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Best credit unions of 2023

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Credit unions are a popular alternative to traditional banks. They offer similar financial products and services, such as checking and savings accounts, loans and credit cards. But because credit unions are not-for-profit organizations owned by their members, they often offer better rates, lower fees and more personalized customer service.

How we selected the best credit unions

To make our picks for the best credit unions, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team considered factors such as membership requirements, fees, interest rates and access to various products and services. All our picks are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

You can read our full methodology to learn more about how we compared different credit unions and chose our top picks. Our picks may be Authorized Partners that compensate us. This does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which credit unions appear.

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Compare our top 7 picks for best credit unions


Choose what information you want to see across each brand. At least one option must be selected.

Our pick for flexible membership requirements
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee
$10 - $30

Bethpage Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial institution that has been serving the Long Island community since 1941. With over 440,000 members, Bethpage is one of the largest credit unions in the state of New York and offers a wide range of financial products and services, including checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards and investment options.

One standout feature of Bethpage Federal Credit Union is its flexible membership policy. Anyone can join when they open a savings account with a minimum $5 deposit.

This requirement makes it easy for anyone to take advantage of the benefits of being a member, including respectable interest rates, low fees and access to a network of nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

Bethpage members appreciate that their credit union has:

  • Easy membership requirements
  • Decent annual percentage rates (APRs) for loans
  • Student accounts
  • Low fees

But Bethpage won’t be a good fit for everyone, given that:

  • All its branches are in New York.
  • Its general savings account has a low annual percentage yield (APY).
  • Its ATM network is somewhat limited compared to competing credit unions.

There are currently no ConsumerAffairs reviews for Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

Our pick for students
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee

Connexus Credit Union provides a variety of financial products and services, including checking and savings accounts, share certificates, Health Savings Accounts, business and personal credit cards, investment services and more. It was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin. The credit union has over 445,000 members and assets of over $5.2 billion.

Connexus is an ideal option if you’re looking for student accounts. The credit union has a Teen Checking account that earns up to 2% APY (as of publication). It also has a college rewards credit card and a whole lineup of student loans, including undergraduate and graduate loans, parent and family loans and refinancing options for parents, current students, and medical and dental professionals. For children ages 12 and under, there’s also a Connexus Jr. financial education app.

These products make Connexus an excellent option for students who are looking to learn more about personal finance, manage their money or pursue their education without taking on excessive debt.

There are a number of good reasons to become a member of Connexus, including its:

  • Wide range of teen and student products
  • High-yield teen checking account
  • Low overdraft fees

Connexus may not be a good fit for everyone, given that:

  • Its general savings account has a low APY.
  • Some accounts require a minimum amount of monthly activity to earn a high APY.
  • There are fees for outgoing wire transfers and account inactivity.

There are currently no ConsumerAffairs reviews for Connexus Credit Union.

Our pick for low fees
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee

Established in 1935, Alliant Credit Union is headquartered in Chicago and has over 700,000 members across the U.S. It’s known for its low fees, competitive interest rates and exceptional customer support.

Alliant Credit Union provides a variety of financial products and services, including high-yield checking, teen checking, high-yield savings, kids savings, share certificates, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans and investment services.

All of Alliant’s checking and savings accounts earn interest and have no monthly fees, no overdraft fees and no in-network ATM fees. Two of its checking accounts also come with up to $20 in monthly reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees.

Anyone can become an Alliant member by making a one-time $5 donation to Foster Care to Success. In most cases, Alliant makes this donation on behalf of new members, making membership free. Members can also take advantage of online banking, mobile banking and a network of over 80,000 ATMs nationwide.

Some of the key benefits that Alliant offers its members are:

  • Competitive interest rates
  • No monthly fees or overdraft fees
  • A large ATM network
  • Easy membership requirements

Before joining Alliant, keep in mind that it has:

  • No brick-and-mortar branches
  • Fees for outgoing wire transfers
  • Fees for inactive savings accounts

There are currently no ConsumerAffairs reviews for Alliant Credit Union.

Our pick for loan and savings options
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee

Service Credit Union was established in 1957 to serve the financial needs of military personnel and their families. Today, it has expanded its membership eligibility to include anyone in the U.S. who joins the American Consumer Council (ACC); membership to the ACC is free with a promo code from Service Credit Union.

Service Credit Union has a diverse selection of financial products, including checking and savings accounts, high-yield share certificates, credit cards, insurance and investment services.

