National Banks Closing More than One Thousand Branches in US in 2019

by
Adam Rust

In 2019, national banks (those regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) consumated the closure of 1,629 bank branches. In 2020, the practice continues.

NOTE: If you are here to see if your bank is closing its branch offices during the COVID-19 pandemic, I keep a running tab on those annoucements on another page of my blog.

SECOND NOTE: If are looking to find an online bank account, perhaps because of the COVID-19 outbreak, please go to our home page where we have two best-in-class digital online bank accounts.

If recent trends continue, then most of the closures will occur in rural areas or when two banks with overlapping footprints have elected to merge. The merger of BBT with SunTrust, when approved, should lead to more than one hundred closures, as there are many places where both banks have a branch in the same neighborhood.

The story is not entirely monolithic, however. Even at a time when banks appear to have adopted aggressive closure plans, they continue to open new offices. The closures still outnumber the openings, but we see nuance in the story. According to the OCC, its members opened the doors at 591 new locations. However, I want to underscore that while closing branches appears to be on the agenda of almost every bank, a smaller set of banks intend to create new locations. A bank like JPMorgan Chase still appears to believe in the branch concept, whereas the results at USBank appear to reveal the opposite.

·        U.S. Bank completed the closure of 238 branches. It opened eight.

·      JPMorgan Chase closed 230 branches. It received approval to open 257 more and it completed the opening of 152 branches. The New York bank has been expanding its footprint lately, and in fact, it recently announced that it would add approximately fifty branches in North Carolina alone. Those branches are not counted in this list even though the announcement was made this summer because the bank has not identified the specific locations. In all, new branch applications from Chase comprise 34.7 percent of all new branch establishments for 2019.

·        Bank of America closed 142 branches but opened just 30 new branches.

·        Capital One shuttered 73 offices. Capital One kicked off a redesign of its branches last year. You may have seen the television adverstisements it placed, where a millennial touted the new cafe-like atmosphere with WiFi and the opportunity to earn 5x on savings accounts. Capital One is redesigning, not building fresh. They opened four branches in new locations in 2019. While the newly-designed stores do not carry groceries, some have snack machines and coffee bars. The result is something that looks like a mashup of an Apple Genius Bar and a Barnes & Noble.

·        Wells Fargo closed 203 "stores" and opened four.

·       PNC Bank closed 84 branches. They opened 8 new locations.

Are there any banks who are still committed to opening branches?

The news is not entirely dark for branches. In 2019, national banks have proposed to open 441 new branches. As I mentioned early, JPMorgan Chase opened more than one in three branches nationally. The next closest is Bank of America, with thirty, and Woodforest National Bank, who opened 21. Woodforest closed one branch. Woodforest is known as the bank that operates in-store offices inside Walmart stores.

Other banks that opened more branches: First National Bank of Texas - 15 branches. HSBC - 12 branches. Fifth Third - 10 branches. Fifth Third purchased Chicagoland's MB Financial last year.

When SunTrust and BB&T announced plans to merge as Truist, they had to sell off a number of branches in Winston-Salem and Durham, North Carolina. First Horizon has purchased those branches and the right to hold the deposits that they contain. Until regulators give final approval to the merger, First Horizon cannot announces what it intends to do with those locations. However, if history is a guide, then it may consolidate some of them. In 2019, after First Horizon purchased North Carolina's Capital Bank, it closed approximately twenty percent of the branches it acquired in that transcation.

For relevant information (with regular updates), please go to this page on WiseWage's blog to see an updated list of new branch closings.

Other resources on bank branch closures - by bank:

Locations of PNC branch closures

Locations of Wells Fargo branch closures

Locations of Bank of America branch closures

Great bank accounts without bank branch networks
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Most bank closures take place in rural counties.

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Adam Rust has worked to defend consumers against harmful financial practices since 2005. He has written extensively about overdraft fees, payday lending, student loans, prepaid debit cards, and subprime mortgage lending. He serves on the Board of the US Faster Payments Council. He is Director of Research at Reinvestment Partners in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of BankTalk. See more on his LinkedIn profile.