North Carolina is experiencing a boom these days, with record employment growth and an increasing population. If you live in the state, you already know there’s plenty to offer, including beautiful tourist attractions, breathtaking scenery, and a rich history that makes it unique.
But North Carolina also has plenty to offer when it comes to banks and credit unions. Whether you’re looking for an interest-bearing checking account or retirement accounts that offer the biggest bang for your buck, the best bank is the one that suits your needs.
15 Best Banks in North Carolina
If you’re on the hunt for a new bank or credit union, you’re in luck. North Carolina has a little of everything when it comes to bank accounts, from that small local bank with a focus on community service to large banks with branches in the state. This list of the best banks in North Carolina covers a variety of areas to ensure you find the best place to keep your money safe.
1. U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank offers customers the unique combination of local access with the extensive services of a nationwide bank.
The bank is currently welcoming new applicants in 26 U.S. states with a special online offering:
- Earn up to $1,000 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 October 31, 2023. Member FDIC.
- Applicant must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, WY to be eligible for Checking account.
U.S. Bank also offers a money market account, and certificate of deposit (CD). In addition to these personal bank accounts, U.S. Bank provides credit cards, personal loans, home loans, vehicle loans, wealth management services, and small business services.
2. First Citizens Bank
First Citizens Bank is a well-established bank that was founded in North Carolina back in 1898. Over the years, it has grown and you can now find its branches in 21 different states. However, most of its branches are still in North Carolina and South Carolina, making it a convenient option for locals.
In North Carolina, you can find bank branches in 457 locations, including in key cities like Charlotte, Fort Liberty, Raleigh, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Asheville, Durham, Wilmington, and Greenville.
When it comes to checking accounts, First Citizens Bank makes it easy on your wallet. They don’t charge any monthly maintenance fees, and opening the bank account is straightforward too; it only requires a $50 minimum opening deposit. Plus, there’s no minimum balance requirement.
Beyond checking accounts, First Citizens Bank offers savings accounts, rewards credit cards, business loans, and numerous other services to meet your financial needs. If you prefer doing your banking on the go, they offer strong mobile banking options that allow you to manage your money from your phone.
SoFi is an online bank that offers impressive interest rates on both Checking and Savings accounts. You’ll get a 4.50% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings and 0.50% APY on checking balances. The best part? There are no monthly fees to worry about, so you can make the most of your money.
Banking with SoFi comes with some extra perks. One such feature is early direct deposit, which means you could get your paycheck up to two days earlier than usual. If you have a debit card with SoFi, you can also get up to 15% cash back when you shop at certain local places.
SoFi takes security seriously. Your money is insured up to $2 million by the FDIC, providing you extra peace of mind. SoFi also offers up to $50 in overdraft coverage at no extra cost if you have qualifying direct deposits. New customers can even earn a welcome bonus of $50 to $250, depending on the amount they deposit initially.
If you need withdraw money, SoFi has you covered. Customers have access to a wide network of over 55,000 Allpoint® Network ATMs. This makes it easy to withdraw money when you need it and is one reason why SoFi is a popular choice for many people.
4. Coastal Federal Credit Union
Coastal Federal Credit Union (CFCU) offers a range of financial services with some unique benefits. Becoming a member is straightforward if you’re associated with an approved employer or organization, or if you live or work in specific North Carolina cities that the credit union serves.
If you open a checking account, you can earn interest on your balance, which is not very common with most banks. There are no monthly fees, and you don’t need a minimum opening deposit or a minimum balance in your account.
Interest rates are an area where CFCU really shines. You can get up to 3.00% annual percentage yield (APY) on your savings account balance. For share certificates, you can get up to 5.00% APY.
Coastal Federal Credit Union also provides competitive rates on loans, making it easier to finance things like cars or homes. And if you’re unsure about how to manage your finances, look into financial planning assistance to help you make the most of your money. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why CFCU is a strong choice for many residents in North Carolina.
5. TD Bank
TD Bank distinguishes itself through its extensive footprint of nearly 200 locations and a user-friendly online and mobile banking experience. The Essential Bank Account is particularly noteworthy, featuring a $4.95 monthly fee that is waived for teenagers aged 13 to 17. This makes it a compelling starting account for younger individuals keen to learn the ropes of personal finance.
