Last Updated on December 27, 2022 by Selina Parker
Searching for the best credit unions can feel overwhelming. There are thousands of them all over the country, and they differ from each other in myriad ways: how accessible they are to join, how high their rates are, whether or not you have access to a shared network of branches and ATMs — and more.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite credit unions for you to check out. Most credit unions offer great rates and low fees, and generous perks like no-fee checking accounts and waived ATM withdrawal fees.
What is a credit union?
Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives that offer checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans, etc. In theory, they exist to serve the financial needs of their members — not to make money—although a for-profit company may own some.
As a member, you are an owner of your chosen credit union (as opposed to being just another customer at a bank), which means you have a say in how it is run and can vote for the board of directors.
While credit unions generally offer lower rates than banks, they’re not all created equal. Some offer better rates — or more convenient services—than others, so compare your options carefully before deciding.
Best Credit Unions of 2022
1. Alliant Credit Union
Alliant is one of the top 10 largest credit unions in the US. They are fully online and not-for-profit, a combo that allows them to reward their members with high savings rates, low loan rates, and fewer fees.
Alliant Credit Union is for people who want a variety of high-yielding financial products and keep costs low. It is simple to join Alliance since it provides a variety of ways to qualify.
- 24/7 Customer Service
- ATM Fee Refunds
- High APY
- Low Minimum Deposit
- Over 80,000 fee-free ATMs are available throughout the country
- Savings accounts, checking accounts, and CDs all have competitive yields
- The credit union has minimal membership criteria
- The credit union does not offer any specialized CDs, such as no-penalty CDs
- No peer-to-peer payment alternatives are available
2. American Airlines Federal Credit Union
The most suitable financial institution for airline industry professionals is the American Airlines Federal Credit Union since it is convenient and comprehensive.
The various checking accounts are accessible through American Airlines Federal Credit Union to meet the financial requirements of its members. According to the website, the Priority Checking account is “the credit union’s regular checking option with the capacity to earn extra benefits for completing a few easy tasks each month.” There is no monthly service charge, and it does not require a minimum balance.
- High APY
- No monthly service fees
- Provides members with a convenient banking alternative
- Provides competitive APYs on its deposit products
- Offers fee-free items with minimal deposit requirements
- Just $6 is required to join the credit union
- They pay out dividends to members
- It restricts membership to certain airline industry workers and their families
- A money market account isn’t available
Consumers who want free ATM access, in-person banking, and cutting-edge bank technologies will appreciate this credit union.
HighQ Savings accounts are available through Quorum. According to the credit union’s website, the fund pays a decent yield and does not charge a monthly service fee as long as you choose e-statements. If you want to receive paper statements, you must pay a $10 monthly fee.
- Digital Leader
- Free Checking
- There are plenty of ATMs accessible for free
- It’s simple to join
- Accounts with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay are compatible
- No P2P money transfer option
- Customer service operators are not available by phone on weekends
4. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union’s Rewards checking account offers 4.09 percent APY on balances of up to $10,000 if you fulfill the conditions, including making at least $1,000 in monthly purchases using a linked credit card.
Although you have fewer qualifications, you still earn excellent rates, and there are other checking options (that don’t pay interest) that have simple requirements for creating an account. A basic savings account is free, but it yields considerably less interest than a traditional savings deposit.
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Financial wellness
- Coffee and wireless
- High earnings on rewards checking
- Shared branches and an extensive ATM network are both available
- Easy to join
- The interest rate on the savings accounts is typically lower
- A $30 overdraft courtesy payment is required, and they may charge you an infinite number of times
5. Connexus Credit Union
The advantages of a Connexus Credit Union’s checking account, such as the potential to earn high rates, are significant. Its internet and mobile banking sites are also generally easy to use. The credit union is part of a nationwide network of shared ATMs and branches. However, its savings account pays little interest.
