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.
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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.
Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account
Online/mobile banks typically have strong interest rates because their operating costs are so low compared to their traditional counterparts. This rings true with Ally Bank, as its Online Savings Account is paired with a daily compounding 0.50% APY. At this rate, a $10,000 deposit would see more than $202 in interest earnings over four years. In addition to being branchless, Ally is monthly fee- and minimum-less.
The Interest Checking Account can expand your banking suite, while still keeping it in-house at Ally. Not only do you get a debit card for free, but you’ll also receive access to the Allpoint ATM network. Allpoint operates an astounding 55,000 ATMs around the world that Ally customers can use free of charge. In terms of interest rates, this account can offer up to a 0.25% APY.
The Ally mobile banking app is available for download on Apple and Android devices. Reviews on the two competing app stores have led to it holding a 4.35-star rating out of 5. Mobile check deposit, an ATM locator, digital account statements and transaction histories and a peer-to-peer money transfer program called Zelle® are just a few of the perks of the app.
Best National Bank With Branches in Milwaukee: 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
The top five 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 Savings Account Rate: CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
Although the Savings Builder account from CIT Bank has a base rate of 0.28%, you can easily make yourself eligible for a significant boost to a 0.40% APY. More specifically, you’ll receive this rate if you deposit at least $100 in your account every month or keep your balance above the $25,000 mark. Unlike many accounts that have exorbitant minimums, CIT calls for just a $100 deposit.
CIT Bank is a saver’s dream, as the bank is jam packed with different types of savings products. You can open a high-yield savings account, a money market account (MMA) or more than a dozen certificates of deposit (CDs).
Managing your CIT account on the go is as easy as downloading the bank’s mobile app. You can check your current and past account statements, view a transcript of your transaction history, deposit checks remotely and move funds between your CIT accounts. CIT mobile customers rate the app at 3.85 stars out of 5, so it appears to be a fairly solid offering.
Runner-up for Best Savings Account Rate: North Shore Bank High-Yield Savings Account
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 $200.
Luckily, you can earn a 0.05% APY no matter your balance.
Best Customer Service: Wintrust Community 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
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
For the best interest-earning checking account from a bank with branches in Milwaukee, turn to Associated Bank’s Elite Checking account. You’ll need at least $100 to open the account. Balances below $25,000 will earn at 0.01% APY, balances from $25,000 to $250,000 will earn at 0.01% APY and any balances over that will earn 0.01% 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 for Students: U.S. Bank Student Checking
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.
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