PenFed CU Raises Rate On Access America Checking


Availability: Easy membership

This past Sunday marked the official merger date of PenFed Credit Union (PenFed) and Belvoir Federal Credit Union. I had hoped PenFed might commemorate the occasion with some special deals or promotions, but so far I haven’t seen anything mentioned on PenFed’s website.

PenFed has, however, raised the rate on its Access America Checking account to 1.01% APY on qualifying balances between $20k and $50k; qualifying balances below $20k earn 0.50% APY.

0.50*%$20k$50kPenFed Credit UnionAccess America Checking w/ direct deposit
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of October 27, 2016.


  • Minimum $1k Direct Deposit per cycle
  • $25 minimum opening deposit
  • $10 monthly service charge can be avoided with daily balance or monthly direct deposit of $500 or more


Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers membership to virtually all U.S. residents. PenFed’s online application lists the various ways in which individuals can qualify for membership.

If you meet any of the following requirements, you are eligible to join PenFed:

1. I am in the United States Military & Uniformed Services.

2. I am an employee of a qualifying organization.

3. I belong to the following association or organization.

4. I am an employee of the United State government.

5. I am a relative or housemate of someone who is eligible.

6. I live or work at an eligible location.

7. Other

Clicking on Option #7, "Other," provides information about joining PenFed through membership in either Voices for America’s Troops ($14, one-time only dues) or the National Military Family Association ($15, one-time only dues). Joining either of these associations and PenFed can be done simultaneously using PenFed’s online application.

Need another way to join? No problem!
Members of the National Military Family Association and Voices for America's Troops
are among those eligible for PenFed membership. We've made it easy for you to join
one of these associations, which makes you eligible to join PenFed.

Opening an Access America Checking account can be done online, or in person at any of 32 branches located in the District of Columbia (9), Florida, Hawaii (2), Maryland (2), North Carolina, Nebraska, New York (2), Oregon, Tennessee, Texas (2), Virginia (6), Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Credit Union Overview

PenFed Credit Union (NCUA Certificate # 227) has an overall health grade of "A" at, with a Texas ratio of 2.96% (excellent), based on December 31, 2015 data. In the past year, PenFed has increased its total deposits by $1.38 billion, an excellent annual growth rate of 9.87%. Please refer to our financial overview of PenFed Credit Union for more details.

Established in 1935, PenFed Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the nation, with over 1.4 million members and assets in excess of $19 billion.

How Access America Checking Compares

Since Access America Checking has no required debit card transactions, a comparison to Rewards Checking accounts isn’t suitable. Alliant Credit Union’s High Rate Checking account is the most similar, in that its qualifying requirements include Direct Deposit or other electronic deposits, but requires no debit card usage.

The above rates are accurate as of 5/3/2016.

DCGuy (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #1
The 50K balance limit makes the account similar to rewards checking accounts, even without the debit card usage requirements.
RJM   |     |   Comment #2
Does anyone know if an ACH deposit in will count as a direct deposit ?

I already have a penfed account and this seems like a good way to diversify my accounts. (I have over the $250k limit at one credit union)

The extra .01% is not really noteworthy otherwise.