Best for Checking: First Merchants Bank
Also known as Lafayette Bank & Trust, First Merchants Bank is the best place in Indiana to get a checking account. The First Merchants Carefree Checking account requires just a single transaction, such as a deposit or debit card purchase, to waive the low monthly fee of $0.00. This account's easy waiver requirement and its unique debit card rewards program put it ahead of other free accounts from competitors like First Financial or Chase.
The bank's debit card offers additional benefits like extended warranties, price protection and satisfaction guarantees, which give you some coverage on your purchases. You also have identity theft protection and zero liability on purchases you didn't make. Lastly, this debit card even has its own rewards program, where you can earn points, which are redeemable for gifts, just by using your card. These types of features are rarely found at other banks, and usually only found on credit cards, making this account an excellent choice for those who don't like to use credit cards or do not qualify for rewards credit cards.
Best for Branch Access: First Financial Bank
We picked First Financial Bank as the most convenient option in Indiana, with 126 branches across the state. Although Chase Bank does operate more Indiana branches, First Financial has a much greater branch presence in areas outside of the state's major cities. This makes it an accessible choice for most Hoosiers, regardless of how far they live from a city like Indianapolis or Fort Wayne.
First Financial's f1RST Choice Checking account gives you several other features that add to its convenience factor, with Allpoint ATM access to over 55,000 ATMs nationwide and online banking options that you can use with a computer or smartphone. This account only requires $50.00 to open, and has a low monthly fee of $0.00, which can be reduced by $0.20 every time you use your debit card. The opening requirement is higher than most major banks, but carries a much lower monthly fee than banks such as Chase Bank.
Best for Students: First Merchants Bank
The First Merchants Carefree Checking account is our top choice among student checking accounts for Indiana. It provides all the features mentioned above, but offers no fees or requires any waiver requirements for students—it's free for students under the age of 25. Most banks only allow student accounts to remain feeless for up to four years, but the 25-year-old age limit is standard with the rest of the industry.
Overall, the account provides students safety and flexibility, with many features and options like free overdraft protection, a debit card loaded with features and online banking. Most banks only allow withdrawals from their own ATMs, and may charge a high fee just to withdraw cash from out-of-network ATMs. However, First Merchants provides access to the MoneyPass ATM network, which adds thousands of ATMs across America to their network. These features go far beyond what typical student checking accounts at other banks offer, and are even rare amongst standard checking accounts.
Best for Savings: CIT Bank
When we looked at savings account rates in Indiana, we found that brick-and-mortar banks offer far lower rates than the rates offered at online-only savings accounts. That's why we recommend CIT Bank, a nationally available online bank whose savings builder account earns an APY of 2.40% across all balances, with no monthly fee—as long as you deposit $100 a month. To top off this high savings rate, CIT Bank offers some of the highest rates on short- and long-term CDs. Requiring $100.00 to open, the CIT Savings Builder account offers the one of the best savings rate in Indiana—so long as you're willing to bank online.
Choosing an online bank like CIT means that you give up in-person services in exchange for fewer fees and higher interest rates. Another drawback at CIT Bank is the lack of a checking account option, which can be inconvenient if you prefer keeping your accounts together in one bank. If you prefer banking in person, you can always combine this account with a regular checking account at a local institution.
Best for Small Business: Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank provides the most convenient small-business checking account in Indiana, along with a number of other useful financial products for entrepreneurs. With 125 branches across Indiana and counting, Fifth Third represents a viable banking choice for small businesses in many communities throughout the state.
At Fifth Third you get up to 250 free transactions and $5,000 in cash deposits a month on the Standard Checking Account, which is a lot more free transactions than a similar account at another major bank like Chase Bank. This account charges a monthly fee of $11.00 month, but can be easily waived. The two easiest ways to waive the monthly fee are to maintain $3,500 across your business accounts at Fifth Third or spend $500 on your Fifth Third business credit cards. The ability to easily waive a monthly fees is important because they can quickly add up and end up costing you hundreds every year.
Finding the Right Bank for You
Deciding on a bank account is difficult with the many banks and account options out there. If you can't find a bank that fits your banking preferences above, use our criteria as a baseline to compare any other competitive accounts you may find. Remember that fees aren't the only thing to consider. So long as you can meet the requirements to waive a monthly account fee, you'll want to look closely at the features you'll receive.
If banking with a national brand isn't a high priority for you, then you may want to check out your local credit unions or online bank options, which usually offer better terms but fewer branches nationwide. Finally, be sure to read the fine print of your account agreement in order to avoid being ambushed by account usage fees. Depending on your banking needs, it may make more sense to pay for a premium account in order to access free features that you'd otherwise pay for.