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How To Select The Best Credit Union

ByTheMost

Jan 19, 2024
How To Select The Best Credit UnionHow To Select The Best Credit Union

How To Select The Best Credit Union

When it comes to managing your finances, finding the proper financial institution is critical to ensuring you get the greatest deal and one that suits your needs.

Credit unions are gaining popularity as an alternative to for-profit banks. According to figures from the National Credit Union Administration, there will be 135.3 million credit union members by the end of 2022, up from 93.8 million a decade ago.

Whether you’re thinking about joining the millions of people who own credit unions or switching to a new one, here are some things to consider while deciding on the ideal one.

  • Membership requirements
  • Range of products and services
  • Fees and account requirements
  • Dividends
  • Customer service and accessibility

1. Membership requirements

When it comes to managing your finances, finding the proper financial institution is critical to ensuring you get the greatest deal and one that suits your needs.

Credit unions are gaining popularity as an alternative to for-profit banks. According to figures from the National Credit Union Administration, there will be 135.3 million credit union members by the end of 2022, up from 93.8 million a decade ago.

Whether you’re thinking about joining the millions of people who own credit unions or switching to a new one, here are some things to consider while deciding on the ideal one.

2. Range of products and services

Credit unions typically offer traditional products such as checking and savings accounts, but many also offer loans, credit cards, mortgages, and investment choices. Furthermore, some may offer a wider selection of account options, such as share certificate terms.

Think about your financial goals and needs. If you foresee needing a loan or mortgage in the future, make sure the credit union offers reasonable rates and acceptable conditions on these products. Similarly, if you want to open a share certificate, be sure the credit union has a certificate term that fits your schedule.

3. Fees and account requirements

Many credit unions charge cheaper fees than typical banks because profits are paid back to members. However, it is still vital to thoroughly analyze pricing schedules.

Common fees to consider are:

  • Monthly maintenance fees
  • ATM fees (especially if you frequently use ATMs outside the credit union’s network)
  • Overdraft fees
  • Money transfer fees

You might also consider minimum balance requirements. Some credit unions may require a minimum deposit to start an account or levy penalties, such as a monthly fee if the balance falls below a specific amount. Often, a minimum amount is required to continue membership with the credit union.

4. Dividends

All credit union members are shareholders, and profits are dispersed to members in the form of dividends, or interest rate payments. That implies credit unions can provide competitive savings rates.

It’s critical to compare interest rates on savings accounts, share certificates, and interest-bearing checking accounts. This allows you to evaluate options and maximize the return on your savings.

5. Customer service and accessibility

Credit unions are known for emphasizing individual service and developing relationships with their members. Consider researching credit unions’ customer service hours and reviews.

In terms of accessibility, you should evaluate branch locations and banking choices. If you prefer to do most of your banking transactions online or via mobile apps, ensure sure your credit union provides extensive digital banking alternatives such as online bill paying, mobile check deposit, and easy account management.

Best credit unions

  • Best overallAlliant Credit Union
  • Runner-upPenFed Credit Union
  • Best for high APYConsumers Credit Union (CCU)
  • Best for low-interest credit cardsFirst Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Best for military membersNavy Federal Credit Union

1. Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union takes the top place for a variety of reasons: The credit union provides one of the greatest no-fee checking accounts, an industry-leading cash-back credit card, and one of the best mobile banking apps. Other financial products include personal, vehicle, and house loans, savings accounts, CDs, IRAs, and others.

  • Monthly maintenance fee:

    $0

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $25 when opening online or over the phone

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% with paperless and recurring monthly electronic deposit

  • Free ATM network

    80,000+ Alliant network ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    Up to $20 per month

  • Overdraft fee

    $0

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

2. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Credit Union is a close second on our list since it provides its members with a distinctive rewards credit card, as well as convenient ATM access for depositors. PenFed also provides a variety of credit cards, bank and savings accounts, mortgages, vehicles, and personal, and student loans, among other services.

  • Rewards

    5 points for gas purchases at the pump and electrical car charging stations, 3 points for grocery purchases, and 1 point for all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    15,000 points when you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made in the first 90 days after account opening.*

  • Regular APR

    17.99% variable on purchases; 17.99% non-variable on balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

3. Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union (CCU) stands out as one of the greatest credit unions since it offers one of the highest-yielding checking accounts. CCU also provides its members with a variety of bank and savings accounts, mortgages, personal and auto loans, credit cards, and more.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 5.00% APY on balances up to $10,000 (0.20% APY on up to $25,000 and 0.10% APY thereafter); 0.01% APY if don’t meet requirements

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $5

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Free ATM network

    Yes, over 30,000 ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    Unlimited reimbursement for any ATM fees

  • Overdraft fee

    Fees may apply; overdraft protection is available

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

4. Choice Rewards World Mastercard®

First Tech Federal Credit Union has some of the best low-interest credit cards available for when you know you won’t be able to pay off your entire bill at the end of the month. The credit union also provides a variety of checking and savings accounts, IRAs, mortgages, personal, auto, and student refinance loans, among other services.

  • Rewards

    Earn 2X points on groceries, gas, electronics, medical, household goods, and telecommunications, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 20,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    13.50% – 18.00% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

5. Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card from Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union provides its military members with a top travel rewards credit card. The credit union also offers a variety of additional credit cards, bank and savings accounts, personal, auto, and student loans, mortgages, and more.

  • Rewards

    Earn 3X points on travel and 2X points on everything else. Receive statement credits (up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of opening your account. You’ll also get a free year of Amazon Prime (a $139 value)

  • Annual fee

    $0 the first year; $49 thereafter

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.24% to 18.00% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

     

How to join Alliant Credit Union

Credit unions vs. banks

Here are some of the benefits of using a credit union rather than a bank, as well as what credit union members may be losing out on that a bank can provide.

In Conclusion

Choosing the proper credit union entails carefully analyzing elements that will affect your ability to bank effectively and have the most enjoyable experience. Credit unions provide several benefits, such as member ownership, customized service, and reasonable rates. Compare these variables to your financial needs and aspirations, and ensure that you are eligible to join the credit union of your choosing.

By TheMost

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