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Best Banks In Milwaukee

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by Lauren Perez Updated

Finding the Best Banks in Milwaukee

When looking at the banks with the most branches in the Milwaukee area, regional banks dominate the list. A few big banks come in at the top, with the resources to maintain a larger number of bank branches, so this offers a bit more convenience. However, the smaller banks still maintain great numbers and even better rates and fee structures than their big counterparts. 

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
BMO Harris Bank National Association BMO Harris Bank National Association logo Read More 0.05% $100
  • Best National Bank
  • More than 70 branches in Milwaukee area 
Tri City National Bank Tri City National Bank logo Read More 0.02% $100
  • Best Regional Bank
  • Variety of accounts to choose from 
Wintrust Bank Wintrust Bank logo Read More 0.15% $0
  • Best Customer Service
  • Good interest rates
BMO Harris Bank National Association BMO Harris Bank National Association logo Read More 0% $25
  • Best Free Checking Account
  • Low opening deposit requirement
Associated Bank Associated Bank logo Read More 0.15% $100
  • Best High-Yield Checking Account
  • Best rates in the area 
North Shore Bank North Shore Bank logo Read More 0.15% $0
  • Best Savings Account
  • No minimum to open 
U.S. Bank U.S. Bank logo Read More 0% $25
  • Best for Students
  • No monthly fee

How We Determined the Best Banks in Milwaukee

To determine the best banks in Milwaukee, SmartAsset looked at the banks with the top 15 most branches in the Milwaukee area. This ensures that our top picks offer a convenient physical presence for residents who may want to have checking accounts, savings accounts or other accounts at these institutions. We explored each bank’s account offerings, fees, rates and more. Comparing this information led to the following list of the best accounts and banks in Milwaukee. 

Best National Bank: BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank

For the easiest physical access to your accounts, you’ll want to turn to BMO Harris Bank. It provides residents with the biggest number of branches with 71 total in the area. You can find around 600 more branches throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. Plus, in addition to BMO Harris ATMs, you’ll have access to more than 40,000 Allpoint Network ATMs. 

BMO Harris offers a great range of bank accounts from a simple savings account to retirement-specific deposit accounts. You’ll also find that BMO Harris offers credit cards, mortgages, loans and more, becoming a true full-service bank. Unfortunately, the bank’s deposit accounts don’t earn at the best interest rates. Its savings account earns at one of the lowest rates (although better than some other big banks). The bank’s CD rates are the best it can offer, with longer-term accounts earning the highest rates.

Best Regional Bank: Tri City National Bank

Tri City National Bank

The top 5 biggest bank presences in Milwaukee are largely big banks like BMO Harris. However, the bank with the fifth-most branches is the more regional Tri City National Bank. The bank has 30 branches in the Milwaukee area. You can also access the bank and your accounts online, via email and over a 24 hour automated phone system. 

Tri City National Bank has some pretty standard account offerings. You can run into relatively high minimum deposit amounts. Its deposit rates are relatively unremarkable, although they do outperform the rates big banks offer. 

Best Customer Service: Wintrust Community Bank

Wintrust Bank

Wintrust Community Bank offers some of the best customer service in the Midwest, according to a recent customer satisfaction survey. For starters, the bank prides itself on its strong focus on community, getting to know customers by name and investing in local businesses. You can find over 150 locations in southern Wisconsin, Chicago and northwest Indiana. As part of its online offerings, you can contact your nearest branch and/or submit a question or provide any feedback. 

In terms of accounts, Wintrust has a range of offering. You can find fee-free checking accounts, a Cubs or White Sox checking account, wealth management and more. Plus its accounts have some pretty solid interest rates that will allow your balances to grow and stay safe.

Best Free Checking Account: BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account

BMO Harris Bank

Milwaukee residents will want to turn to the area’s best national bank, BMO Harris, for the best free checking account in the area. The BMO Harris Smart Advantage checking account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee at all. There is a $3 fee if you want to stick to old-school paper statements, which you can easily avoid by going paperless. 

You’ll need to make at least a $25 deposit to open this account, which is a pretty standard opening deposit requirement. 

Best High-Yield Checking Account: Associated Bank Elite Checking

Associated Bank

For the best interest-earning checking account from a bank with branches in Milwaukee, turn to Associate Bank’s Elite Checking account. You’ll need at least $100 to open the account. Any balance can earn interest, although higher balances will earn at better rates. Balances below $25,000 will earn at 0.05% APY, balances from $25,000 to $250,000 will earn at 0.10% APY and any balances over that will earn 0.15% APY. 

This account includes a number of other great perks like waived overdraft transfer fees, unlimited transactions at foreign ATMs, up to four linked savings accounts allowed, free travelers cheques, money orders and more. The account also has the opportunity to earn Cash Back Perks with your Associated Bank debit card. 

Best Savings Account: North Shore Bank High-Yield Savings Account

North Shore Bank

For high-yield savings, check out North Shore Bank’s High-Yield Savings account. Unlike many small bank savings accounts with high rates, this North Shore account doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open. There is a relatively high monthly service fee of $15, although you can waive this by maintaining an account balance of at least $1,000. 

Luckily, you can earn at 0.15% APY no matter your balance. 

Best for Students: U.S. Bank Student Checking

U.S. Bank

As a college student, chances are you’re doing a lot of traveling, whether for fun or just going back and forth between home and school. In that case, you’ll want a bank that offers widespread physical access to your accounts. In Milwaukee, you’ll find 54 U.S. Bank branches throughout the area. On a wider scale, the bank has branches in 26 states and over 5,000 throughout the country. 

The simple U.S. Bank Student Checking account requires only $25 to open. There technically is no monthly fee, although if a student wants to keep it old school, there’s a $2 fee for paper statements. Be sure to compare this account with the best savings accounts for students.

Tips for Money Management 

  • Opening new bank accounts is easy enough, but how do you efficiently manage your money once it’s spread out through the best accounts? A financial advisor could help you out there. They can take a holistic look at your finances, figuring out where you need to beef up your investments and where you can cut back spending. They can help you save for retirement or plan for your child’s college tuition. Our financial advisor matching tool can help you find the right advisor for you and in your area. We’ll get to know you and your financial needs in order to better connect you with the right advisors. 
  • If a financial advisor is a bit out of your reach, you could do some money management work on your own. You can start by checking where you may be paying too much in fees. Perhaps you can lower the fees or waive them altogether. This is common with checking accounts. 
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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 2016 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study