Best Small Banks by State

America's Best Banks 2021

America's Best Banks 2021


Introducing Newsweek's first ranking of the financial institutions that best serve their customers' needs in today's challenging times

Like virtually every other aspect of our lives—work, school, shopping, dating, entertainment, you name it—the pandemic is changing the way Americans bank. And those changes, in turn, are creating a new set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to picking the financial institution that best suits our banking needs.

For one thing, we have a newfound need and affection for savings accounts, evidenced by a more-than-doubling of the personal savings rate over the past several months, as the idea of building a solid emergency fund morphed from being an aspiration to an economic imperative. "The savings growth has been record-breaking," says Ken Tumin, founder of the bank comparison site DepositAccounts.com. But it's tougher than ever to find a suitable account to house those savings—one that doesn't actually cost you money after factoring in fees, given that the average savings rate is now near zero due to the Federal Reserve's efforts to to stimulate the economy via low interest rates.

Meanwhile, lockdown mode is pushing many of us to finally embrace online banking in a major way. Traffic at local banks is down substantially compared to last year, with about half of customers who previously relied on physical branches and ATMs saying they've increased their use of mobile apps and 35 percent making more use of their bank's website, according to a recent survey by Kearney, a management consulting group. Experts believe the shift is likely to stick. "Once you get used to the technology and how easy and convenient it is to bank this way, it's hard to go back," says Tumin.

Customer service is also becoming a more important consideration, as complaints about financial services providers have surged during the pandemic, up 50 percent from March through July compared with the same time period in 2019, according to the consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG. "The record level of consumer complaints is a blaring red light signaling the huge challenges consumers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic," says Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, who co-authored the organization's report.

To help you navigate this new financial landscape and find the institution that best serves your needs, Newsweek has partnered with LendingTree, the online loan marketplace and comparison site for financial services, for our first-ever Best Banks rankings. From a universe of more than 2,500 FDIC-insured institutions, we assessed U.S. banks and the savings and checking accounts they offer based on 55 separate factors to come up with a best-in-class option in 19 categories—including the best big and small bank in every state, because banking in many ways remains a local endeavor. One or more of these winning banks may be the perfect choice for your family.

Diane Harris, Deputy Editor in Chief.

AwardDescriptionStateWinnerBranchesMore Info
N/AN/AAlabamaBryant Bank16N/A
N/AN/AAlaskaMt. McKinley Bank5N/A
N/AN/AArizonaCommerce Bank of Arizona4N/A
N/AN/AArkansasBank of England6N/A
N/AN/ACaliforniaMechanics Bank146N/A
N/AN/AColoradoNBH Bank48N/A
N/AN/AConnecticutNewtown Savings Bank15N/A
N/AN/ADelawareThe Bank of Delmarva4N/A
N/AN/ADistrict of ColumbiaCity First Bank of D.C.1N/A
N/AN/AFloridaFirst Federal Bank23N/A
N/AN/AGeorgiaQueensborough National Bank & Trust Company23N/A
N/AN/AHawaiiTerritorial Savings Bank29N/A
N/AN/AIdahoBank of Idaho10N/A
N/AN/AIllinoisFirst Mid Bank & Trust58N/A
N/AN/AIndianaGerman American Bank50N/A
N/AN/AIowaFidelity Bank & Trust30N/A
N/AN/AKansasCommunity National Bank & Trust25N/A
N/AN/AKentuckyStock Yards Bank & Trust29N/A
N/AN/ALouisianaFirst Guaranty Bank27N/A
N/AN/AMaineMachias Savings Bank16N/A
N/AN/AMarylandShore United Bank17N/A
N/AN/AMassachusettsEast Boston Savings Bank41N/A
N/AN/AMichiganChoiceOne Bank27N/A
N/AN/AMinnesotaMerchants Bank, National Association21N/A
N/AN/AMississippiThe Citizens National Bank Of Meridian24N/A
N/AN/AMissouriSouthern Bank37N/A
N/AN/AMontanaTrailWest Bank14N/A
N/AN/ANebraskaSecurity First Bank22N/A
N/AN/ANevadaValley Bank of Nevada2N/A
N/AN/ANew HampshireMascoma Bank15N/A
N/AN/ANew Jersey1st Constitution Bank27N/A
N/AN/ANew MexicoFirst American Bank15N/A
N/AN/ANew YorkFirst National Bank of Long Island52N/A
N/AN/ANorth CarolinaHomeTrust Bank20N/A
N/AN/ANorth DakotaDakota Community Bank & Trust11N/A
N/AN/AOhioPark National Bank105N/A
N/AN/AOklahomaFirst United Bank and Trust Company31N/A
N/AN/AOregonFirst Federal Savings and Loan Association of McMinnville8N/A
N/AN/APennsylvaniaBryn Mawr Trust32N/A
N/AN/ARhode IslandCentreville Bank8N/A
N/AN/ASouth CarolinaFirst Palmetto Bank23N/A
N/AN/ASouth DakotaFirst Dakota National Bank18N/A
N/AN/ATennesseeReliant Bank27N/A
N/AN/ATexasFirst Financial Bank, National Association78N/A
N/AN/AUtahCache Valley Bank16N/A
N/AN/AVermontUnion Bank14N/A
N/AN/AVirginiaCarter Bank & Trust75N/A
N/AN/AWashingtonHeritage Bank55N/A
N/AN/AWest VirginiaUnion Bank, Inc.8N/A
N/AN/AWisconsinNicolet National Bank38N/A
N/AN/AWyomingCentral Bank and Trust5N/A

