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Credit Unions Available to U.S. Military Service Members


May you have a restful Memorial Day weekend. I will be taking a moment this weekend to honor those who served our nation and are no longer with us. In addition to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for America, I thank all our veterans, active duty members, and their families.

In past posts on military credit unions, I listed credit unions that had been established to primarily serve military members. For this updated list, I decided to change the criteria to only include credit unions that are open to all U.S. military service members. There are no other membership limitations such as having to be stationed at a specific military base or in a specific region. In many cases, the credit unions' fields of membership also include retired military members, veterans, those in the National Guard and Reserve, and family members. In a few cases, the credit unions have expanded their fields of membership so that many people outside of the military community are eligible to join. Fields of membership continue to evolve, so always check with the credit union for the latest details on eligibility.

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. Credit unions that have expanded membership eligibility beyond the military sometimes offer special accounts available only to military members with extra perks like ATM fee refunds or early direct deposit.

In the following list, I tried to include all the credit unions that I could find that are open to all U.S. military service members. If you know of others, please leave a comment. A few of these are also open to most everyone in the nation. You can view a comprehensive list of those in the Big List of Credit Unions Anyone Can Join.

  1. Navy Federal Credit Union - This is the largest credit union in the nation. In 2008, Navy Federal expanded membership eligibility to include all branches of the Armed Forces. Another expansion occurred in 2017 which expanded eligibility to include veterans and those with family members who are or have been affiliated with the military. Navy Federal has a long history of offering very competitive CDs and IRA CDs.
  2. Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) - This isn’t as large as Navy Federal, but it’s still one of the largest credit unions in the nation. Like Navy Federal, PenFed’s membership eligibility includes all branches of the Armed Forces. PenFed also provides ways for people who aren’t connected with the military to join. PenFed has a long history of offering very competitive CDs and IRA CDs. In addition, PenFed offers an online savings account, the Premium Online Savings, with high rates comparable to online savings accounts at online banks.
  3. Service Credit Union - Originally chartered to serve the military, and civilian employees, at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire, the credit union’s field of membership has expanded to include all military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense worldwide. The credit union also offers a way for people who aren’t connected with the military to join. Service Credit Union has a long history of offering competitive CDs and IRA CDs. In addition, its savings and money market accounts offer competitive rates with higher rates available to certain military members.
  4. Grow Financial Federal Credit Union - Originally chartered to serve the military and civilian employees of Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, the credit union grew and expanded its field of membership to include all active and retired military and their families. Grow Financial has occasionally offered very competitive rates on money market and CD specials.
  5. Pen Air Federal Credit Union - Founded in 1936 as the U.S. Naval Pensacola Air Station Federal Credit Union for Civil Service Employees, the credit union grew and expanded its field of membership to include all active and retired military and their families. The credit union also offers a way for people who aren’t connected with the military to join. Pen Air has a long history of offering competitive CDs and IRA CDs.
  6. Harborstone Credit Union - Founded in 1955 as McChord Federal Credit Union, the original field of membership was exclusive to the airmen of McChord Air Force Base in Washington State. Now Harborstone’s field of membership includes all active and retired military service members and those in the National Guard and Reserve. In addition, any Washington state resident is eligible to join. The credit union’s BreakFree Checking account is a free reward checking account with a long history. It offers a high rate for a small balance and ATM fee refunds when monthly activity requirements are met. Harborstone also has occasionally offered competitive CD specials.
  7. Hanscom Federal Credit Union - Founded in 1953, Hanscom Federal Credit Union’s original field of membership was exclusive to the employees of the Air Force Research Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, Hanscom’s field of membership includes all active and retired military service members. The credit union also provides a way for people who aren’t connected with the military to join. Hanscom has a long history of offering competitive CDs and IRA CDs. In addition, it offers a free high-yield reward checking account called Kasasa Cash. Combined with a savings account called Kasasa Saver, the accounts offer a high rate on a moderate balance and ATM fee refunds when monthly activity requirements are met.
  8. Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) - Originally founded to serve the cadets, officers and civilians of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, AAFCU has grown and now has a field of membership that includes all active and retired military service members and their families. AAFCU offers a high-yield reward checking account called Cash Rewards Checking and a checking account that offers debit card cash back rewards called Cash Back Rewards Checking. Either account can be linked with a savings account called Saver which offers a high rate on a moderate balance when monthly activity requirements are met. In addition to these rewards accounts, AAFCU offers a money market account called the Money Fund Account which offers a very competitive rate for large balances without monthly activity requirements.
  9. America's Credit Union - Founded in 1954 as the Fort Lewis Federal Credit Union in Washington State, America’s Credit Union has grown and its field of membership now includes all active and retired military service members and those in the National Guard and Reserve. The credit union also provides a way for people who aren’t connected with the military to join. America’s Credit Union has occasionally offered competitive rates on CD specials. It also offers two high-yield reward checking accounts.
  10. Andrews Federal Credit Union - Founded to serve the military and civilian personnel at Andrews Air Force Base, the credit union has grown large with branches in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and at several military bases in Europe. Although Andrew’s field of membership doesn’t include all active and retired military service members, the credit union provides a way for any U.S. adult to join. Before the pandemic, Andrews had a long history of offering competitive CDs and IRA CDs.
  11. Alta Vista Credit Union - Chartered in 1943, Alta Vista Credit Union was originally known as Norton Air Force Base Credit Union, serving military and civilian personnel assigned to the Base. Following the closure of the Base in 1994, the Credit Union obtained a community charter and rebranded as Alta Vista. In addition to serving residents in parts of Southern California, the credit union maintained ties to the military, and its field of membership includes active members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, and National Guard. Alta Vista Credit Union has occasionally offered competitive CD and IRA CD rates.
  12. NAS JRB Credit Union - Established in 1948 at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, the small credit union’s two offices continue to serve the Station. However, the credit union’s field of membership now includes all active duty and active reserve members of all military services. One of the checking account options is the Kasasa Cash Back checking. This is a free checking account that offers cash back on debit card purchases when monthly activity requirements are met.
  13. Sea Air Federal Credit Union - Founded in 1952, Sea Air Federal Credit Union served military and civilian personnel assigned to the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach and to other military stations in Southern California. Its field of membership has expanded to include all veterans, active and retired military service members and those in the National Guard and Reserve. One of the checking account options is a high-yield reward checking account called Flexible Rewards Checking. It offers a high rate for a moderate balance and ATM fee refunds when monthly activity requirements are met.

Lastly, USAA Bank is not a credit union, but like the above credit unions, it was established to serve military members. Membership to USAA Bank remains primarily limited to military members and veterans. USAA Bank operates as an online-only bank with access via the web and mobile app. There were times in the past when USAA Bank offered competitive deposit rates. In addition to banking services, USAA is well known for its insurance and investment services.

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In addition to banking services, USAA is well known for its insurance and investment services.

USAA has essentially sold off its investment business within the last few years to Schwab and Victory Capital. Their deposit rates have been below competitors for some time now, but they provide quality service on both the banking and insurance side.

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