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

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Updated on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Patelco Credit Union’s checking account options

Interest Checking

This account pays a very small amount of interest and has no monthly fee if you can meet one of three requirements.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5, unless you meet one of the following criteria each month:
    • Have at least one direct deposit of $100 or more
    • Keep at least $500 in the account
    • Be a Patelco Commitment Household member
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

If you’d rather earn interest on the money in your checking account, here’s one option. As with the Free Checking account, you can write checks or use a debit card to access the money in your account.

Aside from earning interest in this account, this differs because it carries a monthly fee. You can avoid it by meeting one of the three criteria Patelco Credit Union has set up, but you’ll need to be diligent about checking in each month to make sure you’re still on the up-and-up.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Interest Checking account

If you fit the membership criteria, you can join the credit union by applying online or in a local branch. If approved, you’ll need to deposit at least $1 in a Tiered Savings account to establish your membership in the credit union. Once you’ve done that, you can open this account.

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Premier Interest Checking

The Premier Interest Checking account doesn’t offer that great of interest rates.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$0.01-$4,999.99
0.10%$5,000-$9,999.99
0.10%$10,000-$24,999.99
0.10%$25,000-$49,999.99
0.10%$50,000-$99,999.99
0.10%$100,000 or more
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, unless you keep at least $5,000 in the account or are a Patelco Commitment Household member.
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

This is Patelco Credit Union’s highest-yielding checking account. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t offer that great of an interest rate. This account is also best for high-balance individuals since you’ll pay a monthly fee for this account if you can’t keep at least $5,000 in it.

One of the nice things about this account is that if you reach a certain interest rate tier level, that interest rate will apply to all the money in your checking account. For example, if you reach the second tier level ($5,000-$9,999.99), all your money will earn that interest rate, rather than just the portion above that level. So it pays off to keep your balance at the higher tier levels.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Premier Interest Checking account

To join the credit union, you’ll need to provide Patelco Credit Union with your name, Social Security number and a valid state ID, among other details. If approved, you’ll need to deposit at least $1 in a Tiered Savings account to open your membership. Then you can apply for the Premier Interest Checking account.

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Free Checking

This is a pretty standard free, noninterest-bearing account.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: Free if you link up another account (such as a savings account); otherwise, $28 per overdraft

If all you need is a basic checking account at Patelco Credit Union, this one is your best bet. It’s the only checking account for adults that doesn’t come with any special requirements to meet to avoid a monthly service charge. In return for that privilege, you won’t earn any interest on this checking account.

As with checking accounts, you’ll be supplied with a debit card and check-writing capabilities. You can even link up another one of your Patelco Credit Union accounts to serve as free overdraft protection for this account. We recommend you do this, otherwise the high overdraft fee will sting.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Free Checking account

If you’re eligible to join Patelco Credit Union, you can do so by filling out its online application or by visiting a branch. You’ll need to provide your Social Security or tax ID number and your state-issued ID to prove your identity. If approved, you’ll need to also deposit at least $1 in a Tiered Savings account to open your membership. After that, you can open up this Free Checking account.

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Youth Checking

This account for teens ages 13 to 17 comes with some spending restrictions.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

Checking accounts can seem complicated to figure out at first, especially if you’re getting one as a young adult. That’s why giving your child a head start with their own checking account — with “training wheels,” of course — can really help them.

If your teen is between the ages of 13 and 17, they’re eligible to open this account. Besides not charging any monthly fees, Patelco Credit Union sweetens the deal a bit more with a free first order of checks.

This account is also handy for teens because it comes with spending limits. Your teen can’t spend more than $200 a day with their debit card or withdraw more than $100 in cash per day through the ATM.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Youth Checking account

Your child will also need to sign up for membership in the credit union. If you’re already a member, they’re eligible. Like everyone else, they’ll need to deposit at least $1 in a Tiered Savings account, after which they can open this account.

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How Patelco Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

If you’re looking for a basic, no-frills checking account, Patelco Credit Union might work for you. The credit union’s Youth Checking and Free Checking accounts come with few strings, although it’d be even nicer if they nixed the ATM fees.

But if you’re looking for an interest-bearing checking account, it’s a bit of another story. Not only do its interest-bearing accounts come with monthly fees (and the hassle of meeting requirements to avoid them each month), but they also pay very low interest rates. If you’re in the market for a high-yielding checking account, we recommend one of these top online checking accounts instead.