But where Service Credit Union really shines is with its loan and savings options. This credit union has several different types of savings vehicles, including a Primary Savings account, Youth Club account, Military Savings account, Holiday Club account, share certificates, money market accounts and trusts. Each account is tailored to a specific goal or need, and most have competitive interest rates and no monthly fees.

Service Credit Union also has an impressive lineup of loan options. While it has standard loans you’d find anywhere (such as auto refinance loans, personal loans and mortgages), it also has military loans, iBOT loans for personal mobility devices, student loans, secured loans and business and commercial loans.

There are 50 Service Credit Union branches, and its members can access over 85,000 ATMs worldwide as well as a robust online and mobile banking platform.

Members of Service Credit Union can benefit from its:

  • Competitive interest rates on loans and savings vehicles
  • Lack of monthly fees for most accounts
  • Large ATM network

Service Credit Union members also have to deal with:

  • A high daily overdraft fee limit
  • Limited branch access outside of New England
  • A $9 fee for debit card replacement

There are currently no ConsumerAffairs reviews for Service Credit Union.

Our pick for competitive interest rates
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee
$0 - $33

First Tech Federal Credit Union provides an array of financial products and services to its members, including checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards, investment services and insurance. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for high savings interest rates.

First Tech offers a range of savings accounts and CDs with competitive rates, including the First Tech Rewards Savings account, which offers up to 4% APY on balances up to $25,000. Its high-yield First Tech Rewards Checking account offers up to 4% APY on balances up to $15,000.

Additionally, First Tech provides customers with a Start Up Savings account for kids, which earns up to 5% APY on balances up to $999.99, as well as share certificates that earn up to 5.05% (as of publication).

Anyone can join First Tech by becoming a member of the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association. You can also join if you meet certain eligibility requirements, such as working or living in Lane County, Oregon, or working for a qualifying employer.

Although First Tech itself has 38 branches (including its investment services branches), members can perform a number of financial transactions at one of over 5,000 shared branches in the Co-op Shared Branch network.

First Tech members have access to:

  • High-yield checking and savings accounts
  • Kids and teen accounts
  • Regular bonuses and promotions
  • Over 5,000 branches through the Co-op network

A few disadvantages of First Tech are:

  • Account activity is often required to earn its highest APYs.
  • There are monthly fees for business checking accounts that don’t meet balance minimums.
  • Not all accounts have competitive interest rates.

Judy from Kirkland, Washington, said: “I have used many banks — all the big ones. None have come close to the outstanding service at First Tech. Their employees are great, as well as their products. I have now moved all our money to First Tech.”

Our pick for checking account options
Opening deposit required
Overdraft fee

Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, is a large credit union that serves over 2.6 million members worldwide. It provides a variety of checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Compared to its competitors, PenFed stands out as being one of the best credit unions for checking account options. Its Free Checking account has no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, while its Access America Checking account offers additional benefits such as an overdraft line of credit, free checks and an APY of either 0.15% or 0.35% (as of publication), depending on your balance.

PenFed membership is open to anyone — not just military personnel. Members can access over 85,000 ATMs worldwide, including at PenFed branches and partner locations.

Some advantages of PenFed include:

  • Easy membership requirements
  • A large ATM network
  • Minimal checking account fees

Some potential PenFed members might be averse to the following:

  • You must open a savings account to establish membership.
  • The overdraft fee is on the high side.
  • Money market certificates require a $1,000 minimum opening deposit.

Many ConsumerAffairs readers have lauded PenFed’s competitive rates, excellent customer service and easy-to-use online banking platform.

As Howard of Moorpark, California, said: "Have been dealing with PenFed for many years, and they always offer top interest rates on their savings accounts. Also get pre-approved credit card and loan offers frequently. Money is transferred fast and efficient between other financial institutions."

Some of our readers, however, have mentioned issues with accessing their PenFed accounts.

What is a credit union?

A credit union is like a bank, but it’s owned by the people who use it. Unlike banks, which are owned by shareholders and have a profit motive, credit unions are owned by their members and exist solely to serve their members' financial needs.

Credit unions offer many of the same products as banks, including checking and savings accounts, loans, mortgages and credit cards. However, because they’re not-for-profit institutions, credit unions often have better rates and fewer fees than banks.

Pros and cons of credit unions

Being member-owned and not-for-profit can result in both benefits and drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons of using a credit union as your primary financial institution.


  • Credit unions may have lower fees and better rates than traditional banks.
  • Credit unions may offer more personalized customer service than banks.
  • Not-for-profit status often leads to more community involvement.
  • Credit unions may focus more on financial education and counseling than banks.


