The Finest Banks in California for 2023

Whether or not you like an intimate neighborhood banking expertise or the anytime, wherever comfort of a significant nationwide financial institution, Californians can discover one of the best match for his or her wants.

The Golden State has dozens of homegrown monetary establishments, a lot of which serve solely components of this huge state. California additionally has a particular connection to a few of the largest banks within the nation — each Wells Fargo and Financial institution of America have historic roots right here.

We evaluated greater than 100 California banks on metrics together with rates of interest, product combine, on-line and cellular banking, and customer support high quality. However solely 10 earned a spot on our record of one of the best banks in California.

The Finest Banks in California

These FDIC-insured banks are one of the best client and small-business monetary establishments in California. Our “greatest general” choose, Wells Fargo, serves the must the widest vary of Californians in our opinions. All the opposite banks on this record do no less than one factor very well or excel in a specific area of the state.

Finest General: Wells Fargo

  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California
  • Variety of Branches in California: 904
  • Areas Served: Statewide

We selected Wells Fargo as the highest financial institution in California as a result of:

  • It has almost 1,000 branches within the state, overlaying all main cities and areas
  • It has a complete account lineup, from low-cost private checking and financial savings accounts to private, enterprise, and business loans and features of credit score
  • It’s probably the greatest banks for bank card customers, with a number of cash-back and low-APR bank cards
  • It ranks properly on general buyer satisfaction 
  • It provides a wonderful digital banking expertise 

Although it has deep roots within the Golden State, nobody would confuse San Francisco-based Wells Fargo with a humble California neighborhood financial institution. With hundreds of branches throughout the nation and almost $2 trillion in complete deposits, it’s one of many largest banks in america.

That makes it excellent for California natives who recognize each real-world banking comfort and on-the-go entry through on-line and cellular banking. And since it serves clients from coast to coast, Wells Fargo is a wonderful alternative each for individuals relocating to California from elsewhere and California-based customers who journey rather a lot within the U.S. for work or pleasure.

Finest for College students: Financial institution of America

Bank Of America Logo
  • Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Variety of Branches in California: 791
  • Areas Served: Statewide

Financial institution of America is one other huge American financial institution with robust California roots. 

A century on from its low-key origins in San Francisco, BofA has grown into the highest banking alternative for college kids. That’s largely because of its modern Benefit Banking product, which has no month-to-month upkeep price for college kids underneath 25 enrolled at school or an academic or vocational program and no month-to-month upkeep price for anybody underneath 18. Learn extra about Benefit Banking in our roundup of one of the best scholar checking accounts.

As a full-service financial institution, BofA can deal with nearly your whole monetary wants. Select from a number of rewards bank cards with no annual price, together with the Financial institution of America Personalized Money Rewards Credit score Card and the Financial institution of America Journey Rewards Credit score Card. Purchase or faucet actual property fairness with the financial institution’s mortgage loans (buy and refinance) or dwelling fairness loans and features of credit score. Take pleasure in aggressive charges on auto loans (buy and refinance), beginning round 5% APR for brand new vehicles. And put money into shares, exchange-traded funds, and extra with Merrill, a BofA subsidiary.

Finest for Environmental Activists: Financial institution of the West

Bank Of The West Logo
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California
  • Variety of Branches in California: 230
  • Areas Served: Statewide

Although it’s now a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a global monetary conglomerate, Financial institution of the West is one other deeply rooted California financial institution that continues to be loyal to its dwelling state. With department and ATM protection throughout the whole state, it’s accessible for many Californians too.

Financial institution of the West leans into California’s lengthy historical past of environmental activism with its 1% for the Planet Checking account. It donates 1% of internet revenues from these accounts to environmental nonprofits for free of charge to you (or anybody else who does enterprise with the financial institution). You may see your debit card purchases’ estimated carbon footprint in your account dashboard too.

And Financial institution of the West pledges by no means to make use of buyer deposits to fund Arctic drilling, tar sands mining, or massive tobacco — although that leaves out loads of ethically questionable revenue facilities.

Finest Group Financial institution: Oak Valley Group Financial institution

Oak Valley Community Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: Oakdale, California
  • Variety of Branches in California: 16
  • Areas Served: Central Valley, Sacramento

Oak Valley Group Financial institution is California’s premier neighborhood financial institution, which is sort of the excellence in an enormous state filled with small hometown banks. As a smaller neighborhood establishment, its biggest power can be its biggest weak spot: Should you don’t reside someplace between Sacramento and Modesto, you’re uncomfortably removed from an Oak Valley department.

