When you think of credit unions, you may think of rigid membership requirements that leave you on the outside looking in. While that may be the case with some, many of the best credit unions have flexible requirements that open the door to anyone.

Credit unions are known to offer benefits such as free checking accounts and more personalized customer service than you’ll often get from big banks. What’s more, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, so their profits are often distributed among members in the form of higher yields on deposit accounts.

Bankrate analyzed and scored credit unions across the nation based on a variety of factors including product selection, APY offerings, account fees, mobile features and more. If you’re considering joining a credit union, start your search here.

All credit unions on this list are members of the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), so deposits are protected through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which provides up to $250,000 in coverage for each single ownership account.

Best Credit Unions

Alliant Credit Union


Chicago-based Alliant Credit Union is known for its consistently high rates, extensive fee-free ATM network and easy membership eligibility requirements. This online-only credit union offers 24/7 customer service through a toll-free phone number.

Alliant was recently named the best credit union as part of the 2024 Bankrate Awards, which recognizes the best financial products available to consumers.

Why we chose it

  • High-yield accounts: Alliant’s savings account earns an APY that’s well above the national average, and its share certificates and High-Rate Checking pay competitive yields.
  • Large ATM network and generous fee rebates: Customers have access to more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs and receive up to $20 in monthly ATM fee rebates.
  • Free checking and savings accounts: Alliant’s accounts don’t charge monthly service fees. Its checking account requires no minimum balance; its savings account requires a $5 minimum balance to remain open and at least $100 in order to earn interest.
  • Easy to join: You can become eligible for an Alliant membership by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success (FC2S). Alliant will pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on your behalf.

Read our full Alliant Credit Union review

America First Credit Union


Membership in America First Credit Union is open to those who live or work in select areas of the Western U.S. To join, you need to open a share savings account, yet the account only requires a $1 balance to open and maintain.

The credit union offers 120 branches, and accounts can also be opened online. The mobile app allows you to see a full picture of your finances by linking accounts from other financial institutions.

Why we chose it

  • Free checking that earns interest: The interest-bearing Classic Checking account charges no monthly fee. It requires no minimum balance, yet you’ll need at least $500 to earn the interest.
  • Competitive CD yields: Share certificates come in any monthly term between three months and five years, and their yields are either highly competitive or well above national averages.
  • Highly rated mobile app: America First’s app receives high ratings on the Apple app store and Google Play. One useful feature, called Card Guard, lets you lock and unlock your debit card easily.

Read our full America First Credit Union Review

American Airlines Federal Credit Union


If you or a family member is an active or retired member of the airline industry, then American Airlines Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) may be a good choice for you.

The credit union offers a range of CD terms, checking accounts and savings accounts. Where AAFCU really soars is its competitive APYs on some accounts, some fee-free products and a convenient branch footprint that includes 46 locations in many major airports, as well as a network of more than 5,000 shared branches through other credit unions.

Why we chose it

  • Above-average APYs: Members can earn APYs that are well above national averages on the credit union’s deposit products. Its Flagship and Priority checking accounts pay competitive rates.
  • Fee-free products: The Primary Savings Account and some checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee, and the minimum deposit requirements are manageable.
  • Convenient banking: AAFCU has branches in most major U.S. airports and is a part of the Co-op and Allpoint networks of ATMs and shared branches.

Read our full American Airlines Federal Credit Union review

Bethpage Federal Credit Union


Bethpage Federal Credit Union offers 16 branches to residents of Long Island, New York, while members have access to more than 5,000 shared branches throughout the country. An extensive network of more than 30,000 free ATMs makes Bethpage accessible to those outside the Long Island region as well.

Bethpage offers a free checking account with the ability to earn interest. Another area where the credit union shines is its highly rated mobile app that lets you do everything from create a budget to search for transactions.

Why we chose it

  • Rewards checking: The free checking account earns a competitive yield when certain criteria are met.
  • No membership restrictions: Membership is open to all U.S. citizens, with no special restrictions. Depositing $5 into a savings account is required for membership.
  • Highly rated mobile app: Bethpage’s app has high ratings from users of both iOS and Android devices.

Read our full Bethpage Federal Credit Union review

Boeing Employees’ Credit Union


Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU) is one of the largest credit unions in the United States, and it offers a variety of deposit products as well as a highly rated mobile app that incorporates budgeting tools.

BECU membership is open to Boeing employees and those in one of two alumni associations. You can also join if you’re a resident, student, employee, business owner or churchgoer in Washington or in select counties of Idaho and Oregon. Finally, you can become a member by joining the NW Credit Union Foundation.

Why we chose it

  • Low minimum deposit requirements: The Member Share Savings and Free Checking require no minimum balance, and CDs require a minimum deposit of just $500.
  • Large ATM network: Members have fee-free access to ATMs operated by BECU, as well as more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide in the Co-op network.
  • Highly rated mobile app: The BECU mobile app allows you to manage your accounts, as well as budget your money based on your income, debt and spending history.

Read our full Boeing Employees’ Credit Union review

Connexus Credit Union


Connexus Credit Union is based in Wausau, Wisconsin, and primarily serves customers in the Midwest, but its products and services are available nationwide. Members elsewhere in the U.S. can make transactions at more than 5,000 shared branches run by other credit unions.

Connexus doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees, and minimum deposit requirements to open accounts are either low or nonexistent.

