I am a Science teacher who moved to Southern California a year ago. I have immensely enjoyed using SchoolsFirst as my banking institution, I have not given five stars yet because it has only been a year but I am very happy with their services thus far. Schools first has multiple services specifically for educators. They are always very friendly and there is rarely any wait time at the branches. Although the locations are not convenient from where I live there is a location down the street from the school I work for so, that makes everything much better. I have used web and phone services and all go smoothly. I love that they have ATM which dispense $5 and $10 bills. I love the various saving account options and automatic deposit accounts for when your paycheck hits. I hope to eventually buy a home and new car with SchoolsFirst but I am still working on savings and my credit scores.
Overall this bank is one of the better ones I have ever had. They are definitely way better than Us bank. They are also pretty good about the overdraft charges. I would recommend them since they are easy to get a hold of for any issues. They have some great savings account options. They have an option where you can have a savings account created for off time during the summer since this credit union is specialized for teachers and their families. They are great with direct deposits and also it's fast and easy to transfer money between your checking and savings account. They also have options to help you budget your money better as well as help with potential investment plans too.
This bank (credit union) is the best one I have been to. They are a small bank with only a few branches but they are top notch. Every time I go in there I am treated with respect. The employees give great customer service and make sure you have everything you need. The lines usually move very quick and when they don't they are very apologetic. I also like the fees. I do not pay any. All of the services they offer come at little to no cost. This is a bank though for school employees or families of school employees but if you can get in its worth it. I like that I fee like a valued member of the bank and not just another number. Every staff member I have come across is always knowledge and if they don't know something they will find out for you. I bank with a few places but this by far will always be my number one.
I've been a member of SchoolsFirst for over 25 years. Though there are definitely some good things about the credit union, they're no longer any kind of industry leader, and their offerings are surprisingly weak compared to what many other credit unions now offer (I suspect most members just don't take the time to look elsewhere).
First off, the good. Customer service (once you finally speak to someone after LONG hold times) has always been good, both in the branch and on the phone. Mistakes rarely happen, and when they do, SchoolsFirst usually gives the customer the benefit of the doubt. The credit union's policies are generally member-friendly, and in 25+ years I've never had a problem with a bad fee or anything that someone didn't quickly fix. That's good.
Now the bad: As SchoolsFirst has grown into one of the nation's largest CUs, they've become complacent.
Here's the basic problem:
While there is really nothing "bad" about SchoolsFirst, there's no longer anything all that "great" about them either, the way there was, say, 15 years ago. If those of you who've been members for years take a few minutes to look around elsewhere at the offerings of other credit unions now (and I don't mean temporary come-ons, but the consistent offerings of SchoolsFirst's competitors), you'll see what you're missing.
Their savings rates are constantly now FAR below what other CUs offer, whether it be normal savings accounts, CDs, or Money Markets. And it's quite a difference -- and has been for quite a few years now. I have both CDs and large liquid savings accounts, but they're all at other CUs now, because SchoolsFirst's savings rates have remained far, far below other places.
Their credit card offerings are, honestly, pretty bad as well. It's now MasterCard only (no VISA cards), and the features, rates and perks of the cards offered are far below what other CUs offer. Whether you're looking for a basic no-fee card or a rewards card, the SchoolsFirst ones have only a few minor perks, and fall far behind what other CUs offer in rates, fees, and perks. I still "have" my SchoolsFirst credit card, but haven't used it in a few years now. Instead, I use cards from other credit unions.
I still have a checking account with them, though I also have a checking account with another CU, and there's nothing SchoolsFirst offers that the other doesn't (in time, I may shift the checking account away as well).
SchoolsFirst does not even offer something as basic as a Health Savings Account after all these years (had to go elsewhere). Nor do they offer small business accounts.
If you can join SchoolsFirst, you might want to join them just to do so. They're not a bad place to bank and are very customer-friendly, but as they've grown big, their offerings are now far below what other CUs consistently offer.
I don't think I'll ever "leave" them completely, but most of my banking has honestly shifted to other large credit unions.
I have been a member of this bank for a little over a year now. It's a huge improvement compared to my previous bank. They never give us unnecessary overdraft charges. Whenever I have had to call to speak with someone regarding questionable transactions I have always been pleased with the results. One time I had to argue against a company charging my bank account twice for a one time purchase that refused to refund the second accidental charge, my bank stepped in and gave me a credit of the amount taken and went after the frauding company. I like the fact I can have multiple checking and savings accounts and I don't get a monthly service fee for them either. Their site is really easy to handle as well. I like that I can transfer money without charges or an issue between my accounts. There is even a budget tool on the site that helps me keep better track and save my money better. Overall I am very happy with this bank and recommend them to anyone that is involved in working with schools and education and needs a trustworthy bank account.