However in case you do reside close by, Oak Valley has the whole lot you could possibly need from a small financial institution:

  • Branches staffed by pleasant trade veterans
  • A number of checking accounts, a few of that are high-interest accounts
  • Well being financial savings accounts, that are unusual in the neighborhood banking world
  • Mortgage loans and residential fairness merchandise
  • A formidable lineup of business accounts and loans

And if life or enterprise takes you outdoors Oak Valley Group Financial institution’s dwelling territory, you’ll be able to depend on its cellular apps and mobile-responsive web site (one other rarity for a small financial institution) to remain linked to your cash.

Finest in San Francisco: Union Financial institution

Union Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: New York, New York
  • Variety of Branches in California: 282
  • Areas Served: Statewide

Union Financial institution can hint its roots again to the early days of California statehood. The Financial institution of California, its oldest predecessor establishment, began in 1864 in a little-known however fast-growing frontier port known as San Francisco. Union Financial institution and Belief Firm, which might merge with The Financial institution of California in 1996, got here to life in 1918 Los Angeles. No monetary establishment is extra completely Californian nor so integral to its dwelling state’s prosperity.

Union Financial institution has almost 300 branches from one finish of California to the opposite, however it’s notably in style within the San Francisco Bay Space, the place it could possibly appear to be there’s a department at each main intersection. Whereas a pending merger with U.S. Financial institution brings some uncertainty, the wonderful buyer expertise for which Union Financial institution is thought appears unlikely to vary within the close to future.

Union Financial institution has a complete lineup of client and enterprise accounts, together with the always-free Financial institution Freely checking and financial savings accounts, 5 private bank cards (cash-back, rewards factors, journey, low APR, and secured), and specialty loans for small and midsize companies.

Finest in Orange County: First Residents Financial institution

First Citizens Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Variety of Branches in California: 65
  • Areas Served: Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento

North Carolina-based First Residents Financial institution barreled into California with the acquisition of OneWest Financial institution, a beloved southern California establishment. Its department community is especially dense in southern LA County and Orange County, making it the perfect alternative for individuals who reside and work on this space.

First Residents Financial institution provides three totally different checking accounts, together with one which’s completely free — no charges, interval — if you decide into paperless statements. Its CD and financial savings charges are nothing to put in writing dwelling about, however 5 totally different bank card choices (together with a uncommon secured rewards bank card) and competitively priced mortgage and auto loans make up for it.

First Residents Financial institution throws a number of (good) curveballs. It’s one of many few regional banks that sells insurance coverage (particularly auto, property, life, and umbrella legal responsibility) and provides pet medical health insurance quotes by way of Embrace Pet Insurance coverage. It has a deep roster of business and small-business financing choices, together with automobile financing, debt restructuring, working capital, and gear financing. And it provides in-house monetary planning and funding administration by way of First Residents Wealth Administration, its full-service wealth administration arm.

Finest in Los Angeles: Farmers & Retailers Financial institution (Southern California)

Fandm Socal Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: Lengthy Seaside, California
  • Variety of Branches: 25
  • Areas Served: Lengthy Seaside/Los Angeles, Orange County

One of the best financial institution within the Los Angeles space is definitely based mostly in Lengthy Seaside, however that’s shut sufficient. It’s Farmers & Retailers Financial institution — to not be confused with Lodi-based F&M Financial institution, the initials of which additionally stand for “farmers and retailers” and which occupies its personal spot on this record.

For a 25-branch financial institution, Farmers & Retailers has an unusually numerous private account lineup: seven checking accounts, three financial savings accounts (together with an old-school Christmas Membership vacation financial savings account), CDs with phrases starting from seven days to 5 years, and three totally different youth accounts for highschool and faculty college students. Enterprise homeowners can depend on 4 totally different enterprise checking accounts, a number of enterprise bank cards, and a enterprise lending arm specializing in business actual property.

Farmers & Retailers has another notable promoting factors. These embody a seemingly everlasting $500-off-closing-costs promotion for mortgage candidates, specialty banking providers for well being care and faith-based organizations, and an extremely skilled employees that features greater than 100 staff with no less than 15 years of service (and greater than 60 with 20 years or extra).

Finest within the Central Valley: F&M Financial institution (Central/Northern California)

Fandm Norcal Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: Lodi, California
  • Variety of Branches: 30
  • Areas Served: Central Valley, East Bay, Sacramento

The different F&M Financial institution has the same variety of branches a pair hundred miles north of LA and Lengthy Seaside, largely within the Central Valley south of Sacramento.

True to its tagline — “the place banking is straightforward!” — F&M Financial institution has a user-friendly desktop banking interface and slick cellular app that replicates the expertise on a smaller display. All of its bodily branches are full-service, that means you don’t must journey farther to talk with a mortgage mortgage officer, funding advisor, or ag mortgage specialist. And people branches are conveniently situated, with no less than one in each massive city between Merced and Roseville.