Patelco Credit Union’s savings account options

Tiered Savings

You’ll need to open this savings account to establish membership at Patelco Credit Union.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$0.01-$4,999.99
0.05%$5,000-$9,999.99
0.05%$10,000-$19,999.99
0.05%$20,000-$49,999.99
0.05%$50,000-$99,999.99
0.05%$100,000 or more
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: 1 cent
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5, unless you keep at least $150 across all your accounts
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

Credit unions generally require you to open a savings account and fund it with a small amount of money to establish your membership. At Patelco Credit Union, that’s this Tiered Savings account, and you’ll need to deposit at least $1.

Once you reach a given interest rate tier with this account, your entire balance will earn that interest rate (not just the balance above that tier level). You’ll also be subject to a strict six-withdrawal limit per month, due to federal Regulation D laws. If you exceed that amount, you’ll pay a $1 per-withdrawal fee. The following types of withdrawals don’t count against the six-withdrawal monthly limit:

  • In-person withdrawals
  • By-mail withdrawals
  • ATM withdrawals
  • Telephone withdrawals

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Tiered Savings account

You can apply for the Tiered Savings account if you’re eligible for membership. To complete your application, you’ll need to provide a few details, such as your Social Security number and a state-issued ID. Patelco Credit Union might perform a credit check as part of the application.

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Holiday Club Savings

If you can afford to save regularly, this account can help make sure you have enough cash for the holidays.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%$20
  • Minimum opening deposit: $20
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $20
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

The holidays always seem to cost more than you think, yet it’s an expense that you can budget for throughout the year. This Holiday Club Savings account can help you do that. You can open it at any point of the year.

To start, you’ll need to deposit at least $20 in the account to open it and set up monthly automatic deposits of at least another $20. You can also make extra deposits whenever you want. On Nov. 15 of each year, the money — plus interest — will be deposited into another account that you choose, such as your checking account. The account automatically renews each year — and automatic withdrawals will keep accruing — unless you notify Patelco Credit Union to stop it.

There are a few downsides to this account. It doesn’t earn compounding interest, for one. There are also early withdrawal penalties. If you withdraw the money during the first six days after opening the account, you’ll pay seven days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn. After that, you’ll forfeit any interest earned on the money you withdraw. And if you stop the automatic payments, Patelco Credit Union will close the account and won’t credit you with any interest.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Holiday Club Savings account

If you’re interested in opening this account, you’ll first need to open a Tiered Savings account and fund it with at least $1 to establish your membership. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number and a state-issued ID during the application process.

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Youth Savings

This free savings account is basically a copycat of the Tiered Savings account, but for teens.
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: 1 cent
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

Patelco Credit Union offers a Youth Checking account, and this Youth Savings account is designed to complement it. Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 are eligible to open this account. It’s very similar to the regular Tiered Savings account, but with a few teen-friendly features.

First, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Your teen doesn’t even need any money to open this account. The regular Tiered Savings account requires at least $1 to open, but Patelco Credit Union will spot teens the required $1 for this account. Since this account is basically the regular Tiered Savings account, it may earn the same interest, but you’ll want to call the credit union to confirm whether interest can be earned on your teen’s money.

There are two downsides to this account. Your teen can only make deposits in-person at a branch, which basically cuts out everyone living outside of the Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa areas, where most branches are located. Also, teens can only make six withdrawals per month, not including ATM, in-person, mail or telephone withdrawals (although, to be fair, any savings account has this limitation due to Regulation D rules). If your teen exceeds these withdrawal limits, they will pay $1 for each withdrawal after that.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Youth Savings account

To apply for this account, you and/or your child will first need to apply for membership with Patelco Credit Union. If you’re already a member, your child is eligible for membership.

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How Patelco Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

Patelco Credit Union touts its savings accounts as offering “above-market interest.” We don’t see how that’s true, considering that most of its savings accounts offer next-to-nothing interest rates, even when compared to the average savings account. If your priority is in earning the highest rates possible, you’d be better to skip these savings accounts for a high-yield online savings account.

We do like the fact that Patelco Credit Union offers a savings account for teens, and a Holiday Club Savings account. But, again, each has problems. The Holiday Club Savings account is plagued with early withdrawal fees, and there are no options for a kids’ savings account — only teens. You can find many other better accounts for your family and for holiday savings at other credit unions.

