What’s your favorite credit union? And what makes them your favorite? As a saver, the most important feature for me is a credit union that consistently offers the best rates. The best rates shouldn’t be just a one-time event. Top rates should regularly be offered.
It takes more than just rates. The credit union should be trustworthy. As we have seen over the years, there are a couple of credit unions that have failed on this. One example of this is a credit union that increased the early withdrawal penalty on existing CDs.
In addition to being trustworthy, the credit union should make it easy to join and apply for the accounts. Once the accounts are opened, the credit union should make it easy to manage the accounts. This requires an easy-to-use online account interface and competent and friendly customer service representatives who are easy to reach.
I thought it would be useful to list a few credit unions that meet the above criteria. They may not have the best rates today, but they have a long history of competitive rates. I’m limiting the list to those which make it easy for people to qualify for membership. So this list will be a subset of my Big List of Credit Unions Open to Anyone.
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) - This was an easy choice. Even though PenFed’s CD rates are not that competitive today, they have a long history of offering very competitive CD and IRA CD rates for a few months each year. They also make it easy open accounts and to manage the accounts. In addition to top CD rates, PenFed has some nice reward credit cards and very competitive rates on various loan products such as auto loans and HELOCs.
- Alliant Credit Union - Rates haven’t been quite as competitive as they used to be. Nevertheless, Alliant’s rates are still good enough for it to be on this list. Alliant still has competitive rates for its savings account, checking account and for some of its CDs. In addition, Alliant’s free checking account offers several nice features for a primary checking account.
- Melrose Credit Union - Since I started to track Melrose Credit Union in 2006, it has been offering competitive CD and IRA CD rates for terms from 1 to 5 years. The rates are always competitive and like now they can be very competitive. The only downside is a large and confusing early withdrawal penalty.
- Digital Credit Union - Every now and then DCU offers a very competitive CD special. The last one was in November when it was offering a 1.50% APY 8-month CD. DCU also offers some other nice perks like free monthly FICO credit scores.
- Connexus Credit Union - This is one of the few credit unions where you can get competitive rates on a money market account, an HSA, CDs and a reward checking account. In fact, its money market account has been on top of my list of the highest rate on a liquid account without a balance cap. The only downside is that it requires an active checking account with direct deposit to qualify for the top rate.
- Lake Michigan Credit Union - LMCU’s reward checking account called Max Checking has been around for over seven years, and through all of those years, the rates and balance cap have remained very competitive. LMCU also has an HSA with a long history of competitive rates with no monthly service fees.
This is just a list of a few of the all-access credit unions that have a long history of usefulness for savers. Please leave a comment about your favorite credit union(s) and why it’s your favorite.