State Employees’ Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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State Employees’ Credit Union’s checking account options

Checking

As long as you keep your balance above $4,800, you’ll earn enough interest from this account to cover the monthly fee

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.25%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $1
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up, or you have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

State Employees’ Credit Union’s checking account earns a small amount of interest, and it’s not free. Each month you’ll have to pay a $1 fee, which SECU will donate to its SECU Foundation, a local community development program, unless you tell them not to do so. There is no way to avoid paying the fee by meeting certain requirements like with most banks. But it’s not that high of a fee to begin with, and it goes to a good cause, so this may not be too much of an issue for you.

If you open this account, you can write up to 50 checks per month for free. That’s a lot of checks, but if you do go over that amount, you’ll pay a $0.20 processing fee for each additional check. Similarly, you can make up to 50 free payments each month through State Employees’ Credit Union’s BillPay service. If you somehow manage to exceed that, you’ll pay an extra $0.20 fee per BillPay transaction.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Checking account

You can apply for a checking account online or by visiting a local branch. First, you’ll need to make a minimum $25 deposit into one of State Employees’ Credit Union’s share accounts to establish your membership (this money will need to stay in the account to keep your membership open).

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Z-Checking

State Employees’ Credit Union’s checking account for teenagers will cost them, but it comes with some good benefits too.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.25%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $1
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: none
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

This account is one of two different bank account programs for kids and teens. The FAT CAT program is available to children under age 12, while the Zard program is for teens ages 13-19. SECU doesn’t offer a checking account for its FAT CAT program, but if you’re a teenager, you can open the Z-Checking account through the Zard program.

The Zard program comes with a few benefits. Teens get access to the Zard financial education website, and while it looks like it was designed in 1999, it does offer some other nice features: this includes discounted theme park tickets, help with buying your teen’s first car and the Money Matterz newsletter. In addition, your teen can get a free term life insurance policy for $1,000.

Other than that, this account works in much the same way as State Employees’ Credit Union’s normal checking account. Teens can write up to 50 checks per month for free ($0.20 per check thereafter) and pay a $1 monthly fee, although this won’t be donated to the SECU Foundation. Teens can also only make $1,000 in purchases each day, and withdraw up to $205 in cash from an ATM. Once your teen reaches age 20, this account will be converted into a normal checking account.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Z-Checking account

To open a checking account, you’ll need to deposit at least $25 into a Z-Share account (and leave it there) to establish your membership with the credit union. You can open an account online or in person at a local branch.

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How State Employees’ Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

We’re a bit so-so about these accounts. On one hand, State Employees’ Credit Union charges a monthly fee and there is no way to get out of it, although it is a very small monthly fee and it goes to a good cause (this only applies to the regular Checking account; the Z-Checking account fees are not donated). On the other hand, these accounts each offer a small amount of interest, and they come with a small overdraft fee, especially compared to some of the big banks.

However, if you’re looking to earn the most money possible and don’t care where your bank is based, try checking out these top-yielding online checking accounts instead.

State Employees’ Credit Union’s savings account options

Share  Savings

You’ll need to open this Share Savings account first before you can open any other State Employees’ Credit Union accounts.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.75%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $1 if your account balance drops below $25.
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: none
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

If you plan on opening any account at State Employees’ Credit Union, you’ll need to open this account first (unless you’re in the FAT CAT program, in which case you can open a FAT CAT share account with as little as $5 to establish membership). Luckily, it comes with a good interest rate, especially compared to most credit unions.

You’ll receive monthly interest payments with this account, and in addition, you can also use this account as collateral against a SECU loan, which may help to lower your interest rates.

There are a few limitations with this account. Just like with any savings account, you are allowed up to six certain withdrawals per month (not including ATM or in-person withdrawals), per federal Regulation D. If you exceed that limit for multiple months, State Employees’ Credit Union may restrict your account. You also can’t set up ACH transfers out of this account.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Share (Savings) account

In order to open this account and establish your membership, you’ll have to visit a local branch to sign paperwork. You cannot open this account online. However, once open, you can open any other account online through your Member Access portal.

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Z-Share

This account for teens is very similar to State Employees’ Credit Union’s regular Share accounts, with a few additional perks.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.75%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $1 if your account balance falls below $25.
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

Teenagers ages 13 to 19 are eligible to open this account alongside the Z-Checking account — in fact, they’re required to open either this account or a regular Share account first in order to establish membership.

Once it’s open, it comes with a few extra perks, as compared to the regular Share accounts. Teens are eligible for a free $1,000 term life insurance policy, help with buying their first car and access to auto loans and a special Zard financial literacy website just for account holders.

