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Suncoast Credit Union Review

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by Nina Semczuk Updated
Suncoast Credit Union

You won’t find the best savings account interest rates at Suncoast Credit Union. However, you will find a great deal on interest-bearing checking accounts at this regional institution and very competitive CD rates. While interest rates on checking accounts aren’t more than a fraction of a percent, the benefit is that there isn’t a monthly fee or even a minimum balance required - two disadvantages that almost always come with interest-bearing checking accounts. 

This credit union offers all the advantages of a national bank - banking products, mortgages, loans, credit cards and more - but with a not-for-profit mentality. Suncoast Credit Union is a state-chartered institution that exists to serve the financial needs of the residents of southwestern Florida. 

 

 

 

Products Offered

Product Key Details
Smart Checking
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • No minimum balance
  • Earn interest on your checking account
Teen Checking
  • Earn interest on your checking account
  • $5 initial deposit to open
  • No minimum balance
Smart Start Checking
  • $25 minimum deposit to open 
  • No minimum balance
  • Earn interest on your checking account
Regular Share Membership (Savings Account)
  • Account that you get when you become a member of the credit union 
  • $5 minimum deposit to open
  • $5 minimum balance to maintain membership
Special Share (Savings Account)
  • $5 minimum deposit to open
  • No minimum balance 
Share Certificate (Certificates of Deposit)
  • Choose from 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 60 month terms
  • $500 minimum deposit
  • Option for traditional, retirement, Coverdell education savings account, health savings account or business certificate account share certificate
Smart Start Certificate
  • $50 minimum deposit 
  • Commitment to at least $40 a month by payroll deduction or automatic transfer until $500
  • Conversion to traditional certificate account once you reach $500 
Money Market Account
  • APY dependent on account size
  • $1,000 minimum to open
  • No minimum balance required 
Uniform Transfers to Minors (UTMA)
  • Custodial account for designated minors 
  • Can be used as a savings, checking, certificate or money market account

Suncoast Credit Union Interest Rate Comparison

Suncoast Credit Union Overview

Suncoast Credit Union is a regional institution serving the greater Tampa area. In 2017, Money named the credit union the best bank in Florida. It was founded in the 1930s in Hillsborough County by a group of teachers to serve the local educational force. In 2013, Suncoast Credit Union converted to a state charter and opened membership to everyone who “lives, works, worships or attends schools” in 21 counties in southwestern Florida. 

Your options as a member include regular banking products, such as savings accounts, money market accounts and checking accounts, as well as mortgage loans, auto loans and credit cards. The credit union has 64 branches and partners with the Co-Op network and Publix grocery store ATMs to offer more than 3,000 free ATMs within the state and 30,000 nationwide. 

Compare Suncoast Credit Union to Other Top Offers

Suncoast Credit Union Account Features

Suncoast Credit Union offers multiple types of savings and checking accounts with varying interest rates and low initial deposits.  Money market accounts and share certificates (CDs) require higher deposits but are among some of the more affordable you’ll see at $1,000 and $500, respectively. It also offers higher interest rates than comparable CDs at many national banks.

That’s not all the credit union offers. Suncoast membership includes free notary service, free money orders and $2,000 free accidental death and dismemberment insurance. You’ll also find home loans, insurance, wealth management and scholarships offered at this community-oriented organization.

Suncoast Credit Union Checking Accounts: Smart Checking, Teen Checking, Smart Start Checking

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit
  • $25 Smart Checking and Smart Start Checking
  • $5 Teen Checking
Minimum Daily Balance $0
Access to Your Account Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance up to $250,000
Fees No monthly service fees, no activation fees, no ATM fees from Suncoast ATMs, Publix Presto ATMs or within the CO-OP Network
Current Terms and Rates 0.05% APY on all accounts

It’s rare to find an interest-bearing checking account that doesn’t have a high minimum balance requirement or monthly fee. Suncoast Credit Union offers both features with not one, but three types of checking accounts. Smart Checking, Smart Start Checking and Teen Checking have no minimum balance requirement, earn interest and come with no monthly or yearly fees. 

