Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

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Updated on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Credit unions offer an alternative to doing business with banks. Instead of answering to shareholders, a credit union must act in the best interest of its members — who also happen to be its customers. By joining a credit union, you own a share in the financial institution and thus have voting rights.

Credit unions are often more exclusive than traditional banks, however, with membership eligibility often dependent on where you live or work. Still, there are many credit unions with less strict eligibility requirements, offering membership to anyone who simply joins a specified organization or charity or makes a small donation.

Credit unions anyone can join

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a one-time $25 donation to Affinity Plus Foundation.
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AgFed Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of The Friends of the National Arboretum or The Friends of the National Zoo for one-time donation of $20.
  • Learn more here

AFFCU

  • How to join: Make a one-time donation of $25 to the Airman Heritage Foundation.
  • Learn more here

Alliant Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of Foster Care to Success — Alliant will pay your $5 membership fee.
  • Learn more here

American Heritage Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of the Kids-N-Hope Foundation.
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America's Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of the Pacific Northwest Consumer Council.
  • Learn more here

Andrews Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of the American Consumer Council. To receive a free ACC membership, use the membership code “Andrews” when signing up.
  • Learn more here

Capital Educators Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of the Idaho CapEd Foundation for a one-time fee of $20.
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Chartway Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a $10 donation to Chartway Federal Credit Union’s philanthropic arm, the We Promise Foundation.
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Communitywide Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of Michiana Goodwill Boosters, Marine Corps League of St. Joseph Valley or Habitat for Humanity Helpers. Or, you can become a donor member of any one of these organizations.
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Connexus Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a one-time $5 donation to Connexus Association.
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Consumers Credit Union (IL)

  • How to join: Become a member of the Consumers Cooperative Association for a one-time fee of $5.
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Corporate America Family Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of The Hope Group with a $5 membership fee.
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Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)

  • How to join: Become a member by joining an organization with member privileges, which ranges in cost from $25 to $120 and is cancellable after securing a lifelong membership at DCU. The list of participating organizations can be found here.
  • Learn more here

First Flight Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member by joining Capital Area Preservation Club, Holly Springs Arts Council or Beaufort Historical Society with a donation of $5 to $10.
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Garden Savings Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member by joining American Consumer Council with an $8 donation, assuming you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past 12 months.
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GTE Financial

  • How to join: Become a member by joining the CU Savers club for a one-time $10 membership fee.
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Hughes Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a $10 donation to Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library, Friends of the Pima County Public Library, Friends of the Green Valley Library or Friends of the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library.
  • Learn more here

Lake Michigan Credit Union

  • How to join: Contribute $5 to the ALS Foundation if you live outside of the states of Michigan and Florida.
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Money One Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become eligible by making a one-time donation (minimum $20) to Gifts for Easter Seals, though you do have to bring your donation form into a Money One location to complete your application, which makes this credit union fairly regional-specific.
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NASA Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join through a complimentary one-year membership to the National Space Society (NSS).
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Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Gain eligibility by becoming a member of the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation for a minimum of $60.
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Northwest Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join by volunteering with or becoming a member of any one of Northwest Federal Credit Union’s partner organizations, which can be found here.
  • Learn more here

NuVision Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join the American Consumer Council with an $8 donation, assuming you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past year.
  • Learn more here

Pen Air Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for $1.
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PenFed Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of any one of Penfed’s numerous affinity partners, which include the American Society of Military Comptrollers, Coast Guard Auxiliary Association, National War College Alumni Association, Navy League of the United States and the United States Army Warrant Officers Association.
  • Learn more here

People's Trust Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a $5 minimum donation to the People’s Trust Foundation.
  • Learn more here

Pinnacle Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member of the American Consumer Council — Pinnacle FCU will pay your $5 membership fee.
  • Learn more here

Premier America Credit Union

  • How to join: Qualify for membership by joining the Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts, which starts at $10 per month
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San Diego County Credit Union

  • How to join: Become eligible by joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8.
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SCE Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become eligible with a $10 tax-deductible donation to the credit union’s nonprofit, the Center for Financial Empowerment.
  • Learn more here

Self-Help Credit Union

  • How to join: Join the credit union’s founding charitable sponsor, the Center for Community Self-Help, for a one-time $5 fee.
  • Learn more here

South Division Credit Union

  • How to join: Join the South Division Cooperative for a one-time fee of $5.
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Southeast Financial Credit Union

  • How to join: Make a $5 donation to the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee to automatically qualify for Southeast Financial FCU membership.
  • Learn more here

Spectrum Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member by joining either the Contra Costa County Historical Society for a membership fee of $15 or the Navy League of the United States for a membership fee starting at $55.
  • Learn more here

Stanford Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member by joining the Museum of American Heritage (membership fees start at $35) or Friends of the Palo Alto Library, with membership fees starting at $10.
  • Learn more here

State Department Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join the American Consumer Council for a $8 fee, assuming you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past 12 months.
  • Learn more here

UNIFY Financial Credit Union

  • How to join: Become a member by joining the Surfrider Foundation (with membership fees starting at $25) or the Friends of Hobbs (with membership fees starting at $10).
  • Learn more here

United States Senate Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Contribute at least $50 to the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.
  • Learn more here

University Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join any one of University Federal Credit Union’s numerous partner organizations, which can be found here.
  • Learn more here

Xceed Financial Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join any one of Xceed’s numerous partner organizations, which include the Buffalo Zoo, Friends of the Webster Public Library, Heal The Bay, St. Joseph Catholic Church (Hawthorne) and the Seneca Park Zoo Society.
  • Learn more here

Xcel Federal Credit Union

  • How to join: Join any one of XCEL’s numerous partner organizations, which can be found here.
  • Learn more here

Frequently asked questions

A credit union is a not-for-profit financial institution that offers its members financial products, ranging from checking accounts to mortgages, depending on the credit union. Credit unions are formed by entities such as corporations and community groups, and are controlled and owned by their members.

The main difference between credit unions and banks is that credit unions are owned by their members, while banks are owned by shareholders. Additionally, banks operate as for-profit businesses, while credit unions are nonprofits. Nearly anyone can open a bank account, but you must meet certain criteria to open an account at a credit union.

One of the key benefits of credit unions is that since they are nonprofits, any revenue made by the financial institution is returned back to its members through perks such as dividends, discounted loan rates and higher interest rates.

To join a credit union, you will need to check the credit union’s membership criteria and then — if eligible — apply online, in-person or over the phone, depending on the credit union. In many cases, membership is restricted to people who live in a certain area or work for a certain employer. That being said, the list above provides you with an array of credit unions that allow you to join simply by making a small donation or joining a partner organization.

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