F&M’s lending division displays its rural, closely agricultural setting, with a number of mortgage choices for farm actual property and gear, livestock, winery and winemaking gear, and different farm-y capabilities. However don’t fear: Should you don’t personal a farm or winery, you’ll be able to nonetheless get a regular-old mortgage mortgage right here, plus unsecured private loans with versatile phrases.

Finest in San Diego: Financial institution of Southern California

Bank Of Southern California Logo
  • Headquarters: San Diego, California
  • Variety of Branches: 13
  • Areas Served: San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles

Although it has operations in Orange County and southern LA County, Financial institution of Southern California focuses most of its consideration on San Diego, the place most of its branches are situated. 

On the patron aspect, the standout VIP Checking account reimburses as much as $25 in home and worldwide ATM charges per assertion cycle and pays tiered rates of interest relying in your steadiness. The buyer financial savings merchandise aren’t notably noteworthy, however there’s a pleasant CD time period unfold no less than: 90 days to 5 years, good for constructing a multi-CD ladder.

Financial institution of Southern California’s actual power is its enterprise deposit account lineup, which options 5 distinct enterprise checking accounts — from Primary Enterprise Checking (good for freelancers and sole proprietors) to Analyzed Enterprise Checking (excellent for rising companies with excessive transaction volumes). Should you’re coming over from one other establishment, use Financial institution of Southern California’s client Swap Package to cut back the time and trouble of adjusting banks.

Finest in San Jose: Santa Cruz County Financial institution

Santa Cruz County Bank Logo
  • Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California
  • Variety of Branches: 8
  • Areas Served: Santa Cruz, San Jose

Santa Cruz County Financial institution has the fewest places of any financial institution on this record. However it’s one of many few homegrown banks that operates within the San Jose space (in Cupertino, dwelling of Apple Inc.) That makes it a powerful alternative for Silicon Valley residents in search of a neighborhood different to massive, faceless monetary establishments.

For such a small financial institution, Santa Cruz County Financial institution has a powerful lineup of deposit accounts and mortgage choices. Notably, two of its 4 checking accounts waive month-to-month service costs with recurring direct deposits. The opposite two have comparatively manageable minimal steadiness necessities to waive their month-to-month charges.

The lending aspect is biased towards enterprise clients, with only a handful of client bank cards. However in case you do personal a enterprise in higher San Jose or Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Financial institution most likely has the kind of financing you might want to develop it. Select from short- and long-term asset-based loans, unsecured traces of credit score, a number of Small Enterprise Administration mortgage varieties, actual property loans, and specialty loans for agricultural and winemaking companies. You may run your small-business retirement plans (together with SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) by way of Santa Cruz County Financial institution and/or open tax-advantaged private financial savings accounts (conventional and Roth IRAs, Coverdell schooling financial savings accounts) right here too.

Methodology: How We Choose the Finest Banks in California

Greater than 100 homegrown and nationwide banks function in California. That provides locals a lot of alternative, however it additionally makes it robust to resolve that are really one of the best.

To slim this record, we evaluated California banks on high quality components like product combine, charges and yields, digital and real-world comfort, and customer support high quality.

Product Lineup

Whereas there’s no rule in opposition to having a couple of financial institution, we perceive that many customers and small-business homeowners desire to do all their banking in the identical place.

That’s why we give desire to California banks with complete product and repair lineups, no matter measurement or department depend. You gained’t discover monetary establishments that concentrate on only one or two account varieties on this record.

Charges and Yields

Few banks supply one of the best mortgage charges and account yields from prime to backside. Most have some areas the place they excel and others the place they fall quick. That being the case, the entire banks on this record supply aggressive charges and phrases on no less than a few of their deposit accounts and mortgage merchandise.

On-line and Cellular Banking Capabilities

Each financial institution on this record has a high-quality on-line banking interface that enables customers to do most of their each day cash administration with out strolling right into a department or sidling as much as an ATM. Most have cellular banking apps as properly, and those who don’t no less than have mobile-friendly web sites.

Areas Served

All the banks on this record meet no less than one in every of two geographic standards:

  • Comprehensiveness, that means they serve a number of areas of California or have statewide department protection
  • Depth, that means they’ve a lot of branches and ATMs in narrower geographic areas

One isn’t essentially higher than the opposite. However in case you worth in-person monetary providers, it’s good to not must drive an hour every option to meet along with your banker.

