Best Banks and Credit Unions of 2019

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Whether you're new to banking or a regular at your bank's local branch, everyone should re-evaluate their bank choice every once in a while.

Your bank may have offered the best perks back when you opened your account, but maybe another bank has upped the competition with a new service. Maybe a major life event has changed the type of financial services you need. Maybe you're deciding between a bank and a credit union.

Picking a bank is a personal choice that comes down to what you want out of your banking experience, but if you need a place to start your research, here are some of the best banks to put your money in this year.

Capital One: Best Choice Online

Capital One, known for its consumer credit cards, is among the biggest banks in the U.S. It focuses almost all of its resources on online banking, and it pays off. The stellar online performance is enhanced by a solid checking account in Capital One 360.

Capital One 360 makes it easy to open an account by lowering barriers to entry. There's no minimum deposit required to open an account, and your money won't be subject to monthly fees. It also offers some of the highest rates among major banking accounts. The national average is just 0.06%, but Capital One 360 accounts start out at 0.2%. Once your account hits $50,000, that bumps up to 0.75%. When you surpass $100,000, you'll start earning 1%.

As a primarily online bank, you won't find many branches, compared to other big banks. But a partnership with Allpoint allows Capital One to offer free access to tens of thousands of ATMs. The banking app has also earned consistently high ratings from users, so as long as you're a little tech-savvy, you won't miss the physical branches at all.

Capitol One's flexible overdraft policy also scores it points. Any would-be overdrafts can be covered with a free transfer from your savings account. The bank also offers low-cost lines of credit to cover overdrafts, and a "next day grace" program that gives you an extra day to deposit enough cash to cover the overdraft. However, if all that coverage still isn't enough and you end up making an overdraft, you can expect to be charged $35 for an overdraft fee.

Chase: Best of the Biggest Banks

You'll pay slightly higher fees and get lower rates on the cash you save, but a Chase account offers all the benefits of being part of a huge, traditional bank. With a history that stretches back to the 1700s, it's hard to get much more traditional than Chase.

A Chase account gives you access to thousands of physical branches and even more ATMs. That's helpful when you need a face-to-face with a customer representative, but customers who prefer online banking won't need to visit often – Chase also boasts a quality app with wide-ranging services.

That wide range of services is another reason to go with Chase. No matter what financial service you seek, Chase probably offers it. They have a huge lineup of credit cards with unique reward programs. When it comes time to buy a house, Chase offers mortgage services that compete with the best in the business.

Ally: Best Financial Services

Ally might not offer as many services as Chase, but for the services it does offer, it's hard to beat Ally. Despite having no monthly fees or balance minimums, Ally offers an unparalleled 2.2% rate on savings. There are some restrictions to savings account transfers, but for those looking for a safe place to store their cash and let the interest roll in, it's hard to beat an Ally savings account.

Ally definitely isn't an all-in-one bank, so if you're looking to deal with as few institutions as possible, you might be better off with a big, traditional bank. It's also all online, so you won't have access to physical branches. But in place of physical branches, Ally offers free access to more than 40,000 ATMs. It also has a solid mobile app that's easy to use and gets high ratings from users.

Alliant: Best of the Credit Unions

Alliant secured the top spot among credit unions for its high rates, low barriers to entry, and extremely flexible ATM policy. Alliant partnerships gives customers free access to more than 80,000 ATMs. If you manage to find an ATM that isn't covered by that network, Alliant will refund you up to $20 in ATM fees every month.

A minimum deposit of $5 will get you access to a savings account that earns at a rate of 2% or more. Even its checking account comes with a 0.65 rate. That's a tough one to beat, since most banks only focus on making their savings account rates competitive.

While Alliant is an online bank, the customer service has received good ratings and usually responds to emails within a single day. The app lets account holders make more mobile deposit than many of Alliant's competitors: up to $50,000 per day. The app also features engaging money management charts and tools.

If you're part of a military family, you might want to consider joining the Navy Federal Credit Union in 2019. More than 8 million members make this the largest credit union in the world, and it has earned that distinction through its quality features. Your cash will earn at a rate of 0.05% in a checking account, and savings accounts earn 0.25%. However, even though you only need $5 to open an account, you can rack up fees for inactivity and low balances. There is some flexibility on these fees for younger members.

If you qualify, Navy Federal also offers credit cards with an extremely competitive interest rate. Loan conditions are also competitive, and it's easy to apply for loans online.

As the name implies, this credit union is only available to military families. Active and retired military members can join, along with their families, as can employees of the Department of Defense, government employees assigned to DoD locations, and associated contractors. Everyone else will have to find another credit union.