I've been a member of SchoolsFirst Credit Union for about eleven years now and they've served my needs very well. At the time I signed up, I opened checking and savings accounts and, now, as of earlier this year, a CD account. At the time I first started banking with them, they didn't have the most convenient location in the area where I live (although they were convenient to my work), but since then, they've expanded into other spaces, one of which suits me very well. The interest on my savings account is low, but it's better than nothing considering the ease with each I can move money in and out of this account. The interest on my CD is, of course, better, although rates weren't too great at the time I started out, and I'm happy to see it each month on my account statement.
The employees at SFCU have been universally helpful, when I've gone in to do such things as open that CD account, when there was an error regarding the amount of money in my checking account, and when I needed to make sure I would be able to use my bank card to withdraw money while on a trip in Japan. (Yes, you can use your debit/bank card to easily withdraw money at both the Japanpost ATMs and the 7-11 international ATMs and the fees are quite minimal! I believe it cost me less than $2 a transaction each time)
I think the only thing I've had some annoyances with it their online experience. Mainly I prefer to do my banking on paper, so, of course when I tried to log in and check something, I couldn't recall my password. No big deal, right? But I wasn't able to reset it online- I would have to get on the phone with them...and, not that that's so horrible, but I don't try to do something online to have to call. At that point, I probably just end up waiting and going in.
Overall though, the reliability of SFCU really does it for me. I really do feel that the credit union wants me to do well with my finances.
I started banking with them since 2013 and I get more satisfied with switching over to them from Bank of America every year. I've used numerous products from them such as an auto loan, credit cards, savings, and checking accounts. They are way more customer oriented than a traditional bank. Even their lobbies are more welcoming with most locations I've been to offering sweets and coffee. The workers are always pleasant and extremely helpful, the wait times are short if there even is any. Their Savings and Checking accounts offer much more interest per year than a bank, my summer saver account gets up to 3%! The only drawback is you have to be a school employee or be related to one to open an account. I was very happy with making the switch and I'm sure you will too!
Schools first is an awesome credit union. A lot of locations and terrific customer service. You can call them and speak very quickly with representative. A lot of ATMS as well. If you are employed by a school or retiree in CALSTRS, check them out. Highly recommended.
I've had an account at this credit union for many years. Long ago, it had a different name and went through a couple of mergers. I had old checks from before the mergers with my old credit union name and account number. The representative at the bank offered to give me new checks with the new credit union name (after the merger) and new account number. It was really nice of her, and I got the box of checks with the new information for free. When I suspected someone had my account information, I called the credit union, and they were very helpful at getting my account protected. Their customer service is really superb, and they were very patient with my problems. The only problem I've had with them is that sometimes it could be difficult to find parking space because it was in a busy area.
I have been a member of this credit union for over 8 years now -- I opened an account right when I started working at a public school in Orange County, California. I ended up having numerous accounts with them, a few savings accounts, a checking account, and an educator's savings account (10-month CD) with them. The interest rates were very competitive, and the customer service and soft benefits were beyond what I experienced from any other bank or credit union I have worked with before. Furthermore, this bank does not assess service charges on low balance accounts, so if you are to "organize your funds" into multiple smaller accounts -- for example, an account for car repairs, or down payments, or "rainy day fund", there are no minimum balances to keep, other than a nominal $5.00 share fee (which belongs to you, and will be given back to you when you close the account).
This bank is truly owned by the members and they make you feel that way as well. They serve the teachers with services such as an auto-buying service where they will do the shopping to find the car that you want, legal consultation services, financial advice and planning services, among other benefits. The customer service is based in the United States and are very patient to understand your situation and to get you to someone that can help right away.
If you are an educator or work for a school in Southern California and you are not taking advantage of being with SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union -- you are missing out on a great bank that provides a lot of services for their members without the hidden fees and nonsense of other banks.
School's First, once OCTFCU, has been a fantastic banking experience. I've been a member for 20 years and have never once thought of changing banks. Creating and maintaining Certificates of Deposit has been quite easy. I almost exclusively use their online tools and a new account can be setup in just minutes. The interest rates have been competitive and they will often have special offers with increased rates. I recently took advantage of a short-term, tiered CD in which my interest rate increased monthly over a 15 month period. I am also appreciative of the fact that School's First, unlike most Big Banks, does not subscribe to the "let's add fees to everything" mentality. A solid organization with friendly and helpful employees. Top notch all the way.
I've been with Schools First Federal Credit Union since 2008 and I have never had a single bad experience with them. When I overdrafted a few times, I never paid an overdraft fee. I have overdraft protection as well and that is a free service. Opening a checking account with them is free. When I got married and had to change my name, I went to my branch and was in and out in 20 minutes. They are super efficient, friendly and nice! The only thing I can think to say is that you have to be a teacher or some school employee, which makes sense. Their name is Schools First. I will never switch to another bank/credit union unless somehow they suddenly turn their back on everything I love about them.