Teens are not able to make more than six withdrawals per month (not including ATM or in-person withdrawals). If they go over this limit for several months, they could have their account restricted. Additionally, teens with the Zard accounts are limited to withdrawing up to $205 in cash from an ATM per day or making $1,000 in purchases with their card.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Z-Share account

Your teen has two options for opening this account: they can open it in a branch, or go online. This is probably the easiest option.

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FAT CAT Share

State Employees’ Credit Union’s savings account for kids under 12 offers fair policies and a good interest rate for a kids’ savings account.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.75%

$5

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $5
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

Just like with SECU’s Zard program, the FAT CAT program for kids under 12 is designed to help teach them about financial literacy while helping them save. State Employees’ Credit Union has lowered the account opening requirement for this program: your kids can get started saving with just a $5 minimum opening deposit. Once they reach $25, however, that amount needs to stay in their account to keep membership open.

When your child opens this account, they’ll receive a goody bag and a savings account passbook. They’ll also get access to a special website with educational games, the “Paw Prints” newsletter and $1,000 in free term life insurance.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s FAT CAT Share account

In order to open this account, you’ll need to visit a local branch in person. You — or another responsible adult who is also a member — will need to sign up as a joint owner of the account.

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Summer Cash account

This unique account helps teachers bridge the gap between the unpaid summer months when school is out of session.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

2.05%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

If you’re a teacher who struggles during the unpaid summer months when you’re not working, this might be just the account for you.

Here’s how it works: you can make one single deposit (or none at all) to open the account. When you open the account, you tell State Employees’ Credit Union how much you want them to take from each of your paychecks. State Employees’ Credit Union offers a calculator to help you determine what amount is right for you. You can’t make any additional deposits or withdrawals outside of these scheduled paycheck deductions.

Then, during the months when you’re not working, State Employees’ Credit Union will divvy up your account balance and deposit it into your checking, money market or share account once per month to tide you over until you start receiving paychecks again.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Summer Cash account

You can easily open this account online through the Member Access portal. You can also sign up for this account in person at a credit union branch.

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Holiday Cash Club

State Employees’ Credit Union’s Holiday Cash Club account helps you save for the holidays more easily.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.75%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

Holiday savings accounts aren’t as widespread, but you can still find them at places like State Employees’ Credit Union. They’re very helpful for people who have trouble saving for the holidays, and find themselves going into debt each year.

When you open SECU’s Holiday Cash Club account, you can make deposits into the account at any time up until October. On the last business day of this month, any interest you’ve earned will be tacked onto the account (so, interest does not accumulate monthly) and distributed into your Share, Checking or Money Market account on the last business day in October — just in time to start holiday shopping.

State Employees’ Credit Union has designed this account so that it’s easy to put money in, but difficult to get it out again outside of the normally-scheduled automatic distribution at the end of October. If you want to withdraw the money, you can only withdraw the entire balance to close the account, and you can only do so by visiting a local branch or through its Member Services phone line.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Holiday Cash Club account

If you log into your online Member Access portal, you can easily open this account online.

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How State Employees’ Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

We like the savings accounts State Employees’ Credit Union offers for two reasons: it offers relatively high interest rates especially when compared to most credit unions, and it offers a diversity of unique accounts that help people save for tough situations.

For example, the Summer Cash account can help teachers who already have a hard enough time making ends meet these days. The very high savings account rate offered on this account combined with the forced savings plan and automatic distribution can help make it just a bit easier on North Carolina’s educators.

Still, there are online savings accounts that offer much better interest rates, and it’s worth checking out these options as well before settling on a parking space for your money.

State Employees’ Credit Union’s CD rates

Share Term Certificate

You can open either a one-off CD, or take advantage of State Employees’ Credit Union’s laddered CD option to create a laddered CD chain for you.

Term

APY

6 months

1.75%

12 months

1.90%

18 months

1.95%

24 months

2.00%

30 months

2.10%

36 months

2.15%

48 months

2.20%

60 months

2.25%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: No minimum balance to earn APY. However, if you drop the balance below $250, you will have to make a deposit to bring it back to $250 within 30 days or the account will be closed.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Either one of the following two penalties will apply, whichever is smaller:
    • 90 days’ worth of interest
    • The amount of interest you’ve already earned

When you open this CD, you’ll have to make few decisions. First, you’ll have to tell State Employees’ Credit Union whether you want the money transferred into another account or renewed at maturity. Then, you’ll have to tell them what to do with any interest if you have either a 6 month or 12 month CD (it can either be rolled back into the CD or paid out to another account). Any interest you earn for other CD terms will be automatically transferred into another SECU account and not rolled back into the CD.

