Updated October 16, 2023

Best Credit Union

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Good credit unions offer competitive rates and great credit rewards. Here's a list of the best credit unions you can consider.

What are the best credit unions?
These are the 10 best credit unions:
  1. Alliant Credit Union: for Overall
  2. Pentagon Federal Credit Union: for Online Savings
  3. Consumers Credit Union: for Car Loans
  4. Navy Federal Credit Union: for Military
  5. Connexus Credit Union: for Jumbo CDs
  6. First Tech Credit Union: for Personal Loans
  7. Bethpage Federal Credit Union: for CD Rates
  8. America First: for Short-term CDs
  9. Blue Federal Credit Union: for Checking Accounts
  10. Quorum Federal Credit Union: for Credit Card Rewards

Do you want better offers than a traditional bank has? Like higher rates or better perks and services. Maybe a credit union would be best for you.

Credit unions run like banks but not for profit. They're run by members for its members. So credit unions generally have lower expenses. Thus, they offer better interest rates for savings or loans.

Sounds like something you're interested in? Below are some of the best credit unions to get you started.

Are credit unions better than banks?
If you're looking for better interest rates and lower fees, credit unions are generally better. But if you're looking for convenience in terms of accessibility to ATMs or physical branches, banks might be a better choice.

Credit Union Interest Rates for July 2024:

Alliant: Best Overall

Alliant has $17 billion in assets and serves over 700,000 members.[1] They have good checking and savings accounts with competitive rates for their members.

Why we like Alliant Credit Union:
Alliant checking accounts don't require monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances. Plus, they have no overdraft fees.

And for your withdrawal needs, Alliant has over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs. But if you need to go out of network, you can get $20 in ATM fee rebates per month.

You only need $5 to open a high-rate savings account. Compared to other credit unions, Alliant offers one of the higher rates if you maintain a balance of $100.[2]

Alliant provides 2 kinds of credit cards, both have no annual fee and a bonus introductory rate period. They even offer a high cashback reward on qualifying purchases.

Membership eligibility requirements: Membership in Foster Care to Success (FC2S). There is a $5 membership fee that Alliant will even shoulder.[3]

  • Free Checking Option
  • Higher rates for Savings
  • Credit cards with cashback rewards
  • Fast car loan approval
  • Higher rates for loans
  • Some reports of poor customer service

Are credit union accounts safe?
Generally, credit unions are safe. Like FDIC insurance for banks, they are insured by the National Credit Union Administration for up to $250,000.[4] This is usually mentioned on their website.

PenFed: Best for Online Savings

PenFed serves over 2.9 million members, with $35.3 billion in assets.[5] Expect good cashback and rewards from PenFed's credit offerings as a member.

Why we like Pentagon Federal Credit Union:
Other than their Regular Savings account, PenFed offers an online-only savings account: Premium Online Savings account.

With only $5, you can open a savings account with a really competitive APY on all balances. There are no monthly fees, and you get free online transfers. Plus, you can open this account online so you can start saving asap!

You can also check out PenFed's credit cards. With their Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, you can earn 2% cashback on all purchases if you are a PenFed Honors Advantage member[6]. Their Pathfinder Rewards Visa Card comes with a lot of travel bonuses.

Membership eligibility requirements: You can apply online for PenFed membership by submitting a Regular Share account application or a Premium Online Savings account application and depositing a minimum of $5.[7]

  • Free checking
  • High rates for checking
  • Low APR on personal loans
  • Long CD terms
  • Inconsistent credit limits
  • Can't access money for Premium Online Savings account at ATM

Consumers: Best for Car Loans

Consumers has more than 200,000 members, with $3.3 billion in assets.[8] If you're needing a loan to get that dream car, Consumers might be able to help.

Why we like Consumers Credit Union:
Consumers' personal loans offer very flexible terms. They also have one of the lowest APRs for car loans, and they even have a 0.25% car loan reduction for members.

Their checking account offers one of the highest rates. But your balance should be less than $10k and meet specific requirements to qualify. They require a $5 opening deposit, but it has no monthly maintenance fees.

For your convenience, Consumers' members have fee-free access to over 30,000 ATMs.[9]

They offer 5 credit cards that have no annual fee. Look out for their Visa Signature Cash Rebate Card. It offers one of the highest cashback rates for certain purchases.

