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Here are the 5 best brick-and-mortar savings accounts of October 2020

These brick-and-mortar savings accounts are FDIC-insured from large national banks, offering access to at least 2,000 physical branches and over 4,000 no-fee ATMs in the U.S.

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Editor's Note: APYs listed in this article are up-to-date as of the time of publication. They may fluctuate (up or down) as the Fed rate changes. CNBC will update as changes are made public.

Brick-and-mortar banks — as opposed to online-only banks — are traditional banks with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of physical branches scattered across the U.S. They're usually the place to go when you want to open your first-ever checking or savings account and, later in life, the bank you call when you need a loan.

When you have an account at a local brick-and-mortar bank, you can easily deposit or withdraw cash either at a nearby physical branch or at one of the bank's ATMs at no cost. The bigger brick-and-mortar banks tend to offer expansive ATM networks that customers can access around the country, making processing money transactions quick and free.

Where brick-and-mortar banks fall short, however, is with their high fees and low interest rates on savings accounts. Whereas online-only banks don't have to pay high overhead costs to operate physical branches, brick-and-mortar banks have costly expenses that are usually passed on to their customers.

The national average annual percentage yield (APY) on savings accounts is just 0.05%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), but most brick-and-mortar savings account rates fall below even that.

Because savings account APYs at the big banks are low across the board, when rating our top five, we focused on their convenience, including number of ATM and branch locations. It's smart to open a brick-and-mortar bank for the personal, face-to-face experience it provides, but if you're just looking to earn the highest return on your money, then a high-yield savings account is a better option.

Another plus to online banks is that you don't have to live near a location to open an account. Most brick-and-mortar banks require you to enter your zip code online for the correct account offerings, and in some cases you might not be able to open an account because of your location.

To determine which brick-and-mortar savings accounts are the best overall, CNBC Select analyzed and compared dozens of savings accounts offered by the largest banks and credit unions. We considered each bank's number of physical branches and ATMs, as well as their savings account fees, opportunities to earn higher interest rates, customer service and any other special offerings or programs.

The brick-and-mortar savings accounts we selected for our ranking are all FDIC-insured, with access to at least 2,000 physical branches and over 4,000 non-fee ATMs in the U.S. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best brick-and-mortar savings accounts.)

Here are CNBC Select's picks for the top brick-and-mortar savings accounts:

Best at Bank of America

Bank of America Advantage Savings

Bank of America Advantage Savings
Information about the Bank of America Advantage Savings has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Bank of America is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01%, with option to increase if a Preferred Rewards member

  • Minimum balance

    $100 to open

  • Monthly fee

    $8 per month, with options to waive. New account holders get the first six months with no monthly fees

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 when you make over 6 withdrawals in a month

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Bank of America checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Earn up to 15% cash back on select deals at stores, restaurants and more through BankAmeriDeals®
  • Save money from everyday purchases through Bank of America's Keep the Change® program
  • Get rewarded for having big balances through Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program
  • Access Erica® for customized and real-time virtual financial assistance
  • Bank of America has a vast network of ATMs
  • No monthly maintenance fee for first six months on new accounts
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees
  • Higher-than-average minimum deposit to open an account
  • Low APY (and option to earn higher is high threshold)

Who's this for? The Bank of America Advantage Savings account stands apart from other brick-and-mortar offerings because of the special rewards programs you can access if you use a Bank of America credit card or open a Bank of America checking account in tandem with your savings account. Account holders can earn up to 15% cash back on select eligible purchases at stores, restaurants and more with BankAmeriDeals® when using a Bank of America debit or credit card.

The Bank of America Advantage Savings account requires a $100 opening deposit. There is an $8-per-month maintenance fee that is waived for the first 6 months for new account holders.

Customers can avoid paying the monthly fee after the intro period by maintaining a minimum daily balance of at least $500, linking their savings account to their Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking® checking account or becoming a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member. Students under age 24 who are enrolled in school may also qualify for a waiver.

There are three tiers to the Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, and your 3-month average daily balance across your Bank of America deposit and Merrill Lynch/Merrill Edge investment accounts determines which tier you qualify for. You must also have an eligible Bank of America personal checking account to qualify. The tiers include Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors, and there's a $20,000 minimum balance required.

If you do qualify and enroll in the Preferred Rewards program, you're also eligible for an elevated APY, ranging from 0.02% to 0.05% depending on which tier. Otherwise, the standard APY is 0.01%.

If you're looking to improve your savings habits, consider enrolling in Bank of America's Keep the Change® program, which allows account holders to round up their debit card purchases and deposit the difference into their savings account each day. Through the Bank of America mobile app, customers can access Erica® for customized and real-time virtual financial assistance. 

The bank has over 4,000 branches and 16,000-plus ATMs throughout the country. There is a withdrawal limit fee of $10 applied for each withdrawal over 6 per month, and there is overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account.

