Pentagon Federal Credit Union Review 2019

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Logo

3.8/5

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.

Low Minimum Balance
Low Minimum Deposit

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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.

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.

 Pros

  • Competitive yields.
  • Access to tens of thousands of free ATMs.
  • Can set travel notifications on your cards using the mobile banking app.

 Cons

  • Smaller branch network.
  • Early withdrawal penalties for certificates are rather harsh.
  • Higher APYs are available elsewhere.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Services

Savings Rating

3.7/5

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.

 Pros

  • 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.

 Cons

  • Balances over $100,000 don’t earn any interest.
  • Higher APYs are available.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Savings

1.80 % APY
Savings
$5
MINIMUM BALANCE FOR APY

Savings accounts available from other banks

CDs Rating

4.2/5

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.

 Pros

  • 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.

 Cons

  • 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.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) CDs

2.45 % APY
5 YEAR CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
2.40 % APY
4 YEAR CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
2.35 % APY
3 YEAR CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
2.30 % APY
2 YEAR CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
2.10 % APY
18 MONTH CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
2.00 % APY
1 YEAR CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT
1.90 % APY
6 MONTH CD
$1,000 MINIMUM DEPOSIT

CDs available from other banks

2.30% APY
$1,000 MIN DEPOSIT
2.25% APY
$500 MIN DEPOSIT
1.90% APY
$0 MIN DEPOSIT
Checking Rating

3.5/5

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.

 Pros

  • Free box of checks.
  • No fee from credit union for using outside-network ATMs.
  • Tiered interest on balances up to $50,000.

 Cons

  • Other financial institutions make it easier to avoid monthly maintenance fees.
  • Physical branches are limited to Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Checking accounts available from other banks

MMAs Rating

3.0/5

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.

 Pros

  • Only $25 required to open the account.
  • The account doesn’t have a monthly service fee.
  • Account features free checks.

 Cons

  • 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.

MMAs available from other banks

Bank Experience Rating

3.4/5

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.

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