STCU Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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Updated on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

STCU’s checking account options

Standard Checking

A free checking account that bears no dividends.
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

As far as free checking accounts go, STCU’s option is about as free as it gets. There’s no minimum required to open the account and no monthly maintenance fee. Those 55 and older get a free box of checks if a certain direct deposit is set up. Fees are only incurred if you use an out-of-network ATM or overdraw your account.

There is a downside to all this, though. You will not earn any dividends on this account. That might not be a huge deal if you’re just looking for a low-cost way to do your day-to-day banking, but if you’re trying to earn as high of an APY as possible, this is not the account for you.

How to get STCU’s Standard Checking account

You can open this account online or at a branch. You will need a government-issued ID and your Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

Dividend Checking

High dividends on low balances. Don’t keep your balance too low, or you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.75%
$0.01
0.10%$5,000.01
0.15%$10,000.01
0.25%$25,000.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5 if your average balance falls below $2,500
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

If you want to earn dividends on your checking, the aptly named Dividend Checking may be a better account for you. The highest dividends are paid for the lowest balances, which should work great for the average person. Checking is often the account that has the lowest balance because you’re always using it. The rates offered by STCU at the lowest tier are indeed competitive.

But you don’t want to keep your balance too low. If your average balance falls below $2,500, you will be subject to a $5 monthly maintenance fee.

How to get STCU’s Dividend Checking account

You can open this account at a branch or online. Come prepared with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How STCU’s checking accounts compare

As far as Standard Checking goes, STCU’s rates are nonexistent. This is a big mark against it. While it is free from many common fees, you’ll be able to find the same lack of fees on competitors’ checking accounts, which offer dividends or interest.

Dividend Checking fares much better. At its lowest tier, this account earns competitive dividends. The biggest red flag is the monthly maintenance fee, though you can avoid it by keeping a close eye on your balance throughout the month.

If neither of these accounts feels like the right fit for you, don’t forget that you can shop around. STCU is somewhat competitive in this category, but its rates and lack of fees are not unbeatable by any means.

STCU’s savings account options

Standard Savings

A run-of-the-mill savings account with a low APY offering.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: 1 cent
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

Standard Savings is just that: standard. While it does not come with a monthly maintenance fee and there are no minimum balance requirements to earn dividends, those dividends are low. They are what you would expect from a brick-and-mortar financial institution. Online-only banks tend to offer higher rates as they have less overhead costs.

Don’t lose heart, though. STCU pulls out all the stops for the next savings account. Keep reading!

How to get STCU’s Standard Savings account

Should you choose to open this account, you can get started with the process online or at a branch. You will need your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

First5 Savings

Don’t get too excited by the crazy high APY since it only applies to your first $500 of savings.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
5.09%$0.01
0.10%$500.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

First5 Savings offers one of the highest APYs we’ve seen on any deposit account. It’s phenomenal. Those phenomenal rates do come with a catch, though: They’re only applicable if your balance is $500 or less. That means if you were thinking about using this account to stash a healthy emergency fund, it won’t pay those higher dividends.

For those with lower balances, though, you could see your money grow with this account. You could take advantage of this account and its high APY offering until you hit that magic $500 number, transfer most of your money to another high-yield savings account that offers competitive interest rates on higher balances and keep a small amount in this account, allowing it to grow again. Note that each individual can only open one of these accounts.

First5 Savings — and Standard Savings, for that matter — fall under federal Regulation D. This regulation makes it so that you are limited up to six certain withdrawals from any savings account in any given statement cycle. The first three times you violate this rule, you will be charged a $5 fee. Subsequent excess withdrawals will cost $15.

How to get STCU’s First5 Savings account

You can open your account online or in person with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How STCU’s savings accounts compare

While STCU’s Standard Savings rates aren’t anything to write home about, the credit union more than makes up for it with First5 Savings. With astronomical dividends, you are highly unlikely to find another financial institution that even comes close to this APY offering.

Because that great rate is only offered on low balance amounts, though, you may want to shop around at other institutions for savings accounts with high rates and no balance requirements. A healthy emergency fund should be much larger than the $500 limit for First5’s fantastic rates, so storing your money elsewhere might make more sense despite a lower APY depending on your situation.

