Compared to banks, credit unions offer more individualized service. Plus, many of them also provide lower fees and higher rates on certain accounts. However, you must become a member of a credit union to utilize its services. In most cases, credit union membership is reserved for people who live, work, and worship in a certain area.
Some credit unions are also geared toward those in specific professions, like education or law or anyone who makes a donation or joins an organization. You’ll be pleased to learn that most credit unions have made their membership criteria more lenient and opened up their offerings to more types of people. In fact, many of them are quite easy to join.
13 Best Nationwide Credit Unions
While many credit unions are small and can only be found in select local areas, there are quite a few that are nationwide. If you travel frequently for work or pleasure, you might be in the market for nationwide credit unions.
Fortunately, most credit unions that have a nationwide presence are easy to join and offer a variety of benefits. To make your search for the best federal credit unions a bit easier, we’ve compiled this handy list.
Headquartered in Wisconsin, Connexus Credit Union is known as one of the largest credit unions in the U.S. It has over 400,000 credit union members across all 50 states. This is no surprise as it partners with well-known companies, such as Liberty Mutual Insurance, Kraft, Honeywell, and BMW.
To join, you’ll need to qualify through your employer that’s one of the credit union’s partner companies or donate at least $5 and open an account. As a credit union member, you can enjoy high APYs on checking accounts and other deposit accounts as well as low rates on mortgages, personal loans, and car loans.
The Xtraordinary Checking Account offers an APY of up to 1.75% on certain balances so you can make the most out of your hard earned money. White you don’t have to pay any fees, Connexus does require that you spend a certain amount on your debit card and sign up for eStatements to take advantage of the interest.
Furthermore, if you don’t use your checking account for more than 90 days and have a balance of $100 or less, you may have to pay an inactivity fee. Connexus has more than 5,600 shared branches and over 67,000 fee-free ATMs. Plus, the credit union offers higher rates and exclusive discounts throughout the year.
If you’re part of the military community, Navy Federal Credit Union should be on your radar. You can become a member if you have an active duty or reservist military member, worked for the Department of Defense, or are the immediate family member of someone eligible for membership. You’ll also be required to open a Navy Federal savings account and make a minimum deposit of $5.
The credit union has about 350 physical branches worldwide and many of them are near military bases in Maryland, Virginia, and California. There are also more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs. If you like to do your banking on your mobile device, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a highly rated app.
If you join Navy Federal Credit Union, you can enjoy no monthly fees or minimal fees on basic savings or youth savings accounts. NFCU also offers several checking accounts as well as competitive rates for share certificates, which are basically certificates of deposits (CDs).
3. First Tech Federal Credit Union
First Tech Federal Credit Union made its debut in 1952 when it was first founded by employees of Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix. Today, the credit union partners with large companies, like Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nike. You can join as long as you work at one of its partner firms or become a member of the Computer History Museum or Financial Fitness Association.
There are 33 branches, mainly in California, Washington and Oregon, but with several locations across Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts and Texas. As a member, you can enjoy in-person service at more than 5,600 Co-op Shared Branch locations in the U.S.and access your money at over 30,000 free ATMs.
It offers a long list of financial products, like checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, loans and investment accounts. Most of these offerings come with low minimum opening balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees. First Tech Federal Credit Union is unique in that there are many business banking services that are rarely seen at other credit unions.
4. Consumers Credit Union
Based in Illinois, Consumers Credit Union has 11 branches in the Chicago suburbs but opens its membership to anyone in the country. All members get access to more than 5,000 shared credit union branches and over 30,000 ATMs.
To join, simply pay $5 and fill out a short application form. Consumers offers some of the highest annual percentage yields or APYs on its rewards checking accounts. However, it requires that you make at least 12 debit card purchases per month, enroll in eDocuments, and have a monthly minimum of $500 in ACH deposits, direct deposits, and mobile check deposits.
If you prefer, you can choose from a no-frills checking account that doesn’t earn any interest. Other product offerings include four savings accounts, IRA certificates, and money market accounts.
5. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Founded in 1935, PenFed Credit Union is known as one of the largest credit unions in the country. It serves more than 2.8 million members and has over $36.6 billion in assets. While this best credit union was originally only available to military members and their families, it eventually opened the doors to anyone. You can join as long as you deposit $5 into a savings account.