Best at Wells Fargo

Way2Save® Savings

Way2Save® Savings
Information about the Way2Save® Savings has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Wells Fargo is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01%

  • Minimum balance

    $25 to open

  • Monthly fee

    $5 per month, with options to waive

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    Each withdrawal over the 6 per month limit will be assessed

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Wells Fargo checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Wells Fargo is the largest brick-and-mortar bank in the nation, by number of branches
  • Encourages automatic saving through Save As You Go®
  • Monthly maintenance fee can be waived with automatic transfers into your savings
  • Low minimum deposit to open an account
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees
  • Low APY

Who's this for? With about 5,400 physical locations and over 13,000 ATMs, Wells Fargo Bank is the largest brick-and-mortar bank in the nation by number of branches. For those looking to open an account at a bank with the most opportunity for in-person access, Wells Fargo is your best choice.

Wells Fargo offers two different savings accounts: the basic Way2Save® Savings and the elevated Platinum Savings. CNBC Select chose Way2Save as the better savings account option because it has a lower minimum daily balance requirement in order to avoid the monthly service fee ($5 per month for Way2Save and $12 per month for Platinum).

To avoid these fees, account holders must either maintain a $300 minimum daily balance or set up their choice of automatic transfers from their checking to their savings: $25 in total, $1 each business day per month or at least one Save As You Go® transfer.

With Save As You Go, it's easy to set aside cash. Wells Fargo automatically transfers $1 of a customer's funds from their linked Wells Fargo checking account to their Way2Save account for each qualifying transaction that is a non-recurring debit card purchase or online bill payment using Wells Fargo Online® Bill Pay. To accelerate completing your savings goals, you can set up additional automatic transfers from your checking account each month.

There is a $25 minimum opening deposit for this savings account, and those who link a Wells Fargo checking account can opt for overdraft protection. The APY on this account is currently 0.01%.

Best at Chase Bank

Chase Premier Savings℠

Chase Premier Savings℠
Information about the Chase Premier Savings℠ has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Chase Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01%, with option to increase up to 0.05%

  • Minimum balance

    $0

  • Monthly fee

    $25 per month, with options to waive

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $5 when you make over 6 withdrawals in a month

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Chase checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Chase Bank has a vast network of ATMs
  • Users have the option to earn a higher APY
  • Monthly maintenance fee can be waived by linking to a checking account
  • No minimum deposit to open an account
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees
  • Low APY (although option to earn higher)

Who's this for? If you are looking for a broad network of ATMs to avoid any out-of-network fees and want a chance to earn a slightly higher APY, consider the savings accounts offered by Chase.

Chase Bank has nearly 4,900 branches and 16,000 ATMs. Like Wells Fargo, Chase offers two brick-and-mortar savings accounts: the standard Chase Savings℠ and the Chase Premier Savings℠. CNBC Select ranked the latter as one of the best because you can earn better interest rates (what Chase calls "relationship rates") on higher balances by linking your savings to a Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ or Chase Sapphire℠ Checking and making at least five transactions in a month using your linked checking account.

If you don't link your Chase Premier Savings account to a Chase checking account, the APY is 0.01%. But the APY creeps up slightly if you do have a linked account. For example, you can earn 0.02% APY on balances under $10,000 if you also have a Premier Plus Checking or Chase Sapphire Checking account. That APY increases to 0.05% for balances over $250,000.

By linking to a checking account, you also avoid the monthly $25 service fee that comes with the Chase Premier Savings. Otherwise, there's a daily minimum balance of $15,000 required. There is no minimum deposit required to open an account. 

If you choose to link a Chase Sapphire Checking account, you can take advantage of Sapphire℠ Banking perks, which includes special access to sports and entertainment events and early ticket sales.

Chase also has an automatic savings program where customers can get help reaching their set savings goals in the bank's mobile app. 

There is a $5 savings withdrawal limit fee when you make over six withdrawals in a month, including those made at a branch or at an ATM. This fee is waived with a balance of $15,000 or more in the account at the time of withdrawal.

Best at U.S. Bank

Standard Savings Account

Standard Savings Account
Information about the U.S. Bank Standard Savings has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. U.S. Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01%

  • Minimum balance

    $25 to open

  • Monthly fee

    $4 per month, with options to waive

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    N/A

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a U.S. Bank checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Lower-than-average fees for a brick-and-mortar savings account
  • Low monthly maintenance fee, plus option to waive with $300 minimum daily balance
  • Low minimum deposit to open an account
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees (although lower than others)
  • Low APY

Who's this for? If you want a simple, no-frills and low cost savings account at a brick-and-mortar bank, U.S. Bank's Standard Savings Account is for you.

With about 2,700 branches and 4,500 ATMs, U.S. Bank has a smaller physical presence than the other national banks on this list, mostly across the Midwest and Western parts of the U.S. However, like its name suggests, the Standard Savings Account is a straightforward option if you live near a U.S. Bank location.

Potentials savers can open an account with a $25 minimum deposit. The monthly maintenance fee is $4 a month. The fee is waived for account holders who have a $300 minimum daily balance, a $1,000 average monthly collected balance or are under 18.

