Last updated on December 22nd, 2020 at 11:11 am | This article was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.
The Best Credit Unions In 2020
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Credit unions have a reputation for excellent rates and customer service. They offer essential services like checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, and more, but they’re different from banks. The customer-owned structure and not-for-profit status often make credit unions a solid choice for your money.
There are great credit unions in every community, so you should certainly check out what’s available in your area. But if you’re not finding what you need (or if you want some ideas for comparison), the credit unions below are some of the best available.
|Credit Union||Why We Picked It|
|Blue Federal Credit Union||Runner-Up|
|Consumers Credit Union||Best for APY|
|Navy Federal||Best for Military and Best for Customer Service|
|Wings Financial||Best for Biggest Network of Branches|
|PSECU||Best for No fees|
Blue Federal Credit Union: Runner Up
- The savings account pays 0.80% APY
- Checking accounts with no monthly fees
- Checking account that pays up to 3.50% APY
- Live phone support available 24/7
- Mobile app for managing accounts and depositing checks
- The broad range of accounts, loans, and services available45
If you don’t meet Blue FCU’s family, employer, or military membership requirements, you can join by donating $5 to the Blue Foundation, an advocate for local nonprofits. If you choose this route, you’ll deposit $10 to open your account and Blue FCU will automatically use $5 for your donation.6
Alliant Credit Union: Best Overall
- The savings account pays 0.75% APY
- Interest-bearing checking accounts with no monthly fees
- ATM fee rebates up to $20 per month
- Live phone representatives available 24/7
- Mobile app for managing accounts, customer service, and check deposits
- The broad range of accounts, loans, and services available23
If you’re not already eligible for Alliant CU membership, you can meet the requirement by joining Foster Care to Success. Alliant CU pays a $5 membership fee for you, and you’ll also need to keep $5 in a shared savings account.
Navy Federal Credit Union: Best for Military and Best for Customer Service
- The savings account pays 0.25% APY
- Checking accounts with no monthly fees
- Potential ATM fee rebates (maximum $240 per year while on active duty)
- Free basic checks
- The mobile app allows you to deposit checks and manage your accounts
- A broad range of accounts, loans, and services available
- Live phone support available 24/71617
Navy Federal Credit Union limits membership to:
- Active duty or retired servicemembers
- Members of the Delayed Entry Program
- Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and retirees
- Family or household members of the groups above
In addition to meeting membership criteria, you’ll need to keep $5 in a savings account.18
This is what they Like:
- Excellent customer service ratings
Read More About: How Does Pinterest Work.
Consumers Credit Union: Best for APY
- Enroll in electronic documents
- Make at least 12 debit card purchases monthly
- Make direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or incoming ACH transfers of at least $500 each month
- Spend at least $1,000 per month on a CCU credit card
- Open your account with at least $57
CCU is part of the CO-OP shared branching network with free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs.8
- Smart Saver savings account pays up to 1.50% APY
- Checking account with no monthly fees
- Mobile banking enables you to manage accounts and deposit checks
- The broad range of accounts, loans, and services available9
You can become eligible for CCU membership by joining the Consumers Cooperative Association with a $5 membership fee. You also need to keep $5 in a share savings account.10
Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union: Best for No Fees
- No monthly maintenance charge for checking or savings accounts
- Free basic checks
- ATM rebates up to $20 per month
- Free Overdraft Protection Transfer Service for certain transactions
- Mobile app with remote check deposit and other features
- Potential cash-back rewards for debit card spending
- The savings account pays 0.05% APY
- The broad range of accounts, loans, and services available 1112
To meet the eligibility requirement at PSECU, you can join the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS) with a $20 donation—and PSECU will cover $10 of that for you. You’ll also need to keep $5 in your savings account.13
Best Credit Union for Customer Service: Wings Financial Credit Union
This credit union offers generally great accounts, including a no monthly fee checking account. This credit union has branches in Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and Washington, and offers 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide through the Co-Op and Allpoint networks. The Signature Rewards program offers cashback on debit purchases as well.
Like most credit unions, Wings Financial offers a range of banking products such as loans and credit cards. Unlike some, it also offers investment and insurance products that allow you to keep your entire financial life with one institution, which is another benefit for those who want to keep things simple.
How Do You Open a Credit Union Account?
To open an account, you’ll need to complete an application and provide personal information, as you would when opening any bank account. In many cases, you can do this entirely online. Credit unions also require you to meet membership qualifications.
Personal details include things like:
- Names of all account owners
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number or other identifying numbers
- Government-issued identification details
- Physical address (you can also add a mailing address)
Becoming a Credit Union Member
To qualify for membership, you need to meet certain criteria, such as living in a particular area, working for specific employers, or joining an organization that opens the door to membership. In many cases, the easiest way to qualify for a credit union that you’re not eligible for is to join a nonprofit organization with a modest donation.
Credit unions generally require that you formalize your membership requirement with a “share account” (general term for a credit union savings account.) To do so, you often open a savings account and keep at least $5 or so in that account.
Pros & Cons of Opening a Credit Union Account
Credit unions are community-focused financial institutions that provide basic banking services. They tend to keep rates competitive and fees low, but the details are different at every credit union.
This is what they Like:
- Not-for-profit organizations with no outside investors
- Potential access to fee-free ATMs and branches nationwide with shared branching
- Rates may be better at credit unions than at banks
- Products that help people build credit and avoid predatory lending
- Small organizations may offer personalized, friendly service
What We Don’t Like
- Eligibility requirements may prevent you from joining some credit unions
- Small institutions may lack product offerings
- Branch and ATM locations may be limited
How Should You Choose the Best Credit Union Account?
Examine how you use banking products, and choose the credit union that best fits your needs. It’s crucial to find a credit union that makes your life easy, offers the essential products you need, and keeps fees low. Review the factors below as you compare options:
- Does the credit union charge monthly fees in checking accounts, and if so, can you qualify for a waiver?
- Are savings account rates competitive?
- If you overdraw your account periodically, are there reasonable fees or mechanisms to cover overdrafts from savings?
- Is the website easy to navigate?
- Is there an app, and which features does it include?
- Can you deposit checks with your mobile device?
- Do you pay fees for using other banks’ ATMs?
- Are ATM fee rebates available?
- Are branches convenient for you?
- Does the credit union participate in a nationwide shared branching network?
- If you need to borrow money, does the credit union offer the types of loans you need (auto, home, RV, personal loans, credit cards, and more)?
- Can you pay bills online?
Is Your Money Safe in a Credit Union?
Federally insured credit unions are equally as safe as FDIC-insured banks. Those credit unions use the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) insurance, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. That said, you need to verify what type of insurance your credit union uses and keep account balances below maximum limits.
How We Chose the Best Credit Unions
We started with a group of more than 50 credit unions and narrowed down the list to highlight the best offerings available. These credit unions are available to consumers nationwide, and many of them allow you to qualify for membership with relative ease. We evaluated fees for checking and savings accounts, ATM access, rates on deposits, product offerings, and more when selecting the best options. Finally, these financial institutions have deposit insurance to keep your money safe (up to applicable limits).