Membership eligibility requirements: Simply become a member of the Consumers Cooperative Association by payment of a one-time $5 membership fee.[10]

  • Free checking
  • Low minimum deposit for CDs
  • High-rate checking accounts
  • A lot of credit card options
  • Unreliable customer service
  • Mid-range APRs

NavyFed has over 13 million members, with over $165 billion in assets.[11] They offer a wide range of products and services for those who served or is related to the military.

Why we like Navy Federal Credit Union:
NavyFed offers 5 different checking accounts. 4 of them have no minimum balances and monthly fees with ATM fee rebates. Though their rates may be lower compared to other credit unions.

Navy Fed has 30,000+ ATMs to meet your withdrawal needs.[12]

Look out for their EasyStart certificate since it has a minimum deposit of only $50. They also have a Standard CD with competitive rates and only a $1k minimum deposit.

For credit unions, CDs are called Share Certificates. Share certificates are federally insured for up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), so your money is safe in case the credit union fails.

Though NavyFed doesn't have the lowest APR for mortgage loans, they offer Homebuyers Choice loans. This offers 100% financing on purchases.[13]

Sign up for their RealtyPlus service for buying and selling homes. This can get you cashback ranging from $400 to $9k.

Membership eligibility requirements: You have to be current or retired members of the armed forces, Department of Defense personnel, or family members of those previously mentioned.[14]

  • Great customer service
  • Low APR on credit cards and personal loans
  • Low opening deposit for CDs
  • No downpayment options for mortgage
  • Average rate for savings
  • Low rate for checking accounts

Connexus: Best for Jumbo CDs

Connexus has over 450,000+ members, with $5.2 billion in assets.[15] If you're willing to park your money for some time, their jumbo CD rates are some of the highest.

Why we like Connexus Credit Union:
Connexus offers great jumbo CDs with one of the highest rates. And like most jumbo CDs, the minimum deposit is $100k.

They offer terms as short as 12 months to as long as 60 months at very competitive rates. You can even withdraw the interest that your money earns before maturity.

Connexus has one of the highest rates for their checking accounts for balances less than $25k. They have no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.

There is a possible overdraft fee of $4 as well as a $5 inactivity monthly fee for Connexus' checking accounts.

They offer $25 in ATM fee rebates per month if you open an Xtraordinary Checking Account. But if you want to make fee-free withdrawals, Connexus has 67,000+ ATMs for this.

Membership eligibility requirements: The easiest way is by becoming a member of Connexus Association and paying their $5 membership fee.[16]

  • They offer bump-up CDs
  • High rate for checking
  • Variety of credit card options and benefits
  • ATM-fee rebates
  • Minimum balance to get the highest rate
  • Possible overdraft fees
  • Possible inactivity monthly fee

First Tech: Best for Personal loans

First Tech has over 658,000 members, with $16 billion in assets.[17] First Tech offers low rates if you need to take out a loan for your personal needs.

Why we like First Tech Credit Union:
You can easily apply for a personal loan with First Tech online without needing to pay an application fee. They offer one of the lowest APRs and you can borrow up to $50k.

Their personal loan terms range from 24-84 months, longer than other institutions. Plus, if you settle your loan early, you won't be charged a fee.

First Tech gives you high rates on savings and checking accounts if you meet minimum balance requirements.

They also offer great credit card options. Watch out for their Choice Rewards and Platinum Mastercard since there is no annual fee required. They have points rewards, no foreign transaction fees, no balance transfer fees, and no cash advance fees for all credit cards.

Membership eligibility requirements: The easiest way is by becoming a member of the Computer History Museum or joining the Financial Fitness Association. You can do this by going to a branch to inquire, applying online, or calling their number.[18]

  • High rate for savings
  • High-rate for bump-up CDs
  • High rate for checking
  • Low APR for personal loans
  • Not very good customer service
  • High opening balance

Bethpage: Best CD Rates

Bethpage has over 434,650 members, with $11.4 billion in total assets.[19] If you're looking for high CD rates, then Bethpage has great offers.

Why we like Bethpage Federal Credit Union:
Their CDs have one of the lowest minimum initial deposits of $50 and one of the highest rates. And they even offer terms as short as 3 months.