One of the best customer service I have had with a credit union. Everything from the start up to the end was very well detailed and laid out with great effort. Applying for a loan was quick and easy. I was in and out of the place in 15 minutes with a new loan set up. The atmosphere was very stress free and relaxing. The representatives were not pushing different loans but rather very helpful on finding the best rates and most efficient loans.
Schools First (formally OCTFCU), is by far the best credit union in Southern California. It has many branches throughout Southern California, hundreds of fee-free ATMs and wonderful over the phone customer service. In branch, they offer all of the services that are offered by all the big-name banks without the monthly fees. The offer coin counting machines, special loans for teachers, and a personal level of service not often found in banks today. As if things already weren't good enough, they offer a brand-new online banking system that not only has tons of features, but is extremely easy to use. I have been extremely pleased during the 8 years I have used Schools First, and I have no doubt you will too!
I've been a member of SchoolFirst (used to be OCTFCU) for years, and yes, they are the best credit union I've ever been lucky enough to be able to have (I currently am a member of two other "closed" credit unions besides SchoolsFirst as well as an open credit union).
I won't waste time writing up everything, but I'll sum it up: they're fantastic. They're responsive. They're willing to do what they can to help you out. Most things are fee-free, and have been. I have my choice of 4 credit unions, and I continue to choose SchoolsFirst for my everyday banking needs (checking, credit card, etc).
By the way, though they don't advertise it, not only do they offer CREDIT Cards (Visa) and DEBIT Cards.. but they are one of the few institutions that STILL will offer an ATM CARD (ie, NOT a Debit-ATM card, but just a plain old ATM card) if you request it. That's what I have, and I love it. I'd much rather have a credit card and an ATM card than a debit card, but that's my personal preference. If you like debit cards, a debit card is the default they'll give you now. But I like how they'll let people request a non-debit old-fashioned ATM card if that's what you want.
Online banking is easy and fast, in the branches lines are fast, tellers are nice, customer service, from normal CSR reps to Card Services reps are fast, responsive, and know their stuff (card services reps are fantastic if you ever have a problem with a merchant that you used your SchoolsFirst Visa card to buy!) and it's just an all-around great place.
Unfortunately it's a closed credit union. But if there's anyway you can join them, DO so! You'll get spoiled very quick...
I moved out of southern California 6 years ago and joined a credit union in my new area, but I kept my Schools First accounts open. The new credit union's website was cumbersome to use and sometimes did not work at all. The new credit union's branches had too few tellers working the windows during peak hours and most of the tellers were not competent nor friendly. I immediately missed Schools First! I then went back to using Schools First as my main bank. Since I am out of the area, I use Schools First's website often. It is reliable and easy to use. When I do speak with customer service, they are always courteous and knowledgable. I cannot say enough great things about Schools First. It is not until you see how other financial institutions operate, that you understand how great Schools First really is.
I am sorry to hear that the other reviewer had a bad experience with SchoolsFirst. I have always been treated more than fairly by them in the past. I have always financed my cars through them. Their service is the best as far as I am concerned. I have banked with others in the past and SchoolsFirst is far and away better in every aspect. I reccomend them to everyone I know, thats eligible for Membership ofcourse. I don't think I will ever bank with any one else again. Thanks SchoolsFirst.!
I have been a member of this credit union since 1997. I became a teacher 8 years ago and for the past three years have been dealing with furlough days (usually 8-10 per year). This time around I am dealing with up to 27 furlough days. In my circumstance, due to the furlough days, I racked up my credit card with SchoolsFirst (sometimes having to pay my rent on it). Recently, I asked SchoolsFirst what they could do for me. I have my credit card and car loan through them. I asked if I could skip summer payments on one or the other, or defer car payments for 2-3 months. I cried, begged, pleaded with them to help me. Their response: There are worse people off than you, so you do not qualify for hardship and we cannot give you three months deferrment on your car or lower your credit card payment. The only thing they told me, please feel free to make an appointment with our "balance" department so you can manage your money. I cannot believe they could not grant me this request, especially since I am a person who pays my bills ON TIME and has great credit. Being a teacher has been very difficult for me financially. I know I chose this profession and will continue to stay in it. However, the economy is worse than it has ever been and because I want to maintain paying my bills on time, I asked for (what I feel was very minor) some grace period to help me get back on track and SchoolsFirst shut the door on me with the advice of "Balance your Budget". I do not deny needing to balance my budget (95% of this world needs to budget their money better) however, when there is a struggle to pay bills and I am told I don't qualify for hardship ... I INVITE YOU TO WALK A YEAR IN MY SHOES and tell me I don't qualify for hardship. I am so disappointed with this service that I only have my checking account now through them. I will NEVER get a credit card through them, nor finance a vehicle through them. They are supposed to put teachers first, they absolutely do not!