If we asked if you were friends with your bank, what would you say?
If your answer is vigorously shaking your head “no,” then you might want to keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on speed dial.
This government organization started collecting consumer complaints in 2011. Apparently, a lot of people have something not-so-nice to say about financial institutions: More than half a million complaints are housed in its Consumer Complaint Database.
Data like this offers a snapshot of which banks are making their customers happy — and which are not.
The Worst-Rated Banks
What makes a good or bad bank for any customer depends on your needs. A comparison of features alone would be insufficient for calling out the worst banks in America. For that, we need to hear from customers themselves.
Consumer rights service company Fairshake analyzed reviews at Consumer Affairs and spotted the banks with the lowest ratings in the country, mapping the most-hated banks in each state, based on the number of one-star reviews on the consumer review site.
When all was said and done, these 10 were at the bottom of the heap in customers’ hearts nationwide:
- Bank of America
- Credit One Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Chase Bank
- US Bank
- PNC Bank
- TD Bank
- Fifth Third Bank
Runners up: Some regional banks topped the list of one-star reviews in their most popular states, including Associated Bank (Wisconsin), SunTrust (Georgia), BB&T (West Virginia), TCF National Bank (Minnesota), TD Bank (New England), Citizens Bank (Rhode Island), and Regions Bank (southeast U.S.).
Note that the banks with the most poor ratings are also some of the largest banks in the country — like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
It makes sense that companies with the most customers would be likely to have more reviews — and, therefore, a higher number of one-star reviews — so the ranking is probably a little skewed by size. For another measure of the most hated banks, you could look at complaints per a certain amount in deposits, which could tell you which banks have a higher rate of complaints.
But size isn’t the only reason these banks end up on the list. Other types of studies that account for a company’s size have shown that customers have a better experience with community-based banks and credit unions — which doesn’t surprise us!
What Makes These the Worst Banks?
Generally, we follow the rule folks have used for millennia to choose which services to buy: Listen to word of mouth.
When you’re shopping for a bank, review the features to make sure it has what you need, but make sure to look into customer reviews, ratings and complaints, too. How a bank handles difficult and unusual issues could make all the difference in your experience long term.
According to an analysis of reviews on its sit, banking review site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints customers have about bad banks, including:
- Poor customer service.
- Hidden fees
- Bounced check fees
- Issues with mortgages and loans
- Major errors or mistakes
- Products and services that don’t live up to what was advertised
Best Banks for Features and Promotions
Trying to stay away from the banks with the most complaints? We’ve rounded up our favorite banks and credit unions based on features we know consumers look for most, including convenience and perks.
These top our list of the best online banks:
- Axos Bank
- Capital One 360
- Ally Bank (How can a bank be on the best and worst list? Ally’s loan services tend to get a lot of negative customer reviews which lead to complaints being filed. For customers who use Ally for checking and savings, the satisfaction is significantly higher.)
- Alliant Credit Union
- CIT Bank
- Discover Bank
- Charles Schwab
If you’re thinking about making a switch, check out these best bank promotions for new customers.
Choosing a Bank to Fit Your Needs
Follow these tips when choosing a bank to find the one that’s best for you.
- Understand the types of banks. Know the difference between banks, credit unions and online banking platforms.
- Consider what you need. Look at your finances, and make a shortlist of features you’re looking for, so you know what to ask about.
- Make sure the money is secure. Only put your money in an account that’s insured by the FDIC (banks) or NCUA (credit unions).
- Crowdsource reviews. Read online reviews and ratings, and ask family and friends for their personal experiences with institutions you’re considering.
- Check the ATM network. If you expect to need cash often, check out an account’s ATM fees (or reimbursement policy!), and look at the size and location of the bank’s network to make sure you can find ATMs nearby when you need them.
- Compare interest rates and fees. Avoid losing your money to nickel and diming. Find an account with low fees and high APY interest.
- Look for usability. How’s the app and online banking? Does the account help with savings and money management?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Worst Banks in America
Here are our answers to some of the most common questions about bad banks.
Which Bank Has the Most Complaints?
According to a 2016 analysis by LendEDU, TCF National Bank had the most complaints per $1 billion in deposits (i.e. the highest rate of complaints). In 2021, the banking reviews site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints in its reviews: excessive fees, poor customer service, bounced checks, overdraft fees, loan issues, major errors and failing to live up to their advertised offers.
What is the No. 1 Bank in America?
The largest bank in the United States by assets is JPMorgan Chase & Co., the company formed in 2000 with the merger of investment banking institution J.P. Morgan and retail banking arm Chase Bank. As of 2022, JPMorgan Chase holds nearly $4 trillion in assets.
What’s the Worst Bank in the United States?
Bank of America has among the worst reputations with consumers in the country, ranking for some of the most complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as the lowest ratings with Consumer Affairs. It ranks alongside some of the largest banks in the country, including Wells Fargo, US Bank and JPMorgan Chase.
Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® and founder of Healthy Rich, a platform for inclusive, budget-free financial education. She’s written about work and money for publications including Forbes, The New York Times, CNBC, NextAdvisor, Insider and a column for Inc. Magazine.