Their checking accounts offer one of the highest rates with no minimum balance and monthly maintenance fees.

Bethpage has 30,000+ ATMs nationwide to help make it a hassle-free withdrawal for you.

Their credit cards have a low APR. Watch out for their Low Rate and Cash Back card, both have no annual fee, and their Cash Back Card offers 0.50% - 1% cashback benefits.

Membership eligibility requirements: Membership at Bethpage Federal Credit Union is open to anyone with a $5 minimum share account.[20]

  • Great customer service
  • Low opening deposit for CDs
  • High rate for checking
  • Low rate for savings
  • Low-rates online banking

America First: Best Short-term CDs

America First currently serves over 1.3 million members, with $17.39 billion in assets.[21] They have a wide range of CD terms, but their short-term CDs are worth looking into for building a CD ladder.

What is a CD Ladder?
CD Ladder is a strategy where you put your money into multiple CDs with different rates and terms. The idea is to have a CD mature in regular intervals. When it matures, you can opt to withdraw the money or reinvest it into another CD. Check your potential returns on your CDs using this CD Rate calculator.

Why we like America First Credit Union:
Their CDs offer one of the shortest terms and one of the highest rates. They also have one of the lower minimum opening deposits.

Plus, they offer CD ladders to help give you some access to your money at different periods and maximize your interest earnings.

They offer 2 checking options: Classic and Premium.

Classic Checking has no monthly maintenance fees and no low-balance fees. For Premium Checking, the monthly fee of $6 can be waived if you meet certain requirements.

But they have one of the lower rates for checking, which can even go down to 0% if their minimum requirements are not met.

America First has over 30,000 ATMs nationwide to make withdrawing much more convenient for you.

Membership eligibility requirements:[22]
  • Those who live, work, conduct business in, worship, volunteer, or attend school in specified places on their website.
  • Owners, employees, or suppliers involved in the food industry in Utah.
  • Employees or members of a Select Employer Group (SEG) or an affiliated association.
  • Members of the immediate family or household of an existing member.
  • Spouses of members who died within the field of membership.
  • Employees of America First Federal Credit Union or its subsidiary corporations.

  • Low minimum opening deposit
  • Shorter term CDs
  • Variety of credit cards and rewards
  • Low APR on personal loans
  • Not so good customer service
  • Low rate for savings and checking

BlueFed: Best for Checking accounts

Blue Fed has over 115,000 members, with $1.8 billion in assets.[23] If you're shopping for a checking account, Blue might have one that suits you.

Why we like Blue Federal Credit Union:
All BlueFed's checking accounts have no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no opening balance requirements.

Check out BlueFed's Extreme Checking, which offers a very high rate. You even get ATM fee rebates of $28 per month.

You can also look into their "earn five" account, where you can earn 5¢ every time you swipe your debit card.

BlueFed has 30,000+ surcharge-free ATMs to make it easier to get access to your funds.

BlueFed offers one of the lowest APRs for home loans. They also have the No Money Down Mortgage Program, where you won't need to put a down payment. Financing will be received through members who are buying into high-yield CDs.

Membership eligibility requirements: The easiest way is by opening an account and depositing $10.[24]

  • Competitive rate
  • Shorter term CDs
  • Great checking options with high rate
  • ATM-fee rebates
  • Not very good customer service
  • High APR for personal loans

Quorum: Best for Credit Cards

Quorum has over 70,000 members, with over $1.22 billion in assets.[25] Do you want a credit card with great perks? Quorum has some that might interest you.

Why we like Quorum Federal Credit Union:
If you want credit cards with a ton of rewards, Quorum is the best option for you. Their cards offer cashback, rewards points, and discounts for fuel, shopping, travel, and other leisure activities.

The best thing about these cards is that Quorum offers them at low APRs plus no annual fee.

Quorum also has a checking option that has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. They also have a free online and mobile Bill Pay service that comes with any Quorum checking account.

If you don't want to pay a withdrawal fee, Quorum has 100,000+ surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. But if you want to do an out-of-network withdrawal, Quorum offers up to $15 in ATM rebates.

Their CDs have one of the higher rates, and they have a great feature that adds an additional 0.10% for deposits over $100k.

