The 8 Best Credit Unions of 2020

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Credit unions have a reputation for excellent rates and customer service. They offer essential services like checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, and more, but they’re different from banks. Their customer-owned structure and not-for-profit status often make credit unions a solid choice for your money.

There are great credit unions in every community, so you should certainly check out what’s available in your area. But if you’re not finding what you need (or if you want some ideas for comparison), the credit unions below are some of the best available.

Credit Union Why We Picked It
Alliant Best Overall
Blue Federal Credit Union Runner-Up
Consumers Credit Union Best for APY
PSECU Best for No Fees
Wings Financial Best for Biggest Network of Branches
Navy Federal Best for Military and Best for Customer Service

Alliant Credit Union: Best Overall

Alliant Credit Union
Courtesy of Alliant Credit Union

With over $12 billion in assets, Alliant Credit Union is one of the biggest credit unions in the U.S. The institution’s size allows for a solid lineup of products and competitive rates on your deposits. You’ll need to be comfortable banking online if you want to work with Alliant CU, as the credit union is not part of any nationwide shared branching network. In fact, there are no brick-and-mortar locations for in-person service. However, you have access to more than 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs, and you can handle most service needs online.

  • Savings account pays 0.75% APY
  • Interest-bearing checking accounts with no monthly fees
  • ATM fee rebates up to $20 per month
  • Live phone representatives available 24/7
  • Mobile app for managing accounts, customer service, and check deposits
  • Broad range of accounts, loans, and services available

If you’re not already eligible for Alliant CU membership, you can meet the requirement by joining Foster Care to Success. Alliant CU pays a $5 membership fee for you, and you’ll also need to keep $5 in a shared savings account.

What We Like
  • Wide variety of financial products

  • Well-established institution

What We Don't Like
  • No branch access for in-person banking

Blue Federal Credit Union: Runner Up

Blue FCU Logo

Blue Federal Credit Union pays a high rate on your savings and offers checking accounts with no monthly fees. You can also open a checking account that pays a high dividend on your balance and offers ATM rebates (if you meet certain criteria). With competitive rates, low fees, and access to nationwide shared branching, it’s hard to go wrong with Blue FCU.

  • Savings account pays 0.80% APY
  • Checking accounts with no monthly fees
  • Checking account that pays up to 3.50% APY
  • Live phone support available 24/7
  • Mobile app for managing accounts and depositing checks
  • Broad range of accounts, loans, and services available

If you don’t meet Blue FCU’s family, employer, or military membership requirements, you can join by donating $5 to the Blue Foundation, an advocate for local nonprofits. If you choose this route, you’ll deposit $10 to open your account and Blue FCUwill automatically use $5 for your donation.

What We Like
  • High rates on savings

  • Generous interest rate on Extreme checking account

What We Don't Like
  • $5 incoming wire fee

Consumers Credit Union: Best for APY

Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union

If your goal is to earn as much as possible on your checking and savings balances, you might try Consumers Credit Union’s Rewards Checking Account. That account pays up to 4.09% APY on a maximum of $10,000 if you meet certain criteria. To qualify for that rate, you need to: 

  • Enroll in electronic documents
  • Make at least 12 debit card purchases monthly
  • Make direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or incoming ACH transfers of at least $500 each month
  • Spend at least $1,000 per month on a CCU credit card
  • Open your account with at least $5

CCU is part of the CO-OP shared branching network with free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs.

  • Smart Saver savings account pays up to 1.50% APY
  • Checking account with no monthly fees
  • Mobile banking enables you to manage accounts and deposit checks
  • Broad range of accounts, loans, and services available

You can become eligible for CCU membership by joining the Consumers Cooperative Association with a $5 membership fee. You also need to keep $5 in a share savings account.

What We Like
  • High rates on savings

  • Generous interest rate on Extreme checking account

What We Don't Like
  • $5 incoming wire fee

Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union: Best for No Fees

PSECU Logo

Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union makes it easy to manage your money without worrying about fees. The checking account does everything you need with no monthly fees, and you can get rebates on fees you pay to other banks for using their ATMs. If you overdraw your account, there’s no charge to transfer funds from a linked savings account.

  • No monthly maintenance charge for checking or savings accounts
  • Free basic checks
  • ATM rebates up to $20 per month
  • Free Overdraft Protection Transfer Service for certain transactions
  • Mobile app with remote check deposit and other features
  • Potential cash-back rewards for debit card spending
  • Savings account pays 0.05% APY
  • Broad range of accounts, loans, and services available

To meet the eligibility requirement at PSECU, you can join the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS) with a $20 donation—and PSECU will cover $10 of that for you. You’ll also need to keep $5 in your savings account.

What We Like
  • No fees for essential needs

  • Cash-back rewards on debit card spending

What We Don't Like
  • Low savings account interest rate

Best Credit Union for Customer Service: Wings Financial Credit Union

Wings Financial Credit Union
Courtesy of Wings Financial Credit Union

Minnesota based Wings Financial Credit Union earns generally high marks in customer service across the board. Anyone in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, Seattle-Tacoma metro area, or works or has worked in aviation is eligible to join. You can also join the Wings Financial Foundation for $5 to become eligible to join this highly rated credit union.

