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Alaska USA Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Year Established1948
Total Assets$7.7B
LEARN MORE Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure websiteNCUA Insured

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union origins predate statehood for the 49th state. From its earliest days in 1948 serving residents of the chilly territory, the credit union has grown to 85 branches, including locations in Washington, Arizona, and California.

For many people living in rural communities, Alaska USA is the only in-person credit union option available. Throughout the state, it has a reputation for being conveniently open at times outside of traditional banking hours. More than 50% of Alaska USA branches operate seven days a week in retail locations.

Anyone who lives anywhere in Alaska, Washington, or in certain counties in California (San Bernardino County) or Arizona (Maricopa County) can join Alaska USA. If you don’t fit that ticket, the only other loophole to join is if you have a family member who is eligible for membership based in the above locations. If you’re eligible to join, you’ll need to deposit at least $5 in any deposit account to establish your membership.

Alaska USA offers a full suite of deposit products, including checking, savings, CD, money market, and IRA accounts. We’ll go through each of them in this review and tell you what you need to know to use them, and how they compare with other online frontrunners in their fields.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

Compare Rates from Similar Accounts

0.20%

Savings

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union Premium Savings

2.10%

American Express National Bank High Yield Savings Account

on American Express National Bank’s secure website

NCUA Insured

1.76%

CD Rates

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union 12 - 17 Month CD

2.75%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 12 Month CD

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

NCUA Insured

2.65%

CD Rates

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union 36 - 47 Month CD

3.10%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 5 Year CD

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Alaska USA Credit Federal Credit Union’s checking account options

Investor Checking

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s only interest-bearing checking account offers a pretty poor rate.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$1,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 if your account balance falls below $1,000
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you want to bank with Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and also want to earn interest on your checking account balance, this is the account for you. However, you’ll need to keep your balance above $1,000 at all times, otherwise you won’t earn any interest and you’ll be slapped with a $5 fee for that month. That’s why we only recommend people who keep fairly high balances in their checking account bother with this one.

This account also comes with a free first box of checks and unlimited check-writing capabilities. Aside from that, this checking account also doesn’t come with any bells and whistles.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Investor Checking account

If you’re already a member of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, you can easily sign up online through your online banking portal, by calling up the credit union, or by visiting a local branch. If you’re not yet a member, you’ll first need to apply for membership, which you can do either in-person at a branch or by calling up the credit union.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Convenience Checking

This checking account is designed for people who keep low balances and have a recurring direct deposit in their checking account.
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None; $5 if you aren’t signed up for direct deposit
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

All of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s checking accounts require you to keep a specific threshold balance in them to avoid a monthly maintenance fee — except this one. Instead, if you use this checking account, you’ll need to make sure you’re signed up for monthly direct deposit to avoid the $5 fee.

If it’s discontinued for some reason (job switch, for example), you do have a bit of a grace period to get a new direct deposit set up; Alaska USA Federal Credit Union won’t charge you a monthly fee until it’s been at least three months since your last direct deposit.

This account doesn’t come with anything fancy, including interest payments. You get to write an unlimited number of checks each month for free, and your first box of checks is free after you open the account. Other than that, it’s your standard basic checking account.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Convenience Checking account

If you’re not yet a member of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, you’ll first need to apply either in-person at a branch or over the phone — you can’t do it online. If you are a member, you can log into your account online and open this account with the click of a few buttons.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Relationship Checking

This account works much the same way as the Convenience Checking account, but offers several alternatives to avoid the monthly fee.
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 per month. Waived if you have an Alaska USA Loan, maintain a balance of at least $500 in any Alaska USA account, or if you’re age 16-25.
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If a simple, non-interest-earning checking account is what you’re after but you don’t get direct deposits, this account might be a better option for you. It’s just like the Convenience Checking account, but it waives the monthly fee if you keep at least $500 in any of your accounts (or an Alaska USA loan), or for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. No direct deposits are needed with this account, which is handy if you’re self-employed or have erratic income.

This account also comes with a free first order of checks and an unlimited amount of monthly transactions.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Relationship Checking account

If you’re interested in signing up for this account, it’ll depend on whether you’re already a member or not. Members can easily apply for this account through their online banking portal, by calling up the Member Service Center, or by visiting a local branch. Non-members can apply by calling up the Member Service Center or by visiting a local branch — there is no option to do it online.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

Unfortunately, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers pretty poor interest rates, especially when compared to the best online checking accounts out there. You’ll also have to work each month to make sure you meet the monthly requirements for whichever checking account you choose in order to avoid a monthly fee, which is inconvenient.

