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Banking

Best brick-and-mortar checking accounts of 2021

These brick-and-mortar checking accounts are FDIC-insured and provide an accessible way for you to deposit and withdraw money in-person.

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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.

While online banks often offer customers better rates and lower fees, if you prefer to bank in-person, you’ll need to open an account at a brick-and-mortar bank, which will give you access to physical branches for you to visit.

Brick-and-mortar banks allow you to deposit and withdraw money by visiting a teller inside a branch or via a drive-up window or ATM machine. You’ll also have the convenience of being able to speak to someone face-to-face and work out any account questions or requests — unlike online-only banks that require you to call (which can sometimes mean dealing with long wait times).

However, brick-and-mortar banks typically charge customers higher fees than online-only banks since they have to recoup overhead costs to keep physical branches up and running. That said, there are still competitive brick-and-mortar banks that offer checking accounts with options to waive monthly fees if you meet certain requirements.

To make your search easier, CNBC Select evaluated dozens of checking accounts offered by brick-and-mortar banks with broad availability, offering access to at least 2,000 physical branches and over 4,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. We considered features like fees, minimum balance requirements and ease of use, among other factors to choose the top five best brick-and-mortar checking accounts that let you bank in-person. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best checking accounts.)

Note: 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.

Best brick-and-mortar checking accounts

Best brick-and-mortar checking account FAQs

Best at Bank of America

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®

On Bank of America's secure site
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $12, with options to waive

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $100

  • Minimum balance

    $1,500 daily balance to avoid monthly maintenance fee

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None

  • Free ATM network

    16,900 Bank of America ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    $35

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply. Bank of America is a Member FDIC.

Pros

  • Earn cash back on select deals at stores, restaurants and more through BankAmeriDeals®
  • Make saving easier with the Bank of America's Keep the Change® program
  • Four ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee
  • Bank of America has a vast network of ATMs
  • Send and receive money with Zelle

Cons

  • $35 overdraft fee
  • $12 monthly maintenance fee
  • $100 minimum deposit to open an account
  • No reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees

Best at Chase

Chase Total Checking®

On Chase's secure site
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $12, with options to waive

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $0

  • Minimum balance

    $1,500 daily balance to avoid monthly maintenance fee

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None

  • Free ATM network

    16,000 Chase ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    $34 (max of 3 overdraft fees per day)

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Top-rated mobile app
  • No minimum deposit to open an account
  • New account holders can earn a $200 bonus, valid until 4/14/2021
  • No. 2 on J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. National Banking Satisfaction Study
  • Send and receive money with Zelle

Cons

  • $34 overdraft fee
  • No APY
  • No reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees

Best at PNC Bank

Virtual Wallet® with Performance Select

Information about the Virtual Wallet® with Performance Select 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.
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $25, with options to waive

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $0 online; $25 in person

  • Minimum balance

    $5,000 combined average monthly balance in your Spend and up to 7 linked PNC bank consumer checking accounts to avoid monthly maintenance fee

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Need to call PNC for the APY offered in your area

  • Free ATM network

    18,000 PNC and PNC partner ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    Up to $20 per statement period

  • Overdraft fees

    $36 (max 4 per day)

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Three options to waive monthly maintenance fee 
  • Virtual Wallet includes individual checking and savings accounts that work together
  • New account holders can earn a welcome bonus of $400 when you establish total qualifying direct deposits of $5,000 or more to your Spend account
  • Up to $20 reimbursement for non-network ATM fees per statement period
  • No charge for overdraft protection transfer fees

Cons

  • $25 monthly maintenance fee
  • Have to call PNC Bank to find out APY offered in your area

Best at U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank Gold Checking Package

Information about the U.S. Bank Gold Checking Package 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.
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $14.95, with options to waive

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $25

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    N/A

  • Free ATM network

    4,500 U.S. Bank ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    2 per statement period

  • Overdraft fee

    $36 (max of 4 overdraft fees per day)

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Easily waive the monthly maintenance fee with an open U.S. Bank personal line of credit, home mortgage, home equity loan and line of credit, personal and purpose loan or activated credit card
  • 2 out-of-network ATM reimbursements per statement period
  • No overdraft protection transfer fee for transfers made from a linked deposit account
  • Preferred rates on new auto loans, home equity loans or lines, and other personal loans (autopay may be required for benefit)
  • Up to 2 additional Easy Checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fee (requires you to be an account holder)
  • Send and receive money with Zelle