As a PenFed member, you can reap numerous benefits, including great rates on checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market certificates. In addition, you can sign up for early direct deposit and access more than 85,000 fee – free ATMs across the nation.
Even though PenFed is not part of a shared branch network, like other credit unions, it pays high rates, and has about 40 of its own branches throughout the U.S. There’s also a solid mobile app and customer phone support with evening and weekend hours.
6. SkyOne Federal Credit Union
SkyOne Federal Credit Union is one of the best credit unions and has a mission to help families become financially stable. It serves more than 40,000 members with $600 million in assets. Since its inception in 1949, SkyOne has offered a robust lineup of financial products, like interest-bearing checking accounts, money market accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and car loans.
Its share certificates come with exceptional rates that you might not find at other credit unions. SkyOne also has a free mobile banking app, a plethora of free educational tools, and a network of thousands of credit union branches for easy access.
The main downfall of this credit union is that it’s geared toward those who work in the air transportation industry so you might have a difficult time qualifying. Fortunately, membership has recently become a bit more lenient to accommodate more people.
7. Alliant Credit Union
Illinois-based Alliant Credit Union has more than 700,000 members across the country. Unlike other credit unions on this list, Alliant operates strictly online. If you like the idea of online and mobile banking, this credit union should definitely be on your radar. Its online accounts pay highly competitive interest rates that can be as much as 22X the national average.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about overdraft or ATM fees. You can also score up to $200 per month in ATM rebates. While its checking and savings accounts are the most popular products, Alliant also provides mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and credit cards. At this time, Alliant does not offer any no-penalty or specialty CDs.
Customer service is available 24/7 and there’s also an online contact form you can use for less pressing questions or concerns. To become a member, join Foster Care to Success (FC2S). Once you do, Alliant will pay the $5 membership fee to the organization for you.
8. Bethpage Credit Union
While it is located in New York, Bethpage Credit Union opens its membership to anyone who makes a $5 payment, regardless of where they live. The credit union partners with hundreds of other credit unions to offer access to more than 5,000 branches and over 30,000 fee free ATMs. Virtual visits by phone and video appointment are also available.
Bethpage’s product lineup includes three checking accounts, four savings accounts, share certificates, and money market accounts. Believe it or not, even the free checking accounts pay interest. In addition to deposit accounts, the credit union provides mortgages, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), car loans, auto refinancing, personal loans, retirement planning, health savings accounts, IRAs, and insurance.
You can access your accounts on the go with the handy mobile app, which includes convenient features, such as budgeting tools, online bill pay, and budgeting tools. Bethpage also offers access to a digital wallet and Zelle money transfers.
9. Latino Community Credit Union
Headquartered in North Carolina, Latino Community Credit Union has 15 branches in the state as well as 1,300 free ATMs through the CashPoints network. While it was originally built for the Latino community, you don’t have to be Hispanic or live in North Carolina to join. All you have to do is submit an application and pay a $10 membership fee.
Latino Community Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and offers 24/7 customer service via phone. Compared to brick-and-mortar banks, it provides competitive interest rates and accounts with low minimum opening balance requirements.
If you’re part of the Hispanic community, you may also benefit from services in both Spanish and English as well as a financial literacy education program that’s focused on low-income Latino families and immigrants.
10. Boeing Employees’ Credit Union
If you’re a Boeing employee or live or work in Washington, Boeing Employees’ Credit Union can be a good fit. Just keep in mind that you’ll be required to open the Member Advantage Savings account, Member Share Savings account or Early Saver account.
You can enjoy nationwide access to more than 30,000 free ATMs, discounts on local events, such as sporting games and fairs, and impressive rates on CDs, money market accounts, and IRAs. Plus, there are no monthly service fees or minimum balance requirements.
Other noteworthy perks include free credit score monitoring, Zelle payments, online bill pay, and budgeting tools. You can find more than 50 physical branches in Washington as well as one location in North Charleston, South Carolina, for in-person banking.
11. Blue Federal Credit Union
Blue Federal Credit Union began as Warren Federal Credit Union and has been in business for more than 70 years. It offers more products than most credit unions, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, and investment banking. This is great news if you’d like the diverse offerings that are widely seen at banks at lower price points.