It’s a great checking account offer for any customer. Each account type comes with the regular features of a checking account: debit cards, checks, mobile deposit, direct deposit and free images of cleared checks (up to 90 days). Teen Checking is available for individuals 13 years or older with parent or legal guardian support.

Suncoast Credit Union specific features include a rewards debit card, a benefit not seen in many comparable banks. For every $3 you spend using your debit card you’ll earn one point. Points can be used for travel, merchandise or for discounted gas at participating BP stations. Each time you use your card to make a purchase, the credit union also donates 2 cents to the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, a nonprofit that helps children in the local community.  

While the annual percentage rate is a fraction of a percent, it’s much higher than interest-bearing checking accounts at federal banks such as U.S. Bank. This means the money that sits in your checking account (such as your paycheck deposits and rent and utility funds) earns interest with no extra work on your part. It’s an excellent feature for those who need liquid assets but want to take advantage of all the savings opportunities available.

Suncoast Credit Union Savings Accounts: Regular Share Membership and Special Share

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $0
Minimum Daily Balance
  • $5 Regular Share Membership
  • $0 Special Share
Access to Your Account Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance up to $250,000
Fees No monthly fees
Current Terms and Rates 0.15% APY

As a new member of Suncoast Credit Union, you’re required to open a Regular Share Membership as your first account. You only need to deposit $5. That deposit gives you access to all other Suncoast products and services. This account does earn interest, but not as much as you’d find with a high-interest savings account elsewhere. You have to keep at least $5 in the account to stay a member. 

The Special Share Savings Account also requires $5 to open, but with this account, you don’t need to keep a balance. That means after the first deposit, you could withdraw every last cent without facing a fee or account closure. This account has the same interest rate as the Regular Share Membership. Both accounts are covered by the NCUA up to $250,000. The NCUA is the credit union equivalent of FDIC insurance, the account protection used by federal banks. 

Suncoast Credit Union Share Certificates (CDs): Share Certificates and Smart Start Certificates 

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit
  • $500 Share Certificates
  • $50 Smart Start Certificate
Access to Your CD Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance up to $250,000
Fees No account maintenance fees. Penalties for early closure/withdrawal: For terms 12 months or less: 90 days of dividends. For terms longer than 12 months: 180 days of dividends
Current Terms and Rates: Share Certificates
  • 6 Month: 1.10% APY 
  • 12 Month: 1.30% APY
  • 18 Month: 2.25% APY
  • 24 Month: 1.80% APY
  • 36 Month: 2.10% APY
  • 48 Month: 2.35% APY
  • 60 Month: 2.60% APY
Current Terms and Rates: Smart Start Certificate
  • 12 Month: 1.30% APY

A Suncoast Share Certificate is similar to what you may know as a certificate of deposit, or CD. It’s a type of savings vehicle that generally earns more interest in exchange for set terms. At Suncoast, you have the option to buy share certificates in seven different term lengths ranging from six months to five years. The longer term length you chose, the higher interest rate you’ll earn. 

When you commit to a share certificate, you’re committed for the length of the term. That means if you want to withdraw your money early, you’ll be subject to a penalty. In this case, you have to pay back a portion of the interest you earned. You’re also subject to a $500 minimum balance with all Suncoast share certificates.

All certificates have a $500 deposit minimum. Maximum deposit is generally the amount insured by NCUA, so $250,000 is the current insured amount. Suncoast allows you to choose what type of share certificate. This means you have the option to have it in your retirement account, Coverdell Education Savings Account (up to $2,000 a year), health savings account or business certificate account. If it’s in your retirement account or health savings account, it’s generally tax-advantaged, meaning you won’t pay taxes on your interest earnings. All other interest-earning accounts are subject to taxes.

