California Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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Updated on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

California Credit Union’s checking account options

Personal Checking

An extremely low interest rate with an extremely high minimum balance requirement.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$10,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $2, though it is waivable.
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs; may be charged surcharge
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

California Credit Union’s Personal Checking Account leaves a lot to be desired. While it comes with no minimum opening deposit, the minimum balance required to earn its extremely low APY is astonishingly high. It also comes with a monthly maintenance fee, though it can be waived in one of three ways. First, if you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 64, you will not be subject to this fee. Otherwise, the fee can be waived by either setting up a direct deposit of $400 or more per month or by opting for eStatements only, forgoing the paper option.

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eChecking

You won’t be able to mess up and get charged a monthly maintenance fee, but you also won’t be earn any interest.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

Should you opt for eChecking over Personal Checking, you will be giving up any dividends and subject to a higher minimum opening deposit, though the amount required is still extremely reasonable. Because eStatements are a mandatory aspect of this account, you won’t have to worry about a monthly maintenance fee.

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Student Checking

Free paper statements, but no dividends with this account for 13- to 25-year-olds.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

Student Checking is available to students who are aged 13-25. This account comes with no monthly maintenance fee, even if you choose to get paper statements every month. While the absence of this fee is great, it does come at the cost of accruing any interest. You will be able to transition your account at age 26 with no headaches; it will be automatically converted to a Personal Checking account.

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HSA Checking

Save for your healthcare expenses while sheltering your money from taxes.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10% $50
0.20%$25,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: $27

If you have a high-deductible health plan, you may qualify to open a Health Savings Account (HSA). This account is tax-advantaged, which means that the money you stash away is tax deductible, and when you spend money from this account on qualified healthcare costs, the withdrawals won’t be taxed, either.

Notably, while this account is an HSA, it is otherwise treated as a checking account would be, without limitations on transactions.

You cannot use an ATM with this account, but you will be given a debit card which you can use to pay your healthcare providers.

How to get California Credit Union’s Checking Accounts

You can open Personal Checking and eChecking online or in person at your local branch. Be prepared with your government-issued ID, current address, Social Security number and date of birth. If you are 18 or older, you can also open your Student Checking account in this way. However, if you are younger than 18, you will need to visit a branch with the adult with whom you’d like to share joint ownership.

The HSA checking account must be opened in person or via mail. If you’d prefer to do it via postal mail, you can obtain the necessary paperwork here.

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How California Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

Half of California Credit Union’s checking accounts pay no dividends. HSA dividends will concern only a select group of consumers, while the low dividends and high minimum balance requirements on Personal Checking affect a much larger group.

There are much more lucrative offers out there. You can secure dramatically higher rates and lower minimum balance requirements by shopping the best online checking accounts.

California Credit Union’s savings account options

Share Savings

A savings account that carries the same APY as its checking account counterpart.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$100
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $2.50, though it can be waived.
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

While Share Savings has a much lower minimum balance requirement to earn the APY when compared to Personal Checking, it also has the exact same APY offering. This is abnormal; typically savings accounts pay more than checking.

This account does come with a monthly fee — however, you can avoid it by maintaining a daily balance of $100 or more, or by setting up a direct deposit of at least $400 per month.

You will also need to keep in mind that you cannot make more than six transfers or withdrawals per month without penalty from the credit union. This rule, known as Regulation D, is governed by federal authorities. If you make more than six withdrawals per month from your savings account, you will be charged an excessive withdrawal fee.

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Student Savings

Low fees and minimum balance requirements are offset by a low APY.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: The APY on this student account is also the same as Personal Checking. However, you’ll be able to earn that low APY on any balance you keep in your account. You’re also able to dodge ATM fees at out-of-network ATMs — well, you’ll be able to dodge the ones charged by California Credit Union. Fees charged by outside ATM-owners may still be applied and are not refunded.

There is no minimum age on this account, but the max age is 25. When you turn 26, this account will be converted into Share Savings.

This account is also subject to a $10 excessive withdrawal fee after the sixth per month.

