15 Best Banks in California for 2024

Banking

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.

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15 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.

1. U.S. Bank

Offering a powerful blend of nationwide resources and localized service, U.S. Bank is a top pick for Californians seeking a comprehensive banking solution.

U.S. Bank is currently welcoming new applicants with a special online offering:

  • Earn up to $700 when you open a new U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking account and a Standard Savings account, and complete qualifying activities.
  • Subject to certain terms and limitations. Offer valid through June 27, 2024. Member FDIC.
  • Offer may not be available if you live outside of the U.S. Bank footprint or are not an existing client of U.S. Bank or State Farm.

The account includes a free debit card that can be locked or unlocked if ever misplaced or stolen. There are no ATM transaction fees at U.S. Bank ATMs and no surcharge fees at over 40,000 MoneyPass® Network ATMs.

The checking account requires a $25 opening deposit and a $6.95 monthly fee. This fee can be waived for those 24 and under, 65 and over, or military members (must self-disclose).

Additionally, the fee can be waived with monthly deposits of $1,000+, an average balance of $1,500+, or holding an eligible U.S. Bank credit card. Qualifying for any Smart Rewards® tier (Primary, Plus, Premium, or Pinnacle) also waives the fee.

2. SoFi

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.

Customers can further benefit from features such as early direct deposit, allowing access to their paycheck up to two days earlier.

Safety is a priority at SoFi, demonstrated through a high FDIC insurance coverage of up to $2 million and a generous overdraft coverage.

New customers are greeted with bonuses ranging from $50 to $300, encouraging a warm start to their banking journey with SoFi. The bank maintains its commitment to hassle-free banking with access to over 55,000 Allpoint® Network ATMs.

3. HomeStreet Bank

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.

If you’re in need of insurance, you’re in luck because HomeStreet also specializes in all types of insurance products, like auto insurance, property insurance, and umbrella insurance.

Additionally, the bank specializes in affinity programs that can help your business or organization treat its employees or members with exclusive offers and discounts.

4. Chase Bank

Chase Bank is one of the largest banks in the nation and has branches in California cities, such as Sanger, Clovis, and Fresno. It offers a range of checking accounts suitable for everyday use, kids, and premium clients, complemented by a diversity of savings account options.

Those looking to secure their finances can consider Chase’s certificates of deposit (CDs), initiating with a minimum deposit of $1,000.

The bank offers a wide range of financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans. These offerings highlight its commitment to serving diverse needs and affirm its status among the best banks in California.

Business entrepreneurs can find a reliable ally in Chase Bank. It offers business solutions like credit cards and payroll services.

5. BMO Harris Bank

Early in 2023, BMO Harris Bank significantly expanded its footprint in California by acquiring the well-established Bank of the West. This move positioned BMO Harris as one of the largest banks in California, leveraging a rich legacy that spans back to its own founding in 1882.

Today, BMO Harris operates over 1,000 branches across 32 states, offering a full range of financial services including various checking and savings options, loan products, investment avenues, and business banking services.

Clients benefit from competitive CD rates and access to a wide network of over 40,000 fee-free ATMs, enhancing the banking experience through a blend of convenience and value.

The bank also extends free checking and savings options, meeting the diverse needs of its customer base. Among its features is an intuitive mobile banking app, which offers functionalities like mobile check deposits and cash withdrawals at numerous BMO Harris ATMs.

Additionally, the app integrates modern transaction methods, including Apple Pay and Zelle, and a handy bill pay feature, consolidating BMO Harris’ position as a top contender in the list of best banks in California.

6. CIT Bank

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.

When it comes to CDs, you can select from term CDs that range from six months to 60 months. CIT offers no-penalty CDs, which allow you to access funds before maturity without penalty, Jumbo CDs with a $100,000 deposit, and RampUp CDs, which come with the option of rate raises.

7. Bank of America

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.

