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Best Banks North Carolina

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by Derek Silva Updated

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.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Wells Fargo Wells Fargo logo Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best National Bank
  • More than 300 branches in the state
BB&T Bank BB&T Bank logo Read More 0.03% $0
  • Best Regional Bank
  • More than 350 branches in the state
PNC Bank PNC Bank logo Read More 1.10% $25
  • Best Checking Accounts
  • Potential for high rates
Capital Bank Capital Bank logo Read More 0.15% $50
  • Best Savings Accounts
Fifth Third Bank Fifth Third Bank logo Read More 0.01% $0
  • Best Customer Service
Bank of America Bank of America logo Read More 0.03% $25
  • Best Student Account
  • Variety of banking products

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.

Best National Bank: Wells Fargo

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 Bank

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 Checking Accounts: PNC Bank

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 Savings Accounts: Capital Bank

Capital Bank

Capital 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 Capital 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 Customer Service: Fifth Third Bank

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

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.

Tips for Finding the Best Bank Accounts

  • Before you open any accounts, you should consider your financial goals. The best bank accounts will be the ones that most help you to meet those goals. If you aren’t sure which accounts or banks can do that, consider talking with a financial advisor. An advisor is an expert who can give you guidance based on your specific financial situation.
  • It’s great to bank at a branch near you, but you can probably find higher rates online. Regardless of where you live, here are some of the best high-interest savings accounts.
Save more with these rates that beat the National Average
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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