Best Banks in Alaska: 3 Choices That Put Customers First

If you are on the hunt for the perfect bank in Alaska, you are in the perfect place – read on for all you need to know!

Updated April 2024
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Fact checked by John Wayman

Best banks in Alaska featured image

The Last Frontier is known for its vast wilderness, stunning views, and unique wildlife.

But did you know that Alaska also has a vibrant banking sector?

With more than 35 banking institutions and 100+ branch locations across the state, Alaskans have plenty of options when it comes to finding the right financial institution for their needs. From big national banks to smaller local credit unions, this article explores some of the best banks in Alaska.

 Types Of Banks

Before we take a closer look at some of the banks in Alaska, it’s important to understand the different types of financial institutions that offer banking services that we considered.

The most common types of banks are local banks, which are chartered in the state they operate in, regional banks, which operate across multiple states, and national banks, which offer services nationwide.

Online banks are becoming increasingly popular, too, and can offer all the same features as a traditional bank without customers having to visit a physical branch.

In our analysis of the best banks, we took a look at one of each of these types of banks and then we used the criteria below to determine the best options.

Note: we have included credit unions in our analysis and competitive set. 

Choosing The Best Bank

While you can use many criteria to select a bank, and potentially get bogged down in analysis in the process, we used the 3 criteria below as our key drivers to make selections.

1. Banking Fees And Rates

One of the most important things to consider when searching for the best bank is fees and rates. With so many banking products and services essentially offering the same thing, we think it’s critical to really hone in on the financial and economic competitiveness of the bank you’re thinking about selecting.

Checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, business banking and loans (obviously) all come with associated fees and rates, so it’s important to compare these across different banks in order to find the most cost-effective option.

2. Customer Service Feedback and Scores

You definitely want to check the customer service reputation of any bank you’re considering. You want to make sure that the customer service is friendly and helpful, as this can make a big difference when it comes to banking.

We like to scan multiple different customer feedback sites and portals to get a feel here. We’ll look at things like BBB, Yelp, Facebook, and WalletHub, as well as industry reports like annual ones produced by Forbes and J.D. Power.

3. Convenience For Our Particular Situation and Preferences

Another important factor to consider when choosing a bank is convenience. Many banks now offer online and mobile banking, which makes it easier to manage your accounts on the go.

It’s also important to consider how many branches the bank has, as this can make a big difference when it comes to visiting a branch in person.

While we’ve moved completely online and don’t visit physical bank branches for our own personal banking, some people still want that in-person touch.

Facts about Banks in Alaska 1

Best Banks In Alaska – Our Picks!

Now that you know what criteria to look for when choosing a bank, let’s take a closer look at some of the best banks in Alaska we’ve found.

1. Best Local Bank: Northern Skies Federal Credit Union

If you are looking for a truly local experience, the Northern Skies Federal Credit Union is a great option. This credit union was founded in 1975 and has served the community ever since, offering competitive rates and excellent customer service.

Banking Fees And Rates

The basic peak Rewards Checking account is the perfect option for customers on the hunt for basic, everyday banking, with no monthly fee to hold and access the account.

The most exciting product we found though, is their “Peak” checking account, which offers a quite high-interest rate for a checking account. While the high rate is exciting, you’ll have to meet some odd requirements to get that high rate, like having a direct deposit and at least 12 “signature-based, non-PIN” debit card transactions every single month. So, if you’re willing to track that (and more), it could be worth checking (sorry for the pun!) out.

The other account offered, the Member Checking account, does incur a monthly fee of just $5 – but this can be waived in exchange for a minimum balance of just $100, or an active direct debit remaining in place.

Some of their fees were nicely low, like only charging a buck for a cashier’s check, but like many small banks they do still have some annoying fees that are free elsewhere, like $20 for wires.

Many of the rest of their products are roughly in line with current market rates, on both the deposit and borrowing side.

Customer Service

The customer service team at Northern Skies Federal Credit Union is known for its commitment to delivering excellent customer service. We noticed above-average customer feedback across platforms.

In addition, the commitment that the bank has made to the community means that they place customer service and satisfaction at the heart of everything they do, and this is reflected in the positive reviews.

Convenience

Northern Skies Federal Credit Union has two branches across Alaska, making it an option for those who want to visit their local branch for assistance while maintaining a smaller, more intimate feel.

The bank also offers online banking and mobile apps for customers who prefer more digital options, so you can manage their accounts on the go.

The credit union is also partnered with Allpoint ATMs, meaning customers can access over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide. This makes it easy and convenient to access your funds when traveling.

Reputation

Northern Skies Federal Credit Union has a strong reputation within the local community of Alaska, with customers praising them for their commitment to customer service and competitive rates.

Special Services

Northern Skies Federal Credit Union also offers a number of special services, such as free financial education seminars to help customers better understand their finances.