Buyer Service Scores

Whereas we take user-generated evaluations with a grain of salt, we give desire to banks which have clearly constructed up good will with the oldsters they serve. That’s true whether or not they’re thousand-branch behemoths or neighborhood establishments with just some outposts in a single nook of California or one other.

ATM Entry

Even the smaller banks on this record belong to bigger ATM networks that provide low- or no-cost withdrawals at tens of hundreds or extra machines nationwide. That’s essential for individuals whose work or leisure travels take them outdoors their banks’ dwelling territories.

California Banking FAQs

Nonetheless have questions on banking in California? Want some assist selecting among the many greatest banks within the Golden State? We’ve got (some) solutions.

How Many Banks Does California Have?

There are greater than 100 distinctive banks with branches or operations facilities in California. Dozens of those are based mostly in California, together with most of the prime banks on this record.

Others are headquartered elsewhere however began or have deep historic roots in California, together with Wells Fargo and Financial institution of America. Though it doesn’t have as many small banks per capita as another states, California does have a powerful custom of neighborhood banking. A number of the state’s greatest banks have simply 10 or 20 branches and serve distinct areas inside California.

What Financial institution Has the Finest CD Charges in California?

Nothing in opposition to homegrown neighborhood banks, however in case you’re trying or the easiest charges on certificates of deposit in California, you’ll have higher luck concentrating on branchless on-line banks like Ally Financial institution, Synchrony Financial institution, and Capital One Financial institution.

On-line banks have a tendency to supply higher financial savings account and CD charges as a result of they’ve decrease overhead and thus larger revenue margins.

For instance, Ally Financial institution’s five-year CD at the moment yields 4.10%. That’s a lot larger than you’re prone to get along with your hometown financial institution.

What Financial institution Has the Finest Financial savings Charges in California?

The “on-line banks are higher” rule applies on financial savings account charges as properly, although some native banks supply promotional charges on financial savings accounts to attract in new clients.

One factor is for positive: You gained’t discover aggressive financial savings accounts charges at massive banks like Financial institution of America or Wells Fargo. Nonetheless robust they’re on different measures, each are infamous for low account yields.

What’s the Finest Financial institution for Mortgages in California?

Sadly, there’s no clear winner. As a basic rule, on-line direct lenders have higher mortgage charges than conventional or neighborhood banks for a similar purpose on-line banks pay higher charges on CDs and financial savings accounts. They’ve much less overhead.

That mentioned, when you have a preexisting relationship with a California financial institution otherwise you’re prepared to begin one, ask your banker what they will do for you on the mortgage entrance.

Banks with formal loyalty applications, like Financial institution of America Most popular Rewards, typically give members decrease mortgage charges or credit towards closing prices. Smaller banks with out formal loyalty applications should still reduce longtime clients a break, particularly once they have masses of cash on deposit or different loans excellent.

Select a Financial institution in California

Nonetheless overwhelmed by the sheer variety of banks in California? Uncertain easy methods to slim down your record of selections any additional? Take a step again and take into consideration what you worth most in a financial institution.

  • Protection and Entry: Except you’re assured you’ll by no means have to stroll right into a department or use an ATM, you desire a financial institution that’s accessible the place (and the way) you reside. Search for banks with branches and ATMs in your neighborhood or hometown — or no less than inside straightforward attain.
  • Account and Service Charges: Search for banks that provide free checking accounts, no-annual-fee bank cards, and different low- or no-cost monetary merchandise to your on a regular basis wants. Should you should select a financial institution that costs month-to-month upkeep charges, no less than guarantee you understand how to get these charges waived. And keep away from banks with difficult price schedules that appear designed to squeeze you for extra of your hard-earned cash.
  • Private Service (or Lack Thereof): Should you worth customized, one-on-one service, select your financial institution accordingly. Most banks pay lip service to the idea, however it shouldn’t take lengthy to identify those that actually simply deal with you want a quantity.
  • Deposit Account Choices: Even when you have no downside sustaining accounts at a number of establishments, it’s good to have the choice to deepen your relationship along with your hometown financial institution. So select one with all kinds of deposit account choices slightly than only one or two.
  • Credit score Choices: Possibly you’re not available in the market for a mortgage or bank card proper now, however likelihood is you’ll be sooner or later. Select a financial institution that provides a variety of loans to save lots of your self the effort of switching later — and make sure you qualify for existing-customer mortgage perks and charge or price reductions if you’re prepared.
  • Expertise: Irrespective of how a lot you like your financial institution, you don’t have time to go to in particular person each time you might want to get money or pay a invoice. Be sure the banks in your shortlist have on-line or cellular banking capabilities complete sufficient to deal with all of your each day cash administration wants.

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