The best banks and credit unions in Florida for 2021
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The best banks in Florida for January 2021
|Bank||Category||Savings APY||No. of FL branches||Next steps|
|Bank of America||Best for a checking account||0.01% to 0.05% APY||510||Learn more|
|Ally||Best for a savings account||0.50% APY||None, online only||Learn more|
|Chase||Best for a checking and savings account||0.01% to 0.05% APY||411||Learn more|
|VyStar Credit Union||Best credit union||0.10% APY||51||Learn more|
Savings rates at the largest banks in Florida
Here are the savings rates you'll earn with the biggest banks in Florida. Two of these, Chase and Bank of America, made our list of the best banks in the state.
We didn't choose others because they didn't have branches in as many parts of Florida as some of our top picks, or they lacked distinguishing features, such as high APYs or sign-up bonuses.
However, you may still decide one of these Florida banks is a good fit for you, and you might like banking with a widespread institution you're familiar with.
|Bank||Savings APY||No. of FL branches||Next steps|
|Wells Fargo||0.01% to 0.02% APY||568||Learn more|
|Bank of America||0.01% to 0.05% APY||510||Learn more|
|Chase||0.01% to 0.05% APY||411||Learn more|
|SunTrust||0.01% APY||400||Learn more|
|Regions||0.01% APY||307||Learn more|
|BB&T||0.01% APY||258||Learn more|
|PNC||0.01% to 0.03% APY||173||Learn more|
|TD Bank||0.01% to 0.25% APY||157||Learn more|
|Fifth Third Bank||0.01% to 0.02% APY||153||Learn more|
|CenterState Bank||0.05% APY||126||Learn more|
As of December 2020, the average savings interest rate is 0.05% APY, according to FDIC.
Below you'll find more about our top picks for the best banks and credit unions in Florida. Each of these is federally insured and offers a variety of products, including bank accounts, investment accounts, home loans, credit cards, and more.
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.
Best bank for opening a checking account: Bank of America
Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® Account
You may qualify for the $100 bonus when you open a Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance, Plus, or Relationship Banking Checking Account through the bank's promotional page by December 31. To earn the bonus, you must receive at least two recurring direct deposits of at least $250 within 90 days of opening the account.
What to look out for: Monthly service fees. Depending on which checking account you open, you could pay a $4.95, $12, or $25 per month. You might qualify to waive the monthly fee, though.
Best bank for opening a savings account: Ally
Ally High Yield Savings Account
Ally makes it easy to save for specific goals. You may decide to open a separate account for each goal, but Ally has a bucket feature that allows you save for multiple goals in one account. Assign each one a nickname, like "Emergency Fund" or "Travel Account" to track your progress and stay motivated.
What to look out for: While Ally is extremely competitive, other banks offer similar online high-yield savings accounts. Ally is certainly one of the best out there, but depending on your needs and your existing banking, you may find you prefer a different bank, such as Capital One 360, Varo, or Discover.
Best bank for opening a checking and savings account: Chase
Chase Total Checking®
Chase Total Checking® is a good choice if you're looking for a sign-up bonuse. If you meet certain qualifications, you can earn a $200 bonus with Chase Total Checking®, and the account ranks as one of Business Insider's top rewards checking accounts.
Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ and Chase Sapphire Checking don't pay sign-up bonuses, but each has its perks. You can waive up to four out-of-network ATM fees per month with a Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ account.
Chase Sapphire Checking is a worthwhile option for travelers. You won't pay any fees for using out-of-network ATMs with this account, and if the ATM provider charges a fee, then Chase reimburses you. Chase also won't charge any foreign transaction fees when you use your debit card abroad.
You can earn a $150 sign-up bonus with a Chase Savings℠ account, and combine this promotion with a checking account bonus to earn up to $350 total. There's no cash bonus for opening a Chase Premier Savings℠ Account, but if you meet a few qualifications, you can earn a slightly higher APY with the Premier account.
You could also earn an even higher reward with Citibank if you live near a branch, but there aren't nearly as many Citibank branches in Florida as Chase branches.
