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  • Writer's pictureStephen Boatman

Bank Account Tier List for North Carolina Residents

The difference between choosing the right bank(s) to hold your money and the wrong one could be a $10,000 decision over someone's lifetime. I don't recommend chasing the highest interest rate on savings accounts that could bait and switch you. But, I do recommend that you decide which bank to use based on your personal needs, reputation, fees, location, customer service, bank strength, and savings account interest rates.

With this in mind, I will discuss my recommended bank structure, banks I am most likely to recommend, least likely to recommend, and a few extra bank options for those who are curious about lending for cars, homes, and real estate investments.

Ideal Bank Structure

I recommend that most people have three bank accounts and small business owners have at least four. If you like having a face to face conversation at the bank and regularly withdraw or deposit more than $500 of cash then i'd recommend using a bank with a physical location for your savings and checking account and your third account being a high-yield savings account. The best rates I've seen for HYSA's are with online banks. I'd also recommend a small business checking account if you are a small business owner. The business account is often easiest to have at the same location as your personal savings and checking accounts.

Ideal Banking Structure

Brick & Mortar Banks

These are your Bank of America's, Truist, PNC, 5/3, SECU, and First Citizens. They typically don't have the best interest rates on savings accounts, auto loans, or mortgages and could have dated websites. However, they do have a physical location, the ability to receive and provide large amounts of cash for a car purchase or other items. The only time I'd recommend bypassing one of these banks is if you never go into the bank, hardly use cash, and if you do use cash it's less than $500.

Best Options:

  1. First Citizens

  2. SECU (State Employees Credit Union)

  3. Truist

Worst Options:

  1. Wells Fargo

  2. Bank of America

  3. Citibank

America's Worst Banks at a Glance

You can read more about why these banks aren't preferred in the blog by the Penny Hoarder HERE. The banks I don't recommend have many unresolved complaints and tend to have more fee errors and customer service issues than is expected.

I do like local credit unions, but the downside to using a small credit union is if you move, you will likely want to set up an account with an in-town bank for the reasons we discussed earlier.

Best High Yield Savings Account Bank

  • Ally has a great brand name, financial strength, and a track record of not baiting and switching its savings account interest rate. Its savings account currently has a 4.2% interest rate. Ally also has a useful brokerage/investment side of its bank if you want to keep your investments and bank accounts all under one roof.

  • Marcus: Goldman Sachs HYSA currently offers a 4.4% interest rate and has a good brand name and track record.

  • Robinhood: If you are a gold member paying $5/mo, then Robinhood offers a 5% interest rate on their savings accounts.

  • Altruist: This is the bank I use and recommend to my clients that pays a 5.1% rate and doesn't require a membership fee. However, you need a relationship with a financial advisor who uses Altruist to access these accounts.

Best Bank for Real Estate Investors

Real Estate Investor Lending in NC:

  • I prefer Towne Bank in NC because they tend to be more flexible regarding real estate investment properties and rehabs.

Real Estate Lending Nationwide:

  •  Baseline Bank is built around real estate investors and specifically for landlords. Because of this, some tools associated with the bank make the landlord process a little easier.

Primary Home Mortgage Lending: Amerisave or Loan Depot

When it comes to mortgage lending, the marginal .25% rate difference may seem small but end up costing thousands of dollars over the next few years. Not to mention, this interaction is very transactional. Because the relationship is short-lived, I would prefer to work with someone who may take more effort on my end, such as Amerisave or Loan Depot, to earn a lower rate on the mortgage and save money in the long run.

Remember that these banks are a great place to start your mortgage shopping, but I recommend checking with a broker to compare rates and ensure you are getting the best rate available in the marketplace.

Best Bank/Credit Card Relationship

Alliant Credit Union: Alliant doesn't offer the best HYSA rate at 3.3%, but they do offer a cash-back credit card that pays 2.5% back on all monthly purchases up to $10,000/mo, and after $10k/mo, it drops to 1.5%. This is the best cash-back rate I've seen, but it requires you to have a full-time banking relationship and make payroll deposits within a checking account they have under their company.

The other cash-back card I like is the Citi Double Cash Back card, which offers 2% back on all purchases and has no annual fee. It isn't fancy or metal but it is a great cash-back card.

Preferred Auto Lending Bank: Pen Fed Credit Union

Preferred Home Equity Line of Credit Bank: SECU or other local credit unions.


There is nuance to everyone's specific financial need and what bank is best for them, but this list is a great place to start. I have worked with hundreds of people and discussed when they are dissatisfied with their banks and when they are happy with them. The recommendations above are the ones from which I hear the fewest complaints and the most satisfied customers. If you have any questions regarding the above, then shoot me an email or phone call.

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