STCU’s CD rates

Standard Certificates

While dividend rates on these certificates aren’t sky-high, these CDs do offer another perk which might pique your interest.
Minimum Opening DepositTermAPY
$5006-12 months0.25%
$2,0006-12 months0.40%
$10,0006-12 months0.40%
$25,0006-12 months0.40%
$50,0006-12 months0.40%
$100,0006-12 months0.40%
$50012-24 months0.25%
$2,00012-24 months0.60%
$10,00012-24 months0.60%
$25,00012-24 months0.60%
$50,00012-24 months0.60%
$100,00012-24 months0.60%
$50024-36 months0.25%
$2,00024-36 months0.75%
$10,00024-36 months0.75%
$25,00024-36 months0.75%
$50,00024-36 months0.75%
$100,00024-36 months0.75%
$50036-48 months0.25%
$2,00036-48 months0.95%
$10,00036-48 months0.95%
$25,00036-48 months0.95%
$50,00036-48 months0.95%
$100,00036-48 months0.95%
$50048-60 months0.25%
$2,00048-60 months1.00%
$10,00048-60 months1.00%
$25,00048-60 months1.00%
$50,00048-60 months1.00%
$100,00048-60 months1.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 90 days worth of dividends for six to 12 month CDs; 180 days worth of dividends for all other certificates

APY offerings on STCU’s Standard Certificate aren’t anything groundbreaking. They’re not the worst rates around, but there are several other financial institutions willing to pay you more in the way of dividends or interest.

One fairly unique aspect of these Standard Certificates, though, is that you can add anywhere from $25 to $5,000 to your balance every month. Many certificates will not allow you to top off the principal like this. There are few certificate products that allow you to add money to your initial opening deposit.

How to get STCU’s Standard Certificates

You can open a Standard Certificate online or at a branch. Bring your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Jumbo Certificate

Quick returns for those with substantial liquid cash.
TermAPY
1-3 months

0.35%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $98,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $98,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: All dividends

It costs a pretty penny to open a Jumbo Certificate, but that’s generally true at all financial institutions, not just STCU. The unique thing about this particular certificate is that the term is extremely short. While the APY isn’t incredibly high, the gains you’ll see over a short period are fairly impressive because of the required size of your initial deposit.

How to get STCU’s Jumbo Certificate

You can open your Jumbo Certificate online or in person with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Bump Rate Certificate

It’s a good thing you can take advantage of future rates with this certificate, because its APY offering isn’t overly impressive.
TermAPY
18 months0.70%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

As with Standard Certificates, STCU’s Bump Rate Certificate allows you to deposit anywhere from $25 to $5,000 a month into your certificate’s balance. The certificate has an added advantage, though. While its initial APY offering isn’t on par with the competition, you can choose to bump it up once during your 18 month term.

For example, let’s say that, over the next six months, STCU raised the interest rate on its Bump Rate Certificate by a percentage point. You’d be disappointed because you opened your certificate when rates were significantly lower. But because it’s a Bump Rate Certificate, you could choose to take advantage of the new rate. Keep in mind that you can only do this once over the life of your certificate.

There are no promises that rates will rise, especially as dramatically as an entire percentage point. But if they do go up, you’ll be able to take advantage.

How to get STCU’s Bump Rate Certificate

You can open this certificate online or in person with your Social Security number and government-issued ID.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

President’s Premium Certificate

Uncompetitive rates on a certificate you can’t top off.
TermAPY
30 months1.06%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

Let’s get straight to it: The rates on the President’s Premium Certificate are not competitive. While this dividend offering is not the worst on the market, it does fall shy of the top competitors. It can be difficult to keep up with the competition on 30 month CDs. Many times — though not all the time — this term is reserved for short-term promotional specials.

Regardless of who STCU is competing with over this term, you’ll be able to secure higher rates elsewhere. It’s also important to note that you cannot make any additional deposits after you initially open this certificate.

