SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Review 2021

Published January 2021 by Brian Beers

AT A GLANCE
4.3

Bankrate Score

bank-logo

Highly Rated App

Low Fees

Top CD rates

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union could be a good option for any educator or school administrator based in California, particularly those who are interested in share certificates with attractive yields or someone who wants to do their banking with minimal fees.

  • CDs
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    5.0
  • Savings
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    3.3
  • Checking
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    4.7
  • MMAs
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    3.4
  • MORE HIGH-YIELD OPTIONS
    MORE HIGH-YIELD OPTIONS
    Goldman Sachs Bank USA

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    Savings account

    0.50 % APY

    $ 0

    Min. balance for APY

    American Express National Bank

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    Savings account

    0.50 % APY

    $ 1

    Min. balance for APY

    Axos Bank

    Member FDIC

    Checking account

    1.25 % APY

    $ 50

    To open

    $ 0

    To avoid fees

    Overall

    4.3

    Bankrate Score

    SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union is California’s largest credit union, serving educators and their families throughout the state. It has low minimum balances and most SchoolsFirst accounts come without a monthly fee. They offer CD terms from as short as 30 days to as long as five years.

    What we like

    • Yields on CDs are highly competitive, especially at the highest balance tiers.

    • There are low or no fees on most types of accounts.

    • Members have access to more than 28,000 fee-free ATMs.

    • SchoolsFirst has outstanding reviews for its mobile app.

    What we don't

    • Branches are limited to California.

    • You’ll find higher savings and money market yields at other financial institutions.

    CD rates

    5.0

    Bankrate Score

    SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union offers share certificates with nine different terms. CDs at this credit union have four balance tiers: $500, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000. And generally, the more money you put in your CD, the higher the APY.

    The minimum deposit for opening a share certificate is just $500. Jumbo share certificates are also available if you have at least $100,000 to put into savings. If you’re interested in using a CD to help save for retirement purposes, you can get access to an IRA certificate too.

    What we like

    • There are a wide variety of terms available.

    • If you have a higher balance, you can take advantage of higher interest rates.

    • You only need $500 to open an account.

    What we don't

    Savings accounts

    3.3

    Bankrate Score

    OTHER SAVINGS OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    Goldman Sachs Bank USA

    Member FDIC

    Savings account

    0.50 % APY

    $ 0

    Min. balance for APY

    The Share Savings account is the starter account for all members, and it can be opened with as little as $5.

    In addition to the standard savings account, the credit union also offers a My Club Account that lets savers set aside money for special occasions for a limited term.

    What we like

    • You can make unlimited deposits and withdrawals with a Share Savings account.

    • There are no monthly fees.

    • The minimum balance is also only $5.

    What we don't

    • You’ll find higher rates at other credit unions and online banks.

    Checking accounts

    4.7

    Bankrate Score

    OTHER CHECKING OFFERS YOU MAY LIKE
    Axos Bank

    Member FDIC

    Checking account

    1.25 % APY

    $ 50

    To open

    $ 0

    To avoid fees

    SchoolsFirst FCU offers a couple of different checking accounts: a free checking account and an investment checking account. The former is an account that charges zero monthly fees and has no monthly balance requirements. The latter allows members to earn rewards and interest, but a small monthly service fee is charged if certain conditions aren’t met.

    The minimum opening balance for both accounts is just $25, although for school employees, this requirement is waived.

    What we like

    • There are no monthly fees on the free account, and it’s fairly easy to get the fees waived on the interest-bearing account.

    • You’ll get access to tens of thousands of fee-free ATMs.

    • The $22 overdraft fee is on the low side compared to other institutions, and there’s a maximum of three of these fees being charged in one day.

    What we don't

    • Free checking account customers do not receive any ATM refunds on out-of-network transactions.

    • Tiered dividend rates for large balances isn’t much higher than lower tiers on the interest-bearing account.

    Money market accounts

    3.4

    Bankrate Score

    Members who want a higher yield than the one tied to the savings account can opt for the Liquid Advantage Money Market account. The minimum deposit to open the account is currently $2,000.

    The interest rate structure for the money market account at SchoolsFirst FCU is tiered. Savers with larger deposits qualify for a higher yield. Account holders must maintain a daily balance of at least $2,000 at all times, or the member will earn the lower rate associated with the Investment Checking account.

    What we like

    • There are no monthly service feeds to worry about.

    • You’ll have limited check-writing privileges and can make unlimited deposits.

    • Bigger balances can earn savers higher rates.

    What we don't

    • Yields are better than the standard savings account, but not as attractive as most share certificates.

    • If you don’t maintain the minimum balance, you’ll earn less interest.

    Bank experience

    SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union has more than 60 locations and more than 28,000 fee-free ATMs available through SchoolsFirst and the CO-OP networks. Members who want to get in touch with a representative can send a message through the live online chat, contact the credit union by phone, mail or visit a branch.

    Digitally savvy members will like the fact that they can send and receive money via Zelle. The credit union also offers a highly rated mobile app, online bill pay services, account alerts and mobile check deposit.

    SchoolsFirst Credit union also typically provides access to financial workshops and offers online tools and calculators to help members pay off credit card debt, reach savings goals and determine how much they need to save for retirement.

    About SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

    The credit union known as SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was originally founded as Orange County Teachers Credit Union in 1934. At the time, 126 school employees came together to help support each other during the Great Depression. In 2008, Orange County Teachers Credit Union became SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union.

    SchoolsFirst is headquartered in Southern California and serves educators throughout California and their immediate family members with a variety of financial products and services.

    Brian Beers Twitter Created with Sketch. @BRIAN_BEERS

    Brian Beers Twitter Created with Sketch. @BRIAN_BEERS

    Brian Beers is the senior banking editor at Bankrate. He oversees editorial coverage of banking, investing, the economy and all things money. Previously, he was the director of editorial production for CNBC Digital where he received an Emmy-nomination for the long-form digital feature "Boom, Bust and Blame: The Inside Story of America's Economic Crisis." Brian is driven to help people learn more about their money and investments knowing that it could end up positively impacting them in a real-life financial decision someday. His work has been published on CNBC, Investopedia, MagnifyMoney, NBC Sports, The Drive and Yahoo. He also spent a number of years as the lead digital producer of SportsBiz with Darren Rovell. Brian holds a B.S. in finance from Syracuse University and lives in New York with his family.