State Employees' Credit Union Bank Review
Is SECU a good bank?
State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) offers a wide range of financial services and many branches in North Carolina. But tech-savvy consumers may want more.
SECU is a large credit union offering one-stop shopping for all of your financial needs. With more than 260 branches in North Carolina, there’s probably a branch nearby, and you can call customer service 24/7 when you need help. Your funds are federally insured for up to $250,000, and the credit union takes an active role in the community through financial education initiatives and other charitable activities.
What We Like, What We Don't Like
Extensive branch network in North Carolina
Text messaging for quick account information without logging in
Forgiving policies for occasional overdrafts on your account
No mobile check deposit
Not part of a national network of branches
No online account opening
Who Is SECU Best For?
SECU offers almost any banking service you can imagine and is well-established throughout North Carolina. It's a good fit for people who want:
- Low-cost checking accounts with brick-and-mortar access
- A wide variety of products and services from the same institution
- A vast network of branches throughout North Carolina
- Access to over 1,100 CashPoint and PLUS ATMs in North Carolina
- 24/7 customer service by phone
- Numerous free document-shredding days for members
- In-branch services such as safe deposit boxes and free notary and signature guarantee services
- A customer-owned financial institution that’s involved with the community
What Does SECU Offer?
SECU offers a robust selection of banking products and services, from loans to financial planning, as well as traditional deposit accounts. Those include:
- Checking account
- Savings account
- Money market account
- Certificates of deposit
- Credit cards
- Mobile banking
- Online banking
- In-branch service
- Voice response service
The SECU Checking Account pays a modest interest rate on your balance. Although you don’t earn as much as you would with a money market account, you have easy access to your cash with a free debit card, check writing, and online bill payment. You can also transfer money from one credit union account to another.
- Earn 0.25% annual percentage yield (APY) on your checking balance
- The monthly maintenance fee is $1, which SECU donates to the SECU Foundation.
- You get free overdraft transfers on the first two days per year.
- Pay bills with free online bill payment.
- Receive a debit card for purchases or cash withdrawals.
- Open with no minimum balance, as long as you have enough to cover maintenance charges and any checks you choose to order.
- Get information via text message about your account balance or your last three transactions.
- Access your cash, make deposits and transfers, and submit payments via no-fee ATMs.
The APY is different from the base interest rate in that it takes into account how often your interest is compounded in a year to tell you more accurately how much you could earn.
The SECU savings account, known as a Share Account, pays interest on your money. It's best for funds you don’t need to use immediately. Credit unions use terminology such as “share accounts” because customers are also owners of the institution, and this account formalizes your membership.
- Earn 0.40% APY.
- Pay no monthly service charge.
- Open with $25 minimum.
- Maintain $25 in the account to avoid a $1 low-balance fee.
- Withdraw cash and make deposits (cash or checks) at ATMs.
- Use your balance to help you get approved for cash-secured loans (called Share Secured loans).
Your share savings account limits you, per federal regulations, to six withdrawals per month, unless they are made in-person at a branch or ATM. If you use your share savings account for overdraft protection and you exceed six withdrawals, there's an excessive overdraft fee of $12.
Money Market Share Account
The Money Market Share Account pays more interest than the credit union’s checking or savings accounts. Whenever you use a money market account, as with your savings account, be aware that federal law limits certain types of withdrawals to six per month (ATM and in-person withdrawals don’t count toward that limit). You can access your money via mobile or online banking, ATM, branch visit, or ASK SECU, the automated phone access system.
- Earn 0.70% APY on your account balance
- Open with at least $250
- Pay no monthly maintenance fees if you keep at least $250 in your account
Online-only banks pay slightly higher rates, but that might not amount to much unless you have a significant account balance.
Share Term Certificates
At SECU, Share Term Certificates work the same as certificates of deposit (CDs). SECU offers a variety of CDs with terms between six months and five years. Opening deposits are $250. Below are SECU's current CD rates as of May 7, 2020:
|Share Term Certificates|
SECU’s CDs are standard term deposits that may assess an early-withdrawal penalty if you take your money out before the CD matures. There is a seven-day grace period; if you withdraw after that time, the penalty is the lesser of 90 days of interest or actual interest accrued.
If you'd like to create CD ladders to make money available at regular intervals, SECU offers the option to open five laddered STCs with varying maturity dates.
If you're looking for a credit card with a low rate and no annual fee, SECU has one in its offerings.
- SECU Visa Credit Card
The 7.75% variable APR applies to purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. Approval for card applications is only allowed for residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Other Financial Products From SECU
In addition to the credit card and deposit accounts, they also offer the following options:
- Auto loans
- Home mortgages
- Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
- Personal loans
- Health Savings Account
- Coverdell Education Savings Account
- 529 Plan
- Insurance (home, auto, health, and life)
- Investment accounts
- Trust accounts
- Financial counseling
- Retirement planning
SECU Customer Service
As you bank with SECU, you have many options for accessing your cash or getting support. The wide network of no-fee ATMs lets you conduct a variety of business in addition to withdrawing cash, including verifying balances, making loan payments, transferring funds, and making deposits to checking, share, or money market accounts.
You can visit your local branch during normal business hours or access Member Services 24/7. For self-service, you can sign in to your online account, visit the mobile app, send and receive texts, or conduct business by voice response with ASK SECU.
Your deposits at SECU are federally insured up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Administration.
How to Bank With SECU
Because SECU is a credit union, you must first qualify to join as a member before you can open an account. Employees of the state and related agencies usually qualify, as do family members of those employees. Once you’re a SECU member, setting up an account is relatively easy. You can open an account in a branch, or start the process by phone and receive forms by mail.
The Bottom Line
SECU can provide reasonably-priced banking services for people in North Carolina. With a vast network of branches and a broad product offering, you should be able to get your needs met through SECU. Community involvement and free shred days are a nice perk, so you can feel good about working with a local institution. Interest on your checking account is another bonus, although it may not amount to much (especially if you keep most of your money in savings).
SECU has a strong branch presence in North Carolina, but it could improve its online features (mobile check deposit and online account opening would be helpful). Tech-savvy customers and those who can’t get to branches easily may be frustrated with the experience, but the bank is supposedly working on adding features. Also, SECU is missing one of the best features of most credit union memberships: access to a nationwide shared branching network. Not all credit unions participate, but it’s great when they do.
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State Employees’ Credit Union. "SECU Shred Days." Accessed May 7, 2020.
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State Employees' Credit Union. "Deposit Rates." Accessed May 7, 2020
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State Employees' Credit Union. "Funds Transfer." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Overdraft Transfer Service." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Two-Way Text Messaging." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "CashPoints ATM." accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Share Account," Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Money Market Share Account." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Share Term Certificate (STC) Account." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Account Rules and Regulations," Page 8. Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Visa Credit Card." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Investment Accounts." Accessed May 7, 2020.
State Employees' Credit Union. "Membership Eligibility." Accessed May 7, 2020.