- Bill Pay
- Account alerts
- Mobile deposit
- External transfers
- Financial health tools
- Mobile wallet
- Debit card management
- 1.75% on Xtraordinary Checking, if you fulfill a couple of requirements
- You won’t have to pay any monthly expenses on checking or savings accounts
- 54,000 ATMs are available for free
- Rates may be higher elsewhere on savings
- The typical checking account has a $5 monthly inactivity fee for funds with less than $100 and no activity over a specified number of months
6. Navy Federal Credit Union
With locations on or near several military bases, Navy Federal Credit Union is open to families throughout the United States with ties to the United States military. It’s a fantastic match for anybody seeking a credit union well-known for providing exceptional customer service and an international network of branches, with more than 340 locations worldwide.
- 24/7 Customer service
- Free checking
- High APY
- The bank’s current branch count is over 300, with nine international locations.
- Thousands of free in-network ATMs are accessible through the internet
- Earned a reputation for providing excellent customer service.
- CDs, money market accounts, and certificates are all available at this credit union with excellent APY
- The interest rate on the savings account is low
- Only veterans are eligible for membership
Bethpage Federal Credit Union is ideal for Long Island residents who want access to branches, low-cost loans, and competitively-priced deposit products.
- Low minimum balance
- Rewards checking
- Bethpage FCU has a wide range of deposit and loan alternatives
- There are no restrictions on membership
- Free financial education materials are available to all members
- The yields associated with deposit accounts are pretty competitive, although other banks provide greater interest
- Outside of Long Island, branch access is limited
8. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
For savers who want a competitive interest rate and the option to choose from a diverse range of banking services, PenFed is ideal. Consumers that want to conduct business in person may wish to seek a bank with a more extensive branch network.
- High APY
- Low minimum balance
- Low minimum deposit
- The Premium Online Savings account has a top-tier APY
- The checking account pays a high rate of interest and has a very competitive yield
- A low minimum deposit is required to open checking or savings accounts
- Tens of thousands of accessible ATMs are available
- The base savings account’s output is low
- The credit union’s network of nearly 50 branches covers just 13 states
9. Star One Credit Union
Consumers searching for a feature-rich interest-bearing checking account and seeking to avoid high fees might want to consider Star One Credit Union.
Star One Credit Union offers three certificate terms: six months, one year, and two years. They require a $2,500 minimum deposit for each certificate, and the interest payments are reasonable. The account holder may request to transfer the earned interest to a Star One checking or savings account or mail it to the address on record.
- Free checking
- No monthly fees
- Rewards feature
- The Money Market Savings account and certificates provide high APYs
- Minimum deposit requirements overall are relatively low
- There is no monthly service charge
- Users can use Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant to access digital features like voice banking.
- For savers, there is a restricted product range available.
Credit Union FAQs
How is a credit union different from a bank?
Both offer almost the same services, but credit unions are member-owned and for-profit banks. Credit unions also have a more relaxed eligibility requirement, often open to those who live or work in certain areas, while bank membership is typically available.
How to join a credit union?
The credit union determines that. Many credit unions were formed by and for a specific group of individuals, such as employees from a particular company or citizens of a specific neighborhood — and some are still quite limiting. You can join if you work for a company represented by a credit union.
You can become a member of other credit unions by simply opening an account at their credit union.
Can you use both a credit union and a bank?
It is possible to use both a credit union and a bank because no rule says you can’t have accounts with both. Using both services at the same time is possible.
Do credit unions pay higher interest than banks?
They sometimes do, but it is not a guarantee. The interest paid by banks and credit unions can fluctuate at any time, so savers should check the current rate with each institution regularly to ensure they are getting the best deal.
Is your money safe in credit unions?
The National Credit Union Administration insured your money up to $250,000; therefore, it is just as safe in a credit union as it would be in any other financial institution.
Credit unions are becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers looking for a great deal on banking products and services. Eligibility requirements are often much more relaxed than traditional banks, meaning that only about anyone can join. And credit unions offer some of the best interest rates on deposit accounts and certificates.
So whether you’re in the market for savings or checking accounts or are just looking to see how much you could be earning, choose the best credit union.
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