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 a unique set of benefits such as free checking accounts, competitive yields on deposit products and more personalized customer service.
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.
1. Alliant Credit Union
For the fourth year in a row, Alliant Credit Union has been named Bankrate’s best credit union. The Chicago-based credit union is known for its consistently high rates, extensive fee-free ATM network and easy membership eligibility requirements.
High-yield accounts: Alliant’s savings account earns a top-tier APY, and its CDs and interest-bearing checking account also pay yields that are competitive.
Large ATM network and generous fee rebates: Customers have access to over 80,000 fee-free ATMs and up to $20 in monthly ATM fee rebates.
Free checking and savings accounts: Alliant doesn’t nickel-and-dime its customers with fees or minimum balance requirements.
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.
2. 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 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, fee-free products and convenient branch footprint that includes 47 locations in many major airports.
Competitive APYs: Members can earn a competitive APY on the credit union’s deposit products, particularly with its checking accounts.
Fee-free products: None of the deposit products 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 network of ATMs and shared branches.
3. Quorum Federal Credit Union (tie)
Quorum is a Purchase, New York-based credit union that serves more than 70,000 members nationwide. It’s easy for anyone to become a member, and Quorum offers access to more than 90,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.
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.
3. Navy Federal Credit Union (tie)
Navy Federal Credit Union is known for its high-quality customer service for millions of military members and their families. It also offers a variety of products and services with competitive rates and noteworthy perks such as free ATM access, no monthly service fees and a highly rated mobile app.
Customer service: U.S. customers can reach a representative by phone 24/7 or use the live chat feature on the credit union’s website.
Competitive yields: Navy Federal offers a range of CD terms and a money market account with strong APYs with manageable minimum deposit requirements.
Large ATM network and generous fee rebates: Customers have access to more than 30,000 free ATMs and are eligible for $10-$20 in ATM rebates per statement cycle.
5. Bethpage Federal Credit Union (tie)
Bethpage Federal Credit Union offers more than 30 branches to residents of Long Island, New York, while its extensive fee-free ATM network makes it accessible to those outside of the 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.
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.
Highly rated mobile app: Bethpage’s app has high ratings from users of both iOS and Android devices.
5. Connexus Credit Union (tie)
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 6,000 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.
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 54,000 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.
5. Pentagon Federal Credit Union (tie)
Pentagon Federal Credit Union was traditionally open to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and employees of certain associations and government departments. But after a merger with Progressive Credit Union in 2019, it now allows anyone to join.
The Washington, D.C.-based credit union offers competitive yields and low minimum deposit and balance requirements.
Competitive APYs: Members earn yields that are well above average on the credit union’s Premium Online Savings Account and certificate products.
Low minimum balance and deposit requirements: Low deposit requirements make PenFed’s accounts accessible to a range of savers.
Easy to join: Consumers who don’t meet the primary membership requirements, can gain eligibility by signing up for one of dozens of organizations, such as the Marine Corps League or the Air Force Association.
8. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
Randolph-Brooks is a Texas-based credit union and one of the largest in the state with more than 1 million members.
The credit union primarily caters to those looking seeking competitive yields on certificates or money market accounts. RBFCU offers a range of certificate terms, doesn’t charge monthly service fees and has an extensive free ATM network.
Competitive APYs: RBFCU offers certificate terms ranging from six months to seven years and two money market accounts that pay strong yields.
No monthly service fees: Members enjoy free checking, savings and money market accounts.
Large ATM network: Members have access to nearly 30,000 free ATMs through the CO-OP network.
9. Star One Credit Union
Star One Credit Union has been around for over 60 years and is one of the largest credit unions in Silicon Valley, with more than 116,000 members worldwide.
The credit union offers a feature-filled interest-bearing checking account and products with low or no service fees.
Competitive APYs: The Money Market Savings account and certificates pay strong APYs.
Low minimum deposit requirements: Minimum opening deposits for the money market savings account and checking accounts are low.
Digital leader: Star One offers voice banking through Amazon Alexa and Google Home, through which members can obtain balances, make transfers and find out branch locations and hours.
10. VyStar Credit Union
VyStar credit union offers low-cost banking and a range of deposit accounts to those who live or work in select counties in Florida and Georgia, as well as to past and present members of the military and their families.
With more than 800,000 members, VyStar offers products like a free checking account that bears interest and CDs in a wide range of term lengths.
Competitive yields: VyStar offers CDs with terms from three months to five years, most of which pay highly competitive APYs.
Large ATM network: Members have access to more than 20,000 ATMs, including those owned by VyStar, and in the Accel and Plus networks.
Low minimum deposit requirements: VyStar’s accounts have minimum deposit requirements that are low to nonexistent.