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? We’ve identified the top national and regional bank available in Florida, as well as other banks that are best suited for your specific needs.
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How We Determine the Best Banks in Florida
To complete this study, SmartAsset’s researchers analyzed the 15 largest banks throughout the state of Florida. We determined the top national and local banks based on the total number of branches each has in Florida. To make a final decision on which banks ranked best, we surveyed features like their checking and savings account interest rates, fee structures and minimum balances, along with each account’s overall level of accessibility.
Best National Bank: Wells Fargo
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, you’ll 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. Their APYs go as high as 1.50% for those that begin with a deposit of $5,000 or more and last for a minimum of 58 months.
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.
Best Regional Bank: BankUnited
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. If you’re more interest-centric, the Value Rewards account provides a 1.50% three-month introductory APY -- a rate higher than those of its peers.
The increasingly common health savings account (HSA) 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 bank’s beneficial programs. You’ll find homeowners assistance programs, loan modification services and repayment plans, depending on your personal situation.
Best Customer Service: Fifth Third Bank
According to J.D. Power’s most recent U.S. Banking Satisfaction Study, Fifth Third Bank ranked as the top banking experience specifically for customers in Florida. This study not only analyzed how many branches and ATMs banks had, but also how well they resolved customer problems, how many fees they charged and their overall offers. The bank took home the title ahead of alternatives like TD Bank, Citibank and Chase.
Fifth Third Bank’s mobile iOS and Android-based app is one of the most popular on the market today. It features an ATM/branch finder, up to six months of account history, mobile check deposit and Now Balance®, a widget that allows customers to check their account balances without logging in. The app also includes Zelle®, a person-to-person mobile deposit service that you can use internally at Fifth Third or with any other U.S. bank account.
If you’re looking for a checking account, this bank has a multitude of choices that stretch from a typical low-fee account to military- and student-specific ones. Savings accounts and CDs are similarly varied, with money market accounts (MMAs), 529 college savings plans and a Goal Setter savings account also available, among other options.
Best Free & High Yield Checking Accounts: BBVA Compass
If you’re a Florida resident looking to open an account with a low opening deposit and no monthly fees, BBVA Compass is your best bet, if you don’t mind bare minimum features.
Both its Free checking and ClearConnect checking accounts don’t have monthly maintenance fees and they require just $25 each to get started. So what’s the difference?
The Free checking account is about as normal an offer as you’ll come across. Account holders receive a Visa® debit card and get unlimited check writing, online/mobile banking, mobile check deposit and online bill pay. You can even customize your new debit card with a photo of your choice for free. There are no ATM fees at the 45 BBVA Compass branches in Florida, but you can take part in a discounted ATM transaction program. For $5 a month, BBVA will waive your out-of-network ATM fees and reimburse you as many as four of the ATM fees other banks charge you in these instances.
For those who prefer a hands-off, independent banking experience, the ClearConnect checking account fits the bill. Your customer service will consist of text, email and phone-based customer service and access to BBVA’s highly-rated website and Android/Apple mobile app. This account also provides access to the Allpoint® ATM network, which consists of 55,000 fee-free ATMs. Otherwise, all other benefits are essentially the same.
Best Savings Account: BAC Florida Bank My eBanc™
My eBanc™ is BAC Florida Bank’s online-only branch that serves customers all over Florida and the U.S. If you’re a prospective savings account holder interested in this bank, the SuperSaver money market account is where you’ll want to turn your attention. The account includes a rather impressive no minimum 1.50% APY, a rate easily above the market average. Still, you must have at least $5,000 lying around to deposit if you have your sights set on the SuperSaver MMA.
Aside from the lack of in-person interactions, My eBanc™ has just about everything you’d need for a successful basic banking experience. For example, you can transfer money between your internal bank accounts and on a person-to-person basis through the bank’s app and website too. There’s also online bill pay, mobile check deposit and a free ATM card.
Best for Students: PNC Bank
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 (0.01%), 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 account’s 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 it’s easy to see where you’re 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 account’s balance gets low.
College students are notoriously short on cash, so PNC eliminated monthly fees as part of this account. All you’ll need is a measly $25 deposit to open an account. As long as you continue to provide proof that you’re a full- or part-time student, the bank will allow you to keep your account for up to six years.
Runner-up: Wells Fargo
Best Places to Save
SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places in the country where people have the opportunity to save money. Zoom between states and the national map to see the best places to save.
Where you live can have a big impact on how easy it is to save money based on several regional factors. Our study aims to find the most suitable places for people to save based on median household income, average living expenses and income tax burden.
First, we calculated the average cost of living in each county for a household with two adults (one working). We then created a purchasing power index for each county. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living.
To better compare income tax burdens across counties, we applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for a family making $50,000 annual income in each location. Next, we created an effective tax rate index for each county, which reflects the counties with the lowest ratio of income taxes to the assumed $50,000 annual income.
Finally, we calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall best places to save score. We used a three-fourths weighting for purchasing power and a one-fourth weighting for tax rates. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect places that are better to save.