These accounts also don’t offer anything special beyond just the ability to write checks, which any checking account can fulfill. For example, some checking accounts come with a cash-back rewards program for using your debit card, or offer unique online tools for managing your money. Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers nothing of the sort.

All of these factors together are why we recommend skipping Alaska USA Federal Credit Union for its checking accounts unless you want a convenient bank to work with in-person. Otherwise, if earning high rates or other perks is your priority, a checking account at another bank will serve you better.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s savings account options

Share Savings

As savings accounts go, this one offers an exceptionally poor rate.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%$50
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: Alaska USA will charge you $5, but only once per quarter. You can avoid this fee in one of two ways:
    • Keep at least $50 in the account (or, keep at least $5 in the account if you’re under age 26)
    • Have another open Alaska USA deposit or loan account (any one will do)
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

This is the basic savings account that all Alaska USA Federal Credit Union memberships come with. Dividends on this account are tallied up and paid out every quarter, and if you owe a maintenance fee, you’ll pay it at this time as well.

Like all savings accounts, this one comes with a six-transaction monthly limit. The only types of transactions that don’t count towards this limit include in-person transfers done at a branch, ATM transactions, transactions done by mail, or transfers made to pay an Alaska USA loan.

One of the nice things about this account is that you can use it as collateral towards an Alaska USA loan. This may make you eligible for lower interest rates on a loan than you could otherwise achieve. Just be careful to make your payments — using a bank account as loan collateral means that the lender can take it if you fail to pay.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Share Savings account

If you’re already a member of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, you already have this account since it’s required to join the credit union. If you’re not yet a member, this account will come with your membership. You can join by visiting a branch in person, or by calling up the Member Service Center.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Premium Savings

This account earns twice as much interest as the basic Share Savings account, but you’ll need to bring a lot of money to the table.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$10,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: If your account balance drops below $50, you’ll pay an account maintenance fee of $5 — but only once per quarter. If you have another Alaska USA bank account or loan, this fee will be waived.
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If the Share Savings account doesn’t offer a high enough interest rate to tempt you, try this account instead. It offers twice that account’s interest rate; unfortunately twice of not much is still not much. You’ll also need at least $10,000 in the account if you want to earn any interest at all. That’s a lot of money to lock away at such a low interest rate.

This account also limits you to making just six transactions per month, as per federal Regulation D guidelines. You can get around these limits with the following transaction types:

  • ATM transactions
  • Telephone transactions
  • Mail transactions
  • Pay an Alaska USA loan

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Premium Savings account

You can sign up for this account by visiting a local branch or calling the Member Service Center. Existing credit union members can open this account via the online banking portal.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers very low interest rates. We also don’t like that you may be charged a fee if you drop your account balance below a $50 threshold level (or, a $5 threshold for Share Savings account holders under age 26). That seems pretty unfair for a savings account, especially since there’s so many out there that don’t charge a fee.

If you’re looking to earn the best rates possible and not be threatened with a fee, consider one of these top online savings accounts instead. The interest rates offered on these accounts are miles better than at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s CD rates

Certificates

The credit union’s CDs are very confusing and need active management.
For CDs with a minimum balance of $500
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.75%
9-11 months1.00%
12-17 months1.76%
18-23 months2.11%
24-35 months2.35%
36-47 months2.65%
48-59 months2.85%
60 months3.25%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $2,500
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.80%
9-11 months1.05%
12-17 months1.81%
18-23 months2.15%
24-35 months2.40%
36-47 months2.70%
48-59 months2.90%
60 months3.25%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $10,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.85%
9-11 months1.10%
12-17 months1.91%
18-23 months2.25%
24-35 months2.50%
36-47 months2.80%
48-59 months3.00%
60 months3.30%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $25,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.90%
9-11 months1.15%
12-17 months1.96%
18-23 months2.35%
24-35 months2.60%
36-47 months2.90%
48-59 months3.10%
60 months3.35%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $50,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.00%
9-11 months1.25%
12-17 months2.06%
18-23 months2.45%
24-35 months2.75%
36-47 months3.05%
48-59 months3.25%
60 months3.45%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $100,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.10%
9-11 months1.35%
12-17 months2.20%
18-23 months2.55%
24-35 months2.90%
36-47 months3.20%
48-59 months3.40%
60 months3.55%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $250,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.20%
9-11 months1.45%
12-17 months2.20%
18-23 months2.65%
24-35 months3.00%
36-47 months3.30%
48-59 months3.50%
60 months3.70%
  • Minimum opening deposit: Varies by CD; see the charts above.
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: You won’t earn any interest if you drop the balance of your CD below the minimum opening deposit of whichever CD you select. For example, if you open a CD with a minimum opening deposit of $500, you won’t earn any interest if the balance of this CD drops below $500.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: At a minimum, you’ll pay 7 days’ worth of interest if you withdraw anything within 6 days after opening it. After that, it’ll depend on the term length of your CD:
    • For CDs up to 90 days in length, you’ll pay either 30 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends, whichever is less
    • For CDs between 91 to 365 days, you’ll pay either 90 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends, whichever is less
    • For CDs between 366 days and 729 days, you’ll pay either 180 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends, whichever is less
    • For CDs over 730 days, you’ll pay either 365 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends, whichever is less.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers many different options for opening a CD, and an equally staggering number of different interest rates to go along with each CD, depending on how much money you deposit. They seem to require more-active management by the account holder than most other CDs.