This credit union offers generally great accounts, including a no monthly fee checking account. This credit union has branches in Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Georgia and Washington, and offers 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide through the Co-Op and Allpoint networks. The Signature Rewards program offers cashback on debit purchases as well.

Like most credit unions, Wings Financial offers a range of banking products such as loans and credit cards. Unlike some, it also offers investment and insurance products that allow you to keep your entire financial life with one institution, which is another benefit for those who want to keep things simple.

Navy Federal Credit Union: Best for Military and Best for Customer Service

Navy Federal Credit Union
Courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union focuses on servicemembers and their families in all branches of the armed forces. The credit union’s banking and credit card customer service earns high marks in Consumer Reports and J.D. Power surveys, signaling that your experience with Navy Federal should be a satisfying one.

  • Savings account pays 0.25% APY
  • Checking accounts with no monthly fees
  • Potential ATM fee rebates (maximum $240 per year while on active duty)
  • Free basic checks
  • Mobile app allows you to deposit checks and manage your accounts
  • Broad range of accounts, loans, and services available
  • Live phone support available 24/7

Navy Federal Credit Union limits membership to:

  • Active duty or retired servicemembers
  • Members of the Delayed Entry Program
  • Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and retirees
  • Family or household members of the groups above

In addition to meeting membership criteria, you’ll need to keep $5 in a savings account.

What We Like
  • Excellent customer service ratings

What We Don't Like
  • Limited field of membership

  • Unimpressive savings account rate

How Do You Open a Credit Union Account?

To open an account, you’ll need to complete an application and provide personal information, as you would when opening any bank account. In many cases, you can do this entirely online. Credit unions also require you to meet membership qualifications.


Personal details include things like:

  • Names of all account owners
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number or other identifying number
  • Government-issued identification details
  • Physical address (you can also add a mailing address)

Becoming a Credit Union Member

To qualify for membership, you need to meet certain criteria, such as living in a particular area, working for specific employers, or joining an organization that opens the door to membership. In many cases, the easiest way to qualify for a credit union that you’re not eligible for is to join a nonprofit organization with a modest donation.


Credit unions generally require that you formalize your membership requirement with a “share account” (general term for a credit union savings account.) To do so, you often open a savings account and keep at least $5 or so in that account.

Pros & Cons of Opening a Credit Union Account

Credit unions are community-focused financial institutions that provide basic banking services. They tend to keep rates competitive and fees low, but the details are different at every credit union.

What We Like
  •  Not-for-profit organizations with no outside investors

  • Potential access to fee-free ATMs and branches nationwide with shared branching

  • Rates may be better at credit unions than at banks

  • Products that help people build credit and avoid predatory lending

  • Small organizations may offer personalized, friendly service

What We Don't Like
  • Eligibility requirements may prevent you from joining some credit unions

  • Small institutions may lack product offerings

  • Branch and ATM locations may be limited

How Should You Choose the Best Credit Union Account?

Examine how you use banking products, and choose the credit union that best fits your needs. It’s crucial to find a credit union that makes your life easy, offers the essential products you need, and keeps fees low. Review the factors below as you compare options:

  • Does the credit union charge monthly fees in checking accounts, and if so, can you qualify for a waiver?
  • Are savings account rates competitive?
  • If you overdraw your account periodically, are there reasonable fees or mechanisms to cover overdrafts from savings?
  • Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Is there an app, and which features does it include?
  • Can you deposit checks with your mobile device?
  • Do you pay fees for using other banks’ ATMs?
  • Are ATM fee rebates available?
  • Are branches convenient for you?
  • Does the credit union participate in a nationwide shared branching network?
  • If you need to borrow money, does the credit union offer the types of loans you need (auto, home, RV, personal loans, credit cards, and more)?
  • Can you pay bills online?

Is Your Money Safe in a Credit Union?

Federally insured credit unions are equally as safe as FDIC-insured banks. Those credit unions use National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) insurance, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. That said, you need to verify what type of insurance your credit union uses and keep account balances below maximum limits.

How We Chose the Best Credit Unions

We started with a group of more than 50 credit unions and narrowed down the list to highlight the best offerings available. These credit unions are available to consumers nationwide, and many of them allow you to qualify for membership with relative ease. We evaluated fees for checking and savings accounts, ATM access, rates on deposits, product offerings, and more when selecting the best options. Finally, these financial institutions have deposit insurance to keep your money safe (up to applicable limits).

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Alliant Credit Union. "ATM Locator." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  2. Alliant Credit Union. "ATM Rebats $20 per Month." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  3. Alliant Credit Union. "High-Rate Online Savings Account." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  4. Blue FCU. "Checking." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  5. Blue FCU. "Savings." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  6. Blue Federal Credit Union. "Who Can Join?." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  7. Consumers Credit Union. "Free High Interest Checking Account." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  8. Consumers Credit Union. "CCU Locations & Hours." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  9. Consumers Credit Union. "Effective Rates for Accounts, Certificates, & Loans." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  10. Consumers Credit Union. "How to Become a CCU Member." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  11. PSECU. "Savings Accounts." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  12. PSECU. "Checking Accounts." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  13. Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union. "Become a Member." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  14. Consumer Reports. "Credit Union Ratings." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  15. J.D. Power. "Navy Federal Credit Union." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  16. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Checking & Debit." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  17. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Military Savings Options." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020. 

  18. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.