  • Credit unions typically have fewer physical branches and ATMs than banks.
  • Membership eligibility requirements may be strict.
  • Credit unions may be late adopters of financial technology.
  • Credit unions’ mobile apps and online banking platforms may be inferior to those of major banks.

How to choose a credit union

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a credit union:

NCUA insurance

Thomas Brock, a certified public accountant and expert contributor to the personal finance resource Annuity.org, emphasizes the importance of deposit insurance when considering which credit union to choose.

“If you plan to leave a substantial amount of money on deposit, the no. 1 consideration is whether the credit union is insured by the NCUA.”

The NCUA is an independent federal agency that provides insurance coverage for credit unions, similar to the way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides insurance for banks. NCUA insurance protects depositors' funds up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, in the event that the credit union fails.

Branch locations

If you prefer to do your banking in person, you'll want to choose a credit union that has a branch near your home or workplace. If you're comfortable with online banking, then branch locations may not be as important.


Credit unions generally have lower fees than traditional banks, but it's still important to understand which banking fees may be associated with your account. Be sure to ask about any monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees or other charges that may apply.

Membership requirements

Credit unions have membership requirements, which may include living or working in a certain area, belonging to a specific profession or being affiliated with a certain organization. Make sure you meet the membership requirements before choosing a credit union.

Most of the credit unions on this page have easy membership requirements that allow anyone in the U.S. to join by making a one-time donation.

Services offered

Consider the products and services offered by the credit union. Does it offer the types of accounts you need? Does it have a highly rated online banking platform or mobile app? Does it offer loans, credit cards and other financial products you may need in the future?

Interest rates

Brock noted that, in general, credit unions charge lower interest rates on loans than commercial banks because “they do not face the profit-focused pressure experienced by shareholder-owned banks.”

However, Brock also says that credit unions may not be the best for earning interest on your savings. He advises comparing credit union savings account rates to those found at online banks before you open an account.

“Online banks offer high-yield savings accounts with interest rates that are much higher than the yields offered by credit unions and traditional brick-and-mortar banks,” Brock explained.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though, as digital-only credit unions like Alliant may offer competitive savings account interest rates.


Look for reviews online and ask friends and family members for recommendations. You want to choose a credit union that is financially stable and has a good reputation for customer service.


Do credit unions pay more interest than banks?

Credit unions may offer higher interest rates on savings and lower interest rates on loans than banks because they are not-for-profit organizations. However, every credit union is different, and some offer rates and fees that are comparable to those of traditional banks.

Can I use a credit union and a bank?

Yes, you can use both a credit union and a bank. Many people find it beneficial to have accounts with both to take advantage of the benefits each offers.

Can I get a loan from a credit union if I’m not a member?

In most cases, you must be a member of a credit union to apply for a loan. This often includes opening a savings account with the credit union and maintaining a $5 minimum balance.


To make our choices for top credit unions, we collected 55 individual data points for 30 popular credit unions. We then used this data to examine the most important factors for consumers.

Customer feedback is a critical indicator when evaluating companies, and we factored in customer reviews and overall ratings from ConsumerAffairs readers when making our top picks. However, for those companies we considered that have no ratings from ConsumerAffairs, there were other variables that made them stand out, which factored into our decisions.

  • Eligibility criteria: We looked at the requirements for joining each credit union, and preference was given to those with more flexible or simpler eligibility criteria.
  • Accounts and products offered: We looked at the different checking, savings, retirement and other account types each credit union offers. Greater consideration was given to those that offer both traditional and specialized accounts, such as accounts for teens and military members.
  • Fees: We considered overdraft, out-of-network ATM, account maintenance and other fees. Preference was given to credit unions that have low fees or offer reimbursements or waivers of fees.
  • Additional options and services: We examined features like credit monitoring, fraud protection, financial planning, account alerts and account bonuses. Preference was given to credit unions that offer more of these features and services.
  • Rates: Interest rates are important when selecting a loan or savings account, and we looked at APYs on savings and retirement accounts as well as APRs on loans offered. We gave greater consideration to credit unions with high APYs and low APRs as of publication. However, since these rates fluctuate frequently, this variable was not given as much weight as others.

All of our top picks are NCUA insured, have flexible membership requirements, offer competitive interest rates and provide a variety of accounts and products.

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work.
  1. National Credit Union Administration, “What is a credit union?” Accessed May 9, 2023.

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