How to get STCU’s President’s Premium Certificate

Should you choose to open this certificate, you can do so online or in person with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

5-Year Certificate

These rates look high until you start considering what the competition has to offer.
TermAPY
60 months1.11%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

If you’re going to open a 60 month CD with STCU, you’d be much better off opening the 5-Year Certificate rather than the Standard Certificate. You will still be able to make additional contributions between $25 and $5,000 a month, and you will need a little more to initially open the account. But the difference in APY is worth noting.

Also worth noting is that while the 5-Year Certificate’s dividend rate is high when compared to other STCU certificates, it’s not as impressive when you start comparing it to CDs offered by other financial institutions. You can find markedly better rates elsewhere.

How to get STCU’s 5-Year Certificate

Open this account online or in person with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How STCU’s CD rates compare

The rates offered on STCU’s certificate products aren’t the worst around, but they’re hardly the best. If you want your money to grow as quickly as possible, there are other better CD options out there.

You may find yourself in a unique situation where these certificates are attractive above all others. For example, if you have a large sum of money that you’ll need in a few months, but you can afford to freeze it until then, you stand to see significant gains with Jumbo Certificates, even if the actual APY isn’t incredibly impressive. You may like the idea of the Bump Rate Certificate, and are willing to take the risk of lower dividends now to potentially see a higher rate later.

But under most circumstances, the competition outshines STCU. In these cases, you’ll want to shop around.

STCU’s money market account options

Money Market

Low rates on what should be a higher-yield account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%$0.01
0.15%$2,500
0.15%$10,000
0.15%$25,000
0.15%$50,000
0.15%$75,000
0.25%$100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

Money market accounts have traditionally rewarded higher balances with higher rates than traditional savings accounts. The divide between the two had lessened since the birth of online-only banks, which offer high rates even on basic savings accounts. But the basic idea still holds true.

Unfortunately, STCU’s money market rates are extremely low. If the entire point of opening an account like this is to take advantage of a higher APY, you’re better off taking your money elsewhere.

Money market accounts, like savings accounts, fall under Regulation D. With STCU, you can make as many withdrawals as you want in person, but other certain withdrawals will be limited up to six a month. If you violate this rule, you will be charged a $5 fee the first three times, and a fee of $15 every time you make an excessive withdrawal after that.

How to get STCU’s Money Market account

You can open this account online or in person. You will need your Social Security number and government-issued ID to do so.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

President’s Premium Money Market

The rates get higher, but still not high enough to be competitive.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.15%$0.01
0.20%$25,000
0.20%$50,000
0.20%$75,000
0.30%$100,000
0.30%$150,000
0.30%$200,000
0.35%$250,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $2 to $3 at out-of-network ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

The President’s Premium Money Market account does offer higher rates than the standard Money Market account. You also need a bigger chunk of change to initially open it, though.

And just because it beats STCU’s other option doesn’t mean it’s the best option on the marketplace. You can get higher rates on money market accounts elsewhere. You could even get higher rates on a standard savings account elsewhere, for that matter.

How to get STCU’s President’s Money Market account

You can open this account online or in person. Be prepared with your Social Security number and government-issued ID.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How STCU’s money market accounts compare

These money market accounts can’t compete with the best money market offers on the market. Dividends are so low that they aren’t even competitive with regular savings accounts, nonetheless money market accounts.

STCU’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

Tiered Certificate IRA

A conservative portion of your retirement portfolio offering lower rates than the competition.
Minimum Opening DepositTermAPY
$5006-12 months0.25%
$2,0006-12 months 0.40%
$10,0006-12 months0.40%
$25,0006-12 months0.40%
$50,0006-12 months0.40%
$100,0006-12 months0.40%
$50012-24 months0.25%
$2,00012-24 months0.60%
$10,00012-24 months0.60%
$25,00012-24 months0.60%
$50,00012-24 months0.60%
$100,00012-24 months0.60%
$50024-36 months0.25%
$2,00024-36 months0.75%
$10,00024-36 months0.75%
$25,00024-36 months0.75%
$50,00024-36 months0.75%
$100,00024-36 months0.75%
$50036-48 months0.25%
$2,00036-48 months0.95%
$10,00036-48 months0.95%
$25,00036-48 months0.95%
$50,00036-48 months0.95%
$100,00036-48 months0.95%
$50048-60 months0.25%
$2,00048-60 months 1.00%
$10,00048-60 months1.00%
$25,00048-60 months1.00%
$50,00048-60 months1.00%
$100,00048-60 months1.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Penalties on certificates with six to 12 month terms are 90 days worth of dividends; all other certificates carry penalties equal to 180 days worth of interest

