Tired of feeling as if you're just a number at your bank? Maybe you're looking for a different financial option, one that values community and empowers its members.

Hello, credit unionsoften overlooked and underestimated, they might just be the answer to your banking needs.

Uniquely member-owned, credit unions offer a refreshing alternative to the impersonal and profit-driven traditional banking system. So, what exactly are credit unions, and how can they benefit you?

Following is a deeper look into this cooperative banking model and a review of some of the best credit unions in Florida.

First, what is a credit union?

A credit union is a non-profit financial institution owned and controlled by its members that offers traditional banking services such as credit cards, loans, checking, and savings accounts.

The first credit unions were created during the Industrial Revolution in Europe as a means for workers to combine their finances and offer affordable credit to each other.

In 1909, a successful businessman and philanthropist, Edward Filene, introduced credit unions to America. But it wasn't until the 1930s that they were recognized nationally and widely embraced.

The difference between credit unions and banks

The main difference between the two is that banks are typically for institutions, while credit unions are not-for-profit and distribute their profits among their members.

Unlike banks, credit unions have membership requirements such as living in a designated geographic area, belonging to a specific organization, or having a certain relationship with existing members.

Also, credit unions operate as a cooperative, with members having a say in the institution's decision-making processes. Banks, on the other hand, are run by a board of directors appointed by shareholders.

What makes a Florida credit union a "best"?

A reputable Florida-state credit union is one that always puts the well-being of its members first. It possesses certain qualities and offers specific features, including:

  • Competitive rates and fees on various financial products and services, including checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, and credit cards
  • A wide range of products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market deposit accounts, share certificates, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and credit cards
  • Community-focused, serving specific geographic areas, organizations, or industries and offering unique services or supporting local initiatives
  • Modern banking services, such as online banking, mobile banking, and ATMs, that make banking more convenient for their members
  • Deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), providing added protection in case of failure
  • Better loan rates and deposit yields because credit unions are nonprofits, so profits are distributed back to members through affordable banking and higher returns
  • Financial education and support, which may include educational materials, FAQs, and phone support for account queries and transactions

The seven best credit unions in Florida

This Florida credit union list caters to a diverse range of customers seeking competitive interest rates, innovative digital banking tools, and more. So, we are sure you'll find something that fits your bill.

1. GTE Financial

Established over 85 years ago during the challenging times of the Great Depression, GTE Financial has grown to become a trusted and reliable financial institution serving the Tampa Bay area.

It provides convenient banking services to more than 250,000 members with multiple locations and free ATMs. Eligibility is open to all through family referrals, your place of employment, or the CU Savers club.

From mortgages and credit cards to savings and checking accounts, GTE Financial offers a range of financial services. To date, the credit union has donated over $500,000 to charity every year since 2021.

Min. credit score650+
Financing optionsAuto loans, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, business loans
Auto loan APR5.7% - 5.9%
Home loan APRUnspecified
Credit card APR12.4% - 16.24%
Personal loan APR11.9%

2. Pen Air

Pen Air Credit Union is more than just your average financial institution. Founded in 1936 to serve the employees of Naval Air Station Pensacola, it has since expanded to include members from 17 counties in Florida and Alabama.

With more than 120,000 members and $2.9 billion in assets, Pen Air Credit Union offers a wide range of financial services, from savings and checking accounts to loans and mortgages.

This Florida-state credit union also provides personalized financial guidance and beneficial services such as Home Equity Lines of Credit and Loans to help their members achieve their financial goals.

Min. credit scoreUnspecified
Financing optionsAuto loans, credit cards, business loans, home loans, personal loans
Auto loan APR5.49% - 17.49%
Home loan APRUnspecified
Credit card APR11.99% - 18%
Personal loan APR7.9%

3. First Florida

With over 5,500 locations nationwide, First Florida offers convenient access to your money with a surcharge-free ATM network of 80,000 locations, including popular retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Publix.

A lifetime membership costs only $5.00, and your whole family can joinno matter where they live. It's no wonder First Florida has more than 60,000 members and total assets exceeding $1.3 billion.

Conducting banking transactions on the go has never been easier, thanks to their mobile banking app. Make e-deposits and instant transfers from anywhere at any time with ease.

Min. credit scoreUnspecified
Financing optionsPersonal loans, business loans, home loans
Auto loan APR6.24% - 7.24%
Home loan APRUnspecified
Credit card APR9.49% - 17.99%
Personal loan APR9.99% - 10.24%


For 65+ years, MIDFLORIDA has been serving over 475,000 members. It has more than 60 branches strategically located from Tampa Bay to the Treasure Coast and from Gainesville to Naples.

The union prides itself on putting the needs of its members first. With a focus on personal attention and competitive rates, it has successfully grown to over $7 billion in assets and 1,350 employees.

Established in 1954 as Polk County Teachers Credit Union, MIDFLORIDA has grown significantly and now offers high-quality products and services that match any local bank.

Min. credit scoreUnspecified
Financing optionsCredit cards, personal loans, home loans, auto loans, business loans
Auto loan APR6.89% - 8.39%
Home loan APR6.89% - 8.50%
Credit card APR3.99% - 18%
Personal loan APR11.09% - 15.5%

5. Suncoast Credit Union

With a long-standing history of serving those in the Suncoast region, Suncoast Credit Union has grown to become one of the largest credit unions in Florida, with over one million members.

Members enjoy cash back or rewards points with the Suncoast Rewards Credit Card, convenient mobile pay options, and savings on Nationwide Pet Insurance.

Plus, with a fee-free Smart Checking account and special savings on eco-friendly vehicle loans, Suncoast helps you save money and the planet.

Min. credit scoreUnspecified
Financing optionsHome loans, credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, business loans
Auto loan APRAs low as 7.5%
Home loan APRUnspecified
Credit card APRUnspecified
Personal loan APR9.75% - 11.5%

6. Floridacentral Credit Union

Founded in 1958 as Tampa Central Credit Union to serve the financial needs of other credit unions, Floridacentral Credit Union has since become a highly respected and reliable financial institution.

Membership is open to Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Orange, and Lake County residents. Family members of current credit union members are also eligible to join.

A standout feature is competitive interest rates for checking accounts. You can earn a maximum of 3.25% interest on your balances, steadily growing your funds.

Min. credit scoreUnspecified
Financing optionsAuto loans, home loans, personal loans, credit cards
Auto loan APRAs low as 5.49%
Home loan APRUnspecified
Credit card APR9.99% - 15.99%
Personal loan APRUnspecified

7. Florida West Coast Credit Union (FWCC)

This credit union offers convenient access to its services for its members with five branches and multiple ATMs spread across Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

FWCC has over 10,000 members and an impressive asset size of $100 million that continues to grow and serve the banking needs of its members and their families.

FWCC offers various convenient mobile banking services, including checking account management, fund transfers, check deposits, bill payments, and loan applications.

Min. credit score720+ for auto loans
Financing optionsCredit cards, home loans, auto loans, personal loans
Auto loan APR6%
Home loan APR6.99% - 8.50%
Credit card APR8.99% - 12.96%
Personal loan APR9.25%

Final thoughts before signing up with a credit union

When considering a credit union, consider convenience, accessibility, and financial stability. Sure, they may offer benefits like lower fees and higher interest rates, but customer service could be limited.

Before joining, research their locations, hours, online banking capabilities, and financial status, including their NCUA insurance and customer ratings, to ensure your finances are in good hands.