Consider what happens if you need to make an early withdrawal. As you can see from the summary above, there’s a lot of factors that come into play. In addition, if you do happen to drop the balance of your CD below the minimum balance threshold levels, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union will automatically close the account and assess the early withdrawal fee on the entire balance. The moral of the story? Don’t make an early withdrawal.

You have a few options for how dividend payments are handled. For CDs under 12 months, dividends will be paid out when the CD matures. But for CDs over 12 months, dividends will be paid out monthly. You can elect to have dividends rolled back into the CD to earn even more dividends next month (always the best option), have them automatically transferred to another Alaska USA account, or have a check mailed to you with the money.

When your CD matures, it’ll automatically be rolled over into another similar CD. You’ll get a 10-day grace period to make any changes, however. In addition, there’s a 7-day window after your CD is first opened where you can make additional deposits or change the term length of the CD.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s CDs

You can open these accounts by visiting a local branch or by calling up the Member Service Center, whether or not you’re a member. If you are a member, you can do it yourself via the online banking portal.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s CD rates compare

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union doesn’t offer very good rates on most of its CDs. The exceptions are if you open a CD with a minimum balance of $250,000 and a term length of 60 months — the biggest and longest-term that Alaska USA offers. In that case, it actually does compare quite well with the frontrunners in its class.

However, we caution you to think twice before you do this, since NCUA insurance is limited to just a $250,000 deposit. If Alaska USA Federal Credit Union were ever to go under and you had more than this in your account, you could lose that money.

Instead, if you want better rates for whatever term length and deposit amount you have (and easier-to-understand rules as well), consider one of these top-earning CDs.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s money market account options

Money Market

This is Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s lowest-earning money market account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.15%$2,500
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 if your account balance drops below $50
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you don’t yet have the $10,000 cash needed to open a Premium Savings account with its higher-rate tier, consider this one instead. At least you’ll earn a fraction more than with the basic Share Savings account that everyone gets when they sign up.

Dividends on this account are also paid out more frequently than with the savings accounts, as well — monthly, as opposed to once per quarter. However, you’re not allowed to use this account as collateral for an Alaska USA loan like you can with the savings accounts.

You’re also limited to just six transactions per month out of this account due to the guidelines from Federal Reserve Regulation D. There are a few types of transfers that don’t count towards this limit, including ATM, in-person, telephone, mail, and transfers to pay for an Alaska USA loan.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Money Market account

If you’re already a member, you can open this account online, in person, or over the phone. If you’re not yet a member, you won’t be able to apply online. Instead, you’ll need to do it over the phone or in a local branch.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Super Money Market

This tiered account offers slightly higher interest rates.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$10,000-$24,999.99
0.25%Over $25,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 if your account balance drops below $50
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you’ve got at least $10,000, you have a couple of options on where to put that money and still maintain easy access to it. You can stash it in a Premium Savings account, or you can tuck it away in this Super Money Market account. While both carry the same interest rate, the Super alternative allows you to get bumped up into a higher interest-earning bracket once you top a $25,000 balance. That’s something the Premium Savings account doesn’t offer, and so that’s why we recommend this account instead.

This account also falls under the six-transaction monthly limit, not including telephone, in-person, mail, or ATM transfers, or transfers made to pay an Alaska USA loan.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Super Money Market account

Anyone who’s eligible for membership can sign up by calling the Member Service Center or visiting a local branch. Only people who are already members of the credit union can log into the online banking portal and sign up online, unfortunately.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Jumbo Money Market

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s highest-earning savings-type account still doesn’t offer a very good interest rate.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.30%$50,000-$99,999.99
0.35%Over $100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $50,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 if your account balance drops below $50
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

This is Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s highest-yielding liquid savings account. The only way to earn a higher interest rate on your money is by opening a relatively illiquid CD. But, there’s a catch with this account: you’ll need a sky-high deposit of at least $50,000 to start earning anything at all. Once you reach past the $100,000 mark, you’ll earn even higher interest rates.

