As the U.S. economy recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic, banks and credit unions across the country have been at the forefront of a swift economic recovery. There are just over 10,000 banks and credit unions nationwide, most of them small-sized local lenders that are vital to American life, offering low-cost financial products and personalized customer service.
During the pandemic, these lenders were relied upon by small businesses and acted as the most active participants in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into millions of companies nationwide, forestalling layoffs and business closures. With the recovery in full swing, these banks and credit unions have gone on the offensive, lending to households buying homes and automobiles and helping existing homeowners refinance their mortgages to take advantage of low-interest rates.
Smaller, community-based lenders are the most competitive when it comes to offering low rates on mortgages, consumer loans, and deposit accounts. But there is a massive divergence on how well banks are doing. To gauge which firms have the most satisfied customers, Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to survey nearly 25,000 people in the U.S. about their banking relationships. The result is our fourth annual ranking of the Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions.
Consumers were asked 20 questions about their financial dealings. The banks and credit unions were rated on overall recommendations and satisfaction, as well as five subdimensions (trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services, and financial advice). Overall scores ranged from 77.38 to 95.63. Only 2.7% of all banks and 3.6% of all credit unions made our list.
National financial institutions with branches in at least 15 states were excluded from the final rankings. Nearly a dozen nationwide banks were omitted including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Bank, PNC Financial, U.S. Bank, Truist Financial, and Wells Fargo. Navy Federal Credit Union, which operates in over 30 states, was the only credit union eliminated for its scale.
Between one and five banks and up to ten credit unions in each state were awarded the Best-In-State designation, based on the number of responses in each state. On average, each bank and credit union received 40 consumer surveys that polled users on everything from the ease of use of mobile banking services to the transparency of fees and interest rates and the hours and accessibility of bank branches. Overall, 135 unique banks and 190 unique credit unions qualified.
Citizens Financial Group and Huntington Bancshares were the best-performing banks across multiple states, winning five awards each. Huntington Bancshares was the Best-In-State bank in Michigan and Ohio, ranked #2 in Indiana and Kentucky, and #3 in Pennsylvania, still operates a branch in Columbus, Ohio where it was founded in 1866. A top lender across the rust-belt and midwest, Huntington has $175 billion in assets, $142 billion in deposits, and $116 billion in loans and rising fast. Earlier in June, the firm closed its acquisition of TCF Financial, increasing its presence in states like Colorado and Minnesota.
Founded in 1828 in Providence, R.I., Citizens Financial Group was rated #2 in Michigan and its home of Rhode Island, #3 in Ohio and New Jersey, and #5 in Pennsylvania. Once owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, Citizens was re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and seen its stock roughly double in value, riding strong fundamentals in the U.S. economy. With $151 billion in deposits and $187 billion in total assets, Citizens’ loan portfolio is split roughly evenly between consumer banking loans and commercial banking loans, underscoring its presence with households and businesses, predominantly in the northeast.
Banks receiving three Best-In-State awards included Arvest Bank, BBVA, Citibank, Fifth Third Bank, and South State Bank, inclusive of its merger with CenterState Bank.
Arvest Bank, ranked #4 in the state of Kansas and #5 in Arkansas, is owned by the Walton family behind the Wal-Mart fortune. It operates across Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas and carries a history tracing back to the Walton family’s 1961 purchase of The Bank of Bentonville in the hometown of their retailing giant, Wal-Mart. Through acquisitions and expansion, Arvest has grown from $3.5 million in assets to $24 billion in assets and a footprint of 270 locations in 135 communities.
SouthState Bank was ranked #1 in our Best-In-State rating for Florida, #2 in Georgia and #3 in South Carolina. Last year, the Winter Haven, FL.-based lender completed its merger with South Carolina-based Center State Bank, roughly doubling the lender’s size and expanding its footprint into the Carolinas and Virginia. It now has $32 billion in deposits and $40 billion in loans and a branch network that touches six states across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Other banks receiving multiple Best-In-State awards include BancorpSouth, Banner Bank, Capital One, Fulton Bank, Great Southern Bank, IBC Bank, Peoples Bank, Renasant Bank, and Washington Trust Bank.
Top-ranked banks in states also included smaller lenders with specialized services in just a small number of states. Skowhegan Savings in Skowhegan, Maine topped our list for the state of Maine, while
Hills Bank, First Security Bank, Points West Community Bank, Conway National Bank, and First Community Bank topped our rankings in Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Arkansas, respectively.
The top-scoring bank overall was First Bank Kansas, which received an overall ratio of 94.13. Founded in 1961 by Glenn Bramwell at the bank’s present-day main office in Salina, Kansas, First Bank has been a family-owned lender for its entire history.
Members-only credit unions are the unheralded lifeblood of the U.S. economy, where tens of millions of Americans turn for the most competitive interest rates on financial products like mortgages. Their nonprofit model, where members of a bank are its owners, helps put customers first and results in higher levels of satisfaction.
Many of America’s biggest credit unions were founded decades ago by workers of large local businesses, military bases, union groups, and industries looking for banking services have grown into large institutions with tens of thousands of customers, large loan portfolios, and sophisticated digital banking services.
The credit union with the top score overall was Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, based in Chatanooga, Tennessee, which scored 95.63. Founded in 1936, a few years after then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, TVFCU was to serve members of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility that was a staple of the “New Deal.” Workers of the TVA built hydroelectric power on the Tennessee River, which now is the foundation of a utility serving 10 million people in six states. The credit union for these employees, TVFCU, now serves 160,000 members across 19 branch locations, carrying the mission “people helping people.” Assets at the credit union now stand at nearly $2 billion, while deposits are $1.7 billion.
Credit unions typically operate locally, but five of them qualified as best-in-state in multiple locales.
Mountain America Credit Union, founded in the 1930s, finished in the top five in Arizona, Utah, and Idaho, where it ranked first. With $13 billion in assets and 990,000 members, it is one of the largest and fastest-growing credit unions in the country, covering customers in the American West and Rocky Mountain regions.
America First Credit Union placed first in Nevada and second in Utah. Founded in 1939 in Salt Lake City, Utah, America First initially used a Prince Albert tobacco can to hold all of its cash deposits— then just $788. It has since grown into a large lender in Mountain West states. Total membership stands at nearly 2 million members, making it the fifth-largest credit union in America by its membership. America First’s $15.9 billion in assets makes it the eighth-largest credit union by assets.
Community America Credit Union, DCU, Visions Federal Credit Union, and Security Service Federal Credit Union, founded in 1956 at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, were other credit unions to receive multiple best-in-state credit union awards.
Other top-scoring credit unions were small credit unions serving specialized communities. Founded in 1953, Alamogordo, New Mexico-based Otero Federal Credit Union is among the smallest in the country, with just 95 total employees. It ranked second overall according to our survey with a score of 93.65, ranking #1 in New Mexico.
Among the other Best-In-State credit unions with the highest overall ratings were Visions Federal Credit Union in New York, ELGA Credit Union in Michigan, CSE Federal Credit Union in Ohio, and Sikorsky Financial Credit Union in Connecticut, all of which received scores above 92.
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