In addition to a vast selection of financial products, Blue Federal Credit Union provides rates as high as 2x to 5x higher than the national average and access to thousands of partner credit unions across the nation. Thanks to the tiered membership rewards program, you can earn great rewards.
To join, donate to the Blue Foundation and open a Blue FCU Membership Share Savings account. Once you’re a member, you can bank online, visit branches in Colorado or Wyoming, or go to shared branches across the U.S.
12. Wings Financial Credit Union
Wings Financial Credit Union is worth exploring, even if you don’t work in the aviation industry. It has more than 26 branches in Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and Washington. Not only is it NCUA insured, it’s part of the Allpoint, CO-Op, and MoneyPass ATM networks that offer access to more than 80,000 free ATMs.
To become a member, you should live in work in an eligible location, work in the aviation industry, or make a $5 donation to Wings Financial Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers financial education programs and college scholarships.
The credit union pays high interest rates on many of its accounts and doesn’t charge monthly service fees. Depending on your goals, you can open the Wings Financial High-Yield Savings Account, Wings Financial Credit Union High-Yield Checking Account, Wings Financial Investment Money Market Account.
13. NASA Federal Credit Union
NASA Federal Credit Union dates back to 1949 when it first launched to serve NASA employees. Over time, the credit union has expanded and has more than 140,000 members to date. You can join even if you’re not affiliated with NASA as long as you become a member of the National Space Society.
Popular product offerings at NASA Federal Credit Union include the Premier Checking, Premier eChecking, Premier Preferred Checking, Shared and Special Savings account or Education Savings Account.
We can’t forget the Star Trek credit cards which offer 2x points for gas station purchases, and 3x points for purchases at StarTrek.com. Furthermore, if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days, you get a bonus of 30,000 points. You may redeem your points for merchandise, gift cards, and more.
If you’re used to banks or unfamiliar with credit unions, you might wonder how credit unions and banks compare. The truth is both types of financial institutions offers similar products, but there are several differences between them, including:
In general, banks offer more financial products and services than credit unions, especially large banks with a national presence. Credit unions primarily focus on checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit accounts. While loans and investment products are less common, they can still be found at some credit unions.
Banks tend to charge higher rates and fees than credit unions. However, online banks are usually more affordable and comparable to credit unions as they have lower overhead costs. It’s a good idea to shop around so you can compare rates and fees at a variety of financial institutions and hone in on the best option.
Credit unions typically are less technologically advanced than banks. The good news is more and more credit unions, especially those with a nationwide presence, are improving their technical offerings. Many of them offer mobile apps, online bill pay, and other advanced banking tools that were unheard of in the past.
With this list of the best credit unions nationwide, you’re sure to find a credit union or two that checks all your boxes. Whether you’re new to credit unions or have used them for a while, these types of financial institutions can help you meet (or even exceed) your personal finance goals.
While a credit union is a member-owned, non-profit institution, a bank is a for-profit financial institution that is owned by shareholders or individuals. Credit unions are known for more personal service and flexibility. Whether you use a bank or credit union depends on your unique goals and priorities.
All credit unions may have certain membership requirements. Fortunately, many are lenient and let you join if you make a donation or pay a fee. Some credit unions will pay for you once you make a deposit into an account. Of course, some credit unions limit membership to people in certain geographical locations or professions.
Yes! In many cases, credit unions partner with a large network of ATMs. This makes it easy for you to access your money regardless of where you are.
Reputable credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration or NCUA, which is similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or Federal Deposit Insurance Corp of traditional banks. This means if the credit union fails because of bankruptcy, for example, you’ll get your money back.
While credit unions have a reputation for in-person branches with individualized service, online credit unions do exist. Several examples include Alliant Credit Union, Connexus Credit Union, and Quorum Federal Credit Union. If you like the idea of online banking, an online credit union might make sense.
Not all nationwide credit unions are created equal. In fact, there are many options available with various pros and cons. To pinpoint the ideal online or local credit union for you, explore the institutions on this list and consider your priorities. Remember, you can join multiple credit unions if you’d like.