Methodology

To identify America's Best Banks, LendingTree in consultation with Newsweek culled candidates from an initial universe of more than 2,500 FDIC-insured financial institutions (credit unions were excluded from consideration). LendingTree then applied a series of filters to create a short list of eligible candidates in each category, based on the most salient features for each bank type or account; LendingTree supplied the data and made recommendations for a proprietary scoring system developed by Newsweek, based on the factors that would be most important to consumers for that type of bank or account. Data sources for the project included DepositAccounts.com, information published by each bank, quarterly call reports filed with the FDIC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints and mobile app reviews. All together, 55 separate factors were assessed, covering a wide variety of fees, current and historical interest rates, account terms, consumer service features, mobile app satisfaction and bank profile. Among the specific data collected: the average service charges collected on deposit accounts during the second quarter of 2020; average interest paid on deposit accounts during the second quarter of 2020; the number of complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how quickly the bank responded, the kinds of loan and account products offered; mobile app scores; and, depending on the best bank accolade, branch presence. For best bank state winners, the best big bank in each state needed to have at least one branch per 100,000 residents and at least $10 billion in assets, while the best small bank in each state had less than $10 billion in assets and had to be among the five banks with the most branches in the state. A bank couldn't have more than one branch to be considered for best online bank, with factors like mobile app score carrying greater weight in this ranking. For best customer service, a bank had to have responded to at least 97 percent of complaints filed with the CFPB in a timely fashion to be considered; other features such as languages provided on the bank's website and app as well as banking and credit card service lines were also evaluated. Individual best bank account winners were selected based on different criteria, including: current interest rate; average interest rate over the past year; minimum deposit required to open an account, the monthly service fee changed to maintain the account, fees charged for nonsufficient funds, overdraft, or/and overdraft protection; amount charged to use an out-of-network ATM; amount refunded for out-of-network ATM usage; cost to replace debit card; and the bank's average mobile app score. To be considered for best online savings or online checking accounts, a bank had to have fewer than 100 branches, while banks needed more than 100 branches to win for either the best checking or best savings account award. The weighting given to each factor varied depending on the best bank accolade; Newsweek exercised final editorial judgment when selecting winners. Current interest rate information is accurate as of September 24, 2020 and represents the highest possible rate a customer could earn, if all qualifications are met (common qualifications include having direct deposit tied to the account, having more than one account with the bank or making a certain minimum number of debit-card transactions a month). The complete data set was last updated by LendingTree on September 10, 2020.