2016 RANKING OF TOP BANKS IN VIRGINIA, US
Ranking the Best Banks in Virginia
Why are banks often seen as the enemy of the common consumer? For many people, the answer to that question is that they’re working with the wrong bank.
When you do your banking with a well-respected, innovative, and client-driven bank, you’re going to see tremendous benefits. Some of these advantages include saving money on fees, greater peace of mind that comes with strong customer service and a focus on security, and more visibility and control when it comes to managing your money.
Working with a bank doesn’t have to be difficult, and, in fact, an excellent bank can become your trusted financial partner for life.
The following review keeps these vital concepts in mind and includes a ranking of the best banks in Virginia.
This list of Virginia banks includes names from across the state, including banks in Charlottesville, VA; banks in Richmond, VA; and all the way to the coastal areas, with banks in Virginia Beach.
Each of the names on this ranking of the best banks in Virginia represents a dedication to superior customer service, paired with the best products and top-tier technology, all of which lead to the best possible banking experience for the consumer.
- Branch Banking and Trust Company
- Carter Bank & Trust
- First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
- PNC Bank
- SunTrust Bank
- Union Bank & Trust
- Wells Fargo Bank
- Woodforest National Bank
This list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the above names to go directly to the detailed review of that bank)
How Can You Avoid Common Bank Fees?
One of the common complaints many banking customers have is that fees seem to be growing rapidly, and banks are attaching charges to more and more services. In response to this, many consumers are searching for ways to avoid these fees and keep more of their money.
Below are some of the key ways any consumer can avoid being hit with so many financial fees:
- Always read the fine print. The last thing you want to do, when it comes to managing your finances, is to be in the dark. Make sure you read everything about a bank account before opening it, and if your bank sends you updates and disclosures, go through them carefully. You may find that if you see a new fee is being imposed, you can avoid it simply by being aware and either changing accounts or even moving banks.
- Consider online banks and services. Some consumers are moving to strictly online banks because they often have little or no fees due to no overhead costs. If this isn’t an option for you, try to do as much banking as you can online or on a mobile device as banks tend to offer these services for free whereas doing something like receiving a mailed paper statement can cost you money every month.
- Go with basic accounts. Many banks will offer standard checking and savings accounts that might not have all the bells and whistles of some other options, but they also often don’t have monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements.
- Look for package discounts. Many banks will offer discounts on service and maintenance fees to those customers who have several accounts with them. For example, you may find that fees are waived if you go to one bank for both your checking and savings account needs.
When Is It Time to Switch Banks?
Consumers can do themselves a significant disservice if they don’t pay attention to red flags indicating that it’s time to move their banking elsewhere. Just like anything else, it can pay off to do comparison shopping and weight the pros and cons of staying with your old bank versus moving somewhere else.
Below are some red flags signaling that it could be time for a change.
- The fees are becoming overwhelming. You might be willing to pay a small amount in fees, but if it seems like they’re sneaking in or adding up at a rapid pace, it may be time to make a move.
- Are you struggling to bank because of convenience and accessibility issues? Perhaps you find that it’s difficult to access your cash when you need it, or the hours of the branches you bank at are very restrictive. Maybe you bank somewhere that doesn’t offer robust online and mobile options.
- Do you feel like you’re valued? A bank should make you feel valued and respected as a customer. If you don’t feel like you’re getting that, you might want to think about moving to a financial institution that can change that for you.
- If you’ve undergone recent changes in your needs or lifestyle, you might want to reconsider your current bank and think about whether it can accommodate those changes. For example, have you moved or changed jobs? Can your current bank still keep pace with your financial needs?
What Are the Most Common Bank Accounts People Open?
Not all banks are the same, and while they may vary broadly in some of the specific services they offer, there are some standards that you’re going to find at most financial institutions.
The most common bank account options include:
- Checking: Checking accounts are one of the most popular accounts people use because they’re convenient and more secure than using cash. They can also often be linked to savings accounts and debit cards. Most banks offer basic checking accounts, but then many institutions also offer interest-bearing checking accounts as well as rewards systems for using your checking account.
- Savings: Savings accounts are diverse in their features and offerings and can range from a basic account, which may offer a small amount of interest, to something like a money market or CD. These accounts are more for the long-term saver and may include more competitive interest rates and some withdrawal and check writing flexibility.
- Credit cards: Many banks also offer credit and lending options to their customers. This can be beneficial to consumers who want to streamline all of their banking in one place and also set up features such as automatic credit card payments from their checking account each month.
Top 9 Best Banks in Virginia
(List is sorted alphabetically)
Branch Banking and Trust Company
Carter Bank & Trust
First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
Union Bank & Trust
Wells Fargo Bank
Woodforest National Bank
Methodology for Selecting the Best Banks in Virginia
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the picks for the best banks in Virginia included on this ranking?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ's Ranking Methodologies” to find a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top firms.
Detailed Review – Top Ranking of Best Banks in Virginia
After carefully considering Virginia banks, we compiled the following list of the top nine banking firms. As you continue reading, you’ll find detailed reviews of each of our picks as well as an outline of the factors used in the decision-making process.
Carter Bank & Trust is a state-chartered community bank that operates 123 branches in not only Virginia but also North Carolina. Carter Bank & Trust has nearly $4.9 billion in assets and was formed in 2006 through the merger of 10 banks in Virginia and North Carolina. At the time of its formation, Carter Bank & Trust represented the largest independent state-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Virginia.
Carter Bank & Trust offers a range of deposit accounts, including checking, savings, retirement, money market, and CDs. Consumers often prefer Carter Bank & Trust because of its competitive interest rates. Additionally, Carter Bank & Trust offers business and personal loans.
Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This as One of the Best Banks in Virginia
Below are key reasons Carter Bank & Trust was included in this ranking of the top banks in Charlottesville, VA and throughout the entire state.
Lifetime Free Checking
Lifetime Free Checking is the signature and most popular offering available from Carter Bank & Trust. This account offers an account that’s guaranteed to be free for life, and it includes no minimum balance requirements or annual fees.
It also includes free debit cards and is open to individuals, nonprofits, and trust organizations.
This is one of the most simple and convenient ways consumers can bank with Carter Bank & Trust without being charged any fees, and they’re assured that they will never have to pay fees with this account.
One of the exclusive deposit accounts also available from Carter Bank & Trust is called Passbook Savings. This is one of the preferred ways to save money because it offers the benefits of a traditional savings account paired with a competitive interest rate and the flexibility to transfer money in and out of the account.
There are no annual fees, and there is only a $50 minimum deposit required to open the account.
This account is open to individuals, nonprofits, trust accounts, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations.
Other savings accounts from Carter Bank & Trust include Christmas clubs, money market accounts, and CDs.
While Lifetime Free Checking is an incredibly appealing offer for many clients of Carter Bank & Trust, it also offers Interest Checking, which is an account that pairs the traditional features and benefits of a checking account with the ability to earn competitive interest rates on account balances.
There are no annual fees, free unlimited check writing, free debit cards, and it’s open to individuals, nonprofits, trust accounts, and sole proprietorships.
This account utilizes the Balance Computation Method, which means the daily balance method is used to calculate interest on accounts. Interest rates are the same on accounts with balances of $500 and above.
Carter Bank & Trust is a lending institution offering both personal and business loans and fixed and variable-rate mortgages. Loan options include secured and unsecured products.
Specific personal loans available through Carter Bank & Trust include:
- Automobile for cars, trucks, and SUVs
- Home improvement loans for renovations, remodeling, repairs, or additions to existing single-family homes
- Personal loans for investment or personal expenditures with flexible available terms
- Real estate loans designed to purchase, build or refinance primary residences, which can include single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and vacation homes. 1 to 30-year loans are available.
First Citizens Bank Review
Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, First Citizens is a state-chartered commercial bank that’s a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc, a company with more than $31 billion in assets. First Citizens has a long history spanning more than 100 years, and its corporate mission centers around working hard, asking questions, planning ahead, and caring for the needs of its customers.
Personal products and services available to clients of First Citizens include checking and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgage options, and investment and retirement accounts.
