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The Best Checking Accounts in South Carolina for 2021

Find out which local banks in South Carolina offer the best checking accounts and how they might compare to online banks, which offer great options too.

Your checking account is possibly the most important bank account you have. Whenever you get a paycheck, your employer deposits the money to your checking account. When you swipe your debit card or pay a bill, the money comes from your checking account.

Because it’s central to your financial life, it’s incredibly important that your checking account be easy for you to use and have the desired features.

South Carolina is home to a long list of highly-regarded banks that could be options for your next checking account. So, you're likely to have multiple choices for your decision.

We've reviewed the 20 largest banks (by total deposits) in South Carolina to help you identify the best checking accounts offered from local banks -- and compare them to online banks, which are available nationwide.

The Largest Banks in South Carolina

The largest banks in South Carolina, by deposits, are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Bank of America
  • Truist Bank
  • First Citizens Bank & Trust
  • South State Bank
  • TD Bank
  • Synovus Bank
  • United Community Bank
  • United Bank
  • Southern First Bank

This list contains mostly national banks, but these aren’t your only option for opening a checking account.

Best Checking Accounts from Local South Carolina Banks

If you’re looking to open a new checking account, one of the first things that you should do is look at local and regional banks in your state.

There are some benefits to working with larger, national banks, but there are plenty of drawbacks to consider.

For example, national banks tend to offer the same experience no matter where you are. This is good if you move a lot or travel frequently, but it means they can’t tailor their services to local needs. Regional banks are more in tune with local customers and can offer more tailored experiences.

If you’re looking for a new checking account in South Carolina, these are three of the best banks to work with.

First Citizens Bank & Trust

First Citizens Bank & Trust offers the Free Checking account, which lives up to its name.

There is a $50 minimum opening deposit, but no minimum balance requirement once the account is open. All you have to do to make the account free is sign up for paperless statements.

The account comes with all of the features you’d expect from a checking account, including online banking and bill pay tools.

South State Bank

South State Bank offers the SouthState Checking account, which has no minimum opening deposit when opened online, making it easy for anyone to get started with an account.

The account does have a $5 monthly fee, but all you have to do to avoid the fee is sign up for electronic statements. There are no other major hoops to jump through.

The account comes with all of the convenience features you’d expect, including online banking, bill payments, and digital wallet options.

Synovus Bank

Synovus Bank also offers a Free Checking account. There is no monthly fee to worry about.

The minimum opening deposit is higher at $100, but you don’t have to keep a minimum balance in the account once you’ve opened it.

Advantages of Big Banks vs. Local Banks

Big Banks Local Banks
Widespread ATM and branch access More intimate, personal service
Better and faster technology and adoption Community-oriented products and services
Uniform service standard across branch network More willing to negotiate and work with customers

Whenever you’re thinking about opening a bank account, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare your options.

Local banks are great for lots of reasons. They usually have fewer customers and are better at providing personalized service or helping out when you’re running into some financial difficulties. With larger banks, you’re just another face in the crowd.

However, regional banks have a few disadvantages.

For example, they typically have regional ATM and branch networks. If you travel, you’ll be stuck using other banks’ ATMs and paying the associated fees. Moving might mean finding a new bank to work with.

National banks have larger networks, which makes it easier to find an ATM or branch if you’re traveling and need to get some cash.

Online Checking Accounts Are Available Nationally

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional regional and national banks, online banks can be a great choice.

They’ve grown very popular in recent years and it’s easy to see why.

Great rates and low fees

Online checking accounts have one major advantage over their brick-and-mortar competition. It costs much less to operate an online bank, which lets them offer the same or better services at lower prices.

Traditional banks need to build, staff, and maintain large networks of branches and ATMs. Online banks only need an office building or two in a central location. They don’t need to spend as much money on infrastructure, instead relying on other banks’ ATMs.

Most online banks take those savings and pass them on to their customers. That means that online checking accounts typically don’t have monthly fees or minimum balances. Many also come with perks like interest and ATM fee rebates.

Some online banks offer more than checking accounts, and those accounts come with similarly premium features.

FDIC insurance

One common concern surrounding online banks is security. It’s understandable. Online fraud is a real problem and it can be hard to trust a bank you can’t see.

The good news:

Online banks receive the same level of protection that traditional banks get from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This makes online checking accounts just as safe as checking accounts from anywhere else.

When you open an account, you’re automatically covered. The protection offers up to $250,000 in insurance per depositor, per account type.

Most people won’t exceed that limit, which makes it all but impossible to lose money by depositing it to a bank account, in-person or online.

What Kind of Account is Right for You?

Online banks can be great for many people, but they’re not for everyone.

Ask yourself these questions before opening an account:

Are you adept at electronic communication?

With an online bank, there’s no branch to go to when you need help with your account. You’ll need to communicate with customer support online or over the phone.

Do you do much banking at your current bank?

If everyone at the branch knows your name, you might want to stick with a traditional bank. If you already do most of your banking from your phone and ATMs, an online bank will be a natural fit.

Are you good with technology?

If you struggle to use a smartphone or need time to learn new technology, you should reconsider going to a fully online bank.

The Key Factors in Picking a Checking Account

When comparing checking accounts, these are the four most important things to compare.

Fees

Many banks charge monthly account fees if you don’t meet certain requirements such as maintaining a minimum balance. These fees eat away at your balance over time, leaving you with less money to spend on things you want to buy.

Make sure you open an account with no monthly fee. If you must choose an account with a fee, make sure it’s easy to avoid, such as by signing up for electronic statements.

ATM/branch access

If you use cash on a regular basis, make sure that the bank you choose has a good network of ATMs and branches in the areas you frequent. If it doesn’t make sure it reimburses ATM fees.

Interest rates

Interest on checking balances isn’t exceedingly common, but it can be a great perk. Every penny you earn in interest from a checking account is like getting some free money.

Mobile banking

Most banks offer mobile banking apps, but their quality can vary. If mobile and online banking are important to you, make sure that the bank’s app is easy to use and has the basic features that you need.

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