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A Guide to The Best U.S. Banks

written by: randalarias•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/5/2011

As The Economist said, "Trying to work out which banks are the world's best is a bit like awarding the prize for prettiest war-torn village." This article will discuss the banks that are doing the best right now and deserve your business, no matter what your needs.

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    Best Banks for Personal Accounts

    When comparing the best and worst US banks, the first stop is of course Bank of America (BOA). This huge bank is also one of the best for a variety of reasons. BOA offers customers free online and mobile banking and has chains all over the country. Javelin Strategy & Research also determined that Bank of America does more than any bank to protect its customers from identity theft and fraud. Although BOA receives the highest number of complaints, this is normal due to its size. Next is Wachovia Inc., which receives the highest customer satisfaction with checking and savings accounts, as well as personal loans.

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    Best Banks for Small Businesses

    A number of the best US banks are ideal for small business owners and target their services to these individuals. The best bank to use for your small business, especially if you need a loan, is usually a bank you already do business with. Still, Wells Fargo offers great services for any small business. You can get free online banking for your business account, along with access to tools like QuickBooks and Microsoft Money. Their online banking includes business bill pay, online invoicing, Direct Pay for overnight payments and Foreign Exchange Online for any global payments. You'll get cutomized spending reports for your business and the ability to stay in control of your business accounts by assigning view-only account access to up to 25 employees or bookkeepers.

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    Best Online Banks

    Online banks have many benefits over standard, brick-and-mortar banks. They usually offer low--if any--fees for account services, rarely charge for online bill-pay, and offer many valuable services like the ability to view cancelled checks and transfer money easily between accounts for free. Some online banks are online-only, with no real address you can visit. Others are brick-and-mortar banks that offer online banking to customers. Here are the best things to look for in an online bank: no fees, plenty of online resources like transfers and check viewing, email reminders and budgeting tools. The number one online bank is currently, which offers all the resources you're looking for. Wells Fargo online banking offers bill pay, mobile banking, access to an online brokerage account, budget help, and check viewing. The next best online bank is Bank of America's online banking at Enrolling with Bank of America is easy and gives you access to mobile banking, account statements online, free bill pay, check viewing, the ability to link your credit card and view a brokerage account, email alerts, and quick online transfers.

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    Worst Banks

    When choosing a bank for your business, remember that the worst banks are those that often have the highest number of complaints, offer few services targeted at small business owners and charge unfair fees for services. The top five worst banks that are FDIC-regulated are Advanta Bank Corp., American Express Centurion Bank, Applied Bank, Bank of the West and Barclays Bank Delaware. Personal account holders should seek out banks with good customer service and afforable or low fees. The banks with the highest number of customer complaints are Bank of America, Morgan Chase and Citigroup, although you need to take into account the size of the bank in relation to the number of complaints.

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