Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations owned by their members rather than shareholders. You can find traditional banking products at most credit unions, including deposit accounts, loans and credit cards. Traditional banks seek to generate high shareholder returns, which can result in lower interest rates on deposits and higher interest rates on loans. Credit unions don’t need to generate high returns for shareholders, and are therefore positioned to provide better value to consumers.
MagnifyMoney has conducted a survey of the 100 largest credit unions in the country, ranked by assets, to find the best consumer products available.
The data is as of December 31, 2015.
At our nations largest credit unions, you can find:
At the nation’s four largest banks, savings accounts pay 0.01% interest. Many credit unions pay much higher interest rates.
The winning savings accounts pay the highest interest rate and:
- Have no monthly maintenance fees
- Have a maximum minimum deposit requirement of $5 – so that these products are not just for the wealthy
Here are the Best Credit Union Savings Accounts
Savings accounts are federally insured, up to $250,000, by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration – a US Government Agency).
Best Savings Account for Children
Creating the discipline of saving early in a child’s life is an excellent idea. Some credit unions go even further, by offering generous interest rates on savings accounts for children. The winners are ranked by the interest rate paid on the account. All accounts have no monthly fee and a minimum initial deposit of $25 or less.
Here are the best children’s savings accounts
At most for-profit banks, you can only have your monthly maintenance fee waived if you have a direct deposit or meet a minimum balance requirement. Credit Unions still offer completely free checking accounts.
The winning checking accounts offer:
- No monthly maintenance fee (and no direct deposit or minimum balance requirements)
- No out of network ATM fees charged by the credit union
- Reimbursement, at some level, for use of out-of-network ATMs
Because credit unions tend to have much smaller branch (and therefore ATM) networks, the level of ATM fee reimbursement became the tie breaker. The best checking accounts reimburse up to (a generous) $20 every month.
Here are the best Credit Union Checking Accounts of 2016
Certificates of Deposit: Small Balances
With a savings account, you can make six withdrawals each month without penalty. If you are willing to commit your money to an account for an extended period of time, you can find much higher interest rates. MagnifyMoney looked for the best CD rates for accounts with a balance of $1,000.
Here are the Best Credit Union Certificates of Deposit for 1, 2 and 3 years:
Best 12 month CD for low balance – 1 year
Navy Federal Credit Union has created a product to encourage savings, even at a small amount. This offer is only available to new customers, and the maximum amount you can put into this certificate is $3,000.
Best 24 month CD for low balance – 2 year
Best 36 month CD for low balance – 3 year
Certificates of Deposit: Large Balances
If you have a lot of money to deposit into a certificate of deposit, you can find very competitive interest rates at some of the nation’s biggest credit unions. Here are the Best Certificates of Deposits for Large Depositors:
Best 12 month CD for high balances – 1 year
Best 24 month CD for high balances – 2 year
Best 36 month CD for high balances – 3 year
Credit Card Balance Transfer Offers
If you have credit card debt, you are likely paying a high double-digit interest rate. Credit unions tend to offer lower rates overall. But some credit unions offer significantly lower interest rates if your transfer your debt from another credit card company. MagnifyMoney reviewed two types of balance transfer offers: the longest no-fee 0% balance transfers and the longest low-rate balance transfers.
With any of these offers, borrowers have the ability to reduce interest payments and get out of debt faster.
Here are the Best Credit Union Balance Transfer Offers of 2016:
Longest No Fee 0% Balance Transfers
With these offers, you pay no fee for transferring your debt from another credit card. In addition, you will pay no interest during the promotional period. In the best offer, you are able to borrow for free (no interest and no fees) for one year. A typical borrower transferring $5,000 of debt that was at a 14% interest rate would save $663 over 12 months.
Best Balance Transfer cards that don’t charge BT fees
Longest No Fee Credit Union Balance Transfers
The longest 0% offer is 12 months. However, there are still fee-free balance transfers available at a longer duration. You can transfer money for 2 years at 2.99% with the winning offer. A typical borrower transferring $5,000 of debt that was at a 14% interest rate could save $983 over 2 years.
Best Balance Transfer cards that don’t charge BT fees
Cash Back Credit Cards
With a cash back credit card, you are able to earn cash on your everyday spend. Credit unions are becoming increasingly competitive in this space, offering simple products with high overall cash back earn rates.
Best Overall Cash Back Credit Cards
You can now earn 1.50% unlimited cash back on all of your spending. There are three credit cards tied for first place – because each card pays 1.5%.
Here are the winners:
Best Cash Back for Groceries
Some cash back credit cards provide much higher rates for certain categories. The best credit card offers 3% cash back on groceries, which can be a great benefit to American families spending on food.
Best Cash Back for Gas
With the best credit union gas card, you can now earn unlimited 5% cash back on gas. Here are the best gas cash back cards:
Best Cash Back for Dining Out
Restaurants can be very expensive. With the best credit union cash back credit cards, you can earn unlimited 3% cash back on restaurant spend.
Best Military Credit Cards
The men and women who sacrifice their lives for our freedom should receive something in return. And credit unions are leading the way by creating specific products that meet their needs and reward their service. The best Military Credit Cards offer the low rates for the military, regardless of credit score. The winners offer 8.99% APR – when far too many for-profit entities are charging high double-digit rates.
Congratulations to the credit unions providing the best deals to the military:
Credit unions consistently offer low interest rates on personal loans. Here are credit unions with the lowest interest rates. (Credit unions offer a range of interest rates – this ranking is based upon the lowest interest rate offered at each credit union):
Credit unions have been aggressively taking market share in the auto loan business. Whether you are looking to buy a new or used car, or refinance an existing auto loan, credit unions are offering some of the best interest rates. In addition, credit unions are willing to accept people with less than perfect credit at interest rates that are much better than finance companies or subprime specialist lenders.
MagnifyMoney reviewed both New and Used Auto loan rates.
Best New Auto Loan Rates
Here are the lowest auto loan rates for financing the purchase of a new car:
Used Auto Loan Rates
Here are the lowest auto loan rates for financing a used car purchase:
Credit unions are very active in the mortgage business. In addition to lower rates, credit unions often provide a more personalized approach and fewer fees.
The winners offered the lowest fixed rate 30-year Conventional Mortgage:
Best Conventional Mortgage Loan: 30 years
Most Advanced Customer Service
Credit unions are known for friendly, personalized service in local branches. Increasingly, credit unions are providing service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Webchat, email and phone service is also being provided.
Credit unions regularly offer home equity loans, which can be a low cost way to borrow. Here are the lowest home equity interest rates offered by credit unions nationally: