Our Expert Panel For This Guide
We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best banks and credit unions for your needs. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.
We’re focusing on what makes a bank most useful, including low fees, branch access, interest rates, and more.
What Should Someone Look For In A Brick
Tania Brown, CFP:
“How can that bank grow with you? If you are 25, single or newly married, and all you need is a checking account, that’s going to look very different 15 years from now when you may have had a couple of jobs, you may have an IRA roll over, or you may want a financial adviser.”
Mykail James, CFEI:
“How accessible it is. So where are the branches? And if I am to go out of town or something, how accessible is my money to me?”
Why Trust Our Recommendations
Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account a high APY, for example we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.
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Ally Bank: Best Apy On Online Savings
Ally is an online-only bank, which means no brick-and-mortar location in the sunshine state or anywhere else.
To have an account with online banks, you should be pretty comfortable with basic technology, especially online and mobile banking solutions.
The good news is that its not that complicated, and Ally has excellent customer service with a 24/7 phone line and a live chat.
Some features of Allys app include mobile check deposits, a handy ATM locator, a balance history archive, and Zelle, a person-to-person money transfer service.
Allys most recommended checking account is the Interest Checking Account, which earns 0.10% APY with a minimum daily balance below $15,000.
The interest earned goes up to 0.25% APY if you manage to keep an average daily balance of $15,000 or above.
You can withdraw money from your checking account at any time and at no cost. Ally uses Allpoint ATM networks and reimburses up to $10 out-of-network ATM fees charged by other financial institutions per each statement cycle.
Talking about the savings account, Ally doesnt disappoint. It has a 0.50% APY on its online savings account.
This account compounds interest daily, which is very important to help you grow your future balance.
This bank account has no minimum balance to get started and no fees to keep it going. Its, without a doubt, one of the best savings account deals in Florida!
Finding The Best Banks In Florida
Tracking down the best bank for you is no easy task. And the sheer breadth of options in Florida exacerbates the challenge within the state. So how do you find the right fit for you? Weve identified the top national and regional bank available in Florida, as well as other banks that are best suited for your specific needs.
|BAC Florida Bank My eBanc||
|Fifth Third Bank||
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The Experts’ Advice On Choosing The Best Bank Or Credit Union For You
To learn more about what makes a good bank or credit union and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:
- Tania Brown, certified financial planner at SaverLife
- Roger Ma, certified financial planner with lifelaidout® and author of “Work Your Money, Not Your Life”
- Mykail James, MBA, certified financial education instructor, BoujieBudgets.com
- Laura Grace Tarpley, associate editor of banking, Personal Finance Insider
Here’s what they had to say about finding a bank.
New Banks Opening In Florida Again Are More Needed
A Florida de novo group has cleared its final regulatory hurdle and expects to open early next year. Another Florida group isnt far behind.
Organizers of Locality Bank in Fort Lauderdale said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has approved their application for deposit insurance and that theyre planning a Jan. 3 soft launch.
Meanwhile, Gulf Coast Business Bank in Fort Myers is eyeing April 18 as the date it opens its doors. CEO Bill Blevins said his group has soft commitments for about $18 million from local investors and has hired Detroit-area investment bank Donnelly Penman to help it raise the rest of the $20.5 million it needs to start.
Locality and Gulf Coast would be the seventh and eighth banks to open in Florida since 2017 the most of any state in that span. OUR Community Bank in Hialeah has also had its deposit insurance application approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but it has yet to set an opening date.
Nationwide, a total of 10 new banks have opened thus far in 2021, more than in the pandemic year of 2020, but three fewer than in 2019.
You look at whats going on in Florida, youve got a lot of de novo activity, a lot of people filing and banks being opened, Keith Costello, Localitys CEO said. I think its a really good sign.
Alex Sanchez, President and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association, says the current trend is a possible impediment to economic growth.
Now, were glad we did that, Costello added.