One of the highlights of TD Bank is its fee structure. The bank notably does away with overdraft fees, giving you some breathing room in managing your finances. Additionally, opening an account requires no minimum deposit, and there are no cumbersome minimum balance requirements to worry about.
When it comes to earning interest, TD Bank is no slouch. Savings accounts yield a healthy 3.51% APY, and CDs offer an outstanding 5.00% APY. If that’s not incentive enough, the bank also throws in a $200 bonus for those opening new checking accounts.
GO2bank is an online bank that makes setting up a checking account fast and easy. You can also take advantage of a high-yield savings account that offers 4.50% APY on balances up to $5,000.
Depositing cash is convenient with access to over 90,000 locations, and you can use 55,000 ATMs without extra charges. Transferring money to other banks won’t cost you anything, and you can even get your paycheck or government checks a few days early.
You can easily dodge the $5 monthly fee by setting up a recurring direct deposit. If you happen to overspend, GO2bank provides a safety net that covers you for up to $200. For those looking to improve their credit score, the GO2bank Secured Visa Credit Card is an excellent option, as it can help you build your credit.
7. Chase Bank
Chase Bank is a major player in North Carolina and across the country, boasting over 4,700 branches and 16,000 ATMs nationwide. If you’re new to Chase, you can snag a $200 bonus by making at least 10 qualifying transactions within the first two months.
For checking accounts, there’s a $12 monthly fee, but no initial deposit or minimum daily balance is required. If you need to withdraw money, you can access any of the 16,000 Chase Bank ATMs nationwide without any extra fees.
As for savings account options, the rates are quite low. However, Chase does offer up to 3.75% APY on CDs. In addition, if you’re in the market for a credit card, Chase offers a variety with bonuses and cash-back rewards that are worth checking out.
8. Ally Bank
Ally Bank is an online banking option focused on helping customers build wealth and manage their budgets effectively. The checking account is free of monthly maintenance fees and overdraft fees, and there are no minimum requirements to open or maintain an account. You can use over 53,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide without any fees, and Ally even refunds up to $10 in out-of-network ATM fees each month.
One of Ally’s standout features is its high interest rates on deposit accounts. The bank offers a 0.25% APY on checking accounts, 4.25% APY on savings accounts, and up to 5.00% APY on CDs. Money market accounts also earn a strong 4.40% APY. Additional perks include spending buckets for easy savings and Robo Portfolios for automated investing.
9. First Horizon Bank
First Horizon Bank is a regional bank with a strong presence in North Carolina and 10 other Southeast states. You can enjoy fee-free ATM transactions at over 600 First Horizon locations, as well as at Allpoint locations nationwide.
To open a checking account, all it takes is a $50 initial deposit, and there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements to worry about.
What makes First Horizon Bank particularly appealing are its competitive interest rates. You can get an impressive 5.38% APY on money market accounts and a solid 2.78% APY on savings accounts. Beyond personal banking, First Horizon provides comprehensive options for business banking and also offers wealth management services.
10. Truist Bank
Born from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Banks in 2019, Truist Bank offers a unique blend of features and rewards. Although it has fewer ATM locations compared to some other banks, the Truist One checking account offers perks that make it a worthy option. You’ll get a 10% loyalty bonus based on your monthly account balance, and if you go for a Truist credit card, you’ll receive an additional 10%.
To open a checking account, a $50 deposit is required, but there’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement. If you’re concerned about the $12 monthly service fee, it can be waived with a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. Alternatively, maintaining a daily balance of $500 across all your Truist accounts, holding a qualifying Truist credit card or loan, or linking a business checking account can also get rid of this fee. Students aged 25 or younger are eligible for a fee-free account.
If you’re looking for a savings account with a high interest rate, you’ll have to look elsewhere as Truist’s rates are very low.
11. Mechanics & Farmers Banks
Also known as M&F Bank, Mechanics & Farmers Bank has a rich history dating back to 1907. It gained prominence as one of North Carolina’s most influential Black-owned businesses during the 20th century.
Today, the bank continues to serve the community with multiple locations across the state. In addition, M&F Bank offers 44,000 ATMs nationwide, thanks to its partnerships with major banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.
Starting a checking account at M&F Bank is simple, requiring just a $50 minimum deposit. One of the big advantages is that there’s no monthly service fee to contend with.
