Consumers Credit Union Review - Everything You Need to Know

A low-fee credit union with generous yields on deposit accounts

Woman going through her credit cards
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Headquartered in Lake County, Illinois, Consumers Credit Union has been serving customers for nearly a century. Unlike other credit unions, it's unique in that anyone can join, regardless of where you live or work. While branch locations are limited to the Chicago area, members can bank through over 1,800 CU Service Center partner branches as well as more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide.

Who is Consumers Credit Union Best For?

Consumers Credit Union may appeal to someone who's comfortable banking online and doesn't necessarily need to visit a branch. It's also a good choice for people who: 

  • Want to earn a competitive APY on checking, savings, and CD accounts
  • Are interested in joining a credit union with simple membership requirements
  • Want to avoid paying high fees for checking and savings accounts
  • Hope to get a good deal on a mortgage or car loan
  • Own a small business and want to manage business and personal banking needs in one place

Pros

  • Much higher APYs on deposit accounts compared to traditional banks

  • Anyone can become a member

  • No-fee rewards checking

  • Variety of accounts

Cons

  • Branch access is limited

  • Monthly activity requirements to earn competitive APY on rewards checking

  • No cap on daily overdraft fees

Types of Accounts

Consumers Credit Union offers the following types of accounts:

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • IRA savings
  • Share certificates
  • Loans
  • Business accounts

Learn more about each account below.

Free Rewards Checking

Free Rewards Checking is a nationwide checking account with no monthly maintenance or minimum balance fees. Members can access their account at more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs and all foreign ATM fees are reimbursed. This is a high-yield account that pays you back when you meet certain requirements.

Free Rewards Checking
Earn a 3.09% APY on Balances up to $10,000 When You: Earn a 4.09% APY on Balances Up to $10,000 When You: Earn a 5.09% APY on Balances up to $10,000 When You:
Complete at least 12 debit card purchases totaling $100 or more each month; post direct deposits or ACH credits totalling $500 or more to your account monthly; enroll in eDocuments Complete at least 12 debit card purchases totaling $100 or more each month; post direct deposits or ACH credits totaling $500 or more to your account monthly; enroll in eDocuments; spend $500 or more with your CCU Visa credit card monthly Complete at least 12 debit card purchases totaling $100 or more each month; post direct deposits or ACH credits totaling $500 or more to your account monthly; enroll in eDocuments; spend $1,000 or more with your CCU Visa credit card monthly

Higher APYs apply to the first $10,000 in your account. The APY drops to 0.20% for balances ranging from $10,000.01 to $25,000 and 0.10% for balances over $25,000.

Student Choice Checking

Student Choice Checking is a student checking account for teens aged 13 to 17. Account features include:

  • Daily debit card limit of $310
  • Free electronic statements and online and mobile banking
  • Up to $25 per month in ATM fee reimbursements
  • ATM access at more than 30,000 surcharge-free locations

This account doesn't come with checks and it doesn't earn interest. A parent or legal guardian must also be listed on the account as a joint account holder. But, it can be a good tool for teaching teens the basics of money management.

Free Checking Account

The Free Checking Account is a basic checking account with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees. It doesn't earn interest but members do enjoy essential banking tools, such as:

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Bill pay services
  • ATM access
  • Visa debit card

If you need a checking account for paying bills, accessing cash at the ATM, or just everyday spending, this is a great low-cost option.

Membership Share/Savings Account

The Membership Share/Savings Account is the basic account you need to become a Consumers Credit Union member. It's a basic savings account, so there aren't a lot of bells and whistles. The main benefits include:

  • $5 minimum to open an account and maintain CCU membership
  • 0.05% APY on balances
  • Online banking access

You'll need to be at least 18 to open a Membership Share/Savings Account. And compared to the Free Rewards Checking Account, this account earns a much lower APY.

Money Market Account

The Money Market Account from CCU also earns interest. Rates are tiered, based on your balance.

Money Market Account
Minimum Balance to Earn APY Rate APY
$0 0.00% 0.00%
$2,000 0.10% 0.10%
$20,000 0.15% 0.15%
$40,000 0.20% 0.20%
$70,000 0.25% 0.25%
$100,000 0.30% 0.30%

The minimum to open a Money Market Account is $2,000. Dividends are compounded and credited to your account monthly.

IRA Savings/IRA Money Market

An IRA is a great way to save for retirement while enjoying some tax advantages. Consumers Credit Union offers traditional, Roth, and education IRAs for savers. Benefits include:

  • $10 minimum deposit to open
  • Guaranteed yield
  • 0.25% APY on balances

If you'd rather open an IRA Money Market Account, you also have that option. A $2,000 minimum deposit applies. These accounts earn the same APY, based on your balance, as CCU's standard Money Market Accounts.

Christmas Savings Account

The Christmas Savings Account is designed to help you get a head start on setting aside money for holiday shopping. You can set up automatic deposits or transfers from your CCU checking account to fund your savings. Account details:

  • $5 minimum deposit to open
  • 0.25% APY on balances
  • Funds transfer to Membership Share Savings Account on November 1

This account renews automatically. Like CCU's other savings accounts, this one has no monthly fee.

Regular Certificates

Share certificates are the credit union equivalent of CD accounts. Regular Certificates offer a guaranteed rate of return, with dividends that compound daily and post monthly. These account terms range from 91 days to 5 years and require a $250 minimum deposit.

These accounts can also be opened as IRA Certificates. Rates for Regular Certificates are tiered according to the term, not the balance.

