With 12 million members, Navy Federal Credit Union services U.S. military members, veterans, Department of Defense members, and their spouses. Navy Federal offers a full suite of services, including checking and savings accounts, certificates, money market accounts, credit cards, and loans.
But even if you qualify for an account, it’s not your only choice. It’s important to take a close look at the fees, interest rates, and overall bank experience to make sure it’s the best choice for your finances.
Navy Federal Credit Union is available for service members, veterans, Department of Defense employees, and their families. Although Navy Federal does offer fee-free accounts and competitive rates on loans, their interest rates on savings, share certificates, and credit cards aren’t competitive with online banking options. It’s important to shop around before settling on a credit union, and Navy Federal is no exception.
What Is Navy Federal Credit Union?
Credit unions are like banks in that you can deposit and withdraw funds, earn interest on your savings, and borrow money. But banks are for-profit institutions. Credit unions, on the other hand, are nonprofits that typically limit membership to a specific business, organization, club, or geographic location. Members are considered owners, with a voice in how the credit union operates.
Navy Federal Credit Union is regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This federal agency ensures the safety and soundness of credit unions and insures the savings of members up to $250,000 per individual depositor. The NCUA plays a crucial role in maintaining the trust and confidence of members in the financial stability of credit unions.
Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) began in 1933 as a credit union serving a small group of naval officers and their families. Over the decades, though, membership expanded and it is now the largest credit union in the country in terms of assets and membership. Today, membership is open to:
- Enlisted members and veterans of all branches of the military
- Family members of former and enlisted military
- Department of Defense members and their families
Navy Federal is member-owned, which means that any earnings go back to members. Often, these dividends are put toward reducing interest rates and improving offerings, but they’re also given to members in the form of account credits. Cashflow is publicly disclosed on Navy Federal Credit Union’s website.
Types of Accounts
Navy Federal Credit Union’s members have access to a variety of account options, including checking, savings, money market accounts, and share certificates. Their fee-free structure is typical of a credit union, and with most accounts, you’ll have no minimum deposit or balance requirement.
Here are some details on the accounts Navy Federal offers:
Navy Federal Credit Union offers a free checking account option to members. There are several checking accounts to choose from, and your choice will likely relate to your own unique needs.
All of Navy Federal Credit Union’s checking account holders enjoy checking with no monthly fees, a Navy Federal debit card with zero-liability protection, and access to 30,000 fee-free ATMs with the CO-OP Network located throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Here are the five Navy Federal checking accounts:
- Free Active Duty Checking: For both active duty and retired military members, this bank account issues ATM fee rebates, 0.05% annual percentage yield (APY), and a 0.05% dividend rate.
- Free Easy Checking: For all your everyday banking needs, this checking account includes ATM fee rebates, a 0.05% annual percentage yield, and a 0.05% dividend rate. This account comes with optional overdraft protection service. To maintain eligibility for this account, you must set up direct deposit or use your Navy Federal debit card at least 20 times per statement cycle.
- Free Campus Checking: Designed for service members and family of service members ages 14-24, this account also includes ATM fee rebates, a 0.05% annual percentage yield, and a 0.05% dividend rate.
- Free EveryDay Checking: This account is available to all credit union members as a simple, fee-free everyday checking account that has all the basics. It only comes with a 0.01% APY and a 0.01% dividend rate, however.
- Flagship Checking: A Flagship checking account is for those members who want to earn more on their money. You’ll get a 0.35% to 0.45% APY and a dividend rate of 0.35% to 0.45%. However, this account comes with a balance requirement of $1,500 or more. A service fee of $10 a month applies for balances of less than $1,500.
A Navy Federal savings account comes with 0.25% APY. There is a $5 minimum balance requirement for the account to earn dividends, but it’s fee free. You can also divide this basic savings account into segments, naming each one. This allows you to set up an emergency fund, a vacation fund, a home buying fund, a Christmas gift account, or whatever else you need.
If you have specific savings goals, Navy Federal Credit Union also offers both Traditional and Roth IRAs. Self-employed members and those who work for participating employers can set up a simplified employee pension (SEP). These have higher contribution limits than IRAs.
Navy Federal Credit Union members with children may want to take a look at the education savings accounts offered by the credit union. These Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) allow you to put money into a tax-advantaged account for the specific purpose of paying for education expenses.
