 $99,999.99
0.80% $100,000 $249,999.99
0.95% $250,000  

 

Best for Students: East West Bank

As your child goes off to college, his or her financial situation gets more complicated. The East West Bank Student Plus checking account has some features aimed at making this daily financial management easier. The student is the account holder and will receive his or her own Visa® debit card. It doesn’t matter whether your kid can make it to an East West ATM or not. Any out-of-network ATM fee charged to your child’s account will be reimbursed by the bank at the end of every month. He or she also will not pay any monthly fees and will only need $100 to start an account.

The Student Plus savings account is designed for money you intend to stay put for a while. Your child can open one with a $100 initial deposit and will begin earning interest at a 0.05% rate. Interest will compound daily, meaning the account earns interest on the interest it earned yesterday. There is a $3 monthly fee, but you can eliminate that by having at least one direct deposit sent to the account a month.

Depending on the financial situation of your child and the whole family, either the Student Plus checking or savings account might be a better fit. Many students may find having both meets their overall needs. 

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Best Places to Save

SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places in the country where people have the opportunity to save money. Zoom between states and the national map to see the best places to save.

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Rank County Median Household Income Cost of Living Purchasing Power Estimated Tax Rate

Methodology

Where you live can have a big impact on how easy it is to save money based on several regional factors. Our study aims to find the most suitable places for people to save based on median household income, average living expenses and income tax burden.

First, we calculated the average cost of living in each county for a household with two adults (one working). We then created a purchasing power index for each county. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living.

To better compare income tax burdens across counties, we applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for a family making $50,000 annual income in each location. Next, we created an effective tax rate index for each county, which reflects the counties with the lowest ratio of income taxes to the assumed $50,000 annual income.

Finally, we calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall best places to save score. We used a three-fourths weighting for purchasing power and a one-fourth weighting for tax rates. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect places that are better to save.

Sources: US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study