The APY offered is 0.01% on all balances, and you can take advantage of overdraft protection when linking your savings account to your U.S. Bank checking account.

Best at PNC Bank

Virtual Wallet®

Virtual Wallet®
Information about the PNC Bank Virtual Wallet® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. PNC Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    N/A

  • Minimum balance

    Varies depending on Virtual Wallet account

  • Monthly fee

    Ranges from $7 to $25 depending on Virtual Wallet account, with options to waive

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    N/A

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft protection offered by your Reserve and Growth accounts

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a PNC Bank checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • New account holders can earn a welcome bonus of up to $300
  • Virtual Wallet includes individual checking and savings accounts that work together
  • Earn cash or points through PNC Purchase Payback® program
  • Reimbursable non-network ATM fees
  • Account holders can choose the Virtual Wallet best for them 
  • Options to waive monthly maintenance fee 
  • Higher APY relationship rates are available
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees
  • Have to call PNC Bank to find out APY offered in your area

Who's this for? PNC Bank is a large brick-and-mortar bank with approximately 2,300 branch locations and nearly 18,000 PNC and PNC Partner ATMs. It stands out on our list for its savings account option called Virtual Wallet®, which uses innovative online tools to make it easy to see how you're managing your money day to day.

The account is best for those who want to do all their banking in one place as it rewards you for combining your savings and checking into one. New account holders can earn a welcome bonus of up to $300 depending on what type of Virtual Wallet they open. The three choices include Virtual Wallet, Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend and Virtual Wallet with Performance Select. The simple Virtual Wallet has basic account features while the two other options offer more premium rewards. For those enrolled in school, there is also a Virtual Wallet Student option.

All of the above Virtual Wallet options include individual accounts that work together: Spend, Reserve and Growth. Spend is your everyday checking account, Reserve your interest-bearing checking account / primary overdraft protection account and Growth is your long-term savings account / secondary overdraft protection account. Higher "relationship" interest rates are available on your Growth savings account.

The monthly service charges range from $7 to $25, depending on the type of Virtual Wallet you have and can be waived depending on minimum balances in your Spend + Reserve checking accounts (required balances and minimum deposits vary according to the type of Virtual Wallet you have).

Virtual Wallet account holders can make free transactions at approximately 9,000 PNC-owned ATMs, and if you end up using a non-PNC ATM, some fees are reimbursed. 

Through the PNC Purchase Payback® program, customers can also earn cash back or points on purchases made using their PNC Bank Visa® Debit Card that is automatically issued when you sign up for Virtual Wallet. The customized rewards program has offers available from participating merchants depending on your shopping habits.

Though you can open a Virtual Wallet account online, being a brick-and-mortar bank, PNC also welcomes customers to visit their local branch to open an account and offers a coupon printout of the welcome bonus that savers can bring with them to redeem. For current APY information, call 1-888-PNC-BANK (1-888-762-2265).

If you're looking for a more straightforward account, PNC Bank also offers a Standard Savings Account.

Our methodology

To determine which brick-and-mortar savings accounts offer the most convenience, CNBC Select analyzed dozens of U.S. savings accounts offered by the largest national banks and credit unions. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those savings accounts that come from brick-and-mortar banks with broad availability, offering access to at least 2,000 physical branches and over 4,000 non-fee ATMs in the U.S.

While the accounts we chose in this article are from the largest banks, we compared each savings account on a range of features, including its fees, opportunities to earn interest higher rates, customer service and any other special offerings or programs. We also considered factors such as insurance policies, users' deposit options, other savings accounts being offered by the same bank and customer reviews when available.

All of the accounts included on this list are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Note that the interest rates and fee structures for brick-and-mortar savings accounts are subject to change without notice. Product and feature availability vary by market so they may not be offered depending on where you live. Most brick-and-mortar banks require you to enter your zip code online for the correct account offerings. Any return on your savings depends on the associated fees and the balance you have in your brick-and-mortar savings account. To open a savings account, most banks and institutions require a deposit of new money, meaning you can't transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.

How the pandemic has affected bank branches

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing millions of Americans to do their banking online, banks' physical branches have been noticeably left empty.

As a result, many of the major financial institutions have closed (either temporarily or permanently) branches nationwide to save on operating costs and encourage customers to start using their mobile and web services.

Though you will likely see more banks curtailing their physical footprint in the years ahead, these branch closures shouldn't deter you from opening an account with a brick-and-mortar bank. The ones with the most physical locations still have a presence and you can count on their massive ATM networks to still be largely available.

Common brick-and-mortar savings account terms you should know

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY): The amount of interest an account earns in a year.
  • ATM networks: ATMs can either be in-service or out-of-network, depending on which bank you have. When you make a transaction at an ATM that is outside your bank's network, then a fee will most likely be applied by both the ATM operator and your bank.
  • Overdraft protection: Any negative checking account balances are automatically covered when linked to a savings account.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.