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Best For Students: Pnc Bank
- Young adults and students new to financial management
The Virtual Wallet Student® banking package from PNC Bank is as complete an offering as any Florida financial institution can offer. What the account lacks in APY , it more than makes up for in financial education and university-centric benefits. PNC has forged a banking relationship with almost 50 major universities across the U.S., including institutions in the Sunshine State such as Florida Institute of Technology and Palm Beach State College. Students will reap perks like an ID/ATM combination card, fee-free ATMs on campus and personalized debit cards.
PNC uses a unique pairing of two systems to ensure that students can track their spending and current balance. You can do the majority of this via a calendar-based system that shows the accounts activity on a daily basis. The Spending Zone is the second half of this equation, though, and affords you a way to categorize your spending so that its easy to see where youre overdoing it. If you want some help learning to manage your finances, you can set up parent alerts to let your folks know when the accounts balance gets low.
College students are notoriously short on cash, so PNC eliminated monthly fees as part of this account. All youll need is a measly $25 deposit to open an account. As long as you continue to provide proof that youre a full- or part-time student, the bank will allow you to keep your account for up to six years.
Vystar Credit Union: Larget Credit Union In Florida
It asks for no monthly maintenance fees and pays higher rates on checking and savings than most brick-and-mortar banks and many other credit unions.
In addition, with VyStar, youll have access to 20,000 ATMs all over Florida, Mexico, and Canada!
Customer service is available seven days a week, and it has an excellent reputation.
Vystar compounds interest monthly rather than daily like most other credit unions.
Always pay attention to compound interest when it comes to credit unions. If possible, calculate how it can affect your earnings in the long run.
- Compounds interest monthly
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Advantages Of Big Banks Vs Local Banks
|Uniform service standard across branch network||More willing to negotiate and work with customers|
Before you commit to opening a checking account with a local Florida bank, think about the pros and cons of working with a local bank.
ocal banks can tailor their services to meet the needs of locals, but there are some drawbacks.
For example, working with a local bank can be difficult if you travel somewhere else in the country. You might have to rely on other banks ATMs, which can involve paying fees.
National banks provide service regardless of where you are in the country, which is useful if you travel or ever decide to move.
Best Regional Bank: Bankunited
- No free accounts, without stipulations
- Account holders who want to bank with multiple institutions
With a wide variety of account options, BankUnited is likely to meet your financial needs. The Value and Value Rewards Plus checking accounts are some of its most popular choices among consumers. The Value account has a manageable monthly fee of $7, though you can avoid it just by maintaining a $500 average balance.
The increasingly common health savings account is an offer at BankUnited. In addition, if you want a traditional savings option, the Value savings account calls for a $300 average daily balance to get rid of its $5 monthly fee. Just as with Wells Fargo, though, CDs remain the sole way to receive high APYs. These start rather low but end up at 1.74% for 60 months.
Your online banking experience with BankUnited will be pretty standard, as features like online bill pay, internal account transfers and mobile check deposit are included. But what you might not expect is its unique FinanceWorks system. This connects all your accounts, even those at outside institutions, so you can get a full view of your finances to create a budget with.
If you own a home at the time your account is opened, you’ll gain access to a few of this banks beneficial programs. Youll find homeowners assistance programs, loan modification services and repayment plans, depending on your personal situation.
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Choosing The Best Banks And Credit Unions In Florida For Your Needs
To help you decide which bank or credit union to go for, weve put together a list of eight things to consider.
Theyll help you evaluate your preferences so that you can pick the financial institution that ticks all the boxes for you.
Best Banks In Florida
Florida has plenty of local and national banking options available, with more than 200 banks operating throughout the state. We reviewed a few dozen of the largest banks in Florida and compared their rates, policies and fees to find the best banks to open a checking or savings account.
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Best National Bank With Branches In Florida: Wells Fargo
- In general, low annual percentage yields
- Those who want to bank with an industry leader
Banking mammoth Wells Fargo currently has 608 branches and 1,128 ATMs across the state, including locations in every major city in Florida and even many small towns. This level of accessibility is virtually unseen throughout the state. And if you travel domestically, youll likely be able to access a branch wherever you are, as there are only 10 states that lack a Wells Fargo.
