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 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.