Military Credit Unions
Military Credit Unions are a special subset of credit unions that serve the unique banking needs of military members and their families. When compared to traditional commercial banks and community credit unions, military credit unions are simply better attuned to the specific banking challenges that military life presents to active-duty personnel and their families.
Frequent travel, multiple overseas deployments and relocation, multiple addresses, irregular work hours – these are all part and parcel of the military lifestyle. Military credit unions and banks anticipate and serve the needs of their customer base while offering an array of services that cater to the military population. What are the best military credit unions? Let’s take a closer look.
Military Credit Unions
Military Credit Unions offer a variety of financial products and services including access to savings and checking accounts, investments, share certificate accounts (CDs), personal loans, mortgages, auto loans and insurance. None of these offerings are particularly unique, however, there are a number of features that differentiate military credit unions from other credit unions and commercial banks.
First and foremost, active military duty personnel often require access to a location that is on or near a military base, and military credit unions fulfill this important need. Similarly, military credit unions provide a convenient suite of online services that facilitates mobile banking and helps service members pay monthly bills in a timely manner even when they are stationed far from home.
Automated bill payment for mortgages and auto loans is an important convenience for active military, as is automated check deposit. In addition to free checking and low fees, military credit unions also often offer access to a broad network of ATMs throughout the world, allowing foreign-based service members easier access to cash and making it easier to send money back home to family and friends.
Finally, since military credit unions are experienced in dealing with various Federal programs that aid military members – including Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans – customer service is often stronger and better suited for the military population.
Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal is open to active duty military and veterans, Department of Defense employees, contractors (and retirees previously) assigned to military bases, navy vessels and DOD installations, as well as family members of the above.
Navy Federal offers savings and checking accounts (with free checking), the ability to manage finances online, the ability to deposit checks remotely, share certificate accounts, home mortgages, home equity loans, personal loans, auto loans, credit cards, insurance and retirement vehicles including IRAs.
It includes 223 total branches – 76 of which are located on military bases – and 27 international branch locations. It is also part of a network that includes access to over 55,000 free ATMs.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union
PenFed is open to active duty military, veterans and family members, as well as members of various government agencies that include the Department of Energy. PenFed offers savings and checking accounts (free checking and direct deposit), online and mobile banking, remote check deposit, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, various forms of insurance and retirement products.
It offers credit cards with 2% cash back rewards programs for military members who live and work at a base within the United States. Even better, it offers the PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature card, which offers 5% back at the gas pump and 3% on supermarket purchases to active military families who want to save money on day-to-day expenses.
Widely known for offering competitive rates on share certificate accounts and loans, PenFed has 27 physical branches located on or near military bases.
Though not literally a military credit union, USAA bears mentioning because of its sheer size and scope. USAA Federal Savings Bank serves over 11 million active-duty and military veterans and their family members, offering a full suite of financial products including savings and checking accounts, many types of insurance, share certificate accounts, credit cards, home mortgages, auto loans, investments and IRAs.
Active-duty military receive benefits that include one-day-early direct deposit, as well as reduced interest rates on credit cards and loans. USAA checking accounts have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements and members gain access to a network of 65,000 ATMs within the United States.
Other Notable Military Credit Unions
The Air Force Federal Credit Union offers savings and checking accounts, IRAs, home mortgages (including VA loans), auto loans, share certificate accounts, personal loans and credit cards. It features a full suite of mobile and online banking services including online bill pay and its members gain access to a network of over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs.
Meantime the Security Service Federal Credit Union offers savings and checking accounts, share certificate accounts, IRAs, mortgages, home equity loans and lines of credit, auto loans and credit cards through its 70 locations located throughout Texas, Colorado and Utah to a wide range of military and governmental personnel, as well as their families.
Finally, Service Credit Union is open to active duty military, veterans, Department of Defense personnel and family members of the above. There are no minimum balance requirements, monthly fees or overdraft fees on checking accounts for active-duty military. Additionally, military members benefit from promotional rates associated with savings accounts and share certificate accounts.
About The Author: Steven Brachman
Steven Brachman is the lead content provider for UnitedSettlement.com. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Economics, Steven spent several years as a registered representative in the securities industry before moving on to equity research and trading. He is also an experienced test-prep professional and admissions consultant to aspiring graduate business school students. In his spare time, Steven enjoys writing, reading, travel, music and fantasy sports.
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