Summary

  • Fees: One fee-free account, and one with a $5 fee that can be waived
  • 24/7 customer service: Yes
  • Mobile banking: Yes
  • Online banking: Yes
  • Account types: Checking and saving
  • Interest-earning savings accounts? Yes
  • Special notes: Real focus on community engagement and assistance
Facts about Banks in Alaska 2

2. Best Nationwide Bank: Wells Fargo

If you are looking for a nationwide bank, Wells Fargo is an excellent option. With 43 branches across the state, this is an accessible, convenient option for those living in Alaska. Wells Fargo also offers competitive rates and fees, as well as great customer service.

We know Wells Fargo has had some major reputation and trust issues in the past. We think that’s largely behind them and are encouraged by the reforms they’ve made. We like the additional controls and oversight they have put into place since their scandals. 

Banking Fees And Rates

Most of the checking accounts at Wells Fargo come with a low monthly service fee, which ranges from $5 to $35 depending on the account you choose. This fee can, however, be waived if you meet certain minimum requirements, which are pretty low, most people won’t have much of an issue being above these minimums. 

Wells Fargo also offers competitive interest rates on its savings accounts, making this a solid option for those looking to grow their money.

Customer Service

Wells Fargo has a dedicated customer service team who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone or email.

Customer service is known for being friendly and helpful, making this an ideal option for those looking for great customer service. In addition, the high number of branches available across Alaska means that assistance is available when needed.

Convenience

As we mentioned, there are 43 branches of Wells Fargo across Alaska, making this a super convenient local option for customers on the hunt for a bank. The bank also offers online and mobile banking services, making it easy to manage your accounts on the go.

As you would expect from a major, nationwide bank, that is one of the largest in the world, their online and mobile banking suite of technology is modern and top-notch. 

Summary

  • Fees: Fees on all checking accounts – can be waived by maintaining a minimum balance.
  • 24/7 customer service: Yes
  • Mobile banking: Yes
  • Online banking: Yes
  • Account types: Checking and saving
  • Interest-earning savings accounts? Yes
  • Special notes: 43 branches in Alaska for easy accessibility

3. Best Online Only Bank: Ally Bank

For those who prefer to do their banking online, Ally Bank is an excellent option. Ally offers competitive rates and fees, as well as 24/7 customer service.

The bank also allows customers to access over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide, so you can access your money wherever you are.

Banking Fees And Rates

Ally Bank offers several different banking accounts, including a checking account with no monthly service fee and an interest-bearing savings account with a high rate compared to most other banks.

A key feature and differentiator of the Ally checking accounts is the ability to divide your spending into “buckets”, such as Groceries, Home, and Vacation.

This allows you to easily keep track of your spending and budget better and makes it super easy to manage your money.

Customer Service

Ally Bank is known for its excellent customer service, which is available 24/7 by phone or email.

In addition, Ally offers a range of online educational resources to help customers make the most of their money

Convenience

Ally Bank offers online and mobile banking services, so you can access your accounts whenever and wherever you need to.

The bank also allows customers to access over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide, so you can easily get your hands on cash when needed.

Reputation

Ally Bank is highly rated by customers and ranks third in JD Powers 2022 U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study, indicating its strong reputation for offering excellent customer service and competitive rates.

Summary

  • Fees: No monthly service fee on the checking account. Interest-earning savings accounts are available.
  • 24/7 customer service: Yes
  • Mobile banking: Yes
  • Online banking: Yes
  • Account types: Checking, savings and investments
  • Interest-earning savings accounts? Yes
  • Special notes: Ability to divide spending into categories to make it easier to manage your money
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Despite it's separation from the rest of the country, Alaskans have solid banking options

Banks in Alaska offer a range of services to their customers.

Wells Fargo is an ideal option for those looking for great customer service and convenience, while Ally Bank is the perfect choice for those who prefer to do their banking online (if you’re curious about other Banking groups like Stockman Bank, check out our review here).

Whichever option you choose, make sure to closely compare rates and fees before making your decision.

Sources

Editor's Note:

At Personal Finance Guru, we want to help you maximize your lifestyle through personal finance. You can trust the integrity of our independent financial advice. Our opinions are our own and have not been provided, reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any advertiser or financial product provider. To support and grow the site, however, we may receive compensation from the issuers of some products.

Meet the author:

Cody Beecham

Cody Beecham

Founder/Owner/Editor/Author

Cody is the founder and owner of Personal Finance Guru. His day job is as a management consultant at one of the Top 3 firms (think Mckinsey, Bain), where he advises Fortune 500 C-suite clients on their most important and pressing business problems. He completed his business education at Harvard Business School. 

After seeing the lack of personal finance education for regular people, Cody started the website with the mission to provide everyone access to information that will help them achieve their financial goals.

Cody approaches personal finance from a maximalist perspective, shunning typical advice around simply not buying a cup of coffee instead of more effective methods like investing in yourself to quickly grow your income. 

He believes in saving money and investing for the future, but he also knows that you need to enjoy life today. That’s why Cody approaches money with a sense of humor and a positive attitude. He knows that if you’re not having fun while you’re growing your wealth, then what’s the point?

Cody approaches life with the same gusto that he brings to personal finance. He loves to travel and experience new cultures, and he is an avid reader and learner. He also enjoys playing sports (especially tennis) and spending time with his family and friends.