Forbes’ Nationwide Best Banks and Credit Unions 2022

The country’s 4,839 regional and local banks and 5,041 credit unions are very different financial beasts from the largest banks in the United States. The giant banks have substantial revenues from their trading departments, investment banking departments and global lending operations. In contrast, smaller banks and credit unions operate a leaner business model and often focus solely on the basic banking functions of taking deposits and originating loans.

This emphasis on blocking and attacking banks means that smaller financial institutions offer a much clearer view of what’s happening in the real economy. It also underscores the importance of customer satisfaction and loyalty to business success – especially in the current economic environment.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and rapid economic recovery, macroeconomic forces tilted in favor of the financial sector as trillions of dollars in government stimulus packages and Paycheck Protection Program loans flowed through the banking system. Consumers were eager to borrow for bigger homes and new cars, and fewer defaulted on their payments.

The difference between short and long-term interest rates was also helpful. Banks typically borrow short-term and lend money for longer-term mortgages and auto loans at interest rates that tend to track 10- and 30-year government bond yields. Profit is the net amount of interest, with banks making more money as the spread between the interest rates at which they can borrow and those at which they lend widens.

Over the past two years, smaller banks and credit unions have thrived as long-term interest rates began to rise significantly while short-term rates remained at historic lows near zero. When that margin narrows, the most efficient banks are better equipped to deal with the narrowing spreads.

Click here for full coverage of America’s Best Banks in each state.

The economic environment in which banks and credit unions operate is now becoming increasingly difficult as the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world embark on a committed course of short-term interest rate hikes to combat the highest inflation in more than 40 years. The aim is to slow down the economy and achieve rising prices by making borrowing more expensive for banks, companies and consumers.

As economic tailwinds fade and potentially turn into headwinds, the need to nurture customer relationships becomes even more critical and a more pressing concern for small banks and credit unions. The companies with the highest customer satisfaction enjoy a long-term competitive advantage over less experienced practitioners of customer satisfaction and retention.

The fifth annual Forbes ranking of Best-in-state banks and credit unions offers a comprehensive overview of the elite of America’s smaller financial institutions.

Forbes has teamed up again with market research firm Statista to conduct in-depth interviews with more than 26,000 US citizens from all 50 states about the financial institutions with which they have accounts. Customers provided an overall satisfaction rating and whether they would recommend a facility to friends and family. They also answered a detailed set of satisfaction questions across six key areas: trust, terms and conditions (including reasonable and transparent fees), branch services, digital services, customer service and financial advice.

Click here for full coverage of America’s Best Banks in each state.

Excluded from the ranking were institutions that have offices in more than 14 states, which excludes large national banks such as Bank of America from consideration
JPMorgan Chase
Bank and Wells Fargo
. With more than $150 billion in assets and 11.3 million members, Navy Federal Credit Union was the only credit union to be delisted due to its massively disproportionate size compared to other credit unions.

Between one and five banks and credit unions in each state, the Best in State award was given based on the number of responses in each state. Each bank and credit union received, on average, completed survey responses from 50 surveys that asked consumers about topics ranging from the ease of use of mobile banking to transparency of fees and interest rates, to bank office hours and accessibility.

Total scores ranged from 74.2 to 93.6, and 133 unique banks and 171 unique credit unions qualified for the Best in State award, which equates to just 2.7% of all US banks and 3.4% of all credit unions .

A trio of larger regional banks – Fifth Third Bank
Huntington and Synovus
Bank – Received Best in State awards in four different states, Citizens Bank and M&T Bank
earned awards in three. Top 10 banks in two states include: BancorpSouth
capital one
City National Bank, First National Bank of Omaha, Gate City Bank, Great Southern Bank, South State Bank, Washington Trust Bank, Webster Bank
and Wes Banco

A handful of elite banks from five different states earned the highest scores from their clients: Rhode Islands BankRI (91.41), DL Evans Bank (90.86) in Idaho, Wisconsin’s Tri City National Bank (90.37), Vermont’s Community National Bank (90.14) based in Derby and New Peoples Bank (90.01) in Honaker, Virginia.

Click here for full coverage of America’s Best Banks in each state.

Credit unions have long offered their members who have had money to lend a way to use it to lend to members who wish to borrow. Their not-for-profit model flourished in the United States in the 20th century, when groups of employees from large corporations, school boards, local governments, and the military came together to offer each other competitive interest rates on savings and loans on reasonable terms. Today there are more than 5,000 credit unions in cities and towns large and small across the country.

Aside from simple savings and checking accounts, millions of Americans turn to credit unions when they need a mortgage to buy a home, a loan to buy a vehicle, or capital to finance their business. Now that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to fight inflation, that could mean a slowdown in credit demand, although rising rates will tempt many members to stock up on their savings. Keeping customers for life will remain the name of the game for the best credit unions.

Click here for full coverage of America’s top credit unions in each state.

As the roles of credit unions and banks become increasingly blurred in the eyes of consumers, mergers and acquisitions have become active, with buying going both ways between banks and credit unions. In fast-growing states like Florida and Texas, where demographics have driven up the volume of home and auto loans, credit unions are often more willing to buy than banks.

The data suggests that expansion hasn’t come at the expense of customer satisfaction for the 543 employees at Tampa-based Grow Financial (91.06), which earned the highest overall score in the Sunshine State. Other Florida credit unions receiving Best in State honors include Pen Air Federal (89.71) in Pensacola, Community First (88.07) and VyStar (87.30) in Jacksonville, and Tampa-based Suncoast Credit Union (86.75).

The top 5 highest scorers in 2022 nationally are WEOKIE from Oklahoma City
Federal Credit Union (93.64), Northwest Community Credit Union (92.96) based in Eugene, Oregon, UniWyo Credit Union (92.53) based in Laramie, Wyo, CoVantage Credit Union (92.32) based in Antigo, Wisconsin, and STCU ( 92.07) from Liberty Lake, Washington.

About Stephanie McGehee

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