Investing can be a valuable part of financial planning. One low-risk way to boost your earnings is through share certificates, which are similar certificates of deposit (CDs) offered by banks. Current rates range from 4.85% APY. Navy Federal has four tiers of certificates, each with its own yield and terms:
- Standard Certificate: Get started saving with this certificate that offers a competitive interest rate with terms of up to seven years. You can earn as much as 4.95% with only a $1,000 minimum deposit.
- EasyStart Certificate: Available to members who have set up direct deposit, you can add money to this certificate at any time, making it a great savings vehicle. APYs go as high as 4.85%, and you can choose terms from 6 to 24 months. Best of all, you can deposit as little as $50 to start.
- Special EasyStart Certificate: Another certificate that allows a $50 opening deposit, this option can earn up to 5.30%. It only comes with a 12-month term.
- SaveFirst Account: Step up from a basic savings account with this certificate, which offers up to 0.40% interest with terms of only three to 60 months. You can set up this account with a deposit as low as $5.
Money Market Accounts
If you want to boost your earnings without locking your money down, a Navy Federal money market account could be the perfect solution. You’ll need at least $2,500 to earn interest, but once you reach that threshold, rates are higher than the Navy Federal basic savings account.
The following money market account rates are available at Navy Federal Credit Union:
- $2,500-$9,999: 0.95% APY
- $10,000-$24,999: 1.06% APY
- $25,00-$49,999: 1.10% APY
- $50,000 and over: 1.50% APY
If you have at least $100,000 to put into your account, you can earn even higher rates with a jumbo money market account. Those rates are as follows:
- $0-$99,999: 0.25% APY
- $100,000-$249,999: 1.65% APY
- $250,00-$499,999: 1.85% APY
- $500,000-$999,999: 2.05% APY
- $1 million and over: 2.25% APY
Members of Navy Federal Credit Union can choose from a variety of credit cards tailored to their specific needs. Every Navy Federal credit card offers a range of benefits to its members. Cardholders have 24/7 access to US-based member representatives and are protected by a Zero Liability policy against unauthorized transactions. They also benefit from no fees on balance transfers or foreign transactions.
For added security, Navy Federal provides fraud notifications and allows members to easily freeze or unfreeze their cards. Additionally, members can access their credit score anytime, and the credit union consistently offers rates below the industry average.
Credit Card Specifics
- Main Benefit: Earn up to 1.75% cash back on all purchases and redeem as you earn.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Special Offer: Earn $250 bonus cash back by spending $2,500 within the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, get a one-time $98 statement credit with a qualifying Walmart+ membership purchase.
- Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card
- Main Benefit: Earn 3X points at supermarkets, on gas and transit, and at restaurants. Receive 1X points on all other purchases.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Special Offer: Get 20K bonus points (equivalent to $200) upon spending $1,500 within 90 days. Also, enjoy a $49 statement credit with a Walmart+ membership purchase.
- Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards
- Main Benefit: 3X points on travel and 2X points on all other purchases.
- Annual Fee: $49
- Special Offer: Earn 40K bonus points with a $4,000 spend within 90 days and receive a free year of Amazon Prime.
- GO REWARDS®
- Main Benefit: 3X points at restaurants, 2X on gas, and 1X on other purchases.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Special Offer: Earn 10,000 bonus points by spending $500 within 90 days.
- Main Benefit: NFCU’s card offering their lowest rate for minimizing monthly payments.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Special Offer: Potential savings on balance transfers with an introductory offer.
- nRewards® Secured
- Main Benefit: Designed to help build or repair credit while also earning rewards.
- Annual Fee: $0
Although Navy Federal Credit Union has credit cards that can help you build credit or earn cash back, you can find better deals through online banks and local banks. Most come with high interest rates and no zero-interest introductory period.
If you’re looking for a loan for home improvements or debt consolidation, this is where Navy Federal Credit Union shines. The credit union offers competitive rates on personal loans with flexible terms. Personal expense loans start as low as 7.49% APR for a 36-month term.
Once you have some money in your savings account or certificate, you’ll have a source of funding. You can borrow against the money and repay the funds with rates as low as your savings rate plus 2.00%.
Navy Federal Credit Union stands out as a preferred choice for many when it comes to mortgages. Choosing NFCU for your mortgage can lead to substantial savings, with members saving an average of $3,500. The process is swift, offering preapprovals within seconds.
Plus, with the unique No-refi rate drop feature, you could secure a lower rate after your purchase. NFCU ensures your interest rate is protected with their Special Freedom Lock. Their expertise in VA Loans cements them as a top lender in the market.
Additional benefits include loan options that require no down payment, the absence of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), and a rate match guarantee to ensure you always get the best deal.