Patelco Credit Union’s CD rates

Share Certificates

Patelco Credit Union offers pretty standard rates for its CDs.
TermAPY
3-5 months0.20%
6-11 months0.35%
12-17 months0.50%
18-23 months0.50%
24-35 months0.70%
36-47 months0.85%
48-59 months0.90%
60 months1.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw any money from your CD within the first six days of opening it, you’ll pay seven days’ worth of interest on the amount you withdraw. After that, it’ll depend on your term length:
    • For CDs up to 47 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of dividends or all your dividends, whichever is less.
    • For CDs 48 months or more, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of dividends or all your dividends, whichever is less.

There are a few nice features of Patelco Credit Union’s CDs. There is a wide range of term lengths from which to choose — anything from three to 60 months. You can also withdraw the interest earned on these accounts at any point without paying a penalty, which is nice (although the interest rate you actually earn from the account may be less if you do this).

When the CD reaches maturity, it’ll renew for another term length automatically unless you tell Patelco Credit Union not to do so. If it does renew, you have a 10-day grace period to make any changes to the CD. If you want to add more money or otherwise change the CD, choose your timing carefully: You’re only allowed to make one single change to the account during its grace period.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s CDs

To apply, you’ll first need to join the credit union, if you’re eligible. You may need to provide your Social Security number and state-issued ID as part of the application process, and Patelco Credit Union may also check your credit. Once approved, you’ll need to deposit at least $1 in a Tiered Savings account to seal the deal before you can open any of its other accounts (including a CD).

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How Patelco Credit Union’s CD rates compare

Patelco Credit Union offers rates that are slightly above the average rates being offered at other banking institutions. The credit union as of Sept. 17, 2018, was offering a higher promotional interest rate on 36- to 47-month CDs, and this is indeed a good rate.

If 36- to 47-month CDs are all you’ll ever need, and assuming that this interest rate stays the same, Patelco Credit Union might be a good choice. Otherwise, we suggest one of these other top-yielding CDs to maximize the amount of interest you get for your deposit.

Patelco Credit Union’s money market account option

Money Market Select

This money market account is a standout high-earner among Patelco Credit Union’s deposit accounts.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
2.00%$0.01-$2,000
1.00%$2,000.01-$5,000
0.50%$5,000.01-$10,000
0.35%$10,000.01-$50,000
0.25%$50,000.01-$100,000
0.20%$100,000.01-$9,999,999
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: 1 cent
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free for in-network ATMs; $1.75 for out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

If you’re in the market for a high-yielding money market account, this one should make your ears perk up. It offers a very high interest rate starting on the lowest tiers, as opposed to the highest-tier balances as with most other tiered bank accounts.

The only catch is that unlike Patelco Credit Union’s other tiered accounts, you only earn the interest rate stated for each tier on the balance within that tier. So, for example, if you have $5,000 in the account, you’ll earn the highest interest rate on the first $2,000 in the account, and the second-highest interest rate on the remaining $3,000 within the account.

You also get free checks with this account. But, again, there’s another hidden catch: You can only write up to three checks per month. And like most other savings and money market accounts, you’re limited to just six withdrawals a month due to federal Regulation D guidelines (not including withdrawals made in person, by pre-authorized ACH transfer or by an “authenticated electronic request … to transmit a check, electronic transfer or wire transfer.”

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Money Market Select account

If you’re already a member of Patelco Credit Union, you can open this account online or in person at a branch. If you’re not yet a member, you’ll need to apply for membership first (assuming you’re within the field of membership eligibility). You may need to provide sensitive details on your application, such as your tax ID number and a copy of your state-issued ID. Once you’ve been approved, you can open this Money Market Select account after you fund a Tiered Savings account with at least $1 to establish your membership.

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How Patelco Credit Union’s money market account compares

For smaller balances (less than $5,000), money market accounts don’t get much better than this. We adore the fact that this account offers the highest interest rates on the smallest balances. It’s not often that banks and credit unions seem interested in helping the little guy out, but this is one account that does. In fact, this account beats out many of our top picks for highest-yielding money market accounts.

What to do after you reach the $5,000 mark, when interest rates start falling in higher tiers, is your decision. You can certainly leave more than $5,000 in the account for the sake of simplicity. But if you want to earn the most return on your dollar, you may want to consider opening a money market account at another bank or credit union offering a higher interest rate at that point.