When you’re saving for retirement, you usually have some mix of conservative and riskier investments. An IRA certificate is definitely far toward the conservative end of that spectrum.

Because of that, you want to make sure you’re getting the highest rates possible. This is a predictable investment, but that doesn’t mean you should compromise on dividends. To open one of these certificates with STCU would constitute a compromise, as you can find far better rates elsewhere with the same minimum initial deposit requirements.

How to get STCU’s Tiered Certificate IRA

To open this account, you must visit a branch with you Social Security number and government-issued ID.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Bump Rate IRA Certificate

Low rates off the bat dull the advantage of bumping up.
TermAPY
18 months0.70%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

If the Bump Rate Certificate’s dividends were low outside an IRA, they’re even less competitive inside your retirement account. Rates tend to be slightly higher on IRA CDs than regular CDs. You could still take advantage of future APY bumps over the course of your 18 month certificate.

How to get STCU’s Bump Rate IRA Certificate

You can open this account at a branch with your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

President’s Premium IRA Certificate

Middle-of-the-road rates make this certificate easy to look over.
TermAPY
30 months1.06%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

The rates on this certificate weren’t great outside an IRA account, and they don’t get any better when they’re inside. While you can certainly find worse offers out there, you can also find far better. If you choose to open this certificate anyways, remember that there is a much larger initial deposit requirement than there is for Tiered IRA Certificates.

How to get STCU’s President’s Premium IRA Certificate

You can open this certificate at a branch. Bring your Social Security number and government-issued ID.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

5-Year IRA Certificate

Find higher rates elsewhere to watch your money grow at a faster clip.
TermAPY
60 months1.11%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days worth of interest

Again, this certificate doesn’t offer the worst rates around, but STCU’s competitors do offer higher rates. Remember how inherently conservative certificates are before opting to open one with less-than-optimal rates.

How to get STCU’s 5-Year IRA Certificate

You can open this certificate only by visiting a branch. Prepare for your visit by gathering your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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How STCU’s IRA CD rates compare

Especially because certificate rates at STCU are identical whether they’re found inside or outside an IRA, the rates on these certificates are not overly competitive. Many financial institutions will boost their rates a little when they offer certificates inside an IRA, but STCU is not one of them. Shop around for better IRA CD rates elsewhere.

IRA Savings

You get some interest, but there are way better options out there.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%$0.01
0.25%$6,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies depending on desired APY
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

If IRA CDs are toward the conservative end of portfolio holdings, IRA savings accounts are as conservative as it gets. Just because your money isn’t sitting in a risky investment doesn’t mean you should expect great returns, though. Unfortunately, STCU fails to deliver those returns. If you shop around, you will be able to find APY offerings that are more than five times what STCU is offering — even on its highest dividend tier.

How to get STCU’s IRA Savings account

Open this account by visiting an STCU branch. Bring your government-issued ID and Social Security number.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on STCU’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Overall review of STCU’s banking products

STCU is a transparent credit union, which is a good thing for consumers whether rates and fees are good or bad. This credit union has a little bit of both.

On the good end, you’ll find Dividend Checking with competitive rates on low balances. You’ll also find First5 Savings, which offers out-of-this-world dividend rates on the first $500 you save. But you’ll find money market accounts with extremely low APY offerings, along with certificates that have middle-of-the-road (or low) rates.

The best way to pursue a relationship with STCU will depend on what you’re looking for. If you are working with small amounts of liquid cash to put into your deposit accounts, you’ll likely find at least one account that works to your advantage. Those with higher balances may find better offers elsewhere.

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