Banking in Florida

When sending money to or from the USA, you’ll need a US bank account in order to receive the funds, and to make transactions when you are in Florida (avoiding potential charges from your UK bank). It will also enable you to set up Direct Debits to settle utility bills, invoices for solicitors’ and agents’ fees, taxes etc.

The banking system in the United States is regulated by both the federal and state government. Whichever bank you choose in Florida, you can expect to find a large network of branches and ATMs that you can use located across the country, and online services allowing you to operate on a 24/7 basis. As in the UK, charges and tariffs can vary significantly from bank to bank.

PNC, Chase, BB&T, Citibank, SunTrust, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are among a host of financial institutions in Florida, with each providing a wide range of banking services.

Selecting a bank in Florida

Refrain from selecting the first bank you see. There are numerous factors to consider when deciding which bank will suit you best.

When opening a bank account in Florida, it important to consider what it is that you want from your account. Consider some of the following points:

  • Despite there being some savings accounts that do not charge a fee, it is still important to check if a monthly/annual fee is payable
  • Are there any cash withdrawal restrictions?
  • Can you make withdrawals and deposits from any cashpoint?
  • Can you use all ATMs and EFTPOS facilities?
  • What rate of interest is being offered by the bank?
  • Are there telephone and internet banking options?

When shopping around for a bank account, you should put together a checklist of what’s important to you.

Features – free, limited or unlimited transactions account, transaction or withdrawal fees, exception fees; interest rate; minimum opening balance; minimum account balance; periodic payments.

Services – electronic banking (Internet, telephone, mobile), direct debits, overdraft facility, cheque facility, overseas transactions.

Additional – fraud and security protection, complaints handling, financial counselling, convenient location, hours of operation, disability access and services.

Visit different banks or go online via the bank websites and find out about the different products on offer. For example, ask about fees on your transaction account and how these fees might be impacted if you open a high-interest savings account.

Applying for a bank account in Florida

Applying to open a savings account in a Florida bank works the same way as it does at other banks across the United States. You will need to present your identification, contact information and a minimum deposit to open your Florida bank account. If you have just moved to the state, visit the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to obtain a Florida driver’s license.

Most Florida banks require in-state proof of residency before opening an account for you. Identification documents can include:

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Previous home address
  • Social Security number

Quick step-by-step guide to opening an account

  1. Choose an account. Before you complete a checking or savings account application, review the menu of products your Florida bank offers, such as free banking, interest rates, the means to earn discounts on bank products or services. Most banks provide a wide variety of checking and savings accounts to fit different lifestyle options
  2. Complete the checking or savings account application by obtaining a form from your bank or completing the application online. Typically, you’ll need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and employer on your application. If you apply in person, bring your Florida driver’s license, Social Security number and a credit card, if you have one, to the appointment
  3. Most checking and savings accounts require a minimum deposit in order to open an account and so provide one by bringing cash to the appointment

Some banks will post funds and activate your account immediately; however, other banks need five to seven business days to activate your account. Ask your account representative for a time line and to supply you with starter checks and deposit slips.

For security reasons, most banks will not send cheque books and ATM/debit cards to overseas addresses. If you don’t yet have an address in Florida to send them to, they will need to be collected from the branch.

Continue to section 7: Currency exchange


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