I would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day. In addition to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for America, I would like to remember and thank all our veterans, active duty members, and their families on this day.
As a Memorial Day post, I thought it would be interesting to list credit unions that have been established to primarily serve military members. These credit unions have fields of membership (FOMs) that include various military groups. Some include large military groups that cover millions. Others serve small groups such as those who are stationed in specific military bases. In some cases, the credit unions have expanded their FOMs to include anyone who lives or works in certain geographic communities. Also, some credit unions have added associations to their FOMs in which anyone can join.
There are several reasons why military members may want to join one or more of these credit unions. First, many of these often have the best rates for both deposit accounts and for loans. They can also offer more convenience and services. Some have branches near military bases around the world. Some also refund fees from international ATMs.
It’s better to join these credit unions while you’re active in the military. If you leave the military, you may lose your eligibility to join some of these.
The following isn’t a comprehensive list of credit unions with military affiliations. If you know of others, please leave a comment.
- Navy Federal Credit Union - This is the largest credit union in the nation. However, it’s not the easiest to join. You must have a military connection. A few years ago they expanded the FOM to include other branches of the military in addition to the Navy. Now Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force active duty, retirees and annuitants are eligible. It’s important to note that if you are no longer in the military and you’re not a retiree or an annuitant, you may not be able to qualify for membership. For full FOM details, please refer to the Navy Federal’s eligibility checklist.
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) - This isn’t as large as Navy Fed, but it’s still one of the largest credit unions in the nation. Like Navy Fed, PenFed’s FOM includes members of all military branches including the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force. Unlike Navy Fed, you can also be eligible for membership via an association that anyone can join. For more FOM details, click on the "Join PenFed" link at the top of PenFed's home page.
- Air Force Federal Credit Union - This credit union is much smaller than Navy Fed and PenFed. However, like those two, it’s not limited to just one branch of the military. Any military member employed by the DoD who work at any U.S. government facility in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana or Mississippi can qualify. In addition, the FOM includes a foundation that anyone can join. For more FOM details, click on the "Join Online" link on the top menu of Air Force FCU's website, it will take you to an online application. Click on the "become a member" button, and you'll see all of the options for membership eligibility.
- Andrews Federal Credit Union - In addition to its U.S. branches the credit union has branches in Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Most of the branches are near or on military bases which includes Andrews Air Force Base. In addition to the personnel of Andrews Air Force Base, the credit union’s FOM includes members of the American Consumer Council (ACC) in which anyone can join. Fore more FOM details, please refer to Andrews FCU’s Join page.
- Pen Air Federal Credit Union - This was chartered in 1936 to serve civil service and military employees and their immediate families assigned to military bases in the Pensacola Florida area. Its FOM has expanded, and it now includes active duty or retired military. There’s also a society that can be joined to qualify for credit union membership. For more FOM details, please refer to Pen Air FCU’s membership page.
- America’s Credit Union - Since 1954, the credit union has provided financial programs tailored to meet the needs of the military community. Its headquarters is located in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) which is near Tacoma, Washington. Its FOM has expanded, and it now includes all active and retired military members. Also, you can qualify for credit union membership by joining the Association of the United States Army. Association membership is open to everyone. For more FOM details, click on the "Join Online" link at the bottom of the credit union’s Join Us page. This will take you to an online application. Click on the "become a member" button, and you'll see all of the options for membership eligibility.
- Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union - Originally chartered in 1952 to serve personnel at Randolph Air Force Base, the credit union’s FOM has expanded to include employees and associates at more than 2,000 select groups and eight underserved communities in the San Antonio and Austin, Texas areas. It’s now a major credit union with over $5 billion in assets. For more FOM details, refer to RBFCU’s online application.
- Belvoir Federal Credit Union, which merged into PenFed - Originally organized in 1946 by employees of the Engineering Center on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the credit union’s FOM has expanded to include active duty, reserves, or retired member of the U.S. Armed Forces regardless of duty station. In addition, there are several associations that can be joined to qualify for credit union membership. One that has an open membership is The Arc Greater Prince William. For more FOM details, click on the membership application link at Belvoir’s About Us page.
- Air Academy Federal Credit Union - Originally established to serve students and staff of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the credit union’s FOM has expanded to include all active and retired military. Employees, students and their families of several Colorado school districts are also eligible to join. Please refer to the credit union's How-to-Join page for more FOM details.
- Service Credit Union - Originally chartered to serve the military, and civilian employees, at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire, the credit union’s FOM has expanded to include all military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense worldwide. The FOM also includes those who live or work in parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Please refer to the credit union’s Membership eligibility page for more details.
Finally, USAA Bank is not a credit union, but like the above credit unions, it was established to serve military members. In addition to banking services, USAA offers insurance and investment services. Most of its banking services are available to those without military connections.