The large banks are now backtracking from the debit card fees. It's clear they didn't anticipate all of the customer anger and the bad publicity. It may be too late for them as many people are participating in Bank Transfer Day which encourages people to move their money from the megabanks to credit unions by November 5th. A lot of credit unions have jumped on this Bank Transfer Day bandwagon and are now offering bonuses to sweeten the deal for people to switch. If you are looking to take advantage of a credit union's promotion, choose a credit union that has features that will make the checking account useful for the long term. Northwest Federal Credit Union has these features, and it's also offering a nice checking account promotion.
NWFCU's promotion allows you to earn $100 when you open a checking account and set up qualifying direct deposit. To qualify for this bonus, it must be your first checking account with NWFCU, and it must be opened by 12/31/2011. According to the small print "Three consecutive payroll direct deposits of at least $500 each to the new checking account must be received by 1/31/2012 to earn bonus. Bonus will be credited to member’s NWFCU checking account on the business day following the third electronic payroll deposit of $500 or greater."
NWFCU also has a sweepstakes in which members can win $1,000 when they have a checking account with the required direct deposit.
3 Important Features for Credit Unions and Checking Accounts
NWFCU and its checking account have 3 features that you should look for when you're choosing a credit union. First, it has a free checking account. Its Basic checking is free with no minimum balance requirements or monthly service fees.
Second, NWFCU is part of ATM networks which give members free access to ATMs around the nation. NWFCU members with checking accounts have free access to CO-OP and Alliance One ATMs.
Third, NWFCU is part of the shared branch network which allows members to conduct most account transactions at 4,300+ locations nationwide, including credit union branches and CU Family Service Centers.
Many credit unions don't have all of the above features. So these features can be useful to narrow down your list of the best credit unions. I have more details in my post Finding the Best Free Checking Accounts at the Best Credit Unions.
There is actually one more important credit union feature. It should be easy for you to qualify for membership. That might actually be the most important one.
NWFCU has an online membership application via andera.com. In the membership section, several options are listed including joining the Financial Awareness Network (FAN). This makes it easy for anyone to join with a $10 one-time fee. More details about the field of membership are listed in the credit union's Who We Serve page. Membership requires a minimum deposit of $5 into your share savings account.
Past NWFCU CD Deals
Many readers joined NWFCU when they used to offer competitive CD rates. Unfortunately, NWFCU's CD rates are not nearly as competitive as they used to be. One note about the standard certificates is that higher rates (up 0.25%) are available to Premier Checking members and Heritage Club members.
Northwest Federal Credit Union Overview
Northwest Federal Credit Union branches are located in the Virginia cities of Manassas, Chantilly, Herndon and Vienna. You can also use shared branches for making deposits, withdrawals and for other common banking transactions.
It's a large credit union with over $2 billion in assets. The credit union has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 5 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 7.35% (excellent) based on June 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Northwest Federal Credit Union for more details. NWFCU is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 5500).
Other Credit Union and Bank Bonuses
We have a new bank promotions page with a table of all of the active bank and credit union promotions. You can filter the table based on the type of promotion and based on your state. I have more details about how to use this page in this blog post.