November 24, 2022
  • November 24, 2022

Best Banks in California – Forbes Advisor

By on September 23, 2022 0

Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.

The best banks in California offer a wide selection of products to meet a variety of needs. competitive interest on savings accounts; manageable bank charges; and modern conveniences. The state’s largest banks are known for their highly rated customer service and they provide customers with convenient access from the Oregon state border to the Mexican border.

The Best Banks in California for Branches

California is home to more than 130 financial institutions, representing $1.19 trillion in total assets, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the US government agency that insures bank deposits.

The FDIC says the largest state filing markets are in California’s largest metropolitan areas:

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
  • San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad

National banks have large footprints in the Golden State. Major financial institutions Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America lead the banking load in California, operating the most branches in the entire state.

Banks with the most branches in California

The Best Banks in California for Customer Service

Customer service is often just as important as attractive rates and low or no bank fees when looking for the best bank.

The following banks are the best at taking care of their California customers, according to JD Power’s 2022 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. The average customer satisfaction score among banks in the state was 625, out of a possible 1,000.

Best California Banks for Customer Satisfaction

Types of Banks in California

California consumers have several categories of financial institutions to choose from that cater to different customer preferences and needs. Here are four of the most common banking options.

National banks

The state’s banking landscape is dominated by American banking giants, the big, well-known names with vast branch networks. They offer wide assortments of banking products, including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, and investment services. The state’s largest banks, namely Chase, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and Bank of America, each hold trillions of dollars in assets.

Regional banks

Regional banks have branch chains confined to one part of the United States, such as the western states or California alone. These medium-sized banks generally offer a range of banking products to individuals and businesses. The Federal Reserve defines a regional bank as a bank with total assets between $10 billion and $100 billion.

Community banks

More than 90% of US banks are community banks serving specific geographic areas. Depositors generally live within the local community and benefit most from loans from banks. California community banks may have only one or two branches and offer only a limited selection of banking products. The Fed says a community bank holds less than $10 billion in assets.

Online banks

Online banking might not be what you think of when you hear “California banks” because banks operate virtually anywhere – digitally – instead of through traditional physical locations. Some online banks offer a full range of products and services, while others only offer specific account types. Banks generally enjoy lower overhead costs than traditional banks and often pass the savings on to customers through competitive interest rates and lower bank charges.

How to Choose the Right Bank in California

Choosing the right bank depends on your financial situation, preferences and needs. Consider these factors when choosing a financial institution for your banking.

Accounts and services

Make sure the banks on your shopping list offer the accounts and services you need. Types of checking accounts include checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts. Full-service banks may provide additional products and services such as credit cards, loans, and investment services.

You may prefer to use several banks, to take advantage of their different strengths. One bank may offer more competitive rates, while another may offer more convenient access to the account.


Many banks charge one-time or ongoing fees for various services. A bank may charge a service fee for not maintaining a minimum balance each month. Other fees may include overdrafts, insufficient funds (NSF), excessive withdrawals, ATMs, late payments and wire transfer fees. Expensive bank fees can undermine your savings efforts.

Interest rate

Online banks and credit unions generally offer higher interest rates on deposit accounts than traditional banks. Scoring competitive APYs, or annual percentage returns, can maximize your efforts and build savings for various goals.


It’s not just about where you put your money, but also how easy it is to access your funds. Look for a bank that offers convenient ways to manage your accounts.

If you need cash, find a bank that offers free access to ATMs. Highly rated mobile banking app lets you manage your money 24/7 from anywhere in the world and often comes with services like online bill payment and mobile check deposits .

Customer service

There may be times when you need help with your accounts. If talking to a real person is important, a bank that has local branches or offers personalized customer service over the phone may be the right choice for you. Some banks offer chat support, virtual assistants, and other digital support services. Look for a bank with support options that match your communication preferences.

California Banking Tips

Choosing a bank is a personal decision. The right bank for someone else may not meet your needs. Think about what’s important to you in a bank and compare the options available to find the one that’s right for you.

If you prefer the personal support of a physical bank, compare banks in your California area to find one that suits your needs.

A growing number of traditional banks have started offering digital banking services, but they often lack the competitive APYs found in top online banks. If you’re comfortable with online banking only, opening an account with an online bank can help you avoid fees while benefiting from higher interest rates. The same goes for credit unions if you meet the membership requirements.

There is no rule that you have to do all your banking in one place. Using two or more banks could be a great option if you like the features of different banks.

Find the best online banks of 2022