Membership eligibility requirements: Membership in one of Quorum's partner associations. The first is American Consumer Council, which has no membership fee. Second is Select Saver Club, which only requires a $5 membership fee that Quorum will even pay for.[26]

  • Great bump-up for their CDs
  • High rate for one savings account
  • Great credit card rewards
  • No personal loans
  • Great customer services
  • Low rate for checking

What's most important to you when choosing a credit union?

Are credit unions worth it?
Credit unions usually offer higher rates for checking and savings accounts at a lower minimum fee. They also offer loans at a lower rate with fewer requirements. If this is what you're looking for, then credit unions are worth it.

Methodology

Imagine opening an account with a credit union and not having all the services you're looking for. To avoid that, we investigated the best accounts and loans that each credit union has to offer with the following.

APY and APR
You'd want the credit union with the highest APY but the lowest APR. This is so you can earn the most amount of money or pay back less when you borrow.

Minimum balances and terms
What's the point of having a high APY and a low APR if the minimum balance to open is too high or the term is too short? You'd want little to no minimum balances for savings and the longest terms for loans.

Rewards and Points
Who doesn't like a little bonus, right? This is more to lock in a decision after seeing the other features they have to offer.

FAQs

Do credit unions pay interest higher than banks?
Since credit unions are member-owned, they generally offer higher rates than banks do at a lower fee or no fee at all. If you're looking to borrow, credit unions usually offer lower interest rates and more flexible requirements than traditional banks.

Is it easier to get a loan from a credit union?
Yes, it generally is easier to get a loan from a credit union. They usually have more flexible requirements compared to traditional banks. Being owned by the members, credit unions have a less strict method of looking into each person applying for the loan.

What is APY?
APY stands for Annual Percentage Yield. It takes compound interest into account and reflects the total earnings on an investment in a period of a year. It is also known as the effective annual rate.

Credit Union CD Rates for July 2024:

What is APR?
APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It measures the cost of borrowing or the return on investment over a one-year period, considering interest rates, fees, and repayment schedules.

BOTTOM LINE

Although credit unions are generally better than traditional banks, there are still more factors to consider. The credit union you choose should depend on what you're looking for. Are you looking to open a savings account? Checking account? A mortgage?

Each credit union has a unique feature to offer. Some credit unions offer a low APY but a great APR for loans and vice versa. So, think first about what you're looking for.

When you determine the service you need, that's when you'll know if a credit union is right for you. Yes, they may generally be better than traditional banks, but make sure you know what you need, and you do your research before opening an account with a credit union.

References

  1. ^ Alliant Credit Union. About, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  2. ^ Alliant. High Yield Savings, Retrieved 8/29/23
  3. ^ Alliant Credit Union. Membership, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  4. ^ NCUA. How Your Accounts are Federally Insured, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  5. ^ Pentagon Federal Credit Union. About, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  6. ^ Pentagon Federal Credit Union. Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card, Retrieved 8/29/23
  7. ^ Pentagon Federal Credit Union. How to Establish Membership, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  8. ^ Consumers Credit Union. Financial Data, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  9. ^ Consumers.ATMs, Retrieved 8/29/23
  10. ^ Consumers. You can join, Retrieved 8/29/23
  11. ^ Navy Federal Credit Union. Corporate Fact Sheet, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  12. ^ Navy Fed. ATMs, Retrieved 8/29/23
  13. ^ Navy Fed. Homebuyers Choice Loan, Retrieved 8/29/23
  14. ^ Navy Federal Credit Union. Membership Eligibility, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  15. ^ Connexus Credit Union. About, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  16. ^ Connexus Credit Union. Membership Eligibility, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  17. ^ First Technology Federal Credit Union. Quarterly Financial Statements, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  18. ^ First Technology Federal Credit Union. Become a Member, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  19. ^ Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Financial Facts, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  20. ^ Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Become a member, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  21. ^ America First Credit Union. Facts and Financials, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  22. ^ America First Credit Union. Becoming a Member, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  23. ^ Blue Federal Credit Union. About Blue, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  24. ^ Blue Federal Credit Union. Who Can Join?, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  25. ^ Quorum Federal Credit Union. About, Retrieved 8/18/2023
  26. ^ Quorum Federal Credit Union. Membership Eligibility, Retrieved 8/18/2023

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