The best banks and credit unions in california for 2022

Personal finance insider writes about products, strategies and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners such as american express, but our reports and recommendations are always independent and objective. Terms and conditions apply to the offerings listed on this page. Read our editorial standards.

Savings rates at the biggest banks in california

Here are the savings rates you'll earn at the largest banks in california. Two of them, chase and citi, made it onto our list.

We didn't choose others because they didn't have branches in as many parts of california as some of our top picks, or because they lacked special features like high apys or sign-up bonuses.

However, you may still decide that one of these california banks is a good fit for you, and you may want to bank with a widely used institution with which you are familiar.


Savings APY number of CA branches next steps
chase 0.01% to 0.05% 967 track savings℠
wells fargo 0.01% to 0.02 932 wells fargo savings account from wells fargo
bank of america 0.01% to 0.04 854 bank of america advantage savings account
US bank 0,01 % 481 U.S. Bank savings account
union bank 0,01 % 315 union bank free savings account
city 0,08 % 288 citibank citi® savings account
bank of the west 0,01 % 224 bank of the west classic savings account
mechanics bank 0.01% to 0.03 145 mechanics bank personal savings account
comerica bank 0,01 % 96 comerica statement savings account
california bank & trust 0.01% to 0.03 86 california bank & trust savings account


* as of february 2022, the national average APY on savings accounts is equal to the FDIC national deposit savings rates according to the FDIC.

Below are our top picks for the best banks and credit unions in california. Each of these companies is federally insured and offers a variety of products, including bank accounts, investment accounts, and loans.

Our panel of experts for this guide

Best bank for opening a savings account: ally

Why it stands out: ally pays 1% APY, which is currently one of the highest rates on the market. The bank also does not charge monthly maintenance fees.

The ally high yield savings account has been a major player in the high yield savings space for several years, regularly earning top online banking awards. Even though it's an online bank, you can get more than 40.Use 000 allpoint atms for free.

Ally makes it easy to save for specific goals. You can choose to open a separate account for each goal, but ally has a bucket feature that allows you to save for multiple goals in one account. Assign each a nickname like "emergency fund" or "travel account" to track your progress and stay motivated.

What to look for: while ally is highly competitive, other banks offer similar online savings accounts with high yields. Ally is certainly one of the best on the market, but depending on your needs and existing banking, you may prefer a different bank, such as z. B. Capital one 360, varo or discover.

Best bank for opening a checking account: bank of america

Why it stands out: bank of america is the third largest bank in california by branch locations. You can get a $100 sign-up bonus for opening a checking account with bank of america. The bank also does not charge overdraft fees.

What to look for: tthe bank charges a fee for out-of-network atms, and you don't earn interest on the money you deposit.

Best bank for opening a checking and savings account: citi

Why it stands out: citi is the sixth largest bank in california by branch locations. The bank pays high sign-up bonuses if you open certain checking and savings accounts together and meet deposit requirements.

Citi divides its accounts into separate "packages". If you open a checking and savings account and meet the deposit requirements, you may receive a bonus. You can also get a bonus for opening either a savings or checking account only, like the citi priority account, which offers a sign-up bonus of up to 1.$500 offers.

What you should watch out for: package system can be confusing. Citi has six bank account packages that can become overwhelming. Each package offers different benefits and charges different fees. You can choose to open accounts in the package that pays the highest bonus you qualify for, but make sure you don't get stuck with high fees before signing up.

Best credit union: golden 1

Why it stands out: you may prefer a credit union over a bank. Each option comes with tradeoffs – credit unions often have higher interest rates and better customer service, while brick-and-mortar banks may have more locations and adapt more quickly to new technologies.

If you're looking for a credit union in california, golden 1 is a good choice. It's easier to become a member than some of the other large credit unions in the state, like schoolsfirst. There are also more locations in california than other well-known credit unions like first technology federal credit union.

To join golden 1, all you have to do is either live or work in california, and you can open a $1 golden 1 savings account.

It has more than 70 branches throughout california and about 240 golden 1 atms. You also have free access to 30.000 CO-OP atms across the country, which is convenient if you're traveling abroad.

Golden 1 pays lower interest rates than online banks for some accounts, but higher than many brick-and-mortar banks.

What to watch out for:like many credit unions, golden 1 pays interest on your interest monthly, not daily, which affects how much you'll earn in the long run. If earning a good interest rate is your biggest priority, you may want to use a bank rather than a credit union, or look for a credit union that pays interest on a daily basis.

