We examined the largest banks to determine which ones stand out for their value, convenience and quality of service. Our recommendations cover a range of different needs, including checking, savings and small business banking in Texas.
Best for Checking Accounts
Most people looking for a new bank are interested in finding a better checking account. In our opinion, a good checking option should be cheap in fees and easy to access through ATMs, branches or online apps. We've found several banks in Texas that meet those criteria.
Best for Free Checking: BBVA Compass Bank
Compass Bank is the best place for customers who want to make sure they aren't charged a monthly fee on their checking accounts. While it doesn't match the reach of a national brand like Bank of America, Compass is one of the few large banks that provides free checking with no activity requirements. According to the bank itself, this represents an annual savings of $120, which is the average you can expect to pay for standard checking at larger banks when you fail to meet their activity requirements.
While the base version of the ClearChoice Free Checking account is free, Compass also includes the option to add several paid features, a sales model you won't easily find at other banks. Some of the optional benefits include paying $5 a month for unlimited free ATM transactions, $3 a month for a safe deposit box and $2 a month for unlimited personal checks. While most people won't opt to pay for these services, Compass's decision to price them separately may prove helpful if your banking needs change later on.
Best Customer Service: Frost Bank
For anyone coming out of a negative relationship with their old bank, Frost Bank's strong reputation for superior customer service should strike a sympathetic chord. This bank has performed near the top in consumer satisfaction surveys and best-practices studies conducted by national organizations like JD Power and the Pew Charitable Trusts, making it our choice for the most customer-friendly bank in Texas.
Unlike most bigger banks, Frost doesn't use a mandatory arbitration clause in its account agreement. Arbitration clauses are often used by banks to prevent consumers from exercising their rights in open court. Some banks will also process certain daily transactions from biggest to smallest, rather than in the order they happen. Frost refrains from such unfriendly tactics, which are designed to maximize the overdraft fees a bank can collect. And finally, Frost's phone support connects you directly with a live representative, which should come as a relief to anyone who's gotten lost in the automated directory trees so popular with other banks.
The Frost Personal Account also outperforms national brands in terms of fees. It costs $5 in maintenance each month, but comes free if you have at least $100 in direct deposits or meet a daily minimum balance of $1,000. Both these waiver conditions are substantially lower than the standard $500 and $1,500 you'll encounter with a nationwide bank. However, Frost doesn't offer additional checking options for students or customers with higher balances, making this bank better for the general consumer than for special cases.
Best Branch Access: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo provides the greatest concentration of branch locations in most areas of Texas, making it a convenient choice despite the thoroughly average quality of its account products. Customers who prioritize brick-and-mortar access will appreciate Wells Fargo's nationwide network of ATMs and branches, which make it easy to access and manage your accounts at the bank in person.
With hundreds of branches covering every significant city in the state, Wells Fargo is available to the vast majority of Texans. Even if it's not precisely what you're looking for, this bank is worth studying as a measuring stick to determine the quality of your other local options. Wells Fargo's standard Everyday Checking account costs $10 each month, unless you make ten debit card transactions or meet a daily minimum balance of $1,500. You can also avoid this monthly fee with direct deposits totaling at least $500 a month.
In other respects, Wells Fargo delivers the usual features of a major banking brand: standardized service, well-developed online banking and a big selection of other financial products. We recommend Wells Fargo as a known quantity for people who are concerned with keeping all their finances in one place. While you won't find the highest interest rates or the lowest fees at Wells Fargo, you do gain the convenience of a bank that can handle checking, savings, credit cards, mortgages and investments.
Best Savings Account Rates
If you're looking to maximize your savings interest rates, keep in mind that the best rates are usually found at online-only banks. However, we also recognize that many customers prefer to keep their money in plain sight, at a bank that maintains physical offices and in-person service. We've put together a list of the strongest savings options among banks that actually operate in Texas.
