We examined account fees, interest rates and branch accessibility at ten of Virginia’s largest banks to find the most consumer friendly companies. We found a range of bank options that excel in different areas so that you can find the one that suits your particular needs.
Best Banks for Checking Accounts
The best banks for checking accounts provide account options with minimal fees, accessible branch locations and well-designed mobile apps for online banking. These banks also tend to offer solid savings accounts and other consumer banking services, such as personal loans and credit cards.
Best Access to Branches: BB&T Bank
With over 300 individual locations in Virginia, BB&T is the state's most accessible bank for checking accounts. The bank caters to a wide variety of consumers, with close to a dozen checking account options at basic, standard and premium levels. All BB&T checking accounts include mobile banking, online bill pay, and mobile check deposit.
You can open an account with an initial deposit of just $50 with BB&T's two basic checking options, Bright Banking and Fundamentals Checking. In addition, Bright Banking doesn't have a monthly fee so long as your direct deposits total over $500 per month. With the BB&T Elite Gold account—which has a $30 monthly fee—you can earn 0.01% interest on your checking account if you carry a high balance.
BB&T – Checking Accounts
|Monthly Fee Waiver||$0||$1,500||$15,000||$0||$1,000|
|Daily ATM Limit||$500||$500||$1,500||$500||$500|
|Debit Card Limit||$3,000||$3,000||$6,000||$3,000||$3,000|
Best Checking for Students: Bank of America
Bank of America provides the best student checking experience in terms of both affordability and accessibility in Virginia. The bank has 132 branches in the state, with many located in prominent college towns—20 in Richmond, eight in Charlottesville and three in Lynchburg. As the third-largest bank in the country, Bank of America is also a good option for students who travel frequently.
Bank of America’s Core Checking account has no monthly account maintenance fees so long as you're a student under 24 years old. Additionally, the bank's mobile app is much more sophisticated than what you would find at a smaller bank. For instance, you can lock and unlock your debit card to protect yourself from fraud and make person-to-person payments through Zelle, the bank's in-house competitor to Venmo.
Best for Joint Checking Accounts: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s Preferred Checking Account is Virginia's best option for couples looking to open a joint checking account. The account carries no monthly fee if direct deposits are worth over $1,000 per month, and also earns an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.01% if the account balance is over $500. Similar to other banks we reviewed, Wells Fargo has excellent mobile banking capabilities, including check deposit and online bill pay.
Wells Fargo's convenience does come with a few drawbacks. Due to the above average monthly fee of $15—and the $1,000 in monthly direct deposits required to waive the fee—Wells Fargo’s Preferred Checking is not the best choice for couples who usually have lower balances. Furthermore, it hasn't been long since Wells Fargo employees across the U.S. were found to be creating fake accounts for consumers. While the bank has repeatedly promised to reform its practices, customers should be careful to make sure they don't end up paying for accounts opened without their knowledge.
Best for Savings: PNC Bank
For consumers comfortable with online banking, PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet offers an accessible way to help you manage your money. The Virtual Wallet has three different accounts incorporated into one: the "Spend" checking account, the "Reserve" short-term savings account, and the "Growth" account for long-term goals. The web-based features on these accounts allow you to monitor your spending and saving with ease.
Additionally, PNC’s Virtual Wallet performance tiers reward you as you work towards your financial goals and build wealth. As shown in the table below, larger account balances receive higher rates in exchange for paying more in monthly fees. However, it’s important to note that this savings option is geared towards those who prefer online banking, as PNC has significantly fewer branches in Virginia than Wells Fargo and BB&T.
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|
Best for Small Business: United Bank
A bank local to Virginia and the surrounding states, United Bank provides the best services for small businesses in the region. Besides offering free business checking, savings accounts, and credit cards, United Bank offers a full suite of business services including treasury management, commercial lending, and nonprofit consulting. In Virginia United Bank branches can be found in major cities like Alexandria and Charlottesville and along Highways 95, 64 and 81.
United’s checking account allows for 500 free transactions a month, with a $0.50 charge for all following transactions. The checking account costs $100 to open, and the savings account has a minimum deposit of $50. This account is best for smaller businesses that don’t exceed $500 transactions per month, or who don’t necessarily need the large-scale infrastructure and resources of a bigger bank.
Summary of the Best Banks in Virginia
When choosing a bank, your best option will depend on your personalized needs. As such, you should do a bit of research to identify what is important to you in a banking experience. As you shop around, use this guide and the table below to see how other banks compare to the ones we've highlighted in this article.
|Checking & Branch Access||BB&T Bank||$0 - $30||Most branches in VA|
|Checking for Students||Bank of America||$0||No monthly fee for students under 24|
|Joint Checking||Wells Fargo||$15||0.01% APY on balances over $100; no monthly fee with direct deposits over $1,000|
|Savings||PNC Bank||$7||0.01%-0.80% APY with Virtual Wallet account package|
|Small Business||United Bank||$0||Free business checking and comprehensive small business services|