Pentagon Federal Credit Union Review 2020

Published January 2020 by Mary Wisniewski

AT A GLANCE
3.8
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Bankrate Score

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Low Minimum Balance

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Low Minimum Deposit

PenFed is good for savers who are interested in getting both a competitive rate and the option to take out a variety of other banking products from the same institution. If you prefer in-person banking, you’ll probably want to choose an institution with a larger branch network.

  • Savings
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    3.7
  • CDs
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    4.2
  • Checking
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    3.5
  • MMAs
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    3.0
  • MORE HIGH-YIELD OPTIONS
    MORE HIGH-YIELD OPTIONS
    BBVA

    Member FDIC

    MMA

    1.85 % APY

    $ 10,000

    Min. balance for APY

    CIT Bank

    Member FDIC

    Savings account

    1.75 % APY

    $ 100

    Min. balance for APY

    Goldman Sachs Bank USA

    Member FDIC

    Savings account

    1.70 % APY

    $ 0

    Min. balance for APY

    Overall

    3.8

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    Bankrate Score

    Pentagon Federal Credit Union is the second-largest federal credit union and has a history in serving members in the military and those who are affiliated with the military.

    What we like

    • Competitive yields.

    • Access to tens of thousands of free ATMs.

    • Can set travel notifications on your cards using the mobile banking app.

    What we don't

    • Smaller branch network.

    • Early withdrawal penalties for certificates are rather harsh.

    • Higher APYs are available elsewhere.

    Savings accounts

    3.7

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    OTHER SAVINGS OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    CIT Bank

    Member FDIC

    Savings account

    1.75 % APY

    $ 100

    Min. balance for APY

    The Premium Online Savings account has an APY 20 times the national average. But you can’t access your funds from an ATM. You can get ATM access if you have a Regular Savings Account or a Money Market Savings Account at Pentagon Federal Credit Union. But the Regular Savings only yields around half the national average APY.

    What we like

    • The Premium Online Savings account offers a competitive APY.

    • Balances between $0.01 and up to $100,000 earn nearly a top-tier APY with the Premium Online Savings.

    • The Premium Online Savings account has no monthly maintenance fee.

    • Only a $5 minimum is required to open the Premium Online Savings account.

    What we don't

    • Balances over $100,000 don’t earn any interest.

    • Higher APYs are available.

    CD rates

    4.2

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    OTHER CD OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    Goldman Sachs Bank USA

    Member FDIC

    CD

    2.05 % APY

    1 yr

    Term

    $ 500

    Min. deposit

    PenFed offers several different types of certificates (or CDs provided by credit unions). Money market certificates are available with terms ranging from six months to seven years. IRA certificates and Coverdell Education savings certificates are also options. The latter is worth considering if you’re setting aside money for a child.

    With each of these products, the barrier to entry is fairly low. But early withdrawal penalties are rather harsh.

    What we like

    • Members have many terms to choose from.

    • Relatively low minimum deposit is required.

    • Dividends compound daily on money market certificates with terms longer than six months.

    What we don't

    • Certificates with terms longer than six months will lose all of the interest if account is closed in first year.

    • Members with six-month money market certificates earn simple interest.

    Checking accounts

    3.5

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    Bankrate Score

    OTHER CHECKING OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    Simple

    Member FDIC

    Checking account

    1.75 % APY

    $ 0

    To open

    $ 0

    To avoid fees

    The Access America Checking account from Pentagon Federal Credit Union can be opened with as little as $25. The account has tiered interest rates that most reward those with balances of $20,000 or more. PenFed will waive its $10 monthly fee for the account for those who maintain a balance of at least $500.

    What we like

    • Free box of checks.

    • No fee from credit union for using outside-network ATMs.

    • Tiered interest on balances up to $50,000.

    What we don't

    • Other financial institutions make it easier to avoid monthly maintenance fees.

    • Physical branches are limited to Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

    Money market accounts

    3.0

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    Bankrate Score

    OTHER MMA OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    BBVA

    Member FDIC

    MMA

    1.85 % APY

    $ 10,000

    Min. balance for APY

    The Money Market Savings account offers a tiered APY. Balances more than $100,000 earn the highest yield, but the APY is a few basis points below the national average for money market accounts. The account doesn’t have monthly service fees, and you’re able to order free checks for your Money Market Savings account. You only need a $25 deposit to meet the minimum requirements to open this account.

    What we like

    • Only $25 required to open the account.

    • The account doesn’t have a monthly service fee.

    • Account features free checks.

    What we don't

    • APY is very low, even for top-tier balances.

    • You need a minimum of $100,000 to earn the top APY.

    • There are much higher APYs out there with lower minimum balance requirements.

    Bank experience

    In choosing PenFed, you will have access to 51 physical locations; therefore, it's very likely that you will do the bulk of your banking online if you become a member.

    The mobile app will let you accomplish numerous banking tasks whenever you wish, including setting travel notifications on your cards, depositing checks and paying bills.

    You will also have ample access to free ATMs; PenFed makes available more than 65,000 free ATMs to members.

    About Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed)

    Pentagon Federal Credit Union was established in Washington, D.C., in 1935 as the War Department Federal Credit Union. Now, PenFed is based in Tysons, Virginia, and serves more than 1.8 million members worldwide.

    PenFed offers a variety of banking products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, different types of certificates (or CDs provided by credit unions) and money market accounts.

    There are several ways to become a member. You can join the credit union if you serve in the United States military, for instance. You can also join PenFed’s field of membership by signing up for one of dozens of organizations, such as the Marine Corps League or the Air Force Association.

    Mary Wisniewski Twitter Created with Sketch. @MARYMWISNIEWSKI

    Mary Wisniewski Twitter Created with Sketch. @MARYMWISNIEWSKI

    At Bankrate, Mary Wisniewski writes on a variety of fintech and banking subjects. Previously, she covered fintech for American Banker and edited op-eds for the publication's BankThink section. She was also a blogger and editor at Bank Innovation and served as a fashion editor for National Jeweler, where she reported on fashion shows and jewelry news. Mary grew up in the Michigan suburbs and now lives in Los Angeles with a maltipoo, a record player and an espresso machine.