Finding the Best Banks in Seattle
Seattle seems to favor smaller banks over their big-name counterparts. In our list of top Seattle banks, many are regional banks that mainly serve Washington state or the Pacific Northwest. To determine the best banks in Seattle, SmartAsset considered each bank’s access to branches and ATMs, account minimums, fees and interest rates.
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|HomeStreet Bank Compare Offers Read More||0.30%||$10|| |
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How We Determined the Best Banks in Seattle
SmartAsset began its search for the best banks in Seattle by looking at the top 15 banks by branch availability in the Seattle metro area. If you’re looking for a bank with the most branches in Seattle, you’re better off with a big bank name like Chase, the best national bank in Seattle. The majority of Seattle’s banks, however, are smaller banks like Columbia Bank, the best regional bank in Seattle. From there, we looked at each bank’s account offerings, monthly fees, account minimums and interest rates. This helped us find the best bank accounts in Seattle.
Best National Bank: Chase
If you’re in a big city like Seattle, chances are you’ve encountered a Chase Bank branch or ATM at some point. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of banking with a nationwide bank like Chase. No matter where you are, you’ll have access to your Chase bank accounts. In the Seattle area alone, customers can visit about 236 branches.
Chase is also able to offer a variety of bank accounts from two different savings accounts to a 120-month certificate of deposit to four checking account options. This range allows you to find the kind of accounts that are best for you. All Chase bank accounts do charge a monthly fee, which can get pricey especially with a Chase checking account. However, you do have some options when it comes to getting these fees waived, often by maintaining a minimum account balance.
A drawback to banking with Chase is that it doesn’t offer the most competitive rates on its interest-earning accounts. This is often the case with big national banks due to the high costs of maintaining thousands of physical locations. The trade-off for the convenience of these banks is typically the lower interest rates that they offer compared to online-only banks. Chase’s most basic savings and checking accounts carry the lowest APY of 0.01%. The bank does offer certain ways to boost your rates, by linking a checking and savings account together.
Best Regional Bank: Columbia Bank
If you don’t want to do business with a big bank in Seattle, you’ll have to accept the decrease in physical branch access. For example, Columbia Bank has 36 branches in the Seattle area, which pales in comparison to Chase’s 129 locations. However, you’ll find lower fees and minimums with Columbia Bank savings and checking accounts. This makes it more accessible to customers who don’t have hundreds of dollars available to open an account.
If you are simply looking for the highest interest rates possible, this small bank may not be for you as it’s possible to find more competitive rates elsewhere. Its checking and savings rates start with the low APY of 0.01%. You can reach up to a 0.05% APY, but only if you have an account balance over $1 million.
Best Customer Service: Banner Bank
Customer service is a big part of anyone’s banking experience. Whether you just need to ask a question about your account or you’ve become a victim of identity theft, you’re going to want a pleasant, convenient and successful customer service experience. Voted best overall in a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, Banner Bank offers its customers 24/7 service to answer your questions and address your concerns.
The 24/7 service isn’t entirely in person, however. You can reach the bank in person during business hours, Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Outside of those hours, you’ll be guided through an automated phone system to complete your tasks. Banner Bank does have multiple phone numbers and email addresses for queries like address changes or lost or stolen checks. That way you can be more immediately connected to the right representative or phone tree, rather than pressing your phone keypad a dozen times.
When it comes to bank accounts, Banner Bank has a range of options. You can choose from four different checking accounts, a couple savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs and IRAs. This means you could keep all your accounts at the same bank if you wanted to. The bank’s fees and minimums depend on the account you open. For example, the Connected Savings account only requires a deposit of $25 while a Banners Best Savings account requires a $100 deposit.
It’s important to note that to find the applicable interest rates, you will have to call the bank or visit your local branch.
Best Free Checking Account: KeyBank Hassle Free Account
As its name suggests, the KeyBank Hassle Free Account offers customers an easy and free checking account option. You can easily open the account with $10. Then, you won’t have to worry about a monthly maintenance fee nor a minimum balance requirement. There is no overdraft fee, either. This is mainly due to the account’s lack of check-writing abilities. It’s harder to overdraft your account without checks. If you should try to use your debit card without enough funds in your account, your card will simply be declined.
Again, this is an easy-to-handle account. KeyBank does have other, more complex checking accounts, although you’ll find more fees and higher minimums with those accounts.
Best High-Yield Checking Account: HomeStreet Bank Premium Select Checking
HomeStreet Bank offers a small bank feel and some solid interest rates, unlike many of its similarly sized competitors. Like the bank’s other accounts, the Premium Select Checking Account does require a high minimum deposit of $100. There is also a $10 monthly fee. However, you can avoid this fee with an account balance of at least $2,500.
You will also need a balance of at least $2,500 in your account to start earning interest at a 0.30% APY. Once your account reaches $10,000, the APY is bumped to 0.40%. While this may not seem like a high rate, especially compared to online banks, these rates perform better than other Seattle banks.
Best Savings Account: HomeStreet Bank
HomeStreet Bank ranks again on this list with the best savings account in Seattle. This is due to having the highest savings rate on its Statement Savings account above its area competitors. Plus, the bank offers its 0.05% APY to all account holders, regardless of your balance amount. You will need to open the account with at least $100, though.
The account charges a nominal $1 monthly fee. You can have this fee waived, though, as long as you’re aged 18 or younger or you keep a $200 minimum daily balance in the account. There’s also no extra charge for your statements whether you choose paper or e-Statements.
Best for Students: Chase
Due to their limited reach, smaller, regional banks typically only offer limited account options. Students may want to turn instead to a bigger bank, especially students who will need a wider reach of branches and ATMs. Perhaps the bank who can do that best for Seattle students is Chase. Already our best national bank in Seattle, Chase offers students, both local and out-of-state, 129 branches in the metro area. This makes it incredibly easy to access your accounts no matter where you’re from, especially with the bank’s excellent online and mobile features.
College students can take advantage of the Chase College Checking account, meant for students 17 to 24 years of age with proof of student status. There is a $6 monthly fee, although you can avoid the fee for five years while in college, or by making a direct deposit each statement cycle or maintaining an average account balance of at least $5,000.
Chase also includes high school students in its student benefits with its Chase High School Checking account. This is geared toward high school students 13 to 17 years old with an adult co-owner. This adult must also have a Chase checking account. Chase High School Checking account also has a $6 fee. You can waive this fee when the account receives a direct deposit each statement cycle, has a minimum average balance of $5,000 or when your adult co-owner has a linked checking account.
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.
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.