Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

    Best Credit Unions of June 2023

    Our experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

    Credit unions are not-for-profit businesses that require you to become a member to keep your money with the institution. We reviewed several credit unions throughout the US to find credit unions that are easy to join.

    Unlike banks, credit unions are not-for-profit businesses, which means they can offer lower fees. They generally offer higher interest rates for savings accounts and lower rates on loans.

    Best Credit Unions

    Alliant High-Interest Checking Account – Product Name OnlyBethpage Federal Credit Union Savings Account – Product Name OnlyBlue Extreme Checking Account – Product Name OnlyConnexus Xtraordinary Checking Account – Product Name OnlyConsumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking Account – Product Name OnlyPentagon Federal Credit Union Premium Online Savings Account – Product Name OnlyHigh Q Savings Account – Product Name OnlyWings Financial High-Yield Savings Account – Product Name Only

    All of the credit unions on our list are protected by NCUA insurance. Although First Republic Bank was recently shut down, bear in mind your money is safe at a federally insured financial institution. When a financial institution is federally insured, up to $250,000 per depositor is secure in a bank account.

    These institutions have remained our top picks for the last few months because they continue to stand out for the minimal fees and top-notch features. Here our top picks for the best credit unions.

    Compare the Best Credit Unions

    Expert’s Advice on the Best Credit Unions 

    We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best credit union for your needs.

    Tania Brown, certified financial planner at SaverLifeRoger Ma, certified financial planner with lifelaidout® and author of “Work Your Money, Not Your Life”Sophia Acevedo, Certified Educator in Personal Finance, banking reporter at Personal Finance InsiderMykail James, MBA, certified financial education instructor, BoujieBudgets.com

    See their full insights at the end of this article.


    Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account — a high APY, for example — we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.

    We chose credit unions that are easy to join, rather than ones that are limited to residents of certain states or employees for specific organizations. We also selected credit unions that shine in areas where credit unions are supposed to shine, such as high rates and strong customer support. All of our picks are federally insured by the NCUA, which means your money is protected (up to $250,000 for an individual account) should the institution fail.

    See our full ratings methodology for checking, business checking, savings, and money market accounts »

    Best Credit Unions: Frequently Asked Questions

    How do you become a credit union member?

    You become a credit union member by meeting the criteria of a specific credit union. This may be working in certain industry, living in a certain place, or simply opening a savings account. Each credit union has its own rules about who can join. Almost anyone can use a traditional bank, as long as you have the necessary minimum opening deposits.

    What are the pros and cons of credit unions?

    Here are the pros of credit unions over traditional banks:

    They often pay higher rates on bank accounts.They offer more personalized customer service.They charge lower fees.They typically require less money to open an account.

    Here are the cons of choosing a credit union instead of a traditional bank:

    Many banks compound interest daily, but credit unions compound monthly. (Although this isn’t always the case. Check before you choose your institution!) Credit unions don’t have as many physical branches as most national banks.Credit unions can be slower to adapt to new technology than banks.

    If you want high interest rates with the technology that comes with a bank, then you may want to look at opening an online high-yield savings account.

    Are credit unions better than banks?

    Credit unions are better than banks if you value personalized customer service. But if you value advanced technology, a bank is probably better. The most important thing is that it’s federally insured. A bank should be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. A credit union should be insured by the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA.

    Alliant Credit Union

    Why it stands out: Alliant is an online-only credit union, and it’s ranked as one of Insider’s best online banks. There are over 80,000 free ATMs, and if you use an out-of-network ATM, Alliant will reimburse up to $20 per month in any fees charged by providers. 

    How to join: Join Foster Care to Success, and Alliant will cover your $5 joining fee. Or be an employee, retiree, or member of certain organizations; live in specific parts of Illinois; be a relative of an Alliant member.

    Look out for: You can find a higher savings interest rate at other financial institutions.

    Alliant Credit Union Review

    Bethpage Federal Credit Union 

    Why it stands out: Bethpage pays competitive rates on checking and savings accounts. It’s rare that institutions make it easy to access your savings, but Bethpage sends you an ATM card when you open a savings account. Bethpage has over 5,000 shared branch locations in New York you can visit if you want to speak with a banker face-to-face.

    How to join: Open a savings account with Bethpage Federal Credit Union Savings Account.

    Look out for: Bethpage’s savings interest rate is higher than what you’ll find at brick-and-mortar banks, but you can find higher savings rates at some of our other top picks.

    Bethpage Federal Credit Union Review

    Blue Federal Credit Union

    Why it stands out: You can earn a high APY (Annual Percentage Yield) on your checking balance. Blue FCU has over 5,000 shared branch locations around the world, and it reimburses up to $28 per month in out-of-network ATM fees charged by providers.

