Best Free Checking and Branch Access: Zions Bank
Founded over 140 years ago by Brigham Young, Zions Bank has over 100 branches servicing Utah and is the most accessible bank with a presence in most parts of the state. Although Wells Fargo has more branches, its branches are almost wholly located in more urban areas, unlike Zions Bank branches, which are located across rural areas, too. Zions Bank also offers a great free checking option through its Anytime Checking Account, which stands out for its no monthly fee and only requires $50.00 to open.
This account offers many of the same features a national bank would, such as online and mobile banking, overdraft services and a cashback debit card. Other banks have similar features but require you to maintain a minimum or reach a certain amount in direct deposits each month before waiving the monthly fee, which can be upward of $10. However, the opening deposit requirement is higher than the $25 of major banks, and if you wish to receive paper statements, that will add an extra fee of $3 per month. Other fees may come from using other banks' ATMs or overdrawing your account.
There are also plenty of other accounts depending on your financial situation. Other accounts like the Anytime Interest Checking and Premium Interest Checking provide interest on your checking balances, with relatively low minimum balances of $1,500 and $10,000 to waive the monthly fee of $10 and $20 respectively. This is much better than other national banks that expect twice as much for you to earn the typical 0.01% APY you see on their interest checking accounts.
Best for Students: Chase Bank
The Chase College Checking account is the only truly free student account in Utah. Chase is the only bank where you can waive monthly account fees just by proving your student status. With over 50 branches within the state, Chase provides convenient access to students at schools like Brigham Young University and Utah Valley.
Besides offering convenient access, the Chase student account also stands out thanks to the lower monthly fee after you graduate from college. This fee is also more easily waived than those at competing banks. Finally, Chase makes it relatively easy to convert your student account into a full-fledged checking account once you graduate.
Best for Savings: CIT Bank
Most banks in Utah don't offer competitive savings rates, and money market accounts that do offer strong rates have high maintenance costs. As a result, we decided to look at online banks like CIT Bank, which lacks a physical brick-and-mortar presence but offers higher interest rates. CIT Bank offers one of the highest savings account interest rates of any bank in the nation, online or traditional. The CIT Money Market account offers an interest rate of 1.30% across all balances, only requires $100.00 to open and has no monthly fees.
However, choosing an online bank like CIT means that you sacrifice the ability to bank in person 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're used to banking on a single platform or like to transfer money quickly. This is similar to other online banks with high-yield savings offers, such as Marcus and Synchrony. If you prefer banking in person, there are solid local options in banking unions and local banks.
Best for Small Businesses: Wells Fargo
We found Wells Fargo to be best for small businesses due to the variety of financial products it offers for small-business owners. This includes three different types of business checking accounts and many different types of loans, all available at over 100 locations throughout Utah. Although Wells Fargo does not have the best reputation due to unsavory practices, the bank is currently experiencing significant internal change and regulatory oversight to prevent further controversy.
Wells Fargo's Simple Business Checking account is easy-to-open, with a low opening requirements and relatively low fee waivers. The account is further supported by a large variety of loans and Wells Fargo's large branch presence, which gives small-business owners convenient access to deposit cash and to conduct other banking services. This account includes 50 free transactions and $3,000.00 of cash deposits each month. Other major banks such as U.S. Bank offer as much as 150 free transactions and roughly the same amount of cash deposit for a similar account.
Finding the Right Bank for You
Deciding on the right bank account will depend on your banking habits. There are a large number of banks to look through and multiple bank account options at each one. We recommend that you identify what your top priorities for a bank are and research your options with those needs in mind.
You should also consider the various fees a bank may hide in the fine print—"free" accounts may end up costing you more in ATM fees, overdraft fees and wire transfer fees than a premium account that includes all those extras in the monthly costs.