Key Factors That Allowed First Citizens Bank to Rank as one of the Best Banks in Virginia
Below highlights some of the reasons that First Citizens was selected as one of the top banks in Winchester, VA as well as throughout the state.
As one of the leading banks in VA, First Citizens is full-service, and among those services are options for retirement planning and savings. Clients can start planning for their retirement and finding the right account for their needs and also use helpful First Citizens calculators to determine how much they should save.
Retirement account options include IRAs, and, more specifically, both traditional and Roth IRAs are available through First Citizens. Other options include the SEP IRA and the simple IRA.
As well as retirement and investment planning tools and accounts, First Citizens also has an online education center geared toward saving for education expenses.
First Citizens Rewards
First Citizens Rewards is an exclusive program that allows account holders to earn points by using their First Citizens Credit Card to make purchases ranging from dining to shopping and airfare. They can then redeem their points online or by phone.
Part of this program is the pooling option, which lets people create pools so that every time one member of the group uses his/her credit card, that individual earns points that can then be accumulated even faster.
It’s also possible to gift your points to another First Citizens cardholder.
Your Family First
Your Family First is a program available to Prestige or Premier Checking account holders. It’s complimentary and designed to help families simplify how they manage their finances. It also includes discounts and perks that are designed to improve budgeting and planning for the future.
As part of Family First, account holders receive financial reviews to assess their needs and plan for the future as well as a no-cost review of current insurance plans paired with rate quotes.
The account includes a First Citizens Together Card, which is a safe way to create and manage a family budget. Other perks include $200 toward closing costs on a First Citizens Mortgage, a $25 introductory credit for a new Cloverdell Education Savings account, and 2,000 bonus points for your first usage of your First Citizens Rewards Visa Card.
Intelligent ATM Banking
One of the exclusive First Citizens offerings is called Intelligent Deposit ATM Banking. With this, you can make cash or check deposits at any time without envelopes or deposit slips.
There is on-screen verification of the deposits you’re making, whether they’re cash or checks. Check images will appear on your receipt, with your balance and the total amount of deposit, and checks deposited before 9 p.m. are posted on the same day. There is also immediate availability of cash deposits.
As one of the most respected community banks in Norfolk, VA, as well as a top bank in Virginia Beach, Richmond, and throughout the entire state, TowneBank offers personal, business and wealth services. TowneBank also operates in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The bank maintains 37 offices and more than $6 billion in assets, making it one of the largest banks headquartered in Virginia. What sets TowneBank apart is a dedication to localized decision-making and the communities it serves.
Key Factors That Enabled This to Be Named as One of the Best Banks in Virginia
Below are essential reasons TowneBank was selected as a contender for the best bank in Virginia.
One of the premier checking account options available from this Virginia bank is Towne Gold, which is for members who have larger balances and would like to earn interest on the money they keep in their checking account.
There is a minimum balance requirement, and if it isn’t met, there is a $15 monthly maintenance fee, but this account is interest-bearing and requires only a $50 minimum opening balance.
Other benefits include unlimited check writing, free check images, free Mobile Banking with Mobile Deposit, and free online Bill Pay.
Personal Finance Works
TowneBank offers customers the options to gain greater control over their finances and how they manage their money through an integration with FinanceWorks. FinanceWorks is available through Personal Online Banking, and it’s a tool that lets users track their spending, see their investments, and manage their budget.
FinanceWorks offers the option to integrate information from your TowneBank account with information from all of your accounts at other banks and credit card companies as well as your investments.
You can use one login to view all of your financial information, design customized budget goals, and identify tax-deductible transactions. This financial tool also offers the option to put transactions into organized categories and see your spending on graphs and charts.
While TowneBank prides itself on being a community bank with hometown, personalized service, it does also offer robust technology that makes it easy and accessible for clients.
With mobile banking, users can view their account balances, deposit checks, transfer funds between accounts, and pay bills.
The mobile app, which can be downloaded in the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store, can also be used to locate nearby branches and ATMs, see pending transactions and history, initiate stop payments, and monitor your TowneBank stock.