The bank has eight account options split among checking, savings and CDs. Its checking account offers include everything from the common Everyday checking account to the interest-earning Preferred checking account and the Teen checking account for anyone between 13 and 17. When it comes to savings, there is the goal-based Way2Save® Savings account and the high-interest Platinum Savings account. If you’re looking to earn interest at a rate better than what these low-APY accounts have to offer, a CD is essentially your only option.
Wells Fargo boasts a convenient banking experience, with lots of mobile and online systems available. You can take advantage of an ATM/branch locator, the Zelle® transfer service and online bill pay. It even has a direct connection to your Wells Fargo investment account to give you real-time updates on your invested assets.
Low Fees Great Features
One of the greatest benefits of working with an online bank is that they tend to offer a lot of features without charging significant fees.
Online banks are far cheaper to run than traditional banks, which lets them offer better interest rates and charge their customers less.
Online checking accounts tend to have no monthly fees. And, you may come across great features such as ATM fee refunds.
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What’s The Safest Bank To Put Your Money In
As long as an institution has federal insurance, then your money should be safe. Banks need to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation , and credit unions need to be insured by the National Credit Union Administration .
An individual account is insured for up to $250,000, and a joint account is insured for up to $500,000. This means you won’t lose all your money should the bank go under.
How Can Someone Decide Between A Bank And A Credit Union
Tania Brown, CFP:
“For most people, it falls into five categories: location, interest rates, services, technology, and relationships. Next, prioritize what’s important and you will have your answer. For instance:
- If multiple regional and national locations are important: Banks typically have more locations than credit unions.
- If the most important thing to you is a high interest rate: Credit unions, on average, offer better interest rates than banks.
- If a lot of services are valuable to you: Larger banks offers more services than most credit unions.
- If feeling like a person, not a number, matters to you: Credit unions are known for great personalized customer service.
- If you are a tech junkie: Larger banks typically offer more tech bells and whistles for online users than credit unions.”
Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:
“Look at interest rates and how often interest compounds. The more often an institution compounds interest, the more money you’ll earn. Many credit unions pay higher rates than banks. But they only compound interest monthly, whereas banks compound daily. Do the math to figure out where you’ll earn the most.”
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Pnc Bank: Best For Students
PNC holds the complete student-centric offer there is in Florida. It established a relationship with 50 major universities in the Sunshine State, including the Florida Institute of Technology.
A major perk offered by the student checking account is free ATMs everywhere on campus. Students can also request a convenient ID/ATM combination card and personalize their debit card.
PNC offers many intelligent ways to track your balance and manage your savings and checking accounts in ways that help students learn about personal finances as well.
There is an option for them to send an alert to their parents when the balance in their account gets low and hopefully get some funds.
To open this low-interest rate account, you will need proof that you are a student and a minimum starting balance of $25. There are no service fees its a free checking account.
With PNC, it is also possible to open a money market account, save for retirement, invest, get a loan, and much more.
Best Checking Interest Rate: Bankunited
The strongest interest rate on a checking account in Florida belongs to BankUnited’s Vertical Rewards Checking Account, which offers as much as 0.15% bonus APY for each month you meet the bank’s activity requirements.
Since the account requires a balance of $2,500 to open and to waive its $20 monthly fee, BankUnited is best suited for people used to keeping a larger average checking balance. Failing to make a direct deposit will leave you earning just the base 0.05% interest rate for that month instead of the full 0.15%. Overall, BankUnited is a strong choice for anyone in south Florida with a regular flow of direct deposits.
BankUnited Vertical Rewards APY Bonuses
|Direct deposit via ACH plus 1 or 2 qualifying transactions||0.05%|
Almost none of BankUnited’s brick-and-mortar competitors match the 0.15% APY it offers through Vertical Rewards Checking. Though the account will earn the maximum 0.15% with just a single direct deposit in each of the first three months, the monthly requirement will then increase to one direct deposit plus five or more qualifying transactions. These include debit card transactions, automatic debits like bill pay, personal checks and ACH deposits. The broad choice of qualifying activities makes the rate highly accessible and competitive relative to other interest-bearing options in Florida.
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