Suncoast Credit Union started with humble beginnings in 1934, when a handful of local educators founded Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union. Since then, Suncoast Credit Union has grown into the largest financial institution headquartered on the west coast of Florida. They were originally formed to meet the financial service needs of teachers in Hillsborough County. In 1975, their name was changed to Suncoast Schools Credit Union to better represent their field of membership. It became Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union with conversion to a federal charter in 1978, and finally in December 2013, members voted "Yes" to a state charter conversion resulting in a new name and new logo for Suncoast. The charter change paved the way for enhanced products and services, branch and ATM expansion, assisting more members in our communities and increased support of public education through the Suncoast Foundation.
- Having an edge on competition
- Online tools available
Suncoast serves anyone who lives, works, worships or attends schools in the following 17 counties in Florida: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Sumter. Immediate family members are also eligible to join Suncoast Credit Union. Suncoast offers a full range of deposit, lending and investment products with access through branches, extensive ATM networks, Members Contact Center, online banking, and apps designed for Androids and Apple.
Suncoast Credit Union's Mission Statement is simple - "Improve the quality of our members' lives by maintaining a strong, secure and innovative credit union that builds trust, shows respect and maximizes efficiency."
Having an Edge on Competition
Suncoast remains a not-for-profit, financial cooperative that exists to meet the financial needs of their members. When your money is in a bank, the profits on that money go to stockholders. But at a credit union, profits go to members. This allows Suncoast to offer lower rates on loans, higher earnings on deposits and more free services like free checking, free online banking, and free bill pay. Banks are for-profit establishments owned by shareholders. They offer a wide variety of products and services for their customers, but they're designed to maximize profits for shareholders.
This ownership structure is one of the two major factors in Suncoast's ability to offer favorable products and services. Without a separate group of stockholders or private owners demanding a return on their investments, all net income is given back to the membership directly or set aside for reserves. They always want to do what's best for members.
The second major factor of their success is operational efficiency. Suncoast's expense ratios are at least 50 percent below those of all other major financial institutions in the Tampa Bay area. This means that a much greater percentage of overall income can be returned to the members in the form of higher dividends and lower loan rates and fees.
Online Tools Available
Suncoast remains committed to providing low cost and convenient services while addressing the financial needs of their members. There are no hidden fees for ATMs and Co-Op ATMs. It's what you should expect from a member-owned cooperative. On their website they offer an abundance of tools for their members to take advantage of such as:
- How to lease and buy a car, what are the differences
- Living on a Budget
- Loan calculators, for student loans, car loans and home loans.
- Access to various promotions that are available to members to earn you more money.
- Access to retirement plans and Investments
- Business accounts, checking, savings, payments on the go, and insurance.
- Various reward possibilities for use of debit and credit cards, and incentives for savings.
Low Locations and Rates
Suncoast is limited in their locations servicing only counties around Tampa Bay, Florida. Expansion into the Orlando area would be great. Another part that could improve is that their interest rates compared to current national averages Suncoast's rates are quite low with only a .15% on checking accounts, and a .35% for regular savings accounts. (APY).
The Bottom Line
This is a decent credit union to become a member of, they have a lot to offer and their rates are better than regular banking rates, but still quite low compared with many other Credit Unions in the nation. If you are looking for a higher yield on investments or on savings accounts we would look for a bank with a further reach and not isolated to one area of such a large state. If you are a student at the University of Southern Florida this would be a viable option to choose for your local accounts with many locations, and ATM options located throughout more than 15 counties in Southern Florida, they don't have fees for use of the ATMs in their CO-OP Network and many of them take deposits.