Best Savings Rate: Capital One
The Capital One 360 Savings Account yields 0.40% on any amount you deposit, putting it far ahead of comparable savings options at other banks. Capital One Bank's interest rates are much higher than average for a bank that runs so many physical locations, making it the best choice if you want to access better rates but aren't willing to let go of in-person services altogether.
People who live within Capital One's physical "footprint" also have the option of several traditional accounts at this bank, but for most people we recommend going with the lower fees and higher rates on the Capital One 360 accounts. If you're interested in getting a standard checking experience alongside a high savings rate, you might consider opening a regular Capital One Essential Checking Account with your Capital One 360 Savings account. This combination should make it easier to transfer money from the checking account to a high-yield savings balance.
Best Rate for High Balances: BBVA Compass Bank
Besides its free checking account, Compass Bank also provides the highest savings rate for large balances. Customers who deposit at least $10,000 in the ClearChoice Money Market account earn 2.35% APY, a rate far above the current national average of 0.08%. While this rate is only available with accounts opened online, it's extremely unusual for such a high APY to come with no time limit. Many other banks offer similar rates in the first twelve months, but Compass Bank has not yet set a limit on this money market account.
People with lower savings amounts won't really benefit at Compass Bank, as the ClearChoice Money Market account falls to 0.05% APY when there's less than $10,000 on the balance. Falling below that number also puts you on the hook for the $15 monthly fee. However, Compass deserves mention as a great place to find free checking with no activity requirements. Its ClearChoice Free Checking Account includes the full suite of services you'd expect at a large regional bank, including mobile banking and access to free ATMs located throughout Texas.
Best for Small Business: First National Bank Texas
Small business banking works best when it's provided locally, and we found that First National Bank Texas provides a good mix of personalized service and affordable account products. Its entry-level Small Business Checking account is ideal for businesses that are just starting out, since you can avoid the $11.97 monthly fee with just ten debit card purchases each month. In addition to checking accounts, First National Bank Texas also offers a variety of small business loans and merchant services.
With over 300 branch locations mostly within the state, it's more than likely that your business is within range of First National Bank Texas. The bank's location and focus makes it more likely that its policies and staff training are tailored to business conditions in your particular neighborhood. Larger national banks may have a great advantage in terms of how much capital they can lend out, but such banks tend to be less flexible when it comes to negotiating specific details of your banking relationship.
Summary of Best Banks in Texas
Refer to the table below for a complete comparison of the banks we've covered, based on common figures like monthly fee, opening minimum and interest rate.
|Free Checking||BBVA Compass||$0||Free with no requirements|
|Customer Service||Frost Bank||$5||Free with $100 direct deposits OR $1,000 daily minimum|
|Branch Access||Wells Fargo||$10||Free with 10 debit card uses, $500 direct deposits OR $1,500 daily minimum|
|High-Yield Savings||Capital One||$0||Earns 0.05% APY on all balances|
|Big Savings Balances||BBVA Compass||$15||Earns 0.30% APY on $10,000 or more|
|Small Business Banking||First National Bank Texas||$11.97||Free with 10 debit card uses OR $250 daily minimum|
Finding Other Banks in Texas
Our analysis gave preference to banks that operate locally in as many parts of Texas as possible, but you may find smaller banks close to you that do an even better job of providing affordability and quality. This is especially true of smaller cities and towns, where larger banks don't necessarily invest as heavily in marketing and customer service as they do in huge cities like Houston or Dallas. If you're trying to evaluate the strength of your local options, use the rates and fees of the banks we've reviewed to guide your decision.
If everything seems more or less the same, ask yourself how you typically choose to access your bank. Most consumers prefer to work with banks that they can visit in person, but others find it inconvenient to make a bank run during their workday. Whether you prefer tellers, ATMs or your mobile app, identifying your primary banking channel can help you narrow down the ideal checking or savings account. The fees and features that different places offer in these areas can make the difference between a mediocre experience and a productive, long-term relationship.