There are a number of reasons California is a great place to call home. The state offers sunny weather, delicious food, and an easy-going environment. If you live in the Golden State, you may be looking for a bank to manage and save your hard-earned money. Fortunately, there are countless options at your disposal. However, they’re not all created equal.
16 Best Banks in California
To make your life a bit easier, we’ve done the heavy lifting to come up with this list of the best banks in California. Since the right bank for you depends on your particular needs and preferences, it’s well worth your time to explore all your options and weigh the pros and cons of each.
Offering a powerful blend of nationwide resources and localized service, U.S. Bank is a top pick for Californians seeking a comprehensive banking solution.
Founded in 1921, HomeStreet Bank is a full-service bank that serves the West Coast and Hawaii. There are two locations in California, but online banking is available. HomeStreet’s personal banking lineup consists of checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, credit cards, IRAs, mortgages, and personal loans.
SoFi has secured its place as one of the top online banks in California, offering impressive benefits to its customers. A prime example is the Checking & Savings account, which offers customers no monthly fees and an outstanding 4.60% APY on savings, alongside a 0.50% APY on checking accounts.
CIT Bank is another great option for an online bank in California. While the bank doesn’t have an ATM network, it won’t charge you ATM fees and will reimburse you up to $30 per month for any fees you might incur. The CIT eChecking account offers interest on balances of $25,000 and more. Plus, there are two savings accounts, including the CIT Savings Builder and the CIT Savings Connect account.
Bank of America is a national bank with a significant presence in California. There is no shortage of branches and ATMs throughout the state. Its Preferred Rewards membership is a highlight, offering advantages like waived fees and higher interest rates on deposit accounts to its patrons.
Redwood Capital Bank distinguishes itself as a community bank with established branches in Eureka, Fortuna, and Arcata. It offers various personal banking solutions including checking accounts with debit cards, savings accounts, certificates, and different loan options such as real estate and home equity loans.
With a rich history dating back to its founding in Salt Lake City in 1873, Zions Bank has expanded its banking services across the western United States, including 80 locations in California. Its longstanding commitment to customer service, community development, and innovative financial solutions has cemented its place among the top banking institutions.
Comerica Bank’s 400+ banking centers can be found in California, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Texas. If you become a customer, you may open the Comerica Access premier checking account and the Comerica Statement savings account. Perhaps the most noteworthy product Comerica offers are its CDs with terms from seven days to 10 years and competitive interest rates that you might not find elsewhere.
East West Bank was founded in 1973 to meet the banking needs of Chinese Americans in the Los Angeles area. When it comes to checking accounts, there’s the Value Checking with low monthly maintenance fees, interest bearing Premier Checking that lets you earn interest, and Student Plus Checking with a low opening balance and no monthly maintenance fee.
FirstBank has physical branches in the Palm Desert part of California. However, you can bank there, regardless of where you live because it offers online banking as well as a highly rated mobile app. FirstBank provides personal accounts, business accounts, and loans, such as mortgages, home equity loans, commercial real estate loans, construction loans, and 103 exchanges.
Whether you live or work in the Golden State, you can pick from several types of financial institutions for your banking needs. The most common options include the following.
National banks are known as banking giants due to their reputations and large branch networks throughout the U.S. They tend to offer a diverse set of products in addition to deposit accounts, such as mortgages, investment accounts, and financial planning services.
Bank of America, U.S. Bank, PNC Bank, Truist, and Wells Fargo are all examples of national banks you’ve likely heard of before.
Regional banks are smaller than national banks because they have branches in certain parts of the U.S., such as the West Coast or only California. Even though regional banks aren’t as large as national banks, they still have between $10 billion and $100 billion in total assets. Most of them offer a good combination of banking products and services for individuals and businesses.
Community banks serve customers in small geographic areas. Also referred to as relationship banks, these financial institutions are locally owned and operated and usually have less than $1 billion in assets. In most cases, community banks are deeply involved in their communities and focus on building strong, long-term relationships with their customers.
Online banks are exactly what they sound like: banks that operate online. Typically, online banks or digital banks don’t have any physical branches. As a result, they keep their overhead costs low and can pass the savings on to customers. Compared to traditional banks with brick-and-mortar locations, online banks offer competitive interest rates and low fees. The downside, however, is their customer service isn’t as strong.
How to Choose the Best Bank in California
Choosing among the best banks in California can be a considerable task given that banks vary significantly in the products and services they offer. Each bank carries its individual set of advantages and drawbacks, implying that the ideal choice for one person might not be the same for another. To identify the best bank in California that aligns with your financial objectives and preferences, consider the factors elucidated below.
- Interest rates: If growing your savings is important, interest rates are likely a priority. You’ll notice that online banks typically offer higher rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Some banks also have tiered rates that depend on how much money you keep in your account.
- Fees: While banking fees are normal, they can add up quickly and make it more difficult for you to meet your personal finance goals. The most common fees include monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, and insufficient fees. Try to find a bank with minimal fees.
- Products: Some banks serve customers with a wide array of products and services. Others focus on a select few, like checking accounts and savings accounts. Look for a financial institution that offers everything you’re looking for. A one-stop-shop can make your life easier.
- Physical branches: If you like the idea of in-person banking, opt for banks with physical branches and ATMs near where you live, work, or travel to often. Otherwise, you might be forced to do all your banking online. Note that most online banks don’t have physical branches.
- Digital services: In the modern era, most banks offer the convenience of banking via online and mobile platforms. If you are tech-savvy and anticipate using these facilities extensively, you may want to prioritize digital banks.
- Customer service: At some point, you’ll want to get a hold of customer service for help with a question or concern. Choose a bank with high customer service ratings and a number of customer service options, like phone support, email support, and chat support.
- Perks: While perks aren’t required, many banks and credit unions offer them to stand out from the crowd. If you’re torn between two banks, they can help you choose the right option. Perks may include autopay interest rate discounts, free credit score monitoring, and personalized financial advice.
- Reputation: Don’t underestimate the importance of a bank’s reputation. Look for their ratings on reputable sites like TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Furthermore, be weary of banks that seem too good to be true as fraudulent financial institutions do exist.
The answer to this question depends on what you hope to see in a bank. If you’re in the market for an online bank with competitive rates, for example, Chime might be right for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a bank with many physical locations and personalized service, U.S. Bank is worth exploring.
Are California banks safe?
Yes. Most banks and credit unions are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This means in the event of a bank failure, your hard-earned money will be protected. Individual accounts are usually insured for up to $250,000 while joint accounts are insured for up to $500,000.
What are the best credit unions in California?
If you don’t mind becoming a member and want more personal service, a credit union in California might make sense. But you may not have as many products and services to choose from.
Some of the best credit unions in California include AdelFi Credit Union, California Credit Union, Golden1 Credit Union, First Tech Federal Credit Union, and Alta Vista Credit Union. Take the time to research other major credit unions in California to find the best credit union for you.
The best checking account depends on what your goals are. Our top picks are U.S. Banks’ Bank Smartly® Checking, SoFi’s Checking & Savings account, and Chime’s Checking account. Other noteworthy accounts are the Bank of America Advantage Banking account, and the East West Value Checking account.
Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, BMO Harris, and Comerica Bank are several of the banks with the most branches in California. If in-person banking is important to you, you should look into these options.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
2. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. Chime generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
5. Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third-party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.