In the last two years, I’ve written several blog posts that highlight the various deposit deals at Mississippi-based Keesler Federal Credit Union (KFCU). One product never caught my eye since the rate remained low, but that product has become very competitive as its rate has held while others have fallen. That product is the 1-year FirstStep Certificate (1.05% APY). It’s an add-on CD, which allows unlimited additional deposits ($10 minimum) throughout the term. The FirstStep Certificate can be opened with a very low $25 minimum deposit.
The 1.05% APY currently equals the rates of the top-rate nationally available savings accounts. Think of the FirstStep Certificate as a savings account with a year-long rate guarantee and an extremely limited withdrawal policy.
As stated in the Truth-in-Savings Disclosure, the Early Withdrawal Penalty reads as follows:
If the withdrawal does not reduce the certificate funds below the required minimum balance for this type of certificate, the member shall forfeit at the certificate rate an amount equal to the lesser of:
1. All dividends for 90 days from the amount withdrawn for certificates with a term of 1 year or less; or all dividends for 180 days on the amount withdrawn for certificates greater than 1 year; or
2. All dividends on the amount withdrawn since date of issuance or renewal.
Funding and Accessing Maturing Funds
Funds must be available in your KFCU account when the FirstStep Certificate is opened. Depositing funds into the account can be completed through ACH transfer, wire transfer, or by mailing a check. KFCU also participates in the CO-OP Shared Branch network.
In a Live Chat, CSR stated,
Once the account is approved and open and we provide you with your account and routing number, you will have the option of transferring from another bank, mailing a check or going to one of our shared branches, which are credit unions that can service our Keesler members and accept deposits.
When the FirstStep Certificate matures, there is a 10-day grace period before it automatically renews. Maturing funds can be distributed by ACH, wire, cashier’s check, or deposited into your KFCU savings account.
Unlimited beneficiaries, receiving equal shares, can be named. While Social Security numbers are not required, KFCU would “like to have as much information as you can provide” about any beneficiary.
High Interest Money Market Account Plus
I wrote about KFCU’s High Interest Money Market Account Plus (HIMMA Plus) in August. This tiered rate account (1.50% APY, $100k+; 1.45% APY, $50k+; 1.40% APY, $2.5k+) has a six-month rate guarantee and is still available. For complete details about the HIMMA Plus, please refer to the August 20 blog post.
|1.45*%||$100k||-||Keesler Federal Credit Union||High Interest Money Market Account Plus - New Money|
|OTHER TIERS: 1.35% → $2.5k - $50k | 1.40% → $50k - $100k|
Headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, Keesler Federal Credit Union’s field of membership (FOM) has changed four times in the past two years. The easy membership requirement (EMR) through the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is now available only to residents of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
In August 2018, KFCU added a 7-month Share Certificate Special earning 5.00% APY. That outstanding rate resulted in so many out-of-area inquiries, KFCU expanded its FOM, making almost all U.S. citizens and resident aliens eligible for membership. Sometime during late spring 2019, KCU placed geographic limitations on the ACS CAN option, effectively wiping out the nationwide availability. When I wrote about KFCU’s competitive Step Certificates in January 2020, the FOM once again included all U.S. citizens or resident aliens, regardless of residency status. The limited EMR went into effective sometime between late January and early May.
Limited Easy Membership – The fourth option on the Eligibility page of KFCU’s online membership application is “I am a member of the following association.” The first association listed is the (ACS CAN), a “nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.”
I asked in a Live Chat if it was necessary to join ASC CAN first and then apply to KFCU, or was it possible to join both simultaneously. CSR replied,
You can go ahead and select the ACSCAN and submit your application. Once we
receive it, we will send you the [ACSCAN] form that will need to be filled out for that.
Residency – Individuals who live, work, worship, or attend school in the Mississippi counties of Forrest, Hancock, Harrison, or Pearl River, or select census tracts in the counties of Hinds or Jackson are eligible to join. Also qualifying for membership are those who live, work, worship, or attend school in select census tracts in St. Tammany or Orleans Parishes, Louisiana, or Mobile County, Alabama.
Employment – Employee and/or members of more than 300 SEGs (listed on the online application) are eligible for membership.
Military Relationship – Active or retired military who can use the services at Keesler Air Force Base or at Royal Air Force Bases in the UK qualify for membership.
Family Relationship – Immediate family members (spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, grandchild, significant other) of a current KFCU member are welcome to apply.
Joining Keesler Federal Credit Union can be done online, or at any of the 26 Mississippi, six Louisiana, or two Alabama branch locations.
All branches are open regular business hours. We strongly encourage members who must visit a branch for all non-teller line or drive-thru business to use our Appointment Scheduling System. This will reserve your spot and reduce wait times.
While opening a FirstStep CD cannot be opened directly online, there is a Contact Us form to start the application progress. Opening a FirstStep CD can be done at any of the above-mentioned branch locations, or by calling the Member Contact Center (888.533.7537).
A minimum deposit of $5.00 in a Primary Share account is required to establish membership.
In addition to participating in the CO-OP Shared Branch network, KFCU also offers its members access to the CO-OP ATM network.
Credit Union Overview
Keesler Federal Credit Union has an overall health grade of "A+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 1.26% (excellent) based on June 30, 2020 data. In the past year, KFCU has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $510.67 million, an excellent annual growth rate of 23.14%. Please refer to our financial overview of Keesler Federal Credit Union (NCUA Charter # 5561) for more details.
Chartered in 1947, Keesler Federal Credit Union was established by ten civil services employees at Keesler Field, the predecessor of Keesler AFB. At the end of the first year of operations, KFCU had approximately 270 members and $7k in assets. In its 73rd year of operation, KFCU is the largest credit union in Mississippi, with nearly 260,000 members and assets in excess of $3.3 billion.
How the FirstStep Certificate Compares
Keesler Federal Credit Union’s multi-state FOM makes a comparison to nationally available CDs appropriate. When compared to 218 similar length-of-term CDs tracked by DepositAccounts.com, which require a similar minimum deposit and are available nationwide, Keesler Federal Credit Union’s 1-year FirstStep Certificate APY currently ranks second. The low minimum initial deposit and unlimited number of deposits allowed throughout the term makes the 1-year FirstStep Certificate quite competitive.
The above rates are accurate as of 9/25/2020.
To look for the best CD rates, either nationwide or state-specific, please refer to our CD Rates Table page.