    How to join: You just need to donate $5 to the Blue Foundation.

    Look out for: The mobile app doesn’t have many reviews in the Apple and Google Play stores, and the existing ones are relatively poor. If you like to bank from your mobile app, then Blue FCU may not be the best fit.

    Blue Federal Credit Union Review

    Connexus Credit Union

    Why it stands out: Connexus pays competitive rates, and its Connexus Xtraordinary Checking Account could earn you a very high rate if you use your debit card frequently and/or spend at least $400 per month with your debit card.

    How to join: Become a member of the Connexus Association with a one-time $5 donation; be an employee, retiree, member, student, student graduate, or relative of a member of certain organizations; residents of areas in Minnesota, Ohio, or Wisconsin; be a relative, spouse, or housemate of a Connexus member. 

    Look out for: You can find a higher savings interest rate at other credit unions.

    Connexus Credit Union Review

    Consumers Credit Union

    Why it stands out: The Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking Account is one of our top picks for the best rewards checking accounts. You’ll earn a high rate if you use your debit card frequently, and an even higher rate if you use your Consumers Credit Union credit card.

    How to join: Pay a $5 membership fee to the Consumers Cooperative Association, then deposit and keep $5 in a Consumers savings account.

    Look out for:  The checking account works on a tiered system, and you’ll need to use a Consumers Credit Union credit card to qualify for the top two interest rate tiers. This might not be a great fit if you don’t want to open a credit card. But it’s worth noting that the third tier, which just requires debit card purchases, still has a pretty good rate.

    Consumers Credit Union Review

    Pentagon Federal Credit Union

    Why it stands out: PenFed has branches in 13 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Japan, but you can also bank digitally if you don’t live near a branch. It pays one of the top savings rates in the industry, and its minimum deposits are low. 

    How to join: You can be a member of the military, employee of an eligible association or business, employee of certain US government agencies, worker or volunteer at the American Red Cross, resident of certain areas, or family member of anyone who falls into one of these groups.

    Otherwise, you can become a PenFed member by opening a savings account with $5.

    Look out for: Its only overdraft protection option is a line of credit, and the terms will depend on your credit history. Many banks and credit unions give you the option to transfer money from a savings account to your checking as overdraft protection, but PenFed doesn’t.

    Pentagon Federal Credit Union Review

    Quorum Federal Credit Union 

    Why it stands out: Quorum Federal Credit Union doesn’t charge monthly service fees if you get the High Q Savings Account or Quorum QClassic Checking Account.

    It received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Quorum also hasn’t been involved in any recent public controversies.

    How to join: At Quorum, you or a family member have to work for a Select Employee Group on this list, or you must join the American Consumer Council or Select Savers Club.

    Look out for: Quorum has an interest-earning checking account, but it pays lower interest rates than our other rewards checking account mentioned in our top picks. The Quorum QChoice Checking Account only pays 0.01% APY on account balances under $20,000 and  0.05% APY on account balances over $20,000.

    Wings Financial Credit Union

    Why it stands out: Wings Financial has several checking and savings accounts. You can earn high rates if you follow a few guidelines with your checking account, and if you maintain a high balance in your savings account. You have free access to ATMs nationwide, and to branches in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington.

    How to join: Donate $5 to join the Wings Financial Foundation; or live, work, worship, or volunteer in certain parts of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, or Washington; be an employee or retiree of the aviation industry; have a family member who is a member of Wings Financial.

    Look out for:  Wings Financial’s ATM fee policy is still more lenient than many banks’ rules, but not as impressive as what you’ll see with many of our top credit union picks. You can withdraw from out-of-network ATMs 10 times per month; after that, you’ll pay a $2.50 fee each time. Wings Financial doesn’t reimburse any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers, like some credit unions do.