Like the other Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s money market accounts, dividends are tallied up and paid out monthly. You cannot use these accounts as collateral for an Alaska USA loan like you can with the savings accounts. Finally, you’re still limited to just six transactions out of this account per month, not including transfers to pay Alaska USA loan or ATM, telephone, in-person, or by-mail transfers.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s Jumbo Money Market account

Anyone can sign up for this account in person or over the phone (assuming you’re eligible for Alaska USA Federal Credit Union membership, of course). Only existing credit union members can apply for this account through the online banking portal.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s money market accounts compare

Again, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union misses the mark in terms of offering attractive interest rates. Compared with the highest-yielding money market accounts out there, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union doesn’t even come close. That’s why we recommend passing on these accounts. You won’t earn hardly anything here compared to money market accounts offered at some other banks.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

These IRA CDs offer options to add money along the way, but they are also way too complicated.
For CDs with a minimum balance of $500
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.75%
9-11 months1.00%
12-17 months1.76%
18-23 months2.11%
24-35 months2.35%
36-47 months2.65%
48-59 months2.85%
60 months3.25%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $2,500
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.80%
9-11 months1.05%
12-17 months1.81%
18-23 months2.15%
24-35 months2.40%
36-47 months2.70%
48-59 months2.90%
60 months3.25%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $10,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.85%
9-11 months1.10%
12-17 months1.91%
18-23 months2.25%
24-35 months2.60%
36-47 months2.90%
48-59 months3.10%
60 months3.35%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $25,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months0.90%
9-11 months1.15%
12-17 months1.96%
18-23 months2.35%
24-35 months2.60%
36-47 months2.90%
48-59 months3.10%
60 months3.35%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $50,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.00%
9-11 months1.25%
12-17 months2.06%
18-23 months2.45%
24-35 months2.75%
36-47 months3.05%
48-59 months3.25%
60 months3.45%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $100,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.10%
9-11 months1.35%
12-17 months2.20%
18-23 months2.55%
24-35 months2.90%
36-47 months3.20%
48-59 months3.40%
60 months3.55%
For CDs with a minimum balance of $250,000
TermAPY
1-2 months0.30%
3-5 months0.45%
6-8 months1.20%
9-11 months1.45%
12-17 months2.30%
18-23 months2.65%
24-35 months3.00%
36-47 months3.30%
48-59 months3.50%
60 months3.70%
  • Minimum opening deposit: Varies by IRA CD; see the charts above
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: If you drop the balance of your IRA CD below its minimum opening deposit, you won’t earn any more interest. For example, if you open an IRA CD with a $10,000 minimum opening deposit and drop the balance below this level, you won’t earn any more interest.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: This will depend on your IRA CD’s term length:
    • For IRA CDs of 90 days or less, you’ll pay either 30 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends earned, whichever is less
    • For IRA CDs between 91 and 365 days, you’ll pay either 90 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends earned, whichever is less
    • For IRA CDs between 366 and 729 days, you’ll pay either 180 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends earned, whichever is less
    • For IRA CDs of 730 days or more, you’ll pay either 365 days’ worth of dividends or all of your dividends earned, whichever is less.

One of the nice things about these IRA CDs is that you have a few options for depositing more money into the account. After you open the IRA CD, you’ll get a 7-day window to change the term length or add more money to the IRA CD. Then, once per year, you can also deposit more money, up to the allowable yearly IRA contribution limits.

Another nice thing about these IRA CDs is that if you’re already retired and need to make a Required Minimum Distribution from an IRA CD held within a Traditional IRA or SEP IRA, you can do so without paying any early withdrawal penalties.

When your IRA CD matures it’ll automatically be renewed for another IRA CD. You will get a 10-day grace period to withdraw the money or make any other changes to the IRA CD, such as rolling it over into a different investment.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s IRA CDs

If you’re interested in opening an IRA CD, you’ll need to visit a local branch or call up the Member Service Center. There is no option to open up these accounts online, unfortunately, even for members.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers a lot of different options for opening a CD. Sadly, none of these options offer outstanding interest rates, even for the largest deposit sizes and for the longest term lengths, which typically offer higher rates.

If you’d rather earn the most money possible on an IRA CD, we recommend checking out the current IRA CD frontrunners. These IRA CDs offer much better rates, and will help you save the most for retirement if IRA CDs are your investment vehicle of choice.

IRA Savings Account

Like all of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts, this one comes with a dismally low interest rate.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$50
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: If your account balance drops below $50, you’ll pay a $5 fee — but only once per quarter
  • Overdraft fee: $25

IRA savings accounts are designed for folks who want the freedom to move their money around at any time (as opposed to a lock-and-key IRA CD), and who also want to earn interest on their deposit. This account fits that bill, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do it very well because it offers a pretty low interest rate.