M&F Bank also offers a basic savings account, a health savings account, and a savings account for seniors. In addition, customers can earn rewards on debit card transactions, making everyday spending more rewarding. Additionally, the bank delivers a robust set of business banking options that can meet the needs of entrepreneurs and established companies alike.
12. First National Bank
First National Bank has branches throughout North Carolina, as well as in DC, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The bank has branch locations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and many other cities across the state.
Its Freestyle Checking is a free checking account comes with no monthly service fees. To get started, you’ll need a $50 minimum deposit, and there’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement.
When it comes to earning interest, First National Bank doesn’t disappoint. You can get up to 5.00% APY on CDs and up to 1.25% APY on MMAs. Additionally, there are several savings accounts to choose from: a basic savings account, a health savings account, and an IRA savings account.
13. PNC Bank
Established in 1845, PNC Bank has expanded its reach to 27 states, including a significant presence in North Carolina. This regional bank offers an array of financial products and services, encompassing everything from basic checking and savings accounts to more specialized offerings like mortgages, car and personal loans, as well as business banking solutions.
PNC Bank distinguishes itself with its Virtual Wallet feature, which comes standard with a checking account. This tool helps you manage your finances and offers double overdraft protection. It will transfer money from other accounts to prevent overdrafts.
Although the bank does have monthly fees, you have the option to get these charges waived under specific conditions. Moreover, PNC Bank enhances user experience through its comprehensive mobile app, enabling you to manage your finances wherever you are.
14. Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank is a significant player in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S., boasting 1,087 full-service locations across 11 states. The bank offers a wide range of products, from basic checking and savings accounts to more complex investment and retirement solutions.
Opening a checking account with Fifth Third Bank is hassle-free. There’s no monthly maintenance fee, and you can open an account without a minimum deposit or maintaining a minimum balance. Once you’re a customer, you’ll have fee-free ATM access at Fifth Third Bank’s 2,100 locations and an extensive network of more than 40,000 partner ATMs nationwide.
One of its standout features is the competitive CD rates, specifically a 7-month CD with an attractive 5.00% APY. Additional benefits include an Early Pay feature, which allows you access to your direct deposit funds two days ahead of schedule. Fifth Third Bank also offers a grace period to resolve overdraft issues, adding an extra layer of financial flexibility.
15. Bank of America
Bank of America stands as one of the largest national banks in the U.S., offering an extensive network of ATMs and branches from coast to coast. The bank provides a comprehensive range of services, from basic checking accounts to sophisticated wealth planning solutions.
Opening a basic checking account comes with some strings attached; you’ll need to make an initial deposit of $100, and there’s a monthly maintenance fee of $12. However, there is no requirement to maintain a minimum account balance once it’s open. Customers enjoy fee-free transactions at over 15,000 Bank of America ATMs nationwide.
Bank of America also offers competitive interest rates on CDs, going up to 4.75% APY. Additional benefits include appealing bonuses for new credit card accounts and access to Merrill Edge’s wealth planning and investment services.
How to Choose the Best Bank in North Carolina
When on the hunt for the best banks in North Carolina, several crucial factors should align with your financial needs and lifestyle preferences. Here’s what to look out for:
- Location and convenience: Evaluate the geographical reach of the bank’s branches and ATMs, especially if in-person services are important to you. Are they near your home, work, or other frequent stops?
- Costs and fees: Examine any fees you may incur, such as maintenance fees, charges for overdrawing your account, and out-of-network ATM fees. Many banks provide ways to sidestep these charges based on your activity or account balance.
- Account types and requirements: Research the array of accounts offered, like checking, savings, and money market options. Also consider the prerequisites for opening an account, such as initial deposit amounts.
- Earning potential: Look at interest rates for various savings instruments, including savings accounts, MMAs, and CDs. A higher APY will mean more growth for your money.
- Online and mobile banking: Evaluate the user experience and features available on the bank’s online and mobile platforms. This is increasingly necessary for day-to-day account management and services like mobile check deposit and online bill pay.
- Customer support: Gauge the quality and availability of customer service. The best banks in North Carolina will offer multiple channels for support, whether that’s in person, online chat, or over the phone.
