Finding the Best Banks in North Carolina
Choosing the best bank is a challenge because there are so many banks and they all offer multiple accounts. To help you decide which banks in North Carolina offer what you need, SmartAsset created this list of the best banks in the state. Continue reading to see the most accessible banks and to see which banks could offer the best accounts for you.
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How We Determine the Best Banks in North Carolina
SmartAsset’s banking experts found the 15 most popular banks in North Carolina, based on the number of branches in the state. From those banks we selected the best national and regional banks, as well as the best savings and checking accounts. To make our choices, we considered minimum balance requirements, annual percentage yields (APYs), fee structures and overall accessibility.
Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account
As the market currently stands, impressive interest rates are few and far between. In direct opposition to this notion are Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account and Interest Checking Account. The Ally savings account earns at a 0.50% rate regardless of your balance, but the checking account operates on a variable basis. In other words, if your minimum daily balance is less than $15,000, you’ll receive a weak 0.10% APY, while accounts that surpass that benchmark receive a 0.25% APY. Both accounts compound interest on a daily basis.
If you find yourself intrigued by the Online Savings and Interest Checking accounts from Ally, brace yourself. There are no fees or opening minimums affiliated with either of these accounts. In the end, these perks further increase Ally’s prospective returns beyond what most of its competitors can afford to dish out.
Online and mobile banking is the wave of the future, and Ally is on the frontier. Both Apple and Android devices are eligible to download the bank’s app. Its services include mobile check deposit, peer-to-peer money transfers through Zelle®, digital account statements and transaction histories and more. Ally customers have reviewed this app more than 20,000 times between the two competing app stores to the tune of a 4.35-star rating out of 5.
Because Ally is fully web-based, you might be wondering how you’ll be able to withdraw cash. To address this, Ally joined the Allpoint ATM network, which is 55,000 fee-free ATMs strong. Ally’s mobile app features an ATM locator that will direct you to in-network ATMs nearby. Should you encounter non-Allpoint ATM charges, Ally will reimburse you for up to $10 per statement cycle.
Best National Bank With Branches in North Carolina: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has more than 300 branches in North Carolina. It is a large, national brand, and you can find branches or ATMs even if you travel outside of North Carolina. The bank has more than 5,700 branches across 40 states plus Washington, D.C.
The other advantage of working with a large bank is that Wells Fargo offers a full suite of financial services and account types. No matter what you’re looking for, the bank has it. You can get simple savings and checking accounts. There are retirement accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) from Wells Fargo. You can choose from a number of credit cards, loans and more comprehensive help through a financial advisor.
You don’t have to visit a branch either. Wells Fargo has kept up with the times and offers robust mobile and online services. Whether you want to open an account, find a loan, search mortgages or learn more about wealth management services, you can find it online.
Best Regional Bank: BB&T
BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust) has more than 350 branches in North Carolina. That’s more than any other bank. There are also branches and ATMs in 14 other states. So while BB&T doesn’t have the reach of a national brand, like Wells Fargo, it does offer many of the same advantages.
You can find savings, checking, CDs, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), insurance and a variety of loan options. One way that BB&T stands out from the pack is that it offers health saving accounts (HSAs), which you can pair with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). These savings vehicles are designed to help you pay for qualified medical expenses, and they provide multiple tax advantages.
Mobile banking is also easy with the BB&T app. It includes features like mobile check deposit and bill pay. You can also create budgets and track your spending.
Best Savings Account Rate: CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
With just a $100 minimum opening deposit, just about anyone can muster up the money to open a CIT Savings Builder account. Once you’re an account holder, all you need to do is continually deposit $100 on a monthly basis, and you’ll unlock the bank’s high-end 0.45% APY. Accounts that maintain a balance of at least $25,000 are privy to this rate as well. If neither of these obligations are met, your APY will be 0.29%.
Mobile banking is increasing in popularity exponentially, and CIT’s app appears to be doing well. In fact, between the competing Apple and Android app stores, it has a 3.85-star rating out of 5. The app allows customers to move funds between their CIT accounts, view their transaction history, check out current and past account statements and even initiate remote check deposits.
Beyond the Savings Builder account, CIT Bank offers the Premier High-Yield Savings account and a money market account. CIT also has a number of certificates of deposit (CDs), including 2-year to 5-year jumbo CDs, 6-month to 5-year term CDs, a No-Penalty/11-Month CD and 1-year to 4-year “RampUp” CDs.
Runner-up for Best Savings Account Rate: First Horizon
First Horizon Bank does not have the reach of some larger banks, but it does offer some above-average APYs to North Carolina customers. The standard savings account comes with a 0.15% APY and a monthly fee that you can waive by maintaining a balance of $250. Similarly, you can get a simple checking account and waive any monthly fees just by making at least one direct deposit into your account.
Don’t take First Horizon Bank’s relatively small size for a lack of products, though. The bank has all the standard accounts you could need in addition to loans, credit cards, business accounts, insurance products and help with financial planning.
Best Checking Accounts: PNC Bank
PNC Bank has nearly 150 branches in North Carolina. The bank pairs that accessibility with the resources of a large, national bank. The bank’s wide variety of accounts and services includes an interest-bearing checking account with a modest fee that you can waive more easily than at many other banks.
The interest rates from PNC generally aren’t the highest. You can sometimes get a higher rate on a checking account if you can meet certain requirements. There are multiple ways to meet them, such as making a certain number of transactions per month on your debit card or by having direct deposits over a certain dollar value.
If you’re unsure about the best way to handle your finances or if you just need a little help making sure you stay on track, PNC Bank can lend you a hand through its financial planning services.
Best Customer Service: Fifth Third Bank
According to J.D. Power’s U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Fifth Third Bank provides consumers with one of the best top banking experiences in and around North Carolina. This study takes multiple factors into account, like a bank's ability to handle customer issues, the frequency of its branches and ATMs, its fees and its product offerings.
Fifth Third has more than just good customer service, though. If you need a checking account, there are free options plus special accounts tailored to students and military personnel. Savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts (MMAs) are similarly varied. You can also tackle other financial goals through retirement accounts or 529 college savings plans.
The bank’s mobile app is also useful. It features an ATM/branch finder, account history of up to six months, mobile check deposit and a widget that allows you to check your account balance without logging in.
Best Student Account: Bank of America
Most college students are just starting to save money. That makes it especially important to work with a bank that won’t drain your account with fees. Bank of America solves that problem with Bank of America® Student Banking.
This student account waives the monthly fees for both high school and college students. That allows you to focus your attention on actually building savings. The bank’s mobile app also lets you handle your accounts easily, no matter where you are. Need to send someone money? The app also allows you to do that.
The other advantage of a Bank of America account is that you’re working with a large, national brand. The bank offers a variety of accounts, products and services. There are credit cards, auto loans, home loans and help with investing. Realistically, you could open an account with Bank of America in high school and then use the bank for the rest of your life.
Additional SmartAsset Bank Reviews in North Carolina
Didn't find the best bank for you? Consider the following banks in your area.