    Wings Financial Credit Union Review

    Other Credit Unions That Didn’t Make the Cut and Why

    Star One Credit Union Free Checking Account: This credit union pays competitive rates, but you can only join if you live, work, or attend school in certain parts of California, or work for an affiliated company.Boeing Employees Credit Union Member Savings Account: There are a few ways to become a member of BECU, but for the most part, you need to live in Washington state or select counties in Oregon or Idaho.VyStar Primary Savings Account: You must live in certain parts of Florida or Georgia to join VyStar, and its checking and savings rates aren’t as good as what you’ll find with our top picks.Navy Federal Credit Union Standard Certificate: You can only join if you’re affiliated with the military, and you can find higher checking and savings rates elsewhere.Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union Really Free Checking Account: RBFCU is for people who live in Texas, and it doesn’t pay the highest rates.First Tech Federal Credit Union Instant Access Savings Account This credit union pays good rates, but you must live or work in Lane County, Oregon, or work for a partner organization, or join the Computer History Museum or Financial Fitness Association. If you don’t meet any of these criteria, a First Tech customer service rep can talk to you about more options.Golden 1 Credit Union Regular Savings Account: You may like Golden 1 if you live near a branch in California.America First Credit Union Certificate: You might be able to join America First if you live in Western states.SchoolsFirst Credit Union IRA Certificate: This credit union is for education employees in California, and its rates are just so-so.Suncoast Credit Union Share Certificate: You can join Suncoast if you live in certain parts of Florida, but the rates are pretty low.GTE Financial Full Access Checking Account: This credit union could be a good fit if you live in the Tampa, Florida, area.

    Credit Unions Trustworthiness and BBB Ratings

    The Better Business Bureau grades companies, from F to A+. The BBB looks at responses to customer complaints, advertising, and transparency about business practices when assigning grades. All our top picks have an A+ from the BBB:

    Credit unionBBB gradeAlliantA+BethpageNRBlueA+ConnexusA+ConsumersA+PenFedA+Quorum Federal Credit UnionA+Wings FinancialB

    Wings Financial has a B rating because it hasn’t responded to one customer complaint on the BBB website and received 2 complaints that weren’t resolved. Bethpage has an NR(“No Rating”) because its in the process of responding to previously closed complaints. 

    Still, a great BBB grade and clear history don’t guarantee you’ll have a smooth relationship with a company. You may want to ask friends and family about their experiences or read reviews online.

    More advice on credit unions from our experts

    To choose our winners, we’re focusing on what will make a credit union the best fit for the highest number of people. The top credit unions should be easy to join and offer products that are more competitive than what you’ll find at traditional banks. Here’s what our expert panel had to say about credit unions. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

    How can someone decide between a bank and a credit union?

    Tania Brown, certified financial planner at SaverLife:

    “For most people, it falls into five categories: location, interest rates, services, technology, and relationships. Next, prioritize what’s important and you will have your answer. For instance:

    If multiple regional and national locations are important: Banks typically have more locations than credit unions.If the most important thing to you is a high interest rate: Credit unions, on average, offer better interest rates than banks.If a lot of services (commercial banking, business banking, investment services, etc.) are valuable to you: Larger banks offers more services than most credit unions. If feeling like a person, not a number, matters to you: Credit unions are known for great personalized customer service.If you are a tech junkie: Larger banks typically offer more tech bells and whistles for online users than credit unions.”

    Sophia Acevedo, certified educator in personal finance, banking reporter, Personal Finance Insider:

    “One of the biggest differences between the two is that credit unions require memberships to open bank accounts. Some credit unions will specify that you have to live in a certain area or work at a participating employer — otherwise, you can’t join. Also, another thing to note is that credit union members usually have to open a savings account. That may impact your decision on which institution may be the better option.”

    How can someone determine whether a credit union is right for them?

    Tania Brown, CFP:

    “Think about what you need and want in your credit union. For instance, because there are typically fewer credit union branches,  you may want to consider a credit union with a large ATM network and partnerships to reduce ATM fees.”

    Mykail James, MBA, certified financial education instructor, BoujieBudgets.com:

    “Research the requirements to become a member and be sure that you can meet those standards.”

    What makes a checking account good or not good?

    Roger Ma, certified financial planner with lifelaidout® and author of “Work Your Money, Not Your Life”:

    “I would look at the ATM branch locations and then minimum balance amounts to not incur a monthly fee … I think there’s other stuff that could make life easier, whether it’s a free checks, online bill pay, or are they in the Zelle network?”

    Sophia Acevedo, CEPF:

    “I would look for a checking account that either doesn’t have any monthly services fees or offers multiple ways to waive the fee. I would also look at customer support availability and mobile app ratings.”

    Generally, what makes a savings account good or not good?

    Roger Ma, CFP:

    “It might not be as seamless to get your money out of an online savings account as it is from a brick-and-mortar, but you don’t want to have so much friction where it’s such a pain to get the money out when you need it.”

    Mykail James, CFEI: 

    “Anything with a fee is not a good high-yield savings account. Anything that restricts how much you can save is, to me, not very good. If I can’t save more than $10,000 in this account, and then I have to move it over somewhere else — to me, that’s not a really good savings account, because it’s not really prepared to help me expand and grow, which is what a savings account is supposed to do. I also look at interest rates, definitely. I look to see when the interest is paid. Is it quarterly, or is it monthly? How often do they pay out interest, and what are the interest rate stipulations?”

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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