Best Florida Banks for Checking Accounts
In Florida, there are several major banks that provide checking account services through their branches and ATMs. In searching for the best checking option, we focused on availability and convenience, and looked for banks that maintain locations in more than just one part of the state.
Best for Free Checking: BBVA Compass Bank
With none of the activity requirements that banks usually attach to free checking, Compass Bank is our top choice for free checking accounts in Florida. Unfortunately, its branch locations are limited to north Florida regions like Jacksonville, Pensacola and Gainesville, so you'll need to make sure you live somewhere close by before considering this account. Unlike the standard checking account at most of Compass Bank's competitors, Compass ClearChoice Checking won't force you to keep a minimum balance or meet a direct deposit requirement in order to waive the monthly fee.
In addition, you have the option of adding several paid features, which presents an unusual opportunity to customize your bank account. These options include free non-network ATM access, a 3x5 safe deposit box and unlimited personal checks and cashier's checks. Each feature costs between $2 and $5 a month, while purchasing every addition totals $12. Getting the same level of service at a major national bank like Bank of America requires a premium checking account, which can cost twice as much in monthly fees if you fail to meet the strict waiver requirements.
Best Customer Service: TD Bank
If you're looking for a new bank because of service problems with your old bank, TD Bank might be a good place to transfer your accounts. In 2016, JD Power rated TD as the best bank based on its high scores for consumer satisfaction among all banks in Florida. The study examined consumer responses to banks like TD in mobile, online and ATM services. The bank's accounts are relatively low-cost: the TD Convenience Checking Account requires a balance of just $100 to avoid monthly fees, while students get a free pass entirely on TD Student Checking. Colleges like UCF and University of Florida have plenty of TD branches in range, and the bank's heavy presence along the East Coast makes it ideal for students coming from out of state.
TD's bonuses are the largest and longest-running incentive programs among banks available in Florida. New customers joining TD can earn either $150 with the Convenience Checking account or $300 with the TD Premier Checking account. Both bonuses require a certain amount in direct deposits made within the first 60 days of account opening: $500 deposited to earn the $150 bonus and $2,500 for the $300 bonus. One significant drawback is that unlike most banks, TD doesn't recognize direct deposits as a waiver on monthly fees at TD, which may inconvenience people used to avoiding checking account fees that way.
Best Checking Interest Rate: BankUnited
The strongest interest rate on a checking account in Florida belongs to BankUnited's Vertical Rewards Checking Account, which offers as much as 1.00% bonus APY for each month you meet the bank's activity requirements.
Since the account requires a balance of $2,500 to open and to waive its $20 monthly fee, BankUnited is best suited for people used to keeping a larger average checking balance. Failing to make a direct deposit will leave you earning just the base 0.05% interest rate for that month instead of the full 1.05%. Overall, BankUnited is a strong choice for anyone in south Florida with a regular flow of direct deposits.
BankUnited Vertical Rewards APY Bonuses
Monthly APY Bonus
|Direct deposit via ACH plus 5 or more qualifying transactions||1.50%|
|Direct deposit via ACH plus 3 or 4 qualifying transactions||0.85%|
|Direct deposit via ACH plus 1 or 2 qualifying transactions||0.45%|
Almost none of BankUnited's brick-and-mortar competitors match the 1.05% APY it offers through Vertical Rewards Checking. Though the account will earn the maximum 1.05% with just a single direct deposit in each of the first three months, the monthly requirement will then increase to one direct deposit plus five or more qualifying transactions. These include debit card transactions, automatic debits like bill pay, personal checks and ACH deposits. The broad choice of qualifying activities makes the rate highly accessible and competitive relative to other interest-bearing options in Florida.
BankUnited Vertical Rewards Checking – Key Figures
- Maximum APY: 1.05% APY with qualifying activity
- Monthly Fee: $20
- Minimum to Open: $2,500
- Monthly Fee Waiver: $2,500 daily balance
Best Savings Interest Rates in Florida
Savings rates at brick-and-mortar banks appear stuck at much lower levels compared to those at online-only banks, but we managed to find a few banks in Florida that significantly outdo the rest of the field.
Best for Low Balances: Florida Community Bank
FCB's Personal Savings account delivers 0.20% APY on any amount you deposit, making this bank our top choice in Florida for people who are just starting to build up their savings. While the rate is just a fraction of the rates offered by the best online savings accounts, it's far better than most brick-and-mortar offerings, which range between 0.01% and 0.05% APY. If you also want a checking account, Florida Community Bank offers the lower rate of 0.15% APY on savings accounts paired to each of its three different checking options.
As a smaller, state-oriented bank, FCB also offers benefits you can't easily quantify. For instance, when we called the bank to verify its fees and rates, we were told that the bank is sometimes open to negotiating the introductory rate for prospective customers with higher balances. That kind of flexibility isn't an option with national banks, whose millions of customers make individual negotiations both impractical and unnecessary. It's also the reason that smaller banks like FCB can make for a better choice if you're considering a mortgage or business loan in addition to your savings.
Best for High Balances: PNC Bank
We found that PNC Bank offers the highest savings rate for regular savings accounts in Florida, with a scale that ranges from 0.05% APY up to 0.80% depending on your balance and account type. PNC's main banking account product is called Virtual Wallet, a three-account package consisting of one checking and two savings accounts. Virtual Wallet comes in three tiers that cost different amounts in monthly fees, which fall in line with the fees you'd find on a single checking account at other banks. PNC's branches can be found in most major Florida cities, with the exception of Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
To earn the best rate with Virtual Wallet, you'll need to consider the Performance Select option, which works best with a $5,000 direct deposit. In addition, your rate drops to 0.01% APY unless you have at least 5 monthly debit card transactions or meet the respective direct deposit minimum for your particular account tier. These requirements make it critical to establish a direct deposit from your paycheck or government benefit program. Regardless of which Virtual Wallet tier you select, the rate you earn will be substantially higher than at any of PNC's brick-and-mortar competitors.
PNC Virtual Wallet Tiers
|Virtual Wallet||0.05%-0.10%||$7||$500 average monthly balance OR $500 direct deposits OR student status|
|Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend||0.25%-0.35%||$15||$2,000 average monthly balance OR $2,000 direct deposits|
|Virtual Wallet with Performance Select||0.60%-0.80%||$25||$5,000 average monthly balance OR $5,000 direct deposits|
Summary of the Best Banks in Florida
The table below summarizes the banks we've covered and compares them by monthly cost and interest rate. The numbers we use here are derived from the specific accounts we cover in this article, but you may run into different fees and APY values according to your location, balance and account type.
Finding the Best Bank for You
It's entirely possible that you aren't finding anything quite right among the options above. In fact, you may run into a community bank whose terms are far better for your particular situation than any of these larger banks. Still, we encourage you to take the details we've compiled as a guide to the level of account fees and interest you can expect to find while shopping for a bank account in Florida. This is especially true of smaller towns and communities, where your options may be more limited.
If neither your local shopping nor this article has turned up a good solution, you may want to give some thought to taking your search online. Online checking accounts are constantly improving their capabilities, so that people who adjust to banking through the Internet and mobile apps can carry out all of their daily financial chores without ever needing to visit a physical bank. In addition, online banks have much lower operating costs, which get passed on in their extremely high interest rates and lower fees.