Monday, 24 June 2019

The Best Military Credit Unions

The Best Military Credit Unions
25 May
5:08

Banking services probably aren’t at the top of the list of reasons why the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces put on a uniform. Nevertheless, their service entitles them — and in some cases, their immediate family — to membership in exclusive credit unions.

When you’re serving the country in uniform, you never know where the call of duty will take you. A good military credit union should provide overseas locations that overlap with the places where you serve. This is why many of these credit unions have branches on bases in Germany, Guam and other areas where service members are currently stationed. They should also offer superb online banking services.

Another benefit to look for in military credit unions is whether they offer special programs for active or retired service members, such as ultra-competitive rates on home or auto loans, or special high-earning accounts for you to place your pay. Perhaps more than anything else is the great feeling you get from interacting with a credit union that knows how to deal with the complexities of having customers in uniform.

We’ve compiled the best credit unions for members of the military based on the ubiquity of their branches and ATMs, the competitiveness of their rates and their overall financial health.

The best nationwide military credit unions

Navy Federal Credit Union

Share Savings Account

Money Market Savings Account

Flagship Checking Account

12-Month EasyStart Certificate Special

0.25%
APY

0.80% APY ($2.5k – $10k)

0.85% APY ($10k-$25k)

0.90% APY ($25 -$50k)

0.95% APY ($50k and up)

0.45% APY

3.50% APY

Although based in Virginia, Navy Federal Credit Union opens its doors and its accounts to potential members nationwide, with an exclusive focus on those who serve or have served in the armed forces, as well as civilian employees of the Department of Defense. With more than $100 billion in assets and 8 million members, this credit union ranks as not only one of the largest military-focused financial institutions out there, but one of the largest credit unions, full stop.

Beyond the personal and business accounts available to all members, special deals, such as a 100% financing option on home loans, early access to military pay via direct deposit and more are offered to active-duty members.

PenFed Credit Union

Premium Online Savings

Money Market Savings Account

Access America Checking Account

12-Month Money Market Certificate

2.00% APY

0.05% APY (up to $10k)

0.10% APY ($10k-$100k)

0.15% APY($100k and up)

0.20% (up to $20k)

0.50% APY ($20k-$50k)

2.25% APY

PenFed Credit Union provides financial services to more than 1.7 million members in every state of the union and in Washington D.C., Guam, Okinawa and Puerto Rico. Their membership requirements are more expansive when compared with Navy Federal. Not only members of the military, but federal government employees, residents (or workers) in several Virginia military bases, and anyone who makes a $17 donation to the National Military Family Association can join.

Some of PenFed’s most competitive products are its money market certificates (which is what it calls the CDs it offers). The 12-month certificate, for example, offers an APY of 2.25% (with a required minimum of $1,000) making it a much higher earner than the market average APY of a CD of that term.

America’s Credit Union

Regular Share Savings Account

Money Market Account

Affinity Checking Plus

12-Month Standard CD

0.05% APY

0.05% APY (up to $5k)

0.20% APY ($5k – $15k)

0.22% APY ($15 – $25k)

2.00% APY (up to $25k)

2.38% APY

Based in Washington state, this credit union is open to any member of the armed services (both active and retired) in the country. Founded in 1954 to provide banking services to families living around Joint Base Lewis-McChord (located near Tacoma), this credit union provides strong rates for its members.

In addition to the strong rate ACU offers with its 12-month CD, the Affinity Checking Plus account also makes for a competitive product. Customers should keep in mind that the 2.00% APY it offers on balances up to $25,000 comes with the following requirements: 1) 15 debit card transactions have to post and clear from the account each month. 2) You must log on to ACU Online (the online banking for ACU) or the mobile app at least once per month. 3) You opt in for e-statements.