Why we chose it

  • No-fee banking: Connexus doesn’t charge monthly service fees on its deposit products.
  • Large ATM network and generous fee rebates: Customers have free access to more than 67,000 ATMs through the MoneyPass and Co-op networks and may qualify for monthly rebates for fees incurred at out-of-network ATMs.
  • Easy to join: A one-time $5 donation to the Connexus Association is all it takes to be eligible for membership.

Read our full Connexus Credit Union review

Patelco Credit Union


Patelco Credit Union has more than 450,000 members nationwide, and membership is open to those who live in northern California, as well as those who work for more than 1,100 businesses throughout the country.

Members have access to 37 local branches, more than 6,000 shared branches nationwide, and more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs.

Why we chose it

  • Free checking and savings accounts: The Regular Savings and Free Checking accounts require no minimum balance and charge no monthly service fees.
  • Large ATM network: Members have access to ATMs owned by Patelco, as well as more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide in the Co-op network.
  • Competitive CD yields: Many of Patelco’s CDs earn yields higher than national averages, and a minimum deposit of just $250 is required.

Read our full Patelco Credit Union review

Quorum Federal Credit Union


Quorum is a Purchase, New York-based credit union that serves more than 75,000 members nationwide. It’s easy for anyone to become a member, and Quorum offers access to more than 90,000 fee-free ATMs throughout the U.S.

Why we chose it

  • Easy to join: All it takes to join Quorum is becoming a member of the American Consumer Council or the Select Savers Club.
  • Fee-free products: Service fees are nonexistent or easy to avoid for the QClassic checking and all the savings accounts.
  • Extensive ATM network: Customers have free access to more than 90,000 ATMs nationwide.

Read our full Quorum Federal Credit Union review

Randolph-Brooks Credit Union


Randolph-Brooks Credit Union (RBFCU) provides services to more than 1 million members. It’s easy to join and to open accounts, all of which can be done online or at one of RBFCU’s branches, all of which are located in Texas.

RBFCU offers a full range of deposit accounts, and opening a savings account is required for membership, although just $1 is needed to open and maintain the account.

Why we chose it

  • Free checking that earns interest: True to its name, the Really Free Checking Account requires no minimum balance and doesn’t charge a monthly fee. It earns interest on all balances, and members have fee-free access to more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs.
  • Wide range of CD terms: RBFCU offers share certificates in any monthly term between six and 84 months. Yields for some terms are either competitive or well above average.
  • Easy to join: RBFCU originally was only available to military members and their families, yet it’s now open to the general public. You can apply online, in a branch or by phone.

Read our full Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union review

Security Service Credit Union


Membership in Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU) is open to those who live or have certain affiliations in Colorado, Texas or Utah. Those with a connection to select military bases are also eligible to join. Having a share savings account with a minimum balance of $5 is required.

Why we chose it

  • Checking account with benefits: The perks that come with SSFCU’s Power Protected Checking account include protection for broken or stolen mobile phones, telehealth access with no copays and identity theft expense reimbursement. The account also earns some interest, and rates increase for larger balance tiers.
  • Wide range of share certificate terms: Many terms of share certificates are offered between three months and seven years. Higher balances earn higher yields.
  • Savings account with unlimited ATM transactions: Members can make unlimited withdrawals from the Basic Savings account.

Read our full Security Service Federal Credit Union review

Suncoast Credit Union


The community-focused Suncoast Credit Union is open to those who live, work or worship in select Florida counties, and the institution participates in various local outreach programs and fundraisers. The credit union operates 75 branches, and accounts can also be opened online.

Why we chose it

  • Free interest-bearing checking: Suncoast’s Smart Checking account charges no monthly maintenance fee and earns some interest. Fee-free access is provided to more than 30,000 ATMs.
  • High certificate rates: Suncoast offers seven terms of share certificates, all of which earn yields well above national averages. Higher yields are earned on balances of $100,000 and greater.
  • Highly rated mobile app: Suncoast’s mobile app receives favorable reviews. It allows you to set up budgets and savings goals, locate branches and ATMs, view copies of cleared checks, open accounts, and apply for credit cards or loans.

Read our full Suncoast Credit Union review

Credit unions vs. banks

Both banks and credit unions commonly offer deposit accounts such as savings, checking and money market accounts. However, the main difference between the two is that banks are for-profit institutions, whereas credit unions are not-for-profit and distribute profits among their members — often in the form of higher yields on accounts.

Another difference is banks typically allow anyone to apply for accounts, while credit unions often restrict membership to requirements such as geographical area or industry.

Pros and cons of credit unions

The benefits of credit unions include:

  • They generally offer deposit account rates that are above national averages — and some even offer highly competitive yields.
  • Service is often more personalized, since credit unions commonly have close ties to the communities they serve.

Potential downsides of credit unions include:

  • Some limit their membership based on where you live or work, of what industry you work in.
  • Smaller credit unions might not have the resources to offer a mobile app.

Bottom line

Credit unions often stand out for having competitive account yields and personalized service. Those included on our list of best credit unions commonly offer perks such as high APYs, as well as no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. When shopping around for the right credit union, seek out options for which you’d meet membership eligibility requirements, and be sure to go with one that carries deposit insurance through the NCUA.

Also find a credit union that meets your personal needs, whether that’s branch accessibility, ATM availability or a mobile app offering. All of this will help you find the best credit union to meet your needs.