Home Equity Loans
Navy Federal’s Fixed-Rate Equity Loan offers stability, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a specific sum for a one-time expense. With this loan, borrowers receive a lump sum and benefit from zero closing costs.
Other features include the ability to borrow up to 100% of your home’s equity, loan amounts ranging from $10,000 to $500,000, and a consistent rate throughout the loan’s duration. Additionally, there are no application or origination fees.
Home Equity Lines of Credit
For those anticipating ongoing expenses, Navy Federal provides a flexible Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). This option allows borrowers to access funds as needed, up to their maximum credit limit. Features of the HELOC include a Home Equity Line Platinum Credit Card for easy fund access.
Borrowers have the potential to access up to 95% of a home’s equity. Credit line amounts range from $10,000 to $500,000. Additionally, the rate varies based on the U.S. Prime Rate. This credit line doesn’t have application, origination, annual, or inactivity fees, and an interest-only option is available.
When it comes to funding your higher education, Navy Federal Credit Union’s private student loans can help bridge the gap between federal loans and scholarships. These loans can cover either a semester or the entire academic year up to the school’s certified cost of attendance.
To make the repayment process more manageable, Navy Federal offers various in-school repayment options, which can help reduce the loan’s overall cost. Additionally, by enrolling in automatic payments, borrowers can benefit from a 0.25% interest rate reduction. After making 24 consecutive on-time payments, there’s an option to request the release of a co-signer.
Student and Parent Refinance Loans
Navy Federal also offers refinancing options for both students and parents. By refinancing, you can consolidate private and federal student loans, potentially achieving a lower rate, a reduced monthly payment, or paying off the loan faster.
Just like the private student loans, by signing up for automatic payments, borrowers can avail a 0.25% interest rate reduction. Combining loans for multiple children is an available option, and after 12 on-time consecutive payments, a co-signer release can be requested.
Online and Mobile Banking Capabilities
Navy Federal is a full service credit union with all the amenities. Branches and ATMs tend to be located near bases. Still, mobile banking and free access to a nationwide ATM network make it easy for armed forces veterans and their families to find in-person customer service when they need it.
Navy federal credit union’s website and mobile app offer a full suite of online banking options. You can transfer money, deposit checks, manage your credit and debit cards, and set up alerts to monitor account activity.
The mobile app is available for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices. You’ll also have access to Apple Pay and Google Pay using your Navy Federal checking account on those supported devices. These are the same options you’ll have with other banks and credit unions, but they’re convenient if you like Navy Federal’s other options.
Fees and Penalties
One of the best reasons to go with a credit union is the lack of fees. For the most part, Navy Federal has fee-free services, but you will pay a monthly fee if you choose Flagship checking and can’t keep a $1,500 balance.
Navy Federal Credit Union does charge fees if your account goes into the negative. You can avoid the $29 insufficient funds fee by investing in overdraft protection, but Navy Federal charges a fee for moving the money. Some other financial institutions don’t charge for that.
Annual Percentage Yield on Accounts
Although Navy Federal Credit Union offers plenty of benefits, their rates on their high-yield savings accounts, certificates, and even checking accounts are lower than competitors. The money market savings account currently only pays up to 2.25% APY, and that’s with a $1 million balance.
Service members and veterans should shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rates. You might even keep your checking and basic savings with Navy Federal, then have a money market account or share certificate with one of the many online banks paying competitive rates.
Minimum Balance Requirement
With any Navy Federal Credit Union review, checking balances are worth a mention. For the most part, you won’t have a minimum balance or a minimum deposit requirement with any of Navy Federal’s accounts. There is one exception, though. If you choose the Flagship Checking Account, you’ll need to deposit at least $1,500 and maintain that balance over the life of your account. Otherwise, you’ll pay a $10 monthly service fee.
There is a minimum deposit requirement with Navy Federal’s savings account options, though. To earn dividends, you’ll need to deposit at least $5 and maintain that. To maintain a money market savings account with Navy Federal, you’ll need a balance of at least $2,500 to earn dividends.
If you qualify for a Navy federal credit union account, it’s well worth a look. But pay close attention to the offerings and compare them to other financial institutions to make sure you’re getting the best solution for your needs.
Navy Federal Credit Union shines as one of the go-to credit unions in the U.S. They have a wide range of services, and what sets them apart is top-notch customer service. They don’t just offer standard banking; they make sure their services are both helpful and easy to use.
When looking for a reliable credit union that genuinely cares about its people, Navy Federal stands tall. In a world with so many banking choices, they’ve proven time and again why they’re among the best.