Service Credit Union

Standard Club Savings Account

Money Market Account

Five Star Service Checking

1-Year Share Certificate

0.20% APY (up to $5k)

0.25% APY ($5k and up)

0.75% APY ($2.5k to $25k)

1.00% APY ($25k $100K)

1.25% APY ($100k and up)

0.05% APY ($1.5k – $5k)

0.10% APY ($5k and up)

2.15% APY

Originally founded as the Portsmouth Air Force Base Federal Credit Union to help out with the finances of the military personnel working at the base (and their families), this credit union has expanded its membership eligibility to include all employees of the Department of Defense as well as all active and retired military members.

One standout service offered by the credit union is a special savings account for active military members either currently deployed to a combat zone or who have recently returned from one within 120 days. Called Warrior Savings, qualified customers may deposit up to $10,000 in the account to earn a 10% APY.

Andrews Federal Credit Union

Base Share Savings Account

Money Market Account

Advantage Checking Account

12-Month Share Certificate

0.31% APY

0.25% APY (up to $1k)

0.35% APY($1k – $10k)

0.40% APY ($10k – $50k)

0.50% APY ($50k – $100k)

0.60% APY ($100k and up)

0.20% APY

1.41% APY

Formed from humble beginnings between eight people with a $5 deposit apiece, Andrews Federal Credit Union fulfills the banking needs of more than 120,000 customers located in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and more exotic locales such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Anyone in the country — regardless of military service — can become a member by joining the American Consumer Council (which is free if you use the promo code “Andrews”). Military personnel living assigned to Joint Base Andrews or Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst also qualify for membership, as do select civilians working for the military.

The base share account of this credit union earns a great APY for a basic savings account with 0.31%. Usually these accounts earn a pittance, so the high interest offered here, combined with the credit union’s variety of locations, make it a competitive entry on the list.

Best regional credit unions

Air Force Federal Credit Union

Regular Share Savings Account

Money Market Account

Elite Checking Account

1-Year CD

0.10% APY

0.05% (up to $2.5k)

0.25% ($2.5k and up)

1.10% APY ($250k minimum)

1.85% APY ($1k-$2.5k)

1.90% APY ($2.5k – $12.5k)

1.95% ($12.5k – $25k)

2.00% ( $25k – $100k)

Founded by former airmen in the 1950s, this credit union services a smaller geographic region than some of the bigger institutions in this roundup. In general, membership eligibility not only requires you to be a member of the military (either active duty or retired) or a Department of Defense employee, but also living or working in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana or Mississippi.

Besides the accounts listed in the table above, one relatively rare product offered by AFFCU is a second-chance checking account called SAF-T Checking. For a $25 minimum deposit, customers gain access to a no-fee account with free online bill pay, free online banking and other services not necessarily offered by second-chance accounts.

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Basic Savings Account

Money Market Account

Power Protected Checking Account

1-Year CD

0.10% APY

0.30% APY ($5k – $25k )

0.40% APY ($25k – $50k)

0.45% APY ($50k – $100k )

0.60% APY ($100k – $250k)

0.85% ($250k and up)

0.05% APY (up to $10k)

1.90% APY ($500 – $25k)

1.95% APY ($25k – $50k)

2.00% APY ($50k and up)

Security Service Federal Credit Union serves select communities in Texas, Colorado and Utah, including qualified members of the military residing in the area and Department of Defense employees (unfortunately, you’ll have to try and open an account to find out if you qualify).

For those who are able to avail themselves of this credit union’s services, they’ll find they have access to an attractive and competitive array of accounts and products. Chief among these is the 1-year CD, which offers a high APY of 1.90% with a deposit as low as $500.

Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union

Savings Account

Classic Money Market

Really Free Checking

12-Month CD

0.25% APY

0.65% APY

0.05% APY

2.07% APY

Another Texas-based credit union, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union specializes in serving those who live or work at Randolph Air Force Base. While there are other ways to qualify for membership, such as working for a qualified employer in the region, the credit union retains a focus on those living in the Lone Star state.

The basic savings account offered by RBFCU earns a decent APY while not charging any fees or requiring a minimum balance above $1, making it a nice no-frills account to place your money. Its 12-month CD also shines, only requiring a minimum deposit of $1,000 to start earning 2.07% APY.

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James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

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