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.
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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 the banks that can best serve residents of Virginia.
Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account
Interest rates have been waning in the banking sphere, but some banks are starting to offer much more viable rates. Ally is one of the top contenders in this growing market, as its Online Savings Account includes a daily compounding 0.50% APY on all balances. Additionally, there are no fees or minimums, and transfers are free.
Being that Ally has no branches, the quality of its mobile app is of paramount concern. Current Ally account holders appear to be satisfied with its services, as more than 20,000 reviews between the Apple and Android app stores average out to a 4.35-star rating out of 5. Through the app, you can deposit checks remotely, search for fee-free Allpoint ATMs, view your account statements and even transfer money to friends and family through Zelle®.
Checking accounts are just as integral to anyone’s banking suite as savings accounts. The Interest Checking Account from Ally comes with a variable rate structure that goes as follows:
- Accounts with a minimum daily balance below $15,000 - 0.10% APY
- Accounts with a minimum daily balance at or above $15,000 - 0.25% APY
Again, there are no fees or minimums with this account, and all account holders receive a free debit card upon joining the bank. As we mentioned above, Ally has an agreement in place with the Allpoint ATM network so that customers can use their ATMs free of charge. Simply swipe your debit card at any of these machines to take out cash.
Best National Bank With Branches in Virginia: 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.
Best Regional 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 solid, 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 0.05%. An 18-month option would also generate an APY of 0.05% 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.
Best Savings Account Rate: CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
For depositing $100 a month or maintaining a balance of $25,000, CIT Bank will hand Savings Builder account holders a 0.40% APY. Any accounts that miss these benchmarks receive just a 0.28% APY. However, achieving the former rate is well worth striving for. As an example, a $10,000 balance would earn nearly $202 in interest over a five-year period. The only other stipulation is that you have at least $100 to deposit at the opening of your account.
CIT provides its customers a large selection of accounts to save with. There’s a money market account, the Premier High-Yield Savings account and more than 10 certificates of deposit (CDs) like term CDs, jumbo CDs, no-penalty CDs and “RampUp” CDs.
Mobile banking is becoming a hallmark of the banking industry as things move away from branch-based services. Both Apple and Android users can download CIT’s app, which currently has an average rating of 3.85 stars out of 5 between the two competing app stores. You’ll be able to take advantage of features like mobile check deposit, free in-house account transfers, up-to-date transaction histories and digital account statements.
Runner-up for Best Savings Account Rate: Synchrony Bank
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 0.50%. 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.
Best Savings Account at a Bank With Branches: Carter Bank & Trust
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.
Best Bank for Students: 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.
Additional SmartAsset Bank Reviews in Virginia
Didn't find the best bank for you? Consider the following banks in your area.