Your other CD option is the Smart Start Certificate. Aimed at those who can’t commit the $500 minimum deposit all at once, you start with a $50 deposit, and commit to adding at least $40 a month until you reach $500. At that point, you can roll over to a traditional certificate.

Suncoast Credit Union Money Market Accounts

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $1,000
Access to Your Account Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance up to $250,000
Fees None
Current Terms and Rates: Money Market Account Account balances of $0 - $999.99: 0.15%
Current Terms and Rates: Money Market Account - 1K Account balances of $1,000.00 - $24,999.99: 0.35%
Current Terms and Rates: Money Market Account - 25K Account balances of $25,000 - $49,999.99: 0.35%
Current Terms and Rates: Money Market Account - 50K Account balances of $50,000.00 - $99,999.99: 0.45%
Current Terms and Rates: Money Market Account - 100k Account balances of $100,000.00 and greater: 0.45%

An additional savings option is a money market account. This type of account generally earns more interest than a savings account and offers more flexibility than a share certificate or CD. Money market accounts are used just like a savings account: you can deposit, withdraw and transfer money. However, with a Suncoast money market account, you need at least $1,000 in the account at all times in order to earn interest. 

You can earn more interest with higher balances. It’s a tiered approach: each tier range earns you a certain percentage rate. For example, if your account has $10,000, you’d earn 0.15% interest on the first $999.99 and 0.35% interest on the amount between $1,000.00 and $24,999.99. The dividends you earn are compounded daily and credited monthly to your account. However, keep in mind that the rates are variable and can change after you open an account. 

Suncoast Credit Union Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts (UTMA)

Key Features Details
Minimum Deposit $0
Access to Your Account Online, mobile and physical branches.
Security National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance up to $250,000
Fees None
Current Terms and Rates: UTMA Account balances of $0 - $999.99: 0.15%
Current Terms and Rates: UTMA 1K Account balances of $1,000 and greater: 0.50%

This type of account, established under the Florida Uniform Transfers to Minors Account, is a savings vehicle for a minor. The UTMA can be used as a savings, money market or checking account or certificate. Only the designated minor can withdraw funds from this account. This is an ideal option for a family member, guardian or perhaps godparent who wants to save money, earn interest and gift it to a child. 

The benefit to this type of account is that the minor is the only one who can withdraw the money. This differs from a joint teen account, such as the Teen Checking option offered by Suncoast, which allows the minor as well as the joint account holder to withdraw funds. 

Where Can I Find Suncoast Credit Union?

Suncoast Credit Union has 64 branch locations up and down the western coast of Florida. To become a member of the credit union you must live, work, attend school or worship in any of the 21 counties the credit union serves (Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota or Sumter), or be an alumnus of Florida college.

What Can You Do Online With Suncoast Credit Union?

The credit union offers a full-access website as well as a mobile app for banking on the go. The mobile app offers mobile check deposit, transfers, bill pay, account monitoring, branch locator and more. According to Google Play, about 50% of the roughly 4,500 people who left the app a review gave it five stars. Those who gave a low rating complained about the app not always working. That said, it was updated early 2018. 

On the website, you can customize your page, view your accounts and download up to 90 days of history, order checks, transfer funds and pay bills. You can also use SunMoney to create budgets, monitor spending habits and input financial goals. Additionally, the tool allows you to set up alerts to your phone if your accounts fall below a certain amount, which can help you monitor your spending.

You have a number of options when it comes to accessing your money at Suncoast Credit Union. Local area residents can go to one of the branch locations on the southwestern coast of Florida. For ATM access, you can use any Publix PRESTO ATM without charge as well as the CO-OP network (30,000 ATMs) across the U.S.

You can also access your money online through Suncoast’s website or mobile app through bill pay or money transfer. Another option is linking an outside account to your Suncoast account to transfer money to yourself. 

How Can I Save More Money With a Suncoast Credit Union Account?

