Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

Credit Unions That Are Open To All

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Update 10/2/2012: For a newer list, please refer to my post, The Big List of Credit Unions Open to Anyone.

You often can get better deals at credit unions than at banks, even online banks. The only problem is that credit unions have membership restrictions. So if you don't fall in a credit union's field of membership, you can't join and you can't get the deal (here's a good overview of credit unions).

Credit union's field of membership can vary greatly. Some credit unions restrict members to employees of just one company. Other credit unions allow all residents of several state counties. And a few credit unions have field of memberships that include organizations in which anyone can join.

Below is a list of credit unions that have wide open field of memberships. If you're not an employee of the required company or live outside of the membership areas, you can can be eligible to join by becoming a member to an organization or club. The organization usually has a small yearly membership fee. However, once you're a member of a credit union, you're a member for life. So you don't need to renew membership to that organization. The branches of these credit unions may not be near where you live, however, you can often open accounts online or through the mail. Also by using the credit union networks, you'll be able to do transactions at a network branch near where you live.

Open-To-All Credit Union List

Pentagon Federal Credit Union has branches around Washington DC and all over the country near military bases. They don't have great deposit rates, however, they're best known for their great auto loan rates which are as low as 4.75% APR for 60 months for both new and used cars. Joining the National Military Family Association will make you eligible to join.

Patelco Credit Union is based in San Francisco California. They often have good deposit deals and bonuses. Earlier this year they were offering a $50 signup bonus just for opening up a savings account. Their current deals include a 3.89% 6-month CD and a 4.33% 12-month CD. Anyone can join the California Association for Older Americans to become eligible to join. This credit union is sort of an oddball in that it is not insured by NCUA (credit union's version of FDIC). Instead it's privately insured.

Digital Federal Credit Union is based in Maynard Massachusetts. Like Patelco, they often have great deposit deals. They use to offer a 5% 16-month CD. Currently, they're offering a 4.40% 11-month CD. They provide a list of 5 associations in which anyone can join to become eligible. The cheapest is the AAPD which has a membership fee of $15.

GTE Federal Credit Union is based in Tampa Florida. Currently, they have some decent CD deals (4.18% 30-month CD and 4.70% 60-month CD with only $500 minimum deposit). By joining CUSavers, a non-profit educational financial club, for $10 you'll be qualified to become a credit union member.

Lockheed Credit Union is based in Burbank California. They had been offering a 4% rate on their money market account for balances over $25K. Last month they reduced it to 3.5%. This deal wasn't displayed on their website. You had to call or visit a branch to find out about it. I found out from this Fatwallet thread. You can be qualified to become a member by joining the non-profit Achievers Club.

Meadows Credit Union is based out of Arlington Heights Illinois. Their current deals include a 10-month 4.00% CD and a 20-month 4.12% CD. This credit union has the easiest eligibility requirements. All you need is an e-mail address.

Shouldn't These Credit Unions Be Considered Banks?

There doesn't seem to be a problem for consumers when credit unions make it easy to join. It gives us more choices. Banks, however, see it as unfair competition since credit unions have special tax-exempt status and fewer regulations.

There is one issue that consumers may care about regarding these types of credit unions. If they are able to use their tax advantages to reduce the market share of banks, it'll result in fewer tax revenues from banks. Eventually it will result in higher taxes for individuals. An article from the Council for Sound Tax Policy discusses this issue. It also gives an example of a credit union ad showing how lax some credits have become regarding their field of membership. Another article by the America Bankers Association pokes fun at how some credit unions have morphed into banks. It lists several "you might be a morphed bank" examples. Here are a few:

  • If your field of membership is anyone who lives or works in the state of Washington, you might be a morphed credit union
  • If your field of membership is open to all military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense worldwide, you might be a morphed credit union.
  • If membership is open to all responsible people who want to be members, you might be a morphed credit union.
  • If you advertise -- "Q. Can I join? A. Are you breathing?" -- as a criteria for joining, you might be a morphed credit union.


I wonder what the author of this article would think of Meadows Credit Union and its email eligibility?


Comments
13 Comments.
Comment #1 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
The Self-Help Credit Union (SHCU) is also open to anyone in the US. Membership eligibility can be met by joining a non-profit organization for $25. SHCU has some top short-term CD rates. Refer to this post for more info.

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Comment #2 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
The America's Credit Union is another one that is open to all. Membership eligibility can be met by joining the Association of the United States Army for a one-time fee of $33. Refer to this post for more info.

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Comment #3 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
The Unified Federal Credit Union is open to all. From the CU's website:

Membership in this non-profit theater group qualifies anyone for membership at our credit union. To make matters easy, Unified will pay for the first year's annual dues of $15 to WRT and do all the necessary processing. Once you are a member of Unified, there is no obligation to continue membership at WRT.

Refer to this post for more info.

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Comment #4 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Melrose Credit Union is open to all. Quote from the credit union's website:

Since Melrose Credit Union has an open New York State charter there are no geographic or group affiliation field of membership restrictions. So, regardless of where you live or how you earn a living, you may qualify for membership.

This CU has very high CD rates. Refer to this post.

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Comment #5 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Addison Avenue Credit Union is open to all. Quote from their FOM page:

If you are not eligible to join through one of our sponsor groups, you can qualify for membership by joining the Financial Fitness Association. It’s only $5.00 to join this not-for-profit organization.

Refer to this post for more info.

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Comment #6 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
America's Christian Credit Union is open to all who are willing to sign a Christian statement of service. Refer to this post for more info.

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Comment #7 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Kinecta FCU is open to all via membership in Consumers Cooperative Society of Santa Monica. Membership into this society requires a $10 fee.

See post for more info on the CU and their 5.05% 13-month CD special.

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Comment #8 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Christian Community Credit Union is available to all for those who affirm a Christian statement of faith.

Refer to this post for more info and several good deposit deals.

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Comment #9 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
USA Federal Credit Union is open to anyone who is a member of Prime Meridian Association. People can join this association with a $10 membership fee.

Refer to this post for more info about the CU and about their 6.01% special CD.

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Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Meadows CU no longer has the email as only membership criterion. Now claims 400 companies and a geographic area.

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Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Unified is now RTN

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Comment #15 by KURT KAUFMAN (anonymous) posted on
KURT KAUFMAN
TOWER FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, I BELIEVE IT IS NSA RELATED.

 YOU CAN BE A MEMBER BY JOINING THE NATIONAL CRYPTOLOGIC MUSEUM FOUNDATION. SMALL FEE.

DO IT ALL ONLINE, THEY MAY TRY TO TURN YOU AWAY. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW.

RE POST IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS.

KURT

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Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I found this site which gives "open" credit unions and also what association one has to join to become a member.  It also has many of the ones Ken has posted.

http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=472114

If any one has found the info on this site to be incorrect or misleading, I would appreciate your advising so I won't waste my time checking these cus out.   Thanks!

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