Interest on this account is tallied up and deposited into your IRA Savings account once per quarter. This account doesn’t come with ATM access, since there is paperwork involved in making a withdrawal.

But if your goal is just to hold your IRA money somewhere until you can move it into a higher-earning investment, this account may work just fine for you.

How to get Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s IRA Savings account

You can only open this account by visiting a local branch in-person, or by calling up the Member Service Center. You can’t apply for this account online, even if you’re a member of the credit union with access to the online banking portal.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Overall review of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union’s banking products

Alaska may be geographically located at the top of the world, but the interest rates offered on its accounts sure aren’t. Almost all of its accounts offer very low interest rates. For the few products that do offer semi-decent rates (like its CDs), the terms and rules governing these accounts are overly complicated.

That’s a shame, especially since this credit union has built up a good reputation by offering great customer service at many locations in underserved communities. If you live in a rural town in Alaska and want a bank you can work with locally, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union might be your only option. But now, with the advent of internet banking, you can find much better options elsewhere that are available any time of the day, no matter where you are. After all, even the remote corners of bush Alaska often have internet now.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Review of OFX: A Money Transfer Provider

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

When you need to send a large amount of money internationally, OFX could be your most affordable option. The company offers web-based money transfer solutions for individuals and businesses alike. In our review, we found that this service has some features which put them ahead of the competition. However, it also lacks other features and capabilities that might be important to you.

Although OFX money transfers can sometimes take longer than some of the company’s speedier competitors, price is where it consistently shines — it charges no additional fees for transfers beyond the standard exchange rate markup, although it requires a minimum transfer for $1,000 to start with. That means people who have smaller amounts to transfer will need to look elsewhere.

OFX’s headquarters is based in San Francisco and the company has been in business since 1998. Currently, the company has offices located in six different countries. Yet it all started a little over two decades ago when it launched its first website from a garage in Sydney.

In the past 20 years, the company has grown to more than 200 employees. OFX has managed over 1 million money transfers for more than $119 billion, with the numbers still growing.

Here’s a full breakdown of OFX’s costs, fees and a look at how it compares with its competitors in the international money transfer space.

OFX key features

  • Low exchange rates: OFX claims to have better rates and fees than many banks. Per the company, you can save up to an average of 50% on global money transfer rates when compared with using a bank. Banks make money off international money transfers by charging a markup (aka a margin) on foreign exchange rates. The reason OFX fees are lower is because they say they charge margins which are “substantially less” for money exchanges than the rates many banks charge their customers. OFX exchange rate markups are often less than 1%, they claim.
  • $0 transfer fees: Once upon a time, it did charge a flat-rate fee for money transfers. However, now OFX doesn’t charge any additional transfer fees for international money transfers. (The company does point out that your recipient’s bank might deduct a fee for the incoming transfer, but it doesn’t receive any part of those funds.)
  • No hidden fees: OFX doesn’t charge setup fees, monthly account fees or any other hidden fees.
  • Compare fees before transfer: OFX lets you check the rate you will be charged for an international money transfer in advance. However, you’ll have to create an OFX account first. This process is a bit cumbersome compared with the easy-to-access fee estimators available from some other money transfer service providers. However, it also gives you a way to compare the rate it will charge you with the rate your bank would charge you for the same transaction, so you can make sure you’re getting the better deal. This is a nice touch (though you should still estimate fees from other online money transfer providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal available). To estimate fees you’ll have to create an account, log in or use the “Get Extra” widget to see how much you could save when you transfer money with OFX instead of your bank.
  • There’s an app for that: You can transfer money, track your transfers and get current exchange rates with the OFX app, available for Apple and Android devices.
  • Membership program: If you own a business, you may be able to enjoy preferred exchange rates from OFX. Preferred rates could make sending or receiving money cheaper by helping you save more on exchange rate margins. The OFX Member Benefits Program lets you share your preferred rate with your own customers, members or employees by granting them access to your OFX network as well.
  • Referral program: The OFX Referral Program allows you an opportunity to earn a revenue share when your customers or referrals use OFX for international money transfers. You can also add the company’s free rate and currency calculators to your website, giving your users access to the most recent currency information.

Sending a money transfer with OFX

Review of OFX: A Money Transfer Provider
Transfers generally take 1-4 business days. Times may vary based upon the country to where you are transferring funds.

You should allow:
  • 1-2 business days for OFX to receive your funds plus

  • 1-4 business days for the funds to reach your recipient



*OFX provides a currency converter tool inside your account, online or using the app, which can also provide approximate delivery times.
Where can you send money?
OFX can transfer your money to over 190 countries in 55 different currencies. See a list of locations here.

