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Best Banks in Virginia

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by Javier Simon Updated

Finding the Best Banks in Virginia 

Virginia houses hundreds of stellar banks from national institutions to local ones that have stayed committed to serving their communities for years. Each one stands out for different reasons. But how do you figure out which one can best meet your individual needs? Don’t worry. We’ve read all the fine prints for you. So sit back and read on to learn all about the best banks in Virginia and which one may be right for you. And if you want more help figuring out what’s best for your individual financial needs, consider using SmartAsset’s free matching tool to get paired with a financial advisor in your area.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Bank of America Bank of America logo Read More 0.03% $100
  • Best national bank in Virginia
  • More than 100 branches in Virginia 
SunTrust Bank SunTrust Bank logo Read More 0.01% $0
  • Best regional bank
Carter Bank & Trust Carter Bank & Trust logo Read More 0.30% $50
  • Best online savings account
  • Track record for offering fee-free checking account requiring no minimum balance
Synchrony Synchrony logo Read More 2.05% $0
  • Best online savings account 
  • Any U.S. citizen can open a high-yield savings account


BB&T Bank BB&T Bank logo Read More 0.03% $0
  • Best bank for students 
  • Monthly service fee gets waived for students

How We Determine the Best Banks in Virginia 

The banking experts at SmartAsset started out by gathering data on the biggest banks in the state in terms of access and versatility of products. We then dug into the nitty gritty and figured out which ones overshine competitors and why. We focused on details like best checking accounts, best high-yield savings options, low-to-no fees and superior customer service. The result was a list of five banks that can best serve residents of Virginia.

If you're interested in saving money, consider opening up a CIT Savings Account. Earn over 8 times the national average with a 2.25% APY on balances of at least $25,000 OR monthly deposits of $100 or more with an initial $100 minimum deposit.

Best National Bank: Bank of America

Bank of America

Bank of America stands as a giant in the industry. And Virginia alone is home to more than 100 branches. So it shouldn’t be hard to access your money through fee-free ATMs or get in touch with a customer service representative if you need one. 

The bank also offers just about any financial product you can think of. You can find checking, savings and money market accounts. In addition, you can also find investment products through financial services firm Merrill Edge. For example, you can open an individual retirement account (IRA) or a 529 college savings plan. Or you can access securities like mutual funds. 

Overall, anyone from an individual opening his first checking account to another rolling over her retirement savings account can find something useful with Bank of America. 

If you’re a student younger than 24 years old, you can open a Core Checking account with no monthly service fee. However, the bank would waive this fee regardless of your age if you establish direct deposit of at least $250 per statement cycle. The same applies if you keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500. And with any Bank of America checking account, you’d have access to thousands of fee-free ATMs nationwide. 

But if you’re opening a more complex account like an IRA or 529 plan, you may want to seek the assistance of a financial advisor. These tax-advantaged savings vehicles offer distinct benefits that appeal to different people. But you also need to follow some rules to make the most out of these investments. For instance, the money you invest in a 529 plan grows tax-free. But withdrawals are tax-exempt only when you use the funds on 529 plan qualified expenses.

SunTrust Bank

SunTrust Bank

Virginia is home to more than 100 offices. But residents there also have access to more than 2,000 ATMs. And despite its regional commitment, the bank offers the same types of products offered by the national players. 

Its Essential Checking account stands as one of its most popular options and for good reason. SunTrust gives you many opportunities to waive its $7 monthly service fee. Just engage in one of the following each statement cycle. 

  • Make 10 transactions per statement cycle
  • Establish direct deposit of at least $500
  • Keep a $500 minimum daily collected balance
  • Sign up for a student waiver 

SunTrust Bank also provides two savings accounts, a money market account and certificates of deposit (CD). In the CD arena, Sun Trust can compete with banks offering some of the best CD rates we’ve seen, especially if you invest for the long term. For instance, a Richmond resident can currently open a 12-month CD with an annual percentage yield (APY) of 1.75%. An 18-month option would generate an APY of 2.00% at the moment. 