- Federal insurance: Confirm that the institution is insured by either the FDIC or NCUA. This ensures that your deposits are secured up to a certain amount; typically $250,000.
- Additional benefits: Some banks provide value-added features like early paycheck deposit, financial advisory tools, or sign-up bonuses. These extras could be a deciding factor in your choice.
Types of Banks in North Carolina
In North Carolina, residents can choose from a wide range of banking options to suit their financial needs and preferences. Here is a brief overview of the different types of banks you’ll find:
- National banks: These are large-scale banks with a broad nationwide presence and a wide array of services, including mortgages, loans, and investment products. In North Carolina, you can easily find branches and ATMs of national banks like Bank of America, Chase Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo, all of which provide extensive financial services.
- Regional banks: Serving a specific geographic region, usually spanning multiple states, these banks deliver a mix of personalized service and broad financial products. First Horizon Bank and PNC Bank are examples of regional banks with a significant number of branches in North Carolina.
- Community banks: These banks are smaller, often confined to a particular town or county, and prioritize personalized, local service. Fidelity Bank and Woodforest National Bank are examples that serve specific communities within North Carolina and provide tailor-made solutions for residents.
- Online banks: Lacking physical branches, online banks operate mainly or entirely online. Due to their lower operating costs, they can offer higher interest rates. SoFi, GO2bank, and Ally Bank are popular choices among North Carolina residents for high-yield savings accounts, even though they operate entirely online.
- Credit unions: Member-owned and not-for-profit, credit unions generally have lower fees and higher interest rates on deposits. Coastal Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU), and Truliant Federal Credit Union are well-known examples in North Carolina, offering a range of financial products to their members.
Frequently Asked Questions
You have questions, and we have answers. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about banks in North Carolina.
What is the best bank in North Carolina?
That’s a tough question because the definition of “best bank” can vary from one person to another. If you think the best checking accounts come with an annual percentage yield and a mobile app to manage it all, you’ll be looking at different criteria from someone who wants a local bank with personalized customer service.
If you’re going for customer satisfaction ratings, J.D. Power gives high marks to both Capital One and Chase, which both have a heavy presence in North Carolina. But if you’re looking for that local banking experience, you can’t go wrong with First Citizens Bank or M&F Bank.
What is the best credit union in North Carolina?
There are several credit unions in North Carolina, but the one that impressed us most was Coastal Federal. CFCU’s fee-free checking and annual percentage yield on savings and share certificates makes it stand out. But it’s also important to take a look at the interest rates on personal loans and compare them to banks in the area to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
One issue with credit unions is that they tend to come with strict membership requirements. You may find you’re limited to only those that will accept your employer or city of residence, and those credit unions might not have financial accounts that meet your needs. However, there are also some credit unions that anyone can join.
Which bank has the most branches in North Carolina?
When it comes to sheer branch numbers, take a look at Truist Bank and Wells Fargo. Both have a heavy branch presence throughout the state. For smaller banks, First Citizens and First Horizon both have substantial branch coverage in North Carolina.
However, you’ll also need to check your neighborhood. For those who prefer in-person banking, you’ll be disappointed if you have to drive a half hour or more to get to the closest branch.
What is the safest bank?
Lately, financial security has been a top priority for account holders in search of a new bank. The top thing to look at is a bank’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation coverage. This insurance protects each deposit holder for up to $250,000 if a financial institution goes belly up.
Once you’ve verified a bank is FDIC insured, pay attention to any news of mergers or buyouts involving your bank. Selling can be a sign of financial distress.
See also: Safest Banks in the U.S. for 2023
What banks are in Charlotte, NC?
North Carolina isn’t just a thriving state filled with business opportunities. The state is a financial center in itself. Not only does Charlotte have smaller banks like M&F Bank and First Citizens Bank, but both Bank of America and Truist Bank are headquartered in North Carolina as well.
This heavy financial presence has made North Carolina great for finding banking services. Banks in the state are eager to win your business and are offering competitive rates to do so. That means it’s more likely that checking accounts come with low fees and savings accounts earn top-dollar interest rates. When combined with the many online bank options, the biggest issue will be narrowing the list to just one.
From high-yield savings accounts to fee-free checking accounts, North Carolina has it all. Shopping around will help you choose from the best banks so that you can find the perfect banking partner for you.