Patelco Credit Union’s IRA options

IRA CD rates

Many banks and credit unions offer higher interest rates for IRA CDs. Patelco Credit Union does not.
TermAPY
3-5 months0.20%
6-11 months0.35%
12-17 months0.50%
18-23 months0.50%
24-35 months0.70%
36-47 months0.85%
48-59 months0.90%
60 months1.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: How much you pay will depend on when you withdraw the money and how long your original term length was. For all terms, if you withdraw any money during the first six days, you’ll pay up to seven days’ worth of interest (this won’t tap into the principal, however). After that, you’ll pay the following:
    • For CDs up to 47 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest or all interest earned, whichever is less.
    • For CDs of 48 months or longer, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest or all interest earned, whichever is less.

These IRA CD accounts are very similar to Patelco Credit Union’s regular Share Certificates, with just a couple of tweaks. For one, the minimum opening deposit is less: $500, versus the Share Certificate’s $1,000. You can also make penalty-free early withdrawals once you reach age 59 ½.

When your CD matures, it’ll roll over into a new IRA CD with a 10-day grace period. If you want to make any changes to the CD, you’ll have to do it in one fell swoop, because you can only make one change (deposit, withdrawal or change in term length) per each grace period.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s IRA CDs

If you want to open an IRA CD at Patelco Credit Union, you’ll first need to jump through a few hoops to become a member. If you’re already a member, you can opt to open these IRA CD accounts online or at your local branch. To become a member, you’ll need to complete an application, and then fund a Tiered Savings account with at least $1 to open your membership. Once that’s complete, you can open an IRA CD.

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How Patelco Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

Patelco Credit Union offers so-so rates on these IRA CD accounts. Often, banks and credit unions will offer higher rates on their IRA CDs as compared to their regular CDs, but that’s not the case at Patelco Credit Union. Thus, you can easily find better interest rates on other IRA CDs — an important thing, considering that it’s best to earn the most money possible on your deposit. That’s doubly true for retirement savings, of which most Americans have woefully little saved already.

Money Market Select IRA

This money market account — like Patelco Credit Union’s regular money market account — offers a fantastic interest rate for folks starting out.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
2.00%$0.01-$2,000
1.00%$2,000.01-$5,000
0.50%$5,000.01-$10,000
0.35%$10,000.01-$50,000
0.25%$50,000.01-$100,000
0.20%$100,000.01-$9,999,999
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: 1 cent
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28

If you’re just getting started out saving for retirement, you may have noticed something: The interest rates offered on IRA savings and money market accounts are often pitifully low. This account is one exception to that rule, offering a high interest rate on balances within the lowest tier levels instead of the highest tier levels, like most banking institutions. You can open this account as either a traditional or Roth IRA.

This account works much like Patelco Credit Union’s regular money market account, but with a few changes. This account doesn’t come with an ATM card or the ability to write checks (hardly something you’ll need since this account is designed to stuff money into for the bulk of its life span). You also can’t pledge this account toward overdraft protection on another account.

How to get Patelco Credit Union’s Money Market Select IRA account

If you’re already a Patelco Credit Union member, opening an account is as simple as logging into your account online or visiting a local branch. If you’re not yet a member (and are eligible for membership), you’ll need to fill out an application first. If your application is approved, you’ll need to open a Tiered Savings account with a minimum $1 deposit to establish your membership. After this is complete, you can open this IRA money market account.

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on Patelco Credit Union’s secure website

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Overall review of Patelco Credit Union’s banking products

In general, you can expect higher interest rates from credit unions as opposed to banks, because credit unions profess to return profits to members (that’s you) as opposed to shareholders. That’s all fine and dandy, but Patelco Credit Union is a bit of an outlier because it offers average — or very low — interest rates on most of its bank accounts.

The one exception is its money market accounts (both regular and IRA versions). If you’re really jonesing for a high-yield money market account and don’t yet have a high balance, these money market accounts are definitely good ones to consider. Otherwise, you can find higher-yielding checking, savings and CD accounts at other banks and credit unions, and for fewer fees.

One final note: There are a few pesky fees that apply to all accounts. Unless you have direct deposit set up, a line of credit, a loan, are a minor or have the Free Checking account, you’ll need to keep at least $150 across all your Patelco Credit Union accounts at all times. Otherwise, the credit union will charge your Tiered Savings account (the one that establishes your membership) $5 a month until it’s empty. And if you close your membership with Patelco Credit Union before six months? Then you’ll pay a $20 early account closure fee.

That’s why we suggest passing on Patelco Credit Union unless you’re keen on banking with a local credit union and just happen to be living near a branch, or if you want a high-yielding money market account for low balance amounts.

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