Patelco has an easy field of membership. If you don't live, work or worship in any of the dozens of California cities that make up part of its FOM, you can be eligible by joining the California Association for Older Americans which is open to anyone.
Another nice feature of Patelco is that you can apply for membership and open accounts online.
The only negative regarding Patelco, in my opinion, is the lack of NCUA insurance. Patelco is privately insured by American Share Insurance (ASI) up to $250K per account. There is an advantage of ASI over NCUA in that it covers larger balances. However, there are ways that NCUA can go above $100K for different ownership categories (see post). And now NCUA covers IRA accounts up to $250K.
How Important is NCUA Insurance?
In my opinion, your money would be safe at Patelco in most any future economic conditions. Patelco has over $3.8 billion in assets and over 220K members. Would your money be safe in a major depression? That's the time when we need rock solid guarantees from our banks and credit unions. It's easy for financial institutions and insurance companies to show a good track record when the economy has been relatively strong. But it's the time when the economy is hitting rock bottom that we need that guarantee. That's why I prefer NCUA insurance.
How important is NCUA insurance for you?
For facts about NCUA and FDIC insurance, refer to this post.