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Summer Savings

An account that helps educators get through the summer months when paychecks are slim to nonexistent.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%$100
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

Summer Savings is an account built especially for people who work in the education system. After you get it set up with your initial deposit, you will be able to put money in directly from your paycheck via direct deposit. By saving a little each month, you’ll have enough money to go around during the summer months when your paychecks stop coming in.

While it’s likely best to keep this money untouched until disbursement in July, you can make withdrawals at any time without penalty as long as you stay under the six-withdrawals-per-month limit. It is worth noting that the APY on this account is double that of other savings accounts offered by California Credit Union, but it’s still not very high when you compare it to offers from outside competitors.

How to get California Credit Union’s Savings Accounts

You can open any of California Credit Union’s savings accounts account in person or online with your Social Security number, a government-issued ID, current address and date of birth. However, if you’re under the age of 18, you will need to visit a branch in person with the adult who will share ownership of the account with you.

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How California Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

The dividends offered on California Credit Union’s savings products are extremely low. It is highly recommended that you shop around for a significantly more competitive account on our list of the best online savings accounts. If you work in the education system, know that California Credit Union isn’t the only financial institution offering a product like Summer Savings. Sometimes these accounts will go under the label of “club” accounts, but many credit unions offer them, and they sometimes offer them with higher dividend rates.

California Credit Union’s CD rates

Share Certificates

Penalties for early withdrawal are heavier than they might seem at first glance.
TermAPYBalance Requirements
3 Months0.40%$1,000
3 Months0.40%$10,000
3 Months0.40%$100,000
6 Months0.50%$1,000
6 Months0.50%$10,000
6 Months0.50%$100,000
12 Months0.70%$1,000
12 Months0.70%$10,000
12 Months0.70%$100,000
18 Months0.80%$1,000
18 Months0.80%$10,000
18 Months0.80%$100,000
24 Months1.01%$1,000
24 Months1.01%$10,000
24 Months1.01%$100,000
36 Months1.11%$1,000
36 Months1.11%$10,000
36 Months1.11%$100,000
60 Month1.31%$1,000
60 Months1.31%$10,000
60 Months1.31%$100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 90 days’ worth of dividends on certificates with terms of 12 months or less; 180 days’ worth of dividends on certificates with terms of more than 12 months.

Share Certificates at California Credit Union have a reasonable opening deposit requirement and early withdrawal penalties, but that’s about where the positives end. First of all, if you do make a withdrawal, not only will you be charged those penalty fees, but your APY will drop to whatever is currently being offered on Share Savings — a miniscule amount.

The number one thing you’d like to see in a certificate is a competitive APY offering, but this product simply falls short. You can find better rates elsewhere; if you’re going to lock your money up for a period of time, make sure it’s earning as much in dividends as possible.

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Accelerator Certificate

The ability to take advantage of a rate bump isn’t worth the low APY.
TermAPYBalance Requirements
25 Months0.90%$10,000
25 Months0.90%$100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days’ worth of dividends

The primary reason to open an Accelerator Certificate is to take advantage of its rate bump option. At any one point during the term of your certificate, you can opt to request a rate bump. That means if the rates California Credit Union is offering go up over the term of your certificate, you’ll be able to take advantage of them.

However, the ability to request a rate bump may not be worth it. The minimum required opening deposit for this certificate is markedly higher than that of California Credit Union’s Share Certificates, and the initial rate itself is nothing to write home about. In fact, you could score a higher rate by opening a 24-month Share Certificate, even though the term is shorter.

How to get California Credit Union’s Certificates

Certificates can be opened online or in person with your government-issued ID, current address, date of birth and Social Security number.

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How California Credit Union’s CD rates compare

The APY offered by California Credit Union on its certificate products is just not competitive. The best offers on the market are often over an entire percentage point higher, which means your money could be earning more in dividends elsewhere. The ability to bump your rate up to take advantage of future rates via the Accelerator Certificate is negated by the fact that its offered APY is significantly lower than what you’d find elsewhere. You can hope that rates rise in the future, or you can seek out higher rates that actually exist in this very moment on our list of the best CD rates.

California Credit Union’s money market account options

Money Market Account

Relatively low minimum balance requirements are countered by extremely low APY offerings.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$0.01
0.15%$2,500
0.20%$10,000
0.25%$50,000
0.30%$100,000
0.30%$500,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5, if your balance falls below $2,500
  • ATM fee: $1.50 at non-CO-OP ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $27

Money market accounts used to be known for having higher interest rates than your standard savings. That has changed in recent years, though, and some savings accounts have started to keep pace with money market accounts.