The best features of credit unions are generally lower transaction fees and lower interest loans. Because credit unions are not-for-profits, they lack the incentive to charge high penalty fees and transaction fees that you’ll find at many retail banking institutions. As you can see from the account descriptions, you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for any Suncoast Credit Union account. This means you can earn interest with your checking account without paying a fee or maintaining a certain balance. This is pretty rare among financial institutions.

Additionally, reward debit cards are not typically offered by banks. This is a huge advantage for Suncoast customers. Earning rewards on everyday purchases with your debit card can really add up, especially if you don’t use a credit card (where most people earn points). 

Another place you’ll find savings is with Suncoast’s share certificate rates. While not the absolute highest we’ve seen, they are very competitive and generally higher than most large banks. You can generally only find better rates at online-only institutions. 

What’s the Process for Opening an Account With Suncoast Credit Union?

With Suncoast Credit Union, the first account you open will be the most involved. You have to prove that you’re a resident (or work, attend school or worship) in one of the 21 eligible Florida counties. You’ll need an ID with your current address, or other proof such as vehicle registration, lease agreement, voter registration card, W-2 or utility bill. The full list is found on Suncoast’s eligibility page

You can sign up online or go to a branch location to open an account - it’s up to you. To get started, you need personal data, such as your Social Security number, address and ID. If you’re not comfortable opening an account online, you can always call and speak with a representative or visit one of the credit union’s physical locations. 

Once you input your information, you’ll need to fund the account. Most accounts have a minimum deposit, which you can use either cash (in-person), check (in-person) or via electronic transfer (free) or wire transfer ($5 fee applies) from an outside account. 

After you fund your account, you’ll start earning interest (if it’s an interest-earning account). You can track your savings progress using Suncoast’s website and mobile app. 

What’s the Catch? 

The biggest catch is whether you’d qualify to become a member of this credit union. You need to be a resident of one of the 21 listed counties or a graduate of Florida College. You also can qualify if your family is a member. The company’s website says to call and discuss membership options if you’re not sure you’d qualify. 

The benefit of a credit union is that it’s local, which means it’s not a national chain. The other side of that, is that there’s less access. While the company has a mobile app and an up-to-date and user-friendly website, the amount of time and money that goes into its technology is not on the same level as a national bank, such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America or USAA. Additionally, while the company offers access to about 30,000 ATMs through its shared network, it doesn’t reimburse for out-of-network ATM fees. That means it may not be the best option if you frequently travel outside of Florida in an area not served by the Co-Op network.

The other catch is that the bank doesn’t offer the most competitive savings account rates. You can generally find higher rate at places such as Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Ally Bank. To get anywhere close to the rates offered at those institutions, you’d have to take out share certificates through Suncoast. However, those share certificates operate like CDs, meaning you don’t get the full interest rate unless you leave your money untouched for six months or more. That means less flexibility than what a high interest savings account offers. 

Another small catch is that Suncoast lacks the option to open a tax-advantaged 529 plan for college savings. Coverdell education savings accounts are offered, but that’s the only college savings plan available. 

Bottom Line 

Suncoast Credit Union is a solid choice for those who qualify for membership. You have your pick of savings accounts, checking accounts - even auto loans, credit cards and mortgages. For a regional credit union, it has all the offerings of a larger bank chain. Even better, it operates as a not-for-profit. That can mean better loan terms and community engagement. Suncoast boasts about the charitable foundation it operates and even has solar-powered buildings in an effort to support energy efficiency and green initiatives. 

Tips on Banking

  • If you’re considering using a CD as part of your banking strategy, make sure you take the time to compare CD rates before you open one.
  • A financial advisor can help you make sense of your finances. If you’re not sure how to start the search for a good advisor, SmartAsset can help. SmartAdvisor is our financial advisor matching tool that can pair you with up to three advisors in your area who meet your needs. First you’ll answer a few questions and then we’ll match you with advisors who fit your preferences.
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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