Finding the Best Credit Union in 2022
Credit unions are a fantastic alternative to banks. They often use simplified fee structures and provide offers based on their members’ precise needs. While some have very specific membership requirements, others will allow anyone to join for a small payment or donation.
|Digital Federal Credit Union Read More||6.17%||$5|| |
|Alliant Credit Union Read More||1.80%||$5|| |
|Bellco Credit Union Read More||2.25%||$0|| |
|Consumers Credit Union Read More||3.00%||$5|| |
|Navy Federal Credit Union Read More||0.05%||$0|| |
|Pen Air Federal Credit Union Read More||0.299%||$25|| |
How We Determine the Best Credit Unions
SmartAsset’s experts examined the offerings of 20 top credit unions. We scored the best by taking into account each institution’s financial offerings, fees, account minimums, interest rates and membership requirements.
Best Savings Account for Low Deposits: Digital Federal Credit Union
If you just don’t have that much to open a savings account with, a Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Primary Savings account might be good option. A substantial 6.17% APY will apply to the first $1,000 you deposit in this DCU account. It only takes a $5 deposit to open an account, so you won’t have to break the bank to get in on this bonus rate. After that, your interest-earning potential will see a serious dip, as any amount over the initial $1,000 will receive a 0.25% APY decrease.
Current and retired employees or members of eligible companies or organizations make up the majority of DCU’s member base. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, though, you’ll need to be a spouse or immediate family member of someone who does, or live, work, attend school or worship in a qualified community.
DCU is much more than a personal banking destination. Becoming a member with this credit union could deliver wider options for your financial life. Members can take advantage of vehicle loans, student loans, personal loans, rewards and low interest credit cards, insurance offers, realty services, financial advisor services and business banking.
Best Savings Account for High Deposits: Alliant Credit Union
While some high APY savings accounts will slowly decline their rates as the account’s size grows, Alliant Credit Union’s High-Rate Savings account does just the opposite. As long as you hold your account’s average daily balance above $100, Alliant will apply a 1.80% APY to it. So it doesn’t matter if you’ve deposited $500 or $100,000, as you’ll still earn interest at the same rate.
Just for choosing to get your bank statements digitally, Alliant will waive your monthly maintenance fee. This will ensure that what you receive back in interest will remain in your savings account for good. And although a $5 minimum opening deposit isn’t much to ask, Alliant will cover that for you as well.
There aren’t many branches with this credit union, making its mobile and online experiences extra important. Alliant has well-rated apps for both Android and Apple, along with an intuitive website. Each allows you to deposit checks remotely, though there are upwards of 80,000 fee-free ATMs you can use to make deposits and withdrawals through as well.
To join Alliant’s network of members, you’ll need to meet at least one of a few preconditions:
- Be a relative of an existing member
- Be a member, retiree or current employee of select organizations
- Live or work in eligible communities
- Become a member of Foster Care to Success
Best Credit Union for Free Checking: Bellco Credit Union
Colorado-based Bellco Credit Union takes the category for best free checking account. The bank serves 26 locations across the state and has over 30,000 free ATMs available nationwide. The Bellco Boost Checking Account also features a fantastic 2.25% APY with no monthly fees. However, the APY is contingent on you taking three actions:
- Make at least 15 debit card transactions a month
- Have at least one direct deposit transaction a month
- Log into your online or mobile bank account at least once a month
There are multiple ways to become a member of Bellco Credit Union. If you live in the following areas, you are automatically eligible to join Bellco Credit Union: Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, Broomfield County, Denver County, Douglas County, El Paso County, Garfield County, Jefferson County, Mesa County, Moffat County, Rio Blanco County and Weld County. Other ways to become a member of Bellco Credit Union include:
- Someone in your family is a current Bellco member
- You currently work for a Bellco Select Employee Group (SEG) company
- You are a member of the Consumers United Association (CUA) (being a member of CUA means you don’t have to live in Colorado to become a Bellco member)
Regardless of which way you become a Bellco member, a $5 membership fee and a $5 share deposit is required to open your checking account.
