ADVERTISER DISCLOSURE

Credit Unions with ATM Refunds: NerdWallet’s Picks

mbg

by on August 2, 2012

This post may contain references to products from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of how we make money, please visit this page.

Bank of America’s long-standing reputation as “the bank with the most ATMs” is fading fast. Their total ATM count dropped 9% in this past year alone. Most recently, B of A announced that they’ll be pulling additional ATMs from the Harris Teeter and Bi-Lo grocery store chains in the Southeast, which ultimately brings the count even lower. To be honest, we don’t think this deserves much buzz. Bank of America may have a whole bunch of ATMs, but if you want to withdraw cash anywhere else, you’ll have to pay for the privilege. Want to know a secret? If you have a checking account that reimburses your out-of-network ATM fees, it doesn’t matter how many branches your bank has. When you need cash, any branch is your branch.

Free ATMs and free checking

Banks with no ATM fees do exist! Just don’t bother looking for free out-of-network ATM access at your traditional big bank. You’re way more likely to find it at your local credit union. While it’s not ubiquitous yet, we did some research and found 10 great examples of credit union checking accounts that reimburse ATM fees. All these accounts are also free, meaning they have no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees. Many of them even offer extra perks like interest or discounts. The only catch? You may need to perform a certain number of basic transactions each month to earn rewards. For most people, this doesn’t require a major lifestyle change. If you use your debit card at least 10 times a month, and have Internet access at home, you’ve already done most of the work. Even if you don’t earn the rewards, your account is still free, and you’ll have free access to thousands of shared-branch ATMs. Read on to learn more and be sure to visit each respective credit union’s website for complete details.

Golden Plains Credit Union (Garden City, KS) – Golden Rewards Checking

Golden Plains Credit Union has branches in Garden City, Ulysses, Quinter, Phillipsburg, Liberal, Lakin, Hays and Hesston. The Golden Rewards Checking account will reimburse all ATM fees, up to $25, at the end of each qualification cycle when you meet the following monthly requirements: log into your online account at least once, make 10 debit card transactions, and sign up for e-statements. For your extra effort, you’ll also earn 3.01% APY on your balance. If you don’t meet the minimum qualifications, you’ll still earn 0.10% APY on your balance and be eligible to try again next cycle. Membership is open to residents of Central or Western counties. Please see the Golden Plains Become a Member page for other ways to qualify.

PSECU (Harrisburg, PA) – Checking

PSECU is based in