How much can you send? Transfer amounts start at $1,000(minimum).

*Maximum transfer amounts are determined based on your money transfer provider and type of currency. USD can generally be transferred without restrictions.

How to transfer money

Here’s a look at the process you’ll experience if you transfer funds internationally with OFX.

Step 1:
You can sign up for a personal account or business account online or via the OFX app. For a personal account, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. Your location
  2. Your email address
  3. Your currency pair (aka where you’ll be transferring money from and to)
  4. Your estimated transfer amount
  5. Your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, nationality and occupation)
  6. Your driver’s license state and number (optional)

Step 2:
Create a password and set up a security question.

Step 3:
Verify your account by uploading one of the following:

  1. Copy of your driver’s license or passport (color)
  2. Proof of address (bank statement, utility bill or letter from a government agency)

Step 4:
Add the U.S. bank account you’ll be using to send funds.

Step 5:
Add new recipient details, including the person’s name and banking information.

Step 6:
Calculate transfer rate (if desired).

Step 7:
Transfer funds by setting up a direct debit or wiring the funds to OFX.

Step 8:
Funds are converted and delivered to your recipient.

Fees and fine print

Fees and penalties
Transfer rates
When you transfer money with OFX, the company takes a “small percentage” of the money you’re sending to cover costs.

Here’s how it works. Fees are based upon the market rate (also called interbank rate), which is a wholesale rate available to large financial institutions. Customers of OFX are charged a markup on the market rate, and that is how OFX makes money. You can check exchange rates here.


Transfer fees None
None

Compared with other money transfer options, OFX is often one of the most affordable ways to send money internationally. However, this isn’t the case 100% of the time. If you want to get the best value on your money transfer, it’s wise to compare costs among several money transfer providers.

Is OFX a good money transfer service to use?

Overall, OFX can often offer a more affordable way to send money internationally. You just have to be comfortable with the wait and minimum transfer requirements.

Pros
Cons
  • Low exchange rates mean OFX is often a cheaper way to send money.
  • Zero transfer fees keep the service affordable and simple to understand from a cost perspective.
  • 24/7 customer service support

  • No same-day delivery, (except from Australia to the U.S.)
  • Minimum transfer requirement of $1,000
  • Bank-to-bank transfers only with no cash payment or cash pick up options
  • No domestic transfers within the United States


Alternative money transfer options

MoneyGram and Western Union are international money transfer companies providing similar services to OFX.

MoneyGram

  • Where can you send money? MoneyGram has a large network. You can send money to more than 200 countries and territories around the world online or in person at one of MoneyGram’s 350,000 (approximate) global agent locations. Unlike OFX, you can also transfer money within the United States.
  • How long does a transfer take? Once you send a transaction successfully, your recipient can usually pick up cash within minutes. Just keep in mind that transfer time also depends upon operating hours and regulatory requirements.
  • How much can you send? $6,000 per online transfer is typically the cap on MoneyGram transfers, but it also depends upon the country where your recipient lives. Also, there’s a $6,000 cap per every 30 calendar days for online transfers. If you need to send more, you can. You’ll just need to a MoneyGram agent location to send additional transfers.
  • Fee to send money: MoneyGram’s costs can be a little on the high side. When compared with other competitors, MoneyGram fees are often higher plus they may include additional transfer fees. The cost to send money via MoneyGram varies quite a bit based upon where you’re sending money, how much you’re sending and how you’re paying. On the plus side, MoneyGram has a tool which can easily allow you to estimate fees online, without the hassle of being required to create an account first.

One area where MoneyGram shines is its potential speed of delivery. If timing is your primary concern when you are sending money, MoneyGram may be a good option to consider.

Western Union

  • Where can you send money? Western Union lets you send money to more than 200 countries and territories. The company also has a sizable network of over 500,000 agent locations, this can make finding a place to send or receive money in person a lot more convenient.
  • How long does a transfer take? Western Union allows you to send money in minutes in 130 currencies. Many transactions take place within minutes. Just keep in mind that factors like the service you select, your destination country, any regulatory issues, etc. could slow things down.
  • How much can you send? The amount of money you’re allowed to transfer will vary. Limits are based upon your transaction history with Western Union, the country where you are sending money, your location and the type of transfer service you choose. Based upon these factors, limits may range from $300 per money transfer up to $10,000 per transaction.
  • Fee to send money: Western Union is known for having a large network, not for being the most affordable way to send money internationally. Compared with competitors, exchange rate fees may be higher and you may be charged transfer fees on top of that. You can estimate the cost of sending money using Western Union’s online fee calculator. It’s a helpful and convenient feature, partly because you aren’t required to set up an account to access it. Also, even though Western Union may be more expensive in many cases, you shouldn’t just assume that is always the case. If you’re sending an online money transfer, it’s worth your time to see if Western Union can beat the cost your receiving elsewhere.

