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Best Banks in South Carolina

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by Chris Thompson Updated

Finding the Best Banks in South Carolina

South Carolina has tons of different banking options for residents to choose from. In an effort to simplify your search for a bank, we’ve selected the top choices in the state depending on what you find the most important, such as savings rates, customer service or mobile apps.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Wells Fargo Wells Fargo logo Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best National Bank
  • One of the largest finanical institutions in America
BB&T Bank BB&T Bank logo Read More 0.03% $0
  • Best Regional Bank
  • Possesses the resources of a large bank
Bank of America Bank of America logo Read More 0.01% $100
  • Best Online/Mobile Experience
  • Massive free ATM network
United Community Bank United Community Bank logo Read More 0.02% $100
  • Best Bank for Customer Service
  • Full-service bank
Bank of America Bank of America logo Read More 0.03% $25
  • Best Bank for Children and Teens
  • Multiple savings options for kids

How We Determine the Best Banks in South Carolina

SmartAsset’s banking experts researched the 15 largest banks in South Carolina in order to come up with this list. We then ranked the banks by the number of branches in the state, but also according to a number of other factors. Other considerations include minimum balance requirements, interest rates, overall ease of accessibility, ATM networks and fee schedules.

Best National Bank: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo opened the doors to its first branch in San Francisco in 1852. Currently, the bank holds about a fifth of South Carolina’s customer deposits and has around 150 branches throughout the state. This obviously gives it a significant presence there, aside from its already massive status as one of the big three American banks. There are more than 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs throughout the U.S., including nearly 350 in South Carolina.

Those who prefer banking online or through their devices will also find Wells Fargo a good fit. As a matter of fact, its Apple and Android mobile offerings combine for around two million ratings between them. Even after these scrupulous reviews, though, it has maintained a near perfect 5-star rating. Mobile app users are afforded many benefits, such as an ATM/branch locator, mobile check deposit, transaction histories, account balances, Wells Fargo investment account activities, internal account transfers and the Zelle® money transfer service.

Between savings and checking accounts, Wells Fargo offers eight different choices. Each is built around a separate style of customer that’s looking for different features and interest-earning capabilities. For checking account holders, there are low-fee options for those new to banking, teens, anyone with a checkered credit past and existing customers with a Wells Fargo mortgage or other bank accounts. On the other hand, the savings accounts are more tier-based. These start with the Way2Save® Savings account for those with low balances, the Platinum Savings account for anyone with a higher initial deposit and multiple certificates of deposit (CDs).

Runner-up: Bank of America (see below)

Best Regional Bank: BB&T

BB&T Bank

South Carolina is jam-packed with BB&T branches, as more than 60 cities house at least one physical location. To get specific, of the around 2,000 branches the bank has across 15 states, 110 are in the Palmetto State. Altogether, these garner about 10% of the state’s market share in terms of deposit totals. As long as you live near a branch, you’ll have access to a BB&T ATM, being that more than 3,100 exist. Aside from banking products, BB&T provides credit cards, mortgages, CDs, car loans, personal loans, HELOCs and financial planning services.

All of the traditional account options are offered by BB&T, like standard checking and savings accounts. But what it does arguably better than any of its counterparts in South Carolina is create account options. More specifically, typical customers will probably opt for one of the more vanilla choices, such as the BB&T Fundamentals and Bright Banking checking accounts. However, it also boasts the Young Savers account for children, along with the Senior Checking and Student Checking accounts.

BB&T can also oblige anyone who has the capital to open a high-end account. For example, the Investor’s Deposit account and the High Performance Money Market account have plenty to offer in terms of interest potential over the long-term. But should a checking account be more in line with your current banking needs, the Elite Gold account provides the opportunity to get the best of both worlds.

Best Online/Mobile Experience: Bank of America

Bank of America

Bank of America narrowly missed the title of “Best National Bank in South Carolina,” although it undoubtedly claims the best mobile experience of any bank in the state. In fact, J.D. Power recognized the bank for its apps too, giving it the 2018 award for “an outstanding mobile banking customer experience.” The app is available for both Android and Apple phones, and has a 4.8-star rating between both stores.

What this app is aimed to do, and does so successfully, is to allow customers to do nearly anything they could in a branch, only remotely. This is principally accomplished through mobile check deposit, internal account transfers and the ability to look over your transaction histories and current account balances. Zelle® is included too, affording you the ability to pay and receive money from friends and family even if they don’t bank with Bank of America. Through this app, you can also find online bill pay, travel notices, an ATM locator and the balances of your non-bank accounts (mortgages, auto loans).

Being that Bank of America is one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., it should come as no surprise that it has thousands of branches and fee-free ATMs all over the country. There are about 80 branches in South Carolina with ATMs at each, along with numerous other machines sprinkled across retail locations, airports and other places.

Runner-up: Wells Fargo (see above)

Best Bank for Customer Service: United Community Bank

United Community Bank

United Community Bank was ranked by J.D. Power as the bank with the highest level of customer satisfaction in the entirety of the southeastern corner of the U.S. As a matter of fact, it even places in the top 11 in the nation according to the legendary data and awards company. United Community operates more than 90 branch locations, with around a third of them being in South Carolina. It also has an extremely responsive customer phone line that’s open 11 hours every Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.

If the bank is closed, you can also get a hold of your account information from United Community’s mobile app on both Android and Apple phones. It averages a 4-star rating between the two app stores and comes with significant features like mobile check deposit, an ATM/branch locator, online bill pay, account balances and transaction histories.

There’s a multitude of banking products available at United Community Bank. These include the following: free, interest, investment and student checking accounts; money market accounts; standard and student savings accounts; certificates of deposit (CDs); individual retirement accounts (IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs); credit cards; mortgages; auto loans and more.

Best Bank for Children and Teens: Bank of America

Bank of America

Bank of America has a long established history as one of the most popular financial institutions in the U.S. Even still, it doesn’t receive the recognition that some of its peers do when it comes to how beneficial it can be for customers younger than 18. The three accounts to pay attention to for this demographic are the Bank of America Core Checking® Account, the Minor Savings Account and the Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account.

For many parents, it can be difficult to illustrate money management to your children on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis. The Core Checking® Account takes direct aim at that problem. This is essentially a full-blown checking account, only it must be opened alongside a parent or guardian of the child. It takes just $25 to get started, and the maintenance fee is waived until the child turns 24. A child can also visit in-network ATMs to take out cash with his or her included debit card.

Bank of America offers the Minor Savings Account as a way to include your child in the money-saving process, as it is technically a jointly-owned account. Again, you just need to make a $25 deposit to open an account. There are no monthly fees, and a 0.03% APY applies to the balance.

When parents are looking to save money for their child early in life, they can start the process without the input of the child. The Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account can eventually have its funds transferred to the child, though in the meantime, the parent acts as the manager. You’ll need to deposit at least $100 in the account, initially, though maintaining a balance of less than $500 will result in an $8 monthly charge. Just as with the Minor Savings Account, account holders get a 0.03% APY.

Tips for Navigating the Banking Industry

  • If you feel uncomfortable selecting the financial institution you want to bank with, it may be worthwhile to consult a financial advisor. The SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool has the capabilities to set you up with as many as three in your area, as matches are chosen based on your answers to a series of personal banking questions.
  • Some banks make it difficult to get a full picture of the various interest rates and fee schedules they employ. To avoid this, call their customer service line or, if possible, visit the nearest branch. Be persistent.
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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.

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Rank County Median Household Income Cost of Living Purchasing Power Estimated Tax Rate

Methodology 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.

Sources: US Census Bureau 2016 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study