U.S. Bank Review

With a national headquarters in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank is one of the largest financial enterprises in the country. U.S. Bank’s origins date back to 1863 when it was called the First National Bank of Cincinnati. Today, the company employs some 74,000 employees and ranks fifth in terms of assets on deposit, with $467 billion under management.

Because this is such a big bank, it has a diverse mix of products available. For someone with specific needs, this works well because you can get exactly what you want and none of what you don’t. In addition to checking and savings accounts, U.S. Bank offers different investment services. From checking accounts without checks and competitive interest rates, U.S. Bank can cover your needs from graduation to retirement. Unfortunately, U.S. Bank’s interest rates are lower than average for its basic accounts.

How U.S. Bank stacks up

Pros
  • Options for every need
  • Decent interest rates
  • Free investment trades
  • Customers can borrow up to $25,000 without collateral
Cons
  • High minimum account balances to waive monthly fees
  • Monthly maintenance fees
  • Standard savings rate lower than average
  • Prepayment penalty on loans

 

What’s interesting about U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank has lots to offer with a variety of account types, different locations, and surprising perks. For instance, you can get free investment trades with certain checking accounts. Plus, some of the bank’s options come with higher-than-average interest rates as long as you qualify for the account. U.S. Bank also makes banking easy for people who may not have a high net-worth by waiving certain maintenance fees for young people, those still in school, and those over 65.

Things to consider

U.S. Bank is a big bank, so you might not get the individual attention you need with your finances. There are monthly maintenance fees on most of its accounts. While you may be able to have those fees waived in certain cases, it is still something to note. Minimum account balances will generally take care of it, but you have to have the cash on hand. Also, the interest rate on its standard savings account is lower than average.

Checking & savings accounts

U.S. Bank has five checking account options. All of them include free banking and no fees at any of the 28,000 ATMs in the U.S. Bank network. The first account is a no-check account called Safe Debit that charges a small monthly maintenance fee.

If you want a U.S. Bank checking account, there is a Student Checking account with no monthly maintenance fee for students and young people, as well as Easy Checking. This one comes with a monthly fee, but that amount is waived if you meet certain account balance requirements, have direct deposits over a certain amount, or the account holder is of retirement age.

U.S. Bank also offers two premium checking accounts. Gold Checking lets you enjoy up to 100 no-commission trades per year and up to two family member accounts. It has maintenance fees, but they can be waived if you have a loan or credit card with the bank. Platinum Checking includes everything that Gold Checking offers plus it pays interest. It also requires a monthly maintenance fee, but that can be waived if you meet a minimum account balance.

U.S. Bank also provides a Standard Savings Account. It requires $25 to open. It comes with no maintenance fee as long as you have $300 in your balance or the account holder is under 18. However, the interest rate is very low and there are better savings account rates out there.

Money market accounts

U.S. Bank has three types of money market accounts. There is an Elite Money Market Account that is open to everyone. It has a monthly fee, but it is waived when you meet account balance requirements. If you have a Platinum Checking or Gold Checking account at U.S. Bank, you can get a free money market account as part of a package.

All of U.S. Bank’s money market accounts have tiered interest, so the more you save, the higher your interest rate. The annual percentage yield (APY) is decent compared to most traditional banks. Depending on what U.S. Bank is offering in your area, you may find that you can get as much interest as an online bank.

CDs

U.S. Bank offers four term-lengths for its CD Special: nine months, 17 months, 37 months, and 59 months. The bank requires that you have at least $1,000 to open the CD, and the interest rate you receive is based on the term length. The longer the term, the higher your APY.

You can also choose a traditional CD. This option has a lower minimum opening deposit ($500) and more term options. You can choose a CD with a very short term, such as one or two months, or you can select a longer term up to 60 months. U.S. Bank also has a 28-month Step Up CD that bumps your interest rate up incrementally every seven months.

Credit cards

U.S. Bank offers eight different credit cards. There is a secured card for people who need to build or re-establish their credit ratings. For people who have established their creditworthiness, there are several options. Some of the cards have no annual fee, while others do. In general, paying the annual fee gets you access to bigger credit card rewards. Most of U.S. Bank’s credit cards allow you to accrue points on purchases, but the bank does offer a cash back credit card option.

Some of U.S. Bank’s credit cards are designed for people with high creditworthiness and high net worth, like the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card. It offers unique perks like concierge service, travel privileges, car service discounts, and access to airport lounges.

Personal loans

U.S. Bank touts two flavors of personal loans: short term funding like payday style advances and longer term unsecured personal loans based on credit score. Upfront, the lender requires no origination fee, but loans will only be extended to existing customers. Premier loan options let customers borrow up to $25,000 without collateral, including folks who don’t maintain a checking account. However, scheduling automatic payments from an internal deposit account will garner lower interest rates.

One drawback on the premier loan, with terms ranging from one to five years, springs from a prepayment penalty not openly disclosed on the bank’s website. Early payoffs can set you back up to 1% of the loan amount.

Mortgage loans

You’ll find a full menu of mortgage options at U.S. Bank, including government and conventional loans with both fixed- and adjustable-rate offerings. The minimum credit score for consideration is 620, and borrowers will need to plunk down at least 3% of the purchase price for a down payment. The institution features a mobile app and online application process to speed closings, and on average, transactions take about a little over a month from start to finish, according to bank officials.

If you’re looking for deals on closing costs and interest rates, you won’t find significant differentiation between U.S. Bank and competitors such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America. But, from 2013 through 2017, the lender did hold the highest customer J.D. Power customer rating among the three entities.

Mortgage refinancing

Homeowners seeking a shorter term or lower rate for their existing mortgage can choose from three options, and the process can be kickstarted on U.S. Bank’s website. If you’re looking for another option other than the bank that currently holds your mortgage, U.S, Bank offers a traditional program to move that obligation over, and cash-out options are available.

A third choice, called a Streamline Refinance, applies to current U.S. Bank borrowers who crave a better deal or rates and terms. Unlike competitors that advertise refi rates online, customers applying for U.S. Bank funding will have to move deeper into the application process to pinpoint principal and interest repayments.

Home equity loans and HELOCs

When looking to tap the equity in your primary dwelling, you can investigate the home equity loan and line of credit (HELOC) options offered by U.S. Bank. Occasionally, the bank will advertise introductory rates for 12 months until longer-term rates kick in. Currently, that special program features a starting annual percentage rate of 3.99% for top-tier credit, which then shifts to a variable rate for the remainder of the term. Borrowers can then draw off the line for up to 10 years and repay the obligation throughout a 20-year time frame.

Rates on loans and lines are below the nationwide average. Banks like Fifth Third Bank have a better introductory rate, but a higher ceiling of 12.2% looms for folks lacking excellent credit scores.

Car loans

Auto loan shoppers will find a variety of lending programs at U.S. Bank, including one where you can borrow up to 120% of a vehicle’s value. The bank’s website clearly lays out options on how to refinance and offers information on buying a used car versus a new one. Loan calculators are embedded to help you arrive at an affordable payment.

In light of the 4.59% rate (about 40 basis points above the national average) on a 36-month term for a new vehicle, you could probably do better once again with a different lender that offers friendlier rates. Older car purchases may bear some further consideration, however, as rates for used vehicle mirror those for new ones.

The final word

U.S. Bank offers options for people just starting out, those rebuilding, as well as those with high net-worth, but options are limited for mid-tier consumers. There are account types that may work well for these people, but they are tailored for those with an eye towards investments. While it is by no means a bad option, as U.S. Bank offers interest rates on par or higher than other traditional banks, some consumers may not be able to take full advantage of the account features U.S. Bank offers.