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Best Banks in San Diego

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by Derek Silva Updated

Finding the Best Banks in San Diego

As the second-largest city in California, San Diego boasts hundreds of bank locations where you can open an account. Whatever kind of bank account you want, you will have many options. That’s why SmartAsset put in the work to create this list of the best banks in the city. Keep reading to find the banks with the top savings and checking accounts, as well as the most accessible banks in San Diego.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Wells Fargo Wells Fargo logo Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best National Bank
  • Over 100 branches
Comerica Bank Comerica Bank logo Read More 0.01% $50
  • Best Regional Bank
U.S. Bank U.S. Bank logo Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best Customer Service
  • Great banking experience
Zions Bank Zions Bank logo Read More 0.07% $50
  • Best Low-Cost & High Yield Checking Accounts
First Republic Bank First Republic Bank logo Read More 0.15% $25
  • Best Savings Account
Bank of America Bank of America logo Read More 0.03% $25
  • Best Bank for Students

How We Determine the Best Banks in California

SmartAsset’s banking experts found the 15 most popular banks in San Diego 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: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has more than 100 branch locations in San Diego (and more than 1,000 in the state of California). That’s 10 more than Chase, the bank with the second-most locations. Wells Fargo is a large, national brand, so you also have the ability to visit branches outside of the city and even outside of California if you travel. The bank actually has locations in 40 states plus Washington, D.C.

Another advantage of working with such a large bank is that Wells Fargo offers basically any financial service you may want. You can get simple savings and checking accounts. There are retirement accounts and CDs from Wells Fargo. You can get credit cards, loans and more comprehensive help from a financial advisor.

The bank also offers robust mobile and online services. So if you want to open an account, find a loan, search mortgages or learn more about wealth management services, you can find it online.

Runner-up: Chase Bank

Best Regional Bank: Comerica Bank

Comerica Bank

Comerica Bank has a variety of bank accounts and financial services. If you are looking for a savings or checking account, Comerica Bank has multiple options to choose from. The interest rates aren’t very high though, so if you’re looking for a savings account, consider a money market account (MMA) instead. You can also earn a higher interest rate by opting for a certificate of deposit (CD).

One thing to note is that you will have to pay monthly fees on most account types unless you maintain a certain balance. Certain high-level accounts require you to have a large amount in deposit across all your Comerica Bank accounts. For example, a Comerica Platinum Circle Checking® account requires you to have at least $50,000 on deposit across your accounts. However, some accounts of these higher-level accounts also come with additional benefits, such as discounts on loans through the bank.

Best Customer Service: U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank

There are just under 80 U.S. Bank branch locations in San Diego. If you work with any of those branches, you can feel pretty confident that you will get good customer service. According to J.D. Power’s U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study in 2017, U.S. Bank ranked second in California. This study considers multiple factors, including a bank's ability to handle customer issues, the frequency of its branches, its fee schedules and its product offerings. The rating provides good insight into how a bank deals with customers.

U.S. Bank also has a wide range of financial products in addition to its standard savings and checking accounts. For example, you can open money market accounts, credit cards and you can get multiple types of loans.

Best Low-Cost & High Yield Checking Accounts: Zions Bank

Zions Bank

Zions Bank doesn’t have a lot of locations outside of the Western U.S. but does have two dozen branch locations in San Diego. This could make it a good banking choice if you want a regional bank instead of a larger, national bank.

In general, the interest rates with savings and checking accounts are higher at Zions Bank than with other large banks. The lowest rate for an interest-bearing checking account is 0.07% (for the Anytime Interest Checking account). You can also get slightly higher rates if you qualify for a higher level checking account. National banks generally have an interest rate around 0.01% on similar checking accounts. The minimum to open these accounts with Zions Bank is also just $50. There is a monthly fee but you can waive it if you maintain a certain balance (such as $1,500 in the Anytime Interest Checking account).

If you are opening a checking account with Zions Bank, you may also want to consider a savings account as the rates are also higher than at other large banks. Customers who don’t need to visit a branch should also consider the high rates of online accounts.

Best Savings Accounts: First Republic Bank

First Republic Bank

In general, the interest rates from First Republic Bank are high. The caveat is that the deposit minimums are higher than at other banks. For example, a Passbook Savings account has a rate of 0.15% (higher if you have at least $20,000) but the minimum deposit if $500 to open an account. If you can afford that minimum, an account is definitely a good option.

Another type of savings account to consider is a CD. The short-term CD rates from First Republic Bank aren’t always the most competitive (make sure to compare CD rates) but the long-term rates are more in line with some of the best on the market. Again, the CDs come with a higher-than-average deposit minimum of $10,000.

Best for Students: Bank of America

Bank of America

High school and college students may find it difficult to choose a bank with so many options available. The advantage of working with a big bank like Bank of America is that it offers the accounts and products you need now in addition to those that you may need in the future.

Through Bank of America® Student Banking you can waive monthly fees so that you aren’t losing money just as you start to build your savings. The mobile app also allows you to handle your money and accounts no matter where you are. Need to send money to someone? The bank’s app has a product to help you with that.

As you move beyond school, Bank of America can also help you with credit cards, auto loans, home loans and investing.

Tips for Finding the Best Bank Accounts

  • The bank and account type you choose should depend on your individual goals. For example, you might not want to open a short-term CD if your main goal is to build retirement savings. If you are unsure of your saving goals or need help staying on track, consider talking with a financial advisor. An advisor is an expert who can give you guidance based on your specific financial situation.
  • Sometimes, the banks in your area are not the best banks in the country. In that case, you may consider online accounts. Regardless of where you live, here are some of the best high-interest savings 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