But you can find more than just deposit products at SunTrust. The bank offers several lending options, mortgages and investment vehicles.  

In addition, opening any account will get you free access to basic online and mobile banking features. These include mobile deposit and online banking with bill pay.

Carter Bank & Trust

Carter Bank & Trust

People interested in working with a trusted community bank dedicated to bringing affordable and transparent products to its customers

Carter Bank & Trust has prided itself as the “Home of Lifetime Free Checking” since 1974. It’s one of the reasons the bank’s basic checking account has remained one of its most popular offerings. Even though its minimum opening deposit of $100 is slightly higher than you’d see at other banks in Virginia, the account quickly pays off. 

In fact, Carter Bank & Trust promises you’d get to enjoy the following for a lifetime: 

  • No monthly service charges as long as the account is active
  • Zero minimum balance requirement
  • Unlimited check writing

And with your checking account, you can establish free automatic transfers to your Carter Bank & Trust savings account. In addition, you’d face no annual fee. Plus, you’re allowed to make unlimited in-person withdrawals and transfers. However, its interest rate isn’t the highest you can find. Nonetheless, this is a very inexpensive account to manage. So it’s very easy to shield your savings from fees which can erode even the strongest interest gains at other banks. 

Plus, this community bank goes a step further for its customers. It dedicated an entire section of its website to content about financial literacy topics like identity theft protection, cyber security and planning for retirement.

Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Bank
CIT Savings 2.25% APY
Our Rating: 5/5
How we calculated this rating

Even though Synchrony Bank currently operates only one branch, any U.S. citizen can open a High-Yield Savings account that currently generates an APY of 1.85%. That figure crushes the national rate for savings accounts. 

Most options at even the biggest brick-and-mortar banks can’t compete with that unless you deposit a substantial amount. But you can open the Synchrony savings account with just a penny. And you don’t need to maintain a minimum balance requirement to keep the account open. 

Plus, you don't owe any monthly service fee. In addition, you can request an ATM card linked to your account. You can use this to make fee-free withdrawals at any ATM with a Plus or ACCEL logo. You can also make withdrawals online or through the phone. Overall, this is a high-yield savings account you can easily manage online. 

But remember that federal law limits most types of savings account withdrawals to six per statement cycle. Synchrony won’t charge you a fee if you go overboard. But it can close it if this keeps happening. All things considered, this is one of the best savings accounts on the market.

BB&T Bank

BB&T Bank

Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) is one of the largest banks in Virginia. In fact, Virginia is home to more than 300 branches. But you can still access a physical branch in 15 states including North Carolina. And if you’re enrolling in school at any of those places, you’ll find some peace of mind at BB&T Bank. 

For starters, you can open a Student Checking account if you’re 23-years-old or younger. You can open one with your choice of deposit. And you won’t have to worry about a monthly service fee eating away at your money while you cram for finals. In addition, the bank allows two free ATM transactions at non-network ATMs per statement cycle. And to get you started on the path toward financial wellness, BB&T Bank will hook you up with a regular savings account that carries no monthly service fee. 

You also enjoy the bank’s mobile banking, which includes a feature that lets you deposit checks with a compatible smartphone or tablet. To keep your accounts safe, you can set up mobile alerts as well.

Tips for Banking Responsibly 

  • No matter what bank you choose, always make sure it’s right for your wallet. Pay attention to fees and whether you can get the bank to waive them. 
  • Tax-advantaged savings vehicles like IRAs and 529 Plans can be greatly beneficial. However, you have to follow some rules to avoid penalties from the IRS. To make the most out of these accounts, you should choose a financial advisor to work with. 
  • Oftentimes, savings accounts you open online can generate higher interest rates than those at physical banks. You can still open a checking account with a brick-and-mortar bank while saving in an online one. To help you choose the right one, we’ve developed an in-depth study on the best online high-yield savings accounts.
  • If you'd like professional financial guidance, you can use our SmartAsset advisor matching tool. It acts as a portal to connect you with financial advisors in your area. You can review their qualifications and specialties before deciding which one would best fit your needs. 
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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.

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