Western Union stands out among competitors for its conveniently large network and speed. With more than 500,000 agent locations, finding a convenient spot to send or receive money may be easier than with other service providers.

Should you choose OFX?

OFX frequently beats competitor pricing for international online money transfers. Yet there are so many moving parts when it comes to money transfers that you shouldn’t take for granted that it is the cheapest option. If you want to save the most money possible on your international money transfers, you have to be willing to do a little homework (perhaps every time you prepare to transfer funds) and compare costs between several money transfer networks.

Of course, even if it is the least expensive option for your specific situation, the cheapest option may not be the right choice for you. OFX tends to be a bit on the slow side with regard to getting money into your recipient’s hands. Also, OFX doesn’t give you the option to pay with cash nor does it give recipients a cash pickup option. If you don’t have the capability to transfer funds directly into your recipient’s bank account, you’ll need to find a different company to handle your money transfer.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Michelle Black
Michelle Black |

Michelle Black is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Michelle here

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Best of, Reviews

The Top 7 Second Chance Bank Accounts

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Some banks don’t like giving second chances to customers who have less-than-stellar financial histories, especially since it could expose them to expensive risks. A record of bounced checks or debit card overdrafts could easily lock you out of the conveniences of modern banking.

Fortunately, banks also like making money, and some offer special “second chance” accounts that minimize their risk while allowing consumers to stay in the banking system. A second chance bank account gives customers with troubled records a fresh opportunity to demonstrate they can bank responsibly.

When it comes to a second chance account, fees are an unfortunate reality. But some accounts offer customers a better deal than others, and we’ve researched our database to find the second chance accounts with the most reasonable fee structures, while also factoring in whether they provide online and mobile banking, and how accessible accounts are throughout the country.

Second chance account basics

With a second chance bank account, customers shut out of traditional bank accounts get the opportunity to win their way back into a bank’s good graces. Similar to credit bureaus, financial services company ChexSystems maintains records of consumers’ banking histories. Bounced checks, overdrawn accounts or instances of fraud can all end up on your ChexSystems record; if you accumulate enough black marks on ChexSystems, banks could deny your application to open a new account.

Because second chance accounts are meant for customers who have demonstrated bad banking behavior, some lack features of traditional accounts, such as overdraft protection. In the eyes of the bank, you represent too much of a risk for them to extend you such courtesies.

Nobody likes paying fees, and we generally advise consumers to avoid needless banking fees due to the many fee-free banking options available. But fees are the price you pay for access to banking when you have a poor record. Plus, the second chance accounts listed below give you access to online and mobile banking, which is always a plus.

The 7 best second chance bank accounts

1. Tie between BBVA Compass ClearConnect Checking and BBVA ClearChoice Free Checking

BBVA Compass

Regional bank BBVA’s Compass ClearChoice Free Checking product is available as a second chance bank account. Keep in mind that it’s only available to residents of the states where BBVA maintains physical branches: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. But if you don’t live in those states, you can still avail yourself of BBVA’s Compass ClearConnect Checking account (unless you live in Alaska and Hawaii, in which case you are out of luck).

ClearChoice Free Checking features:

  • Free online and mobile banking, free customized alerts, free online and paper statements, and a free debit card (with option to personalize)
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • No monthly service charge to worry about

Fees to watch out for:

  • BBVA ATMs are free, otherwise a $3 fee will apply
  • $38 insufficient funds fee ($32 in California)
  • $15 deposit item returned fee
  • $32 stop payment fee made over the phone or in person ($30 in California); $25 if made online
  • No fee for closing your account within 180 days of opening

You can get a full list of Compass ClearChoice fees for each state here.

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on BBVA Compass’s secure website

Member FDIC

ClearConnect Checking features:

  • Free online and mobile banking
  • Minimum deposit of $25 needed to open the account
  • No monthly service charge

Fees to watch out for:

  • No fees for using any of the 55,000 BBVA and Allpoint ATMs, but for ATMs outside the network a $3 fee applies
  • $38 insufficient funds fee ($32 in California)
  • $15 deposit item returned fee
  • $32 stop-request fee when made over the phone or in person at a branch ($30 in California); a $25 fee to make the stop-request online
  • $25 account close fee if made within 180 days of opening

You can get a full list of Compass ClearConnect fees broken down by state here.