Cons

  • $14.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • No APY

Best at Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Preferred Checking

Information about the Wells Fargo Preferred Checking 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.
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $15, with options to waive

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $25

  • Minimum balance

    $10,000 daily deposit balance to avoid monthly maintenance fee

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01% on balances over $500

  • Free ATM network

    13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    1 non-Wells Fargo ATM U.S. cash withdrawal transaction per fee period

  • Overdraft fee

    $35 (max of 3 overdraft fees per day)

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Three ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee
  • One reimbursement for an out-of-network ATM U.S. cash withdrawal transaction every fee period
  • No fees on cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Send and receive money with Zelle
  • $10 discount on personal style checks

Cons

  • $15 monthly maintenance fee
  • $25 minimum deposit to open an account
  • $35 overdraft fee

Best brick-and-mortar checking account FAQs

How to choose a checking account

Before you open a checking account, consider these six factors:

  1. Insurance: Verify that the bank or credit union where you open an account provides insurance from either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This insurance protects and reimburses you up to your balance and the legal limit ($250,000 per individual account) in the event your bank or credit union fails.
  2. Minimum deposit requirements: Many checking accounts require you to maintain a certain balance in order to avoid the monthly maintenance fee. If you don't meet the balance requirements, you may incur a monthly maintenance fee up to $15. However, some accounts offer several different ways you can qualify for a waived monthly fee that don't require a minimum balance.
  3. Fees: Checking accounts charge various fees to access your money, including: monthly service/maintenance fee, overdraft fee, non-sufficient (NSF) fee and ATM fee. These fees can range from a couple dollars to $35 per occurrence, making repeat fees costly.
  4. ATM network: If you often pay with or receive cash, you'll need to use an ATM and/or visit a branch location to withdraw money. Thankfully, all of the checking accounts mentioned above provide access to thousands of free ATMs, plus physical branch locations.
  5. Interest and rewards: Checking accounts aren't meant for long-term savings goals, but there are some financial institutions that provide interest rates on eligible balances.
  6. Mobile app features: While you can visit physical branch locations with brick-and-mortar checking accounts, you should also consider what mobile features are offered. Mobile check deposit and integration with peer-to-peer payment apps, such as Zelle, are two common features to look for.

Common checking account fees

While there are several good no-fee checking accounts out there, most checking accounts come with standard fees. Here are some of the common checking account fees you may incur:

  • Monthly maintenance fee: The monthly service fee, often up to $15, that banks or credit unions charge to maintain your account.
  • Overdraft fee: If you spend more than the amount in your account, resulting in a negative balance, you may be hit with a steep overdraft fee up to $35.
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee: If you write a check and it bounces because there isn't enough money in your bank account, you'll likely incur a NSF fee.
  • ATM fee: When you use an ATM that isn't affiliated with your bank or credit union, you may be hit with two fees: one from your bank/credit union and another from the ATM operator. Banks/credit unions charge around $1.63 while ATM operators charge roughly $3.09.
  • Paper statement fee: If you don't enroll in paperless statement, you could pay up to $5 per statement.
  • Foreign transaction fee: If you use your debit card to make purchases or withdraw money from an ATM outside of the U.S., you'll often incur a fee that's often 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of the transaction.
  • Account closure fee: If you close your account within 90 to 180 days of opening it, you may incur an account closure fee around $25.

While these fees can add up, you can avoid them by responsibly managing your account and always maintaining a positive balance.

Our methodology

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

We compared each checking account on a range of features, including:

  • Fees
  • Minimum balance requirement
  • Number of states with branches
  • Large ATM network
  • Ease of use and account accessibility
  • Customer reviews, when available

All of the accounts included on this list are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insured up to $250,000. This insurance protects and reimburses you up to your balance and the legal limit in the event your bank or credit union fails.

The rates and fee structures for checking accounts are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the prime rate.

Your earnings depend on any associated fees and the balance you have in your checking account. To open an account, some banks and institutions may require a deposit of new money, meaning you can’t transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.

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.