Are these banks and credit unions trustworthy?

The better business bureau rates companies based on responses to customer complaints, advertising and transparency about business practices. Here are the BBB scores of our favorite banks and credit unions in california:


Institution BBB grade
allied C
bank of america A+
city F
golden 1 A+


Golden 1 has an excellent BBB rating. Ally has a C, mainly because of the high number of customer complaints on the BBB website. Citi has an F because of lack of response to customer complaints and government action against the bank.

In recent years, citi has dealt with the following public scandals:

  • Citi had tocompensatecredit card customersfor failing to change their interest rates (2018)
  • The bank mishandled900 million dollars sentto customers (2019)
  • Citi was fined $400 million by the federal reserve and the office of the comptroller of the currency for failing to acknowledge thatmoney laundering by its customers(2020)

If any of these issues worry you, you may decide you'd rather invest with ally or golden 1.

Frequently asked questions

Why trust our recommendations?

Personal finance insider's mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that "best" is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account – such as a high APY – we also explain its limitations. We've spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of different products so you don't have to.

How did we choose the best banks in california?

We looked at the banks and credit unions with the most branches in the state. Then we focused on those that offer appealing features like sign-up bonuses or high interest rates. None of the major banks in california paid high interest rates on savings accounts, so we chose an online bank, ally, as our first choice for a savings account.

The best credit union we chose was one that was easy for california residents to join and had branches in several parts of the state.

What is the bank no. 1 in america?

It depends on what you are looking for. Wells fargo has the most branches in the U.S., followed closely by chase and bank of america. If you're looking for high savings rates and low fees, you should probably choose an online bank. (check out our picks for the best online banks here.)

Which bank is the safest place to put your money?

As long as an institution has federal insurance, your money should be safe. Banks must be insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation (FDIC) and credit unions must be insured by the national credit union administration (NCUA).

An individual account is up to 250.000 USD insured, joint account up to 500.000 USD. Means you won't lose all your money if the bank goes bust.

Expert advice on choosing the best financial institution

To learn more about what makes a good bank or credit union and how to choose the best one, four experts weighed in:

  • Tania brown, certified financial planner at saverlife
  • Roger ma, certified financial planner with lifelayout® and author of "work with your money, not your life"
  • Mykail james, MBA, certified financial education instructor, boujiebudgets.Com
  • Laura grace tarpley, co-editor of banking, personal finance insider

We focus on what makes a bank most useful, including customer service, fees, rates and more. Here's what they had to say about finding a bank. (some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

How can someone determine if a bank is right for them?

Mykail james, CFEI:

"The most important thing about a checking account is that you should know which provider the debit card is from. And many people don't think about it because there are places that don't accept mastercard or don't accept an amex."

Laura grace tarpley, personal finance insider:

"I would look for the bank that charges you the lowest fees. That means you either pay no monthly fees or can waive the monthly fees. If you never overdraw from your account, then a bank's overdraft fees don't matter much but if you do occasionally overdraw, then I'd look at fees or overdraft protection options."

What to look for in a brick-and-mortar bank?

Tania brown, CFP:

"How can that bank grow with you? If you are 25 years old, single or newly married, and all you need is a checking account, that will look very different in 15 years when you may have had a few jobs, have an IRA rollover, or you may want a financial advisor."

Mykail james, CFEI:

"How accessible is it. So where are the branches? And if I have to go out of town or something, how accessible is my money for me?"

What should someone look for in an online bank?

Tania brown, CFP:

"With an online bank, absolutely online customer service because you don't have the benefit of going in and talking to a human being. How often you can reach them? How are their hours?"

Roger ma, CFP:

"How onerous is the transfer process, money in and money out. Is it the same day, the next day? Is it fairly easy to sync a traditional checking account with this particular high yield savings account?"

Mykail james, CFEI:

"When it comes to online banks, you should be a little stricter about what kind of interest rates they offer. That's the biggest thing, because online banks are supposed to have the higher interest rate because they don't have the overhead of brick-and-mortar stores. You want to make sure it's well above the national average. What kind of collateral do they offer? Do they have two-factor identification? If it's an online bank, they should definitely have – to a bare minimum – two-factor authentication, how easy it is to change your passwords and the like, because for an online-only bank, you want to be a little more hypersensitive about cybersecurity.