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on BBVA Compass’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts are tailor-made for folks with a lackluster credit or banking history. With a $25 opening deposit, you’ll get access to a second chance bank account that offers most of the bells and whistles of a traditional bank account. The account does come with a monthly fee, although it’s possible to waive it if you meet a few requirements (see below).

Account features:

  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free transfers are available between Opportunity Checking and Savings accounts
  • You can choose to opt into overdraft protection
  • Free access to bill pay
  • “My Spending Report with Budget Watch” is available if you want to pay extra attention to where your money is going
  • Free debit card with access to more than 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs throughout the country

Fees to watch out for:

  • $10 monthly service fee, waived if any of the following are true:
    • You make 10 posted debit card purchases or payments
    • You keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in the account
    • You receive $500 total in direct deposits each statement cycle
  • $35 overdraft and returned item fee
  • $12.50 overdraft protection transfer fee
  • $15 fee for excess activity (exceeding withdrawals from your savings account)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee with your debit card
  • $5 for money orders
  • $31 for stop payments

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on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking

Woodforest National Bank

This regional bank has a checking account aptly named Second Chance Checking, to help people rejected by other banks access — provided they live in one of the 17 states where a physical branch exists and can meet the $25 minimum opening deposit requirement. Those states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit (or $11.95 without a direct deposit), $3.00 monthly paper statement fee (which can be avoided if you sign up for electronic statements)
  • $9 one-time account set-up fee
  • $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee when used at a non-Woodforest network ATM
  • $15 debit card set-up fee
  • $29 overdraft fee (for each charge)

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on Woodforest National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. First National Bank and Trust Company Renew Checking

First National Bank and Trust Company (WI)

First National Bank and Trust Company’s second chance bank account offering is called Renew Checking. You’re eligible for a new account if you live near the bank’s Beloit, Wisc. headquarters, in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Account Features:

  • No monthly minimum balance
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free online and mobile banking, bill pay, and e-statements
  • Access to 70,000 no-fee ATMs worldwide through Allpoint and MoneyPass
  • Eligible to upgrade account after twelve months in good standing

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly service fee, or $7.95 with direct deposit
  • $30 early account closure fee (if closed within 90 days of opening)
  • $34.50 overdraft fee
  • $34.50 insufficient funds fee
  • $34.50 stop payment fee

The fee schedule for personal accounts at First National Bank and Trust Company is here.

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on First National Bank And Trust Company (WI)’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

Peoples Bank Cash Solutions

This Texas-based bank offers a second chance bank account that is available nationwide, and so long as you don’t have a record of bank or checking fraud on your record, you should be approved for this account. You’ll need to deposit at least $30 before the bank activates your account and provides you with checks and a debit card.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $4.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • $27.50 overdraft fee
  • $27.50 nonsufficient funds fee
  • $3.95 printed statement fee (which can be avoided with electronic statements)
  • $2.00 ATM withdrawal fee at machines not owned by Peoples Bank
  • $25 stop payment fee
  • $20 account closure fee (if within 90 days of opening account)

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on Peoples Bank Cash Solutions’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. Radius Essential Checking

Radius Bank

Products from online bank Radius are available to customers nationwide, and accessibility is a strong point in its favor. This second chance bank account only requires customers to deposit $10 to open an Essential Checking account, which is lower than some other accounts on this list.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Access to Radius’s budgeting and personal finance tracking apps
  • Eligibility to upgrade to Radius’s Reward Checking account after 12 months of positive banking history

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9 monthly maintenance fee
  • $25 per item non-sufficient funds fee (waived on all overdraft items $5 or less)
  • $5 daily overdraft fee

LEARN MORE Secured

on Radius Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Alternatives to a second chance bank account

Get a prepaid debit card

Tired of the traditional banking experience? You could opt for a prepaid debit card instead. With a prepaid card, you can load money onto it and spend at merchants that accept major credit and debit cards. But if you try and spend more money than what’s on the card, the transaction is declined — although this prevents you from accruing any overdraft or insufficient funds fees. This is useful if you feel you may still have trouble managing your spending and need an extra layer of security to prevent you from getting into trouble.

Some prepaid cards offer extra perks like advance direct deposit and free ATMs so long as you stay in their network.

Open a secured credit card

You may also have better luck applying for a secured credit card if your credit score is in good enough shape. Usually, this requires depositing cash with the lender, who then gives you the credit card for the same amount. Each month that you make on-time payments, the bank will report that good behavior to the credit bureaus, helping you boost your credit score. At the end of the payment period (generally 12 months, though it varies by banks), you’ll get the full deposit back.

Secured cards can come with high interest rates and many don’t feature the enticing rewards other high-end cards do, but they get the basic job done for consumers who don’t need a card with a high credit limit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

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