What to look out for: Monthly fees and interest rates. Chase Total Checking® charges a $12 monthly service fee, and Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ and Chase Sapphire Checking each charge $25. It is possible to waive the monthly fees, but the requirements are stricter with each checking account tier. The Chase Savings℠ account fee is $5, but it's pretty easy to waive. Chase pays low rates on savings compared to online banks. Its strong point is a high APY — its strengths are accessibility and sign-up bonuses.
Best credit union: Vystar Credit Union
VyStar Primary Savings Account
- Join VyStar by living or working in certain parts of Florida or Georgia, or by having a relative who is already a member
- Free access to over 20,000 ATMs in the US, Canada, and Mexico
- Earn interest with a $50 minimum account balance
- Interest compounded monthly, paid monthly
- Federally insured by the NCUA
- No monthly service fee
- $5 minimum opening deposit
- Link to checking for overdraft protection
- Mediocre APY
- Interest compounds monthly, not daily
- Must maintain $50 balance to earn APY
Why it stands out: Maybe you prefer a credit union over a bank. Each option comes with trade-offs — credit unions often have higher APYs and better customer service, while brick-and-mortar banks may have more locations and adapt to new technology faster.
If you're looking for a credit union in Florida, then VyStar is a good choice. It's available in over 20 cities, and you contact customer service seven days per week. SunCoast Credit Union is another good choice if you live in certain parts of Florida, but VyStar still pays higher rates on checking and savings.
There are more than 50 branch locations around Florida, and you have free access to over 20,000 ATMs around the US, Mexico, and Canada.
VyStar pays lower rates on some accounts than online banks, but higher than many brick-and-mortar banks.
What to look out for: Compound interest and branches. Like most credit unions, VyStar compounds interest monthly rather than daily, which will affect how much money you earn in the long run. VyStar is one of the largest credit unions in Florida, but branches are lacking from certain regions of the state. If you don't have a branch nearby, then you may want to go with a local credit union.
Frequently asked questions
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.
How did we choose the best banks in Florida?
We looked at the banks and credit unions with the most branches in the state. Then we zeroed in on those that offered appealing features, like sign-up bonuses or high interest rates. None of the biggest banks in Florida paid high rates on savings accounts, so we chose an online bank, Ally, as our top choice for a savings account.
For the best credit union, we chose one that is easy for Florida residents to join and has branches in multiple parts of the state.
What is the No. 1 bank in America?
It depends on what you're looking for. Wells Fargo has the most branches in the US, followed closely by Chase and Bank of America. If you're looking for high savings rates and low fees, then you'll probably want to go with an online bank. (See our picks for the best online banks here.)
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 (FDIC), and credit unions need to be insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
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.
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. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)
How can someone determine whether an institution is the right fit for them?
Mykail James, CFEI:
"The No. 1 thing about a checking account is you should know what provider the debit card is coming from. And a lot of people don't think about that, because there are places that don't accept MasterCard or don't accept an Amex."
Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:
"I would look for the bank that charges you the least in fees. This means either no monthly fees, or you qualify to waive the monthly fees. If you never overdraw from your account, then a bank's overdraft fees won't matter much to you. But if you occasionally overdraw, then I'd look at the fees or overdraft protection options."
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 (commercial banking, business banking, investment services, etc.) 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."
What should someone look for in a brick-and-mortar institution?
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?"
What should someone look for in an online institution?
Tania Brown, CFP:
"With an online bank, absolutely online customer service, because you do not have the advantage of walking inside and talking to a human being. How often are you able to get them? What are their hours?"
Roger Ma, CFP:
"How onerous the transfer process is, transferring money in and transferring money out. Is it same day, next day? Is it pretty easy to sync a brick-and-mortar checking account to this particular high-yield savings account?"
Mykail James, CFEI:
"When it comes to online banks, you want to be a little bit more strict about what type of interest rates they're providing. That's the biggest thing, because online banks are supposed to have the higher interest rate because they don't have the overhead of the brick-and-mortar. You want to make sure that it's well above the national average.
"What type of securities do they provide? Do they have two-factor identification? If it's an online bank, they should definitely have — at the bare minimum — two-factor authentication in how easy it is to change your passwords and things like that, because you want to be a little more hypersensitive about the cyber security for a strictly online bank."
This post was reviewed and updated on December 29, 2020.
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