SAN FRANCISCO (2/10/14)--Everyone wants to get the most bang from their buck and, according to NerdWallet, where you live makes difference on how big that bang is. If there are credit unions available in your city, it's likely to make the bang significantly bigger.
NerdWallet applied six factors--stability of the financial institutions, range of unique banking options, access to a local branch, interest on an average savings account, checking account fees, and percentage of people who have a financial account of some type and haven't recently relied on alternative financial services--to the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S.
Consensus by the personal finance website? Credit unions were a common theme in the top 10 for basic consumer banking--rates, fees and accessibility.
For the second year, No. 1 on the list is Cincinnati, Ohio, where consumers have access to more than 120 branch locations per 100,000 residents, and fee-free accounts are available at local financial institutions such as $66 million-asset Cintel CU.
With almost 80 financial institutions, No. 2 Pittsburgh has a wide range of options from a large national bank to a credit union such as Riverset CU, $119 million in assets.
Washington, D.C., jumped three spots because of its higher-than-average savings yield of 0.13%, and NerdWallet noted $50 million-asset DC Government Employees FCU.
Lower checking fees--$8.24 on average; credit unions such as WEA CU, $28 million in assets, with no monthly fees; and a population that is 85.5% fully banked put Madison, Wis., in fourth place.
Coming in at No. 5, Tulsa, Okla., has a stable environment--few bank or credit union closures--and favorable interest rates from local institutions.
In Miami, the access is easy and the choices are many--more than 70 unique financial institutions, including Financial FCU, $57 million in assets. The sixth-place metropolitan area also has a lower-than-average basic checking account fee of $7.88.
NerdWallet said the "consumer-friendly terms" of institutions such as $129 million-asset Alabama Central CU put Birmingham, Ala., at seventh place.
It you want to be fee-free, eighth-place Omaha is the place to be. The Nebraska city's average monthly checking fee is the lowest--just under $7--and Neighborhood Community FCU, $23 million in assets, is one that offers fee-free accounts.
Irvine, Calif., has a wide range of choices--28 unique financial institutions per 100,000 residents--making it the ninth-best consumer banking city.
Rounding out the top 10 is Rochester, N.Y., making its first appearance on NerdWallet's annual list. Accessibility is Rochester's strong point--there are 72 branches per 100,000 residents--giving residents many points of contact for in-person services.