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State Employees’ Credit Union primarily serves those who work or live in North Carolina. Despite the limited geographical reach, SECU is still a quite large credit union, with assets topping $49.9 billion as of June 2021. The credit union offers a fairly wide range of accounts, but it’s clearly North Carolina-focused. Its ATM network, for example, has a wide reach across North Carolina, with 1,100 ATMs in the state, but doesn’t have any out-of-state terminals. The credit union doesn’t offer much by way of yields, but it does have a good range of fee-free accounts.
SECU offers a good variety of savings accounts – five in all, in addition to a money market account.
The Share account is the cornerstone of the SECU universe, as it’s required if you want to open any other type of accounts at the credit union. Although the APY is quite low compared with some online banks, it’s actually about double the national average at this current time. The account has no monthly fees and a small minimum opening deposit.
Dividends are compounded daily and paid monthly. Funds in the account can be used as collateral on SECU loans, but checks, ACH debits and Bill Pay transactions are not permitted.
You can open a SECU Share account online or by visiting a branch.
The Zard Share account is designed for young adults aged 13 to 19. Some additional perks include a $1,000 term life insurance policy, access to a dedicated Zard financial literacy website and a quarterly newsletter dubbed “Money Matterz.”
As with regular share accounts, teenagers are limited to six withdrawals per month, with the exception of ATM and in-person withdrawals. Daily transaction limits are $200 for ATM cash withdrawals and $500 for purchases with the Zard CashPoints Card. Account holders opting for the Zard Visa Check Card instead will see an increased purchase limit of $1,000 monthly.
You can open a SECU Zard Share account online or by visiting a branch.
The FAT CAT Share account is SECU’s savings accounts for kids 12 and under. The account is designed to educate account holders about finances while giving them an interest-bearing account with no fees and a low $5 minimum.
SECU provides a “goody bag” for new account holders that includes a savings account passbook. This account also comes with the quarterly “Paw Prints” financial newsletter, $1,000 in free term life insurance and a special website that teaches finance through educational games.
Unlike some of the other accounts at SECU, to open a FAT CAT Share account, you’ll need to visit a local branch with an adult co-owner.
The Summer Cash account is a unique savings option for employees in the public school system, or at public universities and community colleges, who are paid 9, 10 or 11 months per year. Account holders can direct SECU to withhold funds from each of their paychecks during the school year — during the months they aren’t working, SECU will transfer funds from those saved paychecks to help cover the lean summer months. There are no fees or minimums with this account, and it pays a very respectable APY of about six times the standard share account APY.
You can open a SECU Summer Cash account online or by visiting a branch.
The SECU Holiday Cash Club account is a way for savers to accumulate funds for the holidays. Accounts like this can help keep customers out of debt when the holiday gift-giving season arrives. SECU’s version of the Holiday Cash Club account has no monthly fee and no minimum opening deposit, along with the same standard APY offered by the credit union’s share savings account.
You can make deposits into this account any time up until October. On the last business day of October, your balance is transferred into one of your other SECU accounts in time for you to spend it over the holidays.
You can open a SECU Holiday Cash Club account if you’re already a member at the Member Access portal online, or by visiting a branch.
SECU’s Money Market Share account does earn a slightly higher APY than the credit union’s share savings account, but from there the differences between the two accounts aren’t that significant. Dividends are compounded daily and paid monthly, but there’s no check writing or ACH access to the funds in this account.
Federal Regulation D requirements apply to this account, meaning that certain withdrawals are limited to six per month (though this does not apply to in-person or ATM withdrawals). Unlike with a share savings account, though, you can’t use the funds in the Money Market Share account as collateral for an SECU loan.
You can open a SECU Money Market Share account via the Member Access portal online, or by visiting a branch.
SECU offers three types of checking accounts.
Although the amount is minuscule, the SECU Checking account does pay interest. However, there’s also a mandatory monthly fee of $1. You can choose to donate this fee to the SECU Foundation instead if you prefer, but you’ll still be charged $1 monthly. Since the APY on the account is so low, it may not be enough to cover the monthly fee, depending on your balance.
You can write up to 50 checks per month free of charge — after that, you’ll pay a $0.20 processing fee per item. SECU offers a fairly generous overdraft fee program, with the first two overdrafts per year free of charge; subsequent overdrafts are just $12. Overdraft protection is available with this account, which reduces fees to just $0.50 per instance after the first two free transfers. Daily transaction limits using an SECU Visa debit card are $1,000 for ATM withdrawals and $4,000 for purchases.
You can open a SECU Checking account via the Member Access portal online, or by visiting a branch.
The CashPoints® Global account is an alternative checking account that SECU describes as being perfect for travelers and students. The highlight of this account is that it charges no non sufficient funds fees. However, the account also pays no interest and carries the same $1 monthly fee as other SECU accounts. Although an ATM/debit card is provided, you can’t write checks on this account, nor can you make ACH withdrawals. However, when using an SECU Visa debit card you can make $1,000 in ATM withdrawals daily, along with $4,000 in debit card purchases.
You can open a SECU CashPoints® Global account via the Member Access portal online, or by visiting a branch.
Zard Checking is the companion account to the Zard Savings account, both designed for teens aged 13 to 19. The account has no balance requirement, but it does pay interest — although it’s at the same meager rate as the standard SECU Checking account. Zard Checking charges a $1 monthly fee, but it also provides the same free $1,000 of term life insurance as the Zard Savings account. Daily ATM withdrawal limits are $200, while a $1,000 daily purchase limit also applies via the Zard Visa Card. Standard overdraft protection is available with this account.
Opening the Zard Checking account, as with the Zard Savings account, requires an adult cosigner for those under 18. This account must be opened at an SECU branch, not online.
SECU offers a decent variety of standard CDs, with low minimums.
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At SECU, account holders can either invest in single CDs with maturities between six and 60 months or a series of five laddered Share Term Certificates with graduated maturity dates. The laddering process is a simple one, consisting of dividing the investable amount by five and putting equal amounts into CDs with maturities of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months. As each CD matures, it is automatically reinvested into a new 60-month CD. Note that there are no jumbo or no-penalty CDs at SECU.
All SECU CDs automatically renew, but there is a seven-day grace period at maturity. Each SECU CD also has an early withdrawal penalty of 90 days’ interest or the total interest accrued, whichever is less.
You can open an SECU CD via the Member Access portal online, or by visiting a branch.
The customer experience at State Employees’ Credit Union can be great if you’re a North Carolina resident. That state is where all of the energies of SECU are focused, and it’s also where you’ll find all of the credit union’s branches and 1,100 ATMs.
Outside of North Carolina, you’re likely better served with a different institution. However, if you’re a qualifying member and you do travel out of the state, you can still access your account via the credit union’s website or mobile apps. The SECU mobile app is available both on the Apple App Store and on Google Play, and offers a variety of basic banking functions, including the following:
SECU also has customer service available 24/7; it is reachable at 888-732-8562.