Best Banks for Checking Accounts
To find the best checking accounts for Bostonians, we looked at banks that have low monthly fees, a variety of services, and convenient branch and ATM access throughout the metro area.
Best Access to Branches: Citizens Bank
With over 120 banks located across the Boston Metro area, Citizens Bank is the best option for people who like to have access to physical bank branches. Citizens provides checking account options for consumers in a range of balance levels and also offers other accounts like savings, money market and business checking. Citizens also has a strong presence outside of Boston, with over 1,200 branches and 3,200 ATMs across 11 states.
Citizens' One Deposit Checking is a good option for those who want basic checking with an easy-to-waive monthly fee. This account allows you to avoid paying the $9.99 monthly maintenance fee if you make a deposit of any size during each billing cycle. If you're looking for a more advanced checking account, Citizens' Platinum Plus Checking allows you to earn interest of 0.02% on any balance. However, this account comes with a monthly fee that can only be waived if you maintain a $25,000 balance on all of your open Citizens' accounts.
Best Free Checking: Santander Bank
Santander Bank's Simply Right Checking is ideal for consumers looking for a free, no-frills checking account. As long as you make one transaction during each calendar month, you can avoid the $10.00 monthly maintenance fee. Santander is very flexible with their definition of transaction, making it very easy to waive the monthly fee versus other banks that require a minimum balance. This account also has no minimum balance, meaning you won't be hit with penalties for having a low balance.
Although the Simply Right Checking account is great for customers looking for a free checking account, customers that have higher balances and are looking for more services and physical locations should consider a bank with a larger national footprint, such as TD Bank. Otherwise, Santander is a great option for Bostonians, with over 650 branches and 2,000 ATMs throughout the Northeast.
Best Checking for Boston Students: Santander Bank
We chose Santander Bank again because of their Student Value Checking Account, which is a great no-fee account for college students younger than 25 years old. It provides more for students than any other bank in the Boston area. The account can be opened with only $10.00 and has no minimum balance requirements thereafter. There are no monthly maintenance fees until you graduate or are older than 25, in which case the student account becomes a different checking account under Santander.
Santander's standout point is not only its brick-and-mortar presence across Boston, but its no-fee wire transfers. As students begin to learn to live on their own, they may need their parents to transfer money to their accounts at any time. There are no incoming wire transfer fees for domestic or international wire transfers on the Student Value Checking Account. This makes the account great for local and international students looking for flexibility without fees.
Best for Savings: TD Bank
TD Bank offers solutions for consumers in any income bracket with three different savings products, which have much higher APYs than you would find at any other national bank. The Simple Savings account from TD Bank has a 0.05% APY and no opening minimum balance. The account's $5 monthly maintenance fee can be waived if you maintain a $300.00 minimum daily balance. For higher net worth consumers, the Preferred Savings account yields between 1.75% and 1.50% APY, and its $15.00 monthly fee can be waived if you maintain a $20,000 minimum balance.
To receive APY rates higher than 0.45%, TD Bank has an incentive program called Rate Bump, which raises the APY when you link a mortgage, home equity loan or credit card. While other banks may offer more account options, TD excels in its accessibility and its commitment to customer loyalty. As one of the top five banks in Boston, TD Bank provides easy branch access with over 40 branches in the city.
Best for Small Business: Citizens Bank
Not only does Citizens Bank have some of the best checking accounts for personal use, but they have some of the best checking accounts for business as well. As a reliable presence across Boston and much of Massachusetts, Citizens Bank has three different types of business checking accounts depending on your banking needs. Although some regional banks may provide slightly better perks on their business checking accounts, they only have that single business checking account or few branch locations, which may be too inflexible for small-business owners.
Citizens Bank's Clearly Better Business Checking account allows you to make up to 200 monthly transactions without paying a monthly maintenance fee. After the free 200 monthly transactions, each transaction is $0.50. Although the account requires an initial deposit of $100.00, it has no minimum balance requirement or other service fees. For businesses that make a higher number of monthly transactions, Citizens also offers a Business Advisor Checking—500 transactions per month and a $25.00 monthly maintenance fee that can be waived with a $10,000.00 balance. On this account, each additional transaction over that limit will cost you $0.30.
Summary of the Best Banks in Boston 2018
Deciding on the right bank account will depend on your personal needs and preferences. There are dozens of banks and even more bank account options, so we recommend that you do your own research to identify what you want in a bank. This list can provide you a baseline to compare any other competitive accounts you may find as you research.