Regular Certificates
Term Minimum Rate APY
91 Days $250 0.50% 0.50%
6 Months $250 1.00% 1.00%
7 Months $250 1.83% 1.85%
1 Year $250 1.49% 1.50%
15 Months $250 2.71% 2.75%
18 Months $250 1.73% 1.75%
2 Years $250 1.98% 2.00%
30 Months $250 2.08% 2.10%
3 Years $250 2.13% 2.15%
45 Months $250 3.20% 3.25%
4 Years $250 2.18% 2.20%
5 Years $250 2.47% 2.50%

Jumbo Certificates/Jumbo IRA Certificates

Jumbo and Jumbo IRA Certificates are designed for super savers. These certificates have a minimum deposit of $100,000. Maturity dates range from 7 months to 5 years.

Rates for Jumbo Certificates and Jumbo IRA Certificates are slightly higher compared to Regular Certificates.

Jumbo Certificates/Jumbo IRA Certificates
Term Minimum Rate APY
91 Day $100,000 0.50% 0.50%
6 Months $100,000 1.00% 1.00%
7 Months $100,000 1.93% 1.95%
1 Year $100,000 1.59% 1.60%
15 Months $100,000 2.81% 2.85%
18 Months $100,000 1.83% 1.85%
2 Year $100,000 2.08% 2.10%
30 Months $100,000 2.18% 2.20%
3 Years $100,000 2.23% 2.25%
45 Months $100,000 3.30% 3.35%
4 Years $100,000 2.27% 2.30%
5 Years $100,000 2.57% 2.60%

Loans and Credit Cards

In addition to helping members save and manage everyday spending, Consumers Credit Union offers numerous borrowing options, including:

  • Vehicle loans
  • Signature loans
  • Secured loans
  • Mortgage loans
  • Visa credit cards

Vehicle Loans

Financing is available for new and used vehicles, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and boats. It's possible to finance 100% of the purchase, with rates starting as low as 2.49%. Rates are fixed so you always have a predictable monthly payment.

Vehicle Loans
Loan Term APR - 2016 or Newer APR - 2012 to 2015**
0 - 36 months 2.49% 2.99%
37 - 48 months 2.99% 3.49%
49 - 60 months 3.49% 3.99%
61 - 72 months 3.74% 4.24%
73 - 84 months 4.69% 5.19%

Signature Loans

Signature Loans are unsecured personal loans that don't require collateral. You can use the money for virtually any purpose, including home repairs, vacation planning, or debt consolidation. With a Signature Loan you get:

  • A fixed rate
  • Up to $40,000
  • Penalty-free early repayment

Secured Loans

Secured Loans are personal loans that require some type of collateral, such as your car title or a boat you own. You can also secure your loan with your CCU savings or certificate account.

Because these loans require collateral, they may offer a lower annual percentage rate than unsecured loans.

Mortgage Loans

Consumers Credit Union offers several different mortgage loan options, including first mortgages for the purchase of a home, refinancing loans, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit. These loans include:

  • Fixed and adjustable rate options
  • Down payments as low as 3%
  • Conforming, jumbo, and unique loans
  • Government and conventional financing
  • Investment and rental property financing

You can start a mortgage loan application online but you'll need to speak with a Consumers Credit Union mortgage expert by phone or at a branch to complete it.

Business Accounts

In addition to personal banking, Consumers Credit Union offers business banking products and services. Those include:

  • Commercial and corporate checking accounts
  • Business savings and money market accounts
  • Commercial mortgages
  • Equipment financing and business lines of credit
  • Business credit cards

CCU also offers merchant card processing services for businesses that accept credit and debit cards.

How to Bank With Consumers Credit Union

The first step in banking with CCU is becoming a member. To do that, you'll need to accept three electronic disclosure statements and complete the online application.

Everyone must open a Member Share/Savings Account but you can also choose to open a checking, money market, certificate, or loan account when you apply. You'll need to give Consumers Credit Union your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate
  • Employment information
  • Phone number
  • Email address

You'll also need to create a 4- to 6-digit PIN and password. From there, Consumers Credit Union will review your application and if you're approved, you can make your initial deposit via an electronic transfer from another bank account.

Once your account is open, you can manage it online or through your mobile device. With online and mobile banking you can:

  • Pay bills
  • Deposit checks
  • Transfer money between accounts
  • View your account history
  • Review e-statements
  • Schedule payments to CCU loans

Customer Service

If you need help with your account, you can reach customer service by phone at 877-275-2228. Help is on available Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm CST, Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Secure messaging is also available when you log in to your account or by email at ccu_info@myconsumers.org.

About Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union opened in 1930 and is a public, non-profit financial institution. It's the seventh largest credit union in the state of Illinois. As of September 2018, the credit union numbered more than 117,000 members at a dozen locations.

Consumers Credit Union makes joining easy by opening up membership to anyone and offering accounts with just a small $5 minimum deposit to get started. Its Rewards Checking APYs are nearly 80% higher compared to the rates offered by top banks. Like other credit unions, CCU emphasizes minimal fees for its personal and business banking products.

The Bottom Line

BENEFITS Consumers Credit Union has the distinction of offering some of the highest rates around for rewards checking, far outstripping the competition. As a full-service credit union, it's possible to handle virtually any banking needs, from saving and spending to buying a home or getting a loan for your business. The credit union's extensive surcharge-free ATM network also makes it appealing for cost-conscious spenders who want to avoid expensive ATM fees. And with membership open to anyone, a Consumers Credit Union account is more accessible than accounts offered by other credit unions or banks that only operate within certain states.

DRAWBACKS One of the main drawbacks is that Consumers Credit Union doesn't have a large branch footprint, which might make banking more difficult if you don't live close to a branch location. And while the APY on Free Rewards Checking is a solid rate, you have to jump through certain hoops to earn that rate. Further, the APYs offered on Consumers Credit Union's other deposit accounts are fairly low; an online bank may offer more impressive rates with a low (or no) minimum deposit and minimal fees.