Towne Saver is a versatile, basic savings account that can be used to save for anything from a vacation to something that’s more long term. It includes access to online banking, bill pay, and FinanceWorks as well as mobile banking.
Interest is compounded daily, and there is no monthly maintenance fee for senior account holders aged 62 and older. There is also no monthly maintenance fee for minors whose parents have an account at TowneBank.
The minimum opening balance is $50, and with a $300 minimum daily balance, anyone can avoid the monthly maintenance fee. There are also three free withdrawals per month included with this account.
Union Bank Review
Union Bank & Trust, also called Union, is part of the Union Bankshares Corporation, which is the largest community bank with headquarters in Virginia. The bank is backed by more than 100 years of history, and, in addition to traditional branch banking locations, Union Bank also features in-store locations at the majority of Martin’s Food Markets in the state.
Union is considered one of the top banks in Richmond, VA; a leading bank in Charlottesville, VA; and one of the best financial institutions throughout much of the state. There are more than 100 branches throughout Virginia as well as hundreds of ATMs.
Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This as One of the Top Banks in Virginia
Reasons Union Bank was included in this ranking for the best banks in Virginia are highlighted below.
Free Checking is truly just that: an entirely free checking account. It doesn’t require large balances or any other services to receive the free checking.
There is no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirements, and this flexible, low-cost, and convenient account also includes a Visa debit card and unlimited check writing.
Other free services that come with this account include online banking and bill pay, mobile banking, online statements, access to online budgeting tools, and telephone banking.
Debit Card Rewards
Many banks will offer rewards on credit card purchases, but Union is one of the unique banks in Virginia because it offers rewards on debit card usage.
When users make debit card transactions with any Union checking account, they earn points. They earn one point for every $2 in signature transactions and one point for every $4 in PIN transactions when their debit card is registered. Users can then view their points and decide when to redeem them by visiting the ScoreCard Rewards website, which includes merchandise and travel options.
Identity Theft Protection
Union clients can take advantage of monthly identity theft protection for a small fee. This includes fraud and credit monitoring to identify potential threats early, unlimited resolution assistance if identity theft does occur, and expense reimbursement for lost wages, travel expenses, and other costs associated with identity theft.
There are three packages to choose from: Basic, Premium, and Ultimate. Each includes LifeStages ID Theft Resolution Services, $25,000 ID theft reimbursement coverage, and bureau credit monitoring.
CollegeWealth 529 Savings
As a full-service bank in Virginia, Union offers many savings account options, and one of those is the CollegeWealth 529 Savings Account. This account offers tax advantages, is FDIC-insured, and is considered a high-yield savings options.
It’s a tiered savings account, so the more you save, the higher the interest you earn.
This savings account is offered through a partnership with the Virginia College Savings Plan, so it can be used at any accredited college that’s eligible to accept financial aid. It can also be used at vocational and for-profit schools as well as many community colleges. The minimum to open this account is only $25, and there are no state residency requirements.
To browse exclusive reviews of all top rated banks in Virginia, please click on any of the links below.
- Branch Banking and Trust Company
- Carter Bank & Trust
- First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
- PNC Bank
- SunTrust Bank
- Union Bank & Trust
- Wells Fargo Bank
- Woodforest National Bank
Conclusion – Best Banks in Virginia
The decision of which bank to partner with isn’t an easy one. There are so many factors to consider, from the fees a bank may charge to the accessibility offered either in-person or online. If you make the wrong choice in a bank, you may find that you’re paying high fees, or you might find that your financial products and services aren’t adequately meeting your needs.
The above banks in VA are among the best in the state for many reasons. They’re all unique from one another, yet whether it’s one of the top banks in Winchester, VA or a leading bank in Norfolk, VA, they all have a few things in common.
These commonalities include excellent customer service, innovative products and service, and a well-established reputation.
Virginia is a diverse state, from the coastal Tidewater region to the mountains of the west, and the names on this ranking of the best banks in Virginia cover all of these regions and everything in between, so consumers have a broad point of reference when they’re selecting the right Virginia bank for their needs.
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