Best Credit Union for High-Yield Checking: Consumers Credit Union
Illinois-based Consumers Credit Union is up next on our list. There are three APY tiers that you can earn when you’re a Rewards Checking account holder here. There are varying requirements to earn each, including stipulations based on account balance, transactions, online banking and digital documentation.
As long as you reach one of these APY plateaus, you’ll receive the lucrative benefit of having your out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed directly to your account. Consumers Credit Union has 30,000 fee-free ATMs around the country, though, along with a network of shared branches. In other words, coming across a free ATM shouldn’t be overly difficult.
Interest rates this high are rare on a checking account and make this offer unique. For example, if you reach a 3.00% APY with a balance of $10,000, you could earn nearly $310 in interest over a full year. The account does not include monthly service fees or minimum balances.
|3.00% APY||Up to $10,000|| |
|4.00% APY||Up to $10,000|| |
|5.00% APY||Up to $10,000|| |
Should your account's balance surpass the $10,000 cap on the rates above, Consumers Credit Union will afford you lower APYs on the difference. More specifically, balances of $10,000.01 to $25,000 will receive a 0.20% APY, whereas balances above $25,000 will receive a 0.10% APY.
To become a member of CCU, all you have to do is make two $5 payments. You pay one to the credit union’s sponsor, the Consumers Cooperative Association, and you deposit the other right into your member savings account. You must maintain that $5 balance to remain a member.
Best Credit Union for Veterans and Their Families: Navy Federal Credit Union
Current and former members of the U.S. military and Department of Defense (DoD) and their families will find an expansive selection of financial offerings with Navy Federal Credit Union. All different types of banking, retirement planning, home loan and credit card services are available through this organization.
Navy Federal has plenty of checking and savings accounts to choose from. All checking accounts come with free checks and a debit card, with offerings for active military members, certain civilians, teens, students and anyone looking for a high APY. If you’re more in the market for savings, the credit union has basic accounts, college savings accounts, estate management accounts and goal-focused accounts.
Unlike some other credit unions, Navy Federal has a large network of branches and free ATMs for its members. Its mobile apps and website each have ATM/branch locator tools. But if you find you’re not near a Navy Federal location or ATM, most checking accounts come with ATM fee rebates, so feel free to use an out-of-network ATM for cash. In particular, Navy Federal's standard checking account, Free Easy Checking, comes with up to $10 in ATM fee rebates per month.
If you’re a member and are looking to buy a house or car, you’ll receive special rates and bonuses for going through Navy Federal. The RealtyPlus® program the credit union offers even allows you to earn cash back on your home purchase, along with savings on any moving services you might need.
Best Credit Union for Children, Teens & Young Adults: Pen Air Federal Credit Union
Pen Air Federal Credit Union is a large credit union with branches in Alabama and Florida. However, the institution's services can be applied for and accessed online or through your mobile device if you don't live in these states. The firm has a handful of strong offerings, with its Level UP Youth Accounts being some of its best accounts. In fact, Pen Air offers both a youth savings account and a youth checking account.
The Level UP Savings Account is available as a joint account for children 18 or younger, and it only requires a $25 minimum deposit to open. Once you become an account holder, your balance will begin earning a 0.40% APY, which is one of the better rates currently on the market for a children's account. As a way of padding your child's future account balance, Pen Air offers a $10 bonus when you open your account. But if you reach $250 and $500 balances, you'll receive another $20 and $30 bonus, respectively. That means your bonus could be as much as $60 in total.
Pen Air's Level UP Spending Account is the checking account partner of the aforementioned savings account. This account is designed to teach children from 8 to 18 how to manage their money on a daily and monthly basis. The account comes with a free debit card, online and mobile banking privileges and money mangement features that are backed by parental controls. You and your child will also have access to free educational resources so they can learn about money.
Like all credit unions, you must become a member of Pen Air before opening an account. Here's the various ways you and your family can join:
- Join Friends of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society by making a $1 donation
- Have an immediate family member or member of your household who is a Pen Air member
- Hold one of the following statuses: active military, military reserve, retired military, coast guard, active civil service or retired civil service
- Work or belong to an eligible organization or association