When your CD matures and if you’ve chosen to have the CD renew, you’ll get a seven-day grace period to add money or close the CD account.

One unique feature that State Employees’ Credit Union offers is the ability to easily ladder CDs. With this program you’ll need to open five separate CDs (12 month, 24 month, 36 month, 48 month and 60 month), each with a $250 minimum deposit. Then, when they mature, they’ll automatically renew into 60 month CDs without you having to do anything.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s CDs

You can open these CDs online by visiting your Member Access portal or by visiting a local branch. Either way, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union first, which requires a minimum $25 deposit into a Share savings account to establish membership.

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How State Employees’ Credit Union’s CD rates compare

The rates that State Employees’ Credit Union offers for its CD products are not bad  — however, they’re also not great. We do like its CD laddering program, although it’s not unique to State Employees’ Credit Union. You can ladder CDs in any which way you want at any bank, as long as you’ve got a plan. If you want to find the best CDs to make a CD ladder with or just to earn extra money with on their own, we recommend these current best CDs.

State Employees’ Credit Union’s money market account options

Money Market Share

State Employees’ Credit Union’s Money Market Share account offers a just-OK return on your money.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

1.21%

$250

  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Minimum balance to earn APY:  $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $2 if your account balance falls below $250
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

If you want to earn more money on your deposit but don’t want to lock it away for a long period of time like in a CD, consider a money market account instead. This money market account is currently earning more than State Employees’ Credit Union’s savings accounts, and these accounts aren’t really all that different. In fact, unlike most money market accounts, you can’t write checks with this account nor make ACH withdrawals, making it almost indistinguishable from State Employees’ Credit Union’s regular Share account.

You’ll still be subject to the same federal Regulation D limitations, up to six certain withdrawals out of the account per month (not including in-person or ATM withdrawals). Additionally, you can’t use the money in this account as collateral for a SECU loan.

How to get State Employees’ Credit Union’s Money Market Share account

You can open this account online through SECU’s Member Access online portal.

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How State Employees’ Credit Union’s Money Market Share account compares

State Employees’ Credit Union offers good rates on its Money Market Share account. It’s really strange that you can’t write checks, however, since that’s usually the functional defining factor between these two accounts. If you need the ability to write checks from your money market account, or want to earn a higher interest rate, these top money market accounts might be just the ticket for you.

State Employees’ Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA

State Employees’ Credit Union’s version of an IRA savings account actually does earn a decent interest rate.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

2.12%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $1 if your account balance falls below $25
  • ATM fee: CashPoints® ATMs are free. If you use an ATM within the PLUS® network, you’ll pay $0.75 for a successful transaction or balance inquiry, or $0.35 for an unsuccessful transaction or balance inquiry. You may also have to pay ATM surcharge fees when using out-of-network ATMs; these are determined by the ATM’s owner.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: You won’t be charged any overdraft fees for the first two days that your account is overdrafted each year. After that, you’ll pay $0.50 per overdraft transfer if you have a linked share or money market account, or $12 per overdraft if you don’t have overdraft transfer set up or have exceeded the six-transaction monthly limit for your linked share accounts.

Most financial advisors will tell you that the best place to grow your money long-term is in the stock market. But if that’s not an option for you (or if it makes you too leery), finding an IRA account at a bank can be a good secondary option — especially one that offers a good interest rate like this one. You can open this account as a Roth, Traditional or SEP IRA.

Interest on your account will be tallied up and applied to your account each month. Unfortunately, you can’t use your State Employees’ Credit Union IRA account as collateral for a SECU loan — but why would you risk your retirement savings, anyway? Finally, you are allowed up to six certain withdrawals per month out of your account due to federal Regulation D, and any withdrawals you do make are subject to the same IRA withdrawal rules as any other IRA account.

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Overall review of State Employees’ Credit Union’s banking products

Even though State Employees’ Credit Union generally doesn’t offer the highest of interest rates, we do like its bank accounts, especially for people who are interested in banking with a local credit union. The overdraft and ATM fees with these accounts are reasonable, there are a variety of different accounts that can really help people in financially-tricky situations, and the credit union donates its checking account fees to a local foundation for bettering the community.

If you want to earn the highest interest rates possible, we suggest looking elsewhere. Otherwise, you won’t be sacrificing too much on interest rates by working with a great bank like State Employees’ Credit Union.

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Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

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

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