Aside from checking and savings accounts, Bank of America provides a comprehensive array of services encompassing credit cards, loans, and investment avenues. It caters to both individuals and businesses, promising a solution for every financial requirement.

Adding to the convenience is their user-friendly mobile app, facilitating easy bill payments, fund transfers, and ATM locators, among other features. The app stands as a testament to Bank of America’s commitment to combining technology with banking, promising a seamless experience to its users.

8. Redwood Capital Bank

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.

Business customers have a substantial selection to choose from, including checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, business credit cards, and a range of commercial loans. Redwood Capital Bank also offers online and mobile banking.

Features include mobile check deposit, online bill pay, and Zelle. An ATM locator is also available to help find the nearest ATM quickly. This comprehensive range of services showcases the bank’s commitment to catering to a wide demographic while staying abreast with modern banking trends.

9. Zions Bank

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.

Californians can benefit from the comprehensive suite of services Zions Bank offers. This includes a wide range of checking and savings account options, tailored to suit various needs.

Zions Bank is equally committed to making banking accessible and convenient. Whether you prefer traditional in-branch banking or the ease of digital banking, Zions Bank has you covered.

With a well-designed website and a robust mobile app, customers can manage their accounts, monitor their balances, deposit checks, and perform transactions seamlessly, right from their home or on the go.

10. Comerica Bank

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.

If you’re in the market for a bank account you can easily access via check writing and ATMs, you may benefit from the Money Market Investment account. We can’t forget the bank’s free overdraft protection and the option to waive the monthly service fee.

11. California Bank & Trust

California Bank & Trust has served families and businesses in California for more than 70 years. It has branch locations throughout the state in places like San Francisco, Central Valley, Sacramento, Greater Los Angeles, Greater San Bernardino and Riverside, Orange County, and San Diego.

California Bank & Trust offers four checking accounts, savings accounts for adults and kids, money market accounts, CDs, and IRAs.

In addition, there are numerous credit cards with rewards, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, boat loans, and car loans. Private banking, wealth management, and online banking are offered as well.

12. East West Bank

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 are several options.

The Value Checking offers low monthly maintenance fees. The interest-bearing Premier Checking allows you to earn interest. Lastly, the Student Plus Checking requires a low opening balance and has no monthly maintenance fee.

The bank also offers an affordable Senior Checking account for seniors who are 62 and up. If you’re interested in wealth management, you can enjoy access to a dedicated financial consultant or robo investing.

East West Bank’s lineup of business services includes checking accounts, CDs, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, payment processing, and security and fraud prevention.

13. FirstBank

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.

Recently, the bank partnered with MoneyPass, which is a nationwide network of over 37,000 ATMs. If you become a customer, you can use these ATMs at no charge. Customer service is available via phone, email, or in-person at a local branch in both English and Spanish.

14. Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Bank is a fintech startup offering a range of bank accounts for California residents. Its high-yield savings account comes with an optional ATM card, and its money market account is available with an ATM card and optional checks.

The bank also offers a program that lets you earn rewards based on how long you’ve banked with Synchrony or how much money you’ve deposited.

If you qualify for the Diamond tier, for example, which requires a $250,000 balance or five years of loyalty, you can enjoy dedicated phone support, three free wire transfers per cycle, and unlimited ATM reimbursement.

15. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is a national bank that has been around since 1852 and has more than 4,700 branches across the U.S., including about 900 in California. If you’re looking for a personal checking account, you have four options that each require a $25 minimum deposit.

While the two savings accounts come with monthly service fees, you can get them waived as long as you meet certain minimum balance requirements or enroll in digital account statements.

Other popular products you might want to explore include credit cards, loans, and business checking accounts. You can manage your accounts on the go with the Wells Fargo mobile app, which makes it a breeze to check account activity, deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills, and track investments.

Banking Options in California

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

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

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

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

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bank in California?

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.

What are the best checking accounts in California?

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.

Which banks have the most branches in California?

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.

Anna Baluch
Meet the author

Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, OH. She enjoys helping people make smart financial decisions.