Unfortunately, California Credit Union’s money market account does not offer a competitive APY. At its lowest tier, it offers the same rate as the credit union’s savings account which, lest you forget, is the same rate as its checking account. The fact that these rates don’t even get close to breaking 1.00% means you should probably look elsewhere for your money market needs.

If you do choose to open this account, remember to keep a close eye on your balance so you won’t be charged the monthly maintenance fee. You’ll also want to bear in mind that money market accounts are also subject to Regulation D, so you won’t be able to make more than six withdrawals per month from this account without incurring excessive withdrawal fees imposed by the credit union.

How to get California Credit Union’s Money Market Account

This account can be opened in person or online with your government-issued ID, Social Security number, birthdate and current address.

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How California Credit Union’s money market accounts compare

California Credit Union’s APY offerings on money market accounts are not remotely competitive. While minimum balance requirements are minimal to low when compared to other financial institutions, that doesn’t much matter when you can find significantly better rates on savings accounts, not to mention on our list of the best money market accounts.

California Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

IRA Share Certificates

These rates weren’t great outside of an IRA, and they don’t get more attractive within one.
Term  APYBalance Requirements
3 Months0.40%$1,000
3 Months0.40%$10,000
3 Months0.40%$100,000
6 Months0.50%$1,000
6 Months0.50%$10,000
6 Months0.50%$100,000
12 Months0.70%$1,000
12 Months0.70%$10,000
12 Months0.70%$100,000
18 Months0.80%$1,000
18 Months0.80%$10,000
18 Months0.80%$100,000
24 Months1.01%$1,000
24 Months1.01%$10,000
24 Months1.01%$100,000
36 Months1.11%$1,000
36 Months1.11%$10,000
36 Months1.11%$100,000
60 Month1.31%$1,000
60 Months1.31%$10,000
60 Months1.31%$100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 90 days’ worth of dividends on certificates with terms of 12 months or less; 180 days’ worth of dividends on certificates with terms greater than 12 months.

Some financial institutions will offer higher rates on certificates when they are found inside of an IRA — California Credit Union does not. The offered APY is identical to that offered on Share Certificates outside of an IRA, and we already know those rates were low.

An IRA is meant to help you build wealth for your retirement. Holding a certificate inside an IRA is a notably conservative investment option. It’s not worth hindering your money’s growth further by stunting it with low dividend rates. Instead, shop around for higher rates elsewhere.

How to get California Credit Union’s IRA Share Certificates

This account must be opened in person. Call your local branch to schedule an appointment.

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How California Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

While minimum deposit requirements are par for the course with this product, the rates offered by California Credit Union on its IRA certificate products are very low. You’re going to want to shop our list of the best IRA CD rates to ensure you’re getting the highest return possible on this already conservative portfolio holding.

IRA Savings Account

Low returns cripple this already conservative portfolio holding.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%$50
0.15%$50,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

Once again, California Credit Union presents an account with a disappointingly low APY offering. Other financial institutions offer rates over or nearly two entire percentage points higher than what you will find here. If the IRA Certificate was a conservative portfolio holding, an IRA savings account is even moreso. Make sure you’re getting the highest rate possible if you’re already going to be making conservative money moves with your retirement savings.

How to get California Credit Union’s IRA Savings Account

Visit your local branch to open this account, as you cannot do so online.

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Overall review of California Credit Union’s banking products

When you look at the big picture, California Credit Union offers a menial amount in dividends. That holds true whether you’re looking at IRA Savings, Personal Checking, Accelerator Certificates or Student Savings. No matter how agreeable other terms on the account may be, it doesn’t help much in light of such small returns.

There are other financial institutions out there. If you have your heart set on a credit union, know that there are credit unions out there offering significantly more competitive rates. You don’t necessarily have to live around the block to take advantage of these rates. Some credit unions are open for national membership, some operate at a statewide level and others still are open to those in certain professions. You can find a good match. Unfortunately, California Credit Union probably isn’t one of them.

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