There's more to banking than banks — credit unions are among the oldest and most reliable alternative financial institutions in the country. Nearly 116 million Americans belong to some sort of credit union, and if you are considering joining their ranks, you'll naturally want to belong to one of the best credit unions available. Fortunately we've assembled a list of 10 of the best by different deposit products, like checking accounts and savings accounts, for you to choose from.
Anyone can claim to be the best, but in the case of the credit unions listed here they can back it up with numbers. Each of these financial institutions has at least one account or product that towers above the competition by offering a better rate or saving you more money than anyone else can. Other criteria we looked at included:
- Ease of membership: Unlike banks, credit unions require new customers to become members before offering them access to their accounts and products. Many credit unions take an exclusive approach to who qualifies for membership, requiring customers to live in a certain geographic area or work in a certain industry. All of the credit unions listed here allow anyone to qualify for membership, usually by making a small donation to a nonprofit sponsored by the credit union.
- Financial health: All of the credit unions here rate at least a "B" on Deposit Accounts’ bank health rating system (which also applies to credit unions).
10 Best Credit Unions of 2019
|USALLIANCE Financial||Personal savings account|
|Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)||Business savings account|
|Connexus Credit Union||Health savings account|
|Langley FCU||Standard checking account|
|Consumers Credit Union (IL)||Rewards checking account|
|First Technology FCU||Free checking account|
|Mountain America Credit Union||Business checking account|
|State Department FCU||1-year CD|
|Bethpage FCU||Personal money market account|
|Latino Credit Union||IRA savings account|
USALLIANCE Financial — Best personal savings account
The credit union: In 1966 a group of IBM employees banded together to create a financial institution serving the needs of their company's employees. Today, USALLIANCE Financial has more than 110,000 members around the world.
How to join: Anyone in the country can qualify for membership by joining one of five nonprofits — Tread Lightly!, The Council of Community Services, WARC, The New York Historical Society, and SullivanArc.
The standout product: The High Dividend Savings Account offered by USALLIANCE Financial earns an APY of 2.25% with a minimum balance of $500, making it the highest-earning personal savings account offered by a credit union on a national level.
Digital Federal Credit Union — Best business savings account
The credit union: Headquartered in Marlborough, Mass., Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) was founded in 1979 and serves more than 700,000 members across the country. It offers members a range of services, from personal banking to real estate and insurance.
How to join: There's a fairly large selection of nonprofit organizations you can join in order to qualify for membership, but the least expensive is Reach Out for Schools with a membership fee of $10. This nonprofit focuses on providing supplies and funds to classrooms in need.
The standout product: The Business DCU Ltd Savings Account provides entrepreneurs depositing at least $25,000 an APY of 1.92%, a relief to business founders wanting a safe place for their cash that also earns a high interest rate.
Connexus Credit Union — Best health savings account
The credit union: Connexus Credit Union is based in Wisconsin and has nearly 350,000 members worldwide, boasting more than $2.47 billion in assets.
How to join: Joining the Connexus Association for $5 qualifies anyone in the country for membership with the credit union. The Connexus Association is a nonprofit that promotes financial literacy throughout the country.
The standout product: Connexus' health savings account grants a 2.0% APY to balances of $15,000 or greater. That's a great deal for those who qualify for a HSA and are shopping around for the right account.
Langley FCU — Best standard checking account
The credit union: Langley FCU traces its history all the way back to the 1930s, when government employees of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics banded together to form their own credit union. Today Langley FCU is the fifth largest credit union in Virginia and the 85th largest in the nation.
How to join: Membership in a variety of nonprofits, including VersaBility Resources, Friends of Carrollton Library, and Friends of Suffolk Public Library (which all charge a $5 fee) qualify you for membership with Langley FCU.
The standout product: If you don't want to jump through the qualification hoops that come with most rewards checking accounts, the Platinum Checking account offered by Langley FCU still earns a high 1.0% APY on balances of $10,000 and greater.
Consumers Credit Union — Best rewards checking account
The credit union: Consumers Credit Union (IL) origins lie with the Cooperative Trading Company of Waukegan in 1910, an association of housewives trying to bargain for lower milk prices. Consumers Credit Union has since expanded its service offerings to include personal banking.
How to join: Membership in the Consumers Cooperative Association qualifies anyone for membership in the credit union itself. The membership fee is $5.
The standout product: The Free Rewards Checking account gives a high APY of 5.09% on balances up to $10,000, though like most rewards checking accounts you have to meet some qualifications in order to earn the highest APY. In the case of this account, you must 1) Spend $1,000 or more a month on a Consumers Credit Union Visa credit card; 2) make 12 or more purchases a month with the debit card linked to your account; 3) have at least $500 paid into your account each month via direct deposit or another ACH payment method.
First Technology FCU — Best free checking account
The credit union: Formed by employees of Hewlett Packard and Tektronix, who "saw the potential of uniting human dedication and technological innovation for a greater good," First Technology FCU’s lofty ambitions have transformed it a full-fledged credit union that works with Amazon, Microsoft and other major tech companies.
How to join: Becoming a member of the Computer History Museum (which starts at $15 a year) or the Financial Fitness Association ($8 a year) qualifies you for membership with the credit union.
The standout product: The Dividend Rewards Checking account has a lot to offer for those looking for a checking account free of most fees. You'll earn 2.0% APY on your balance up to $15,000 so long as you 1) use your debit card for a minimum of 12 purchases each month; 2) set up a direct deposit or one recurring ACH withdrawal; and 3) enroll in e-statements.
Mountain America Credit Union — Best business checking account
The credit union: Started in 1930, this Utah-based bank now has more than 90 physical locations spread throughout its home state, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. But thanks to online banking, you don't have to venture west of the Mississippi to become a member of Mountain America Credit Union and take advantage of its financial services.
How to join: Joining the American Consumer Council – a lifetime membership costs $15 – qualifies you for membership with the credit union.
The standout product: The Business Analysis Checking Earnings Credit account may be a mouthful to say, but the 0.65% APY for balances of $20,000 or greater make it a hearty account.
State Department FCU — Best 1-year CD
The credit union: Chartered by eight State Department employees in 1935, State Department FCU currently offers a full suite of financial services to its approximately 84,000 members, from personal banking account to auto loans.
How to join: The easiest way for anyone in the nation to join is through membership in the American Consumer Council, which costs $15 for a lifetime membership.
The standout product: The rates for certificates of deposits can fluctuate wildly from month to month, but the State Department FCU currently offers a 2.73% rate for a one-year CD (or share certificate, as it's usually called with credit unions). It's one of the best deals available with a credit union, and makes it worthy of inclusion in this roundup.
Bethpage FCU — Best personal money market account
The credit union: Bethpage FCU first started as a credit union for employees of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation in 1941, but in 2016 they expanded their charter so that (almost) anyone residing in the U.S. is qualified for membership.
How to join: If you live in the United States and have both a social security number as well as some form of government-issued ID, you qualify for membership.
The standout product: Anyone shopping for a personal money market account should take a good hard look at this credit union. Not only does it offer a high APY of 2.0%, but it also only requires a $500 minimum to open.
Latino Credit Union — Best IRA Savings account
The credit union: Based in Durham, N.C., Latino Credit Union was founded in 2000 and provides financial services to all of its members.
How to join: As noted by the credit union itself, "You don’t have to be Latino to join!" You do, however, have to pay a one-time $10 membership fee to the Latino Community Development Center, a nonprofit with the mission to promote financial literacy and economic development for low-income Latino communities and other immigrant groups in similar financial circumstances.
The standout product: If you want a savings account with the tax benefits of an IRA, then Latino Credit Union provides one of the best products on the credit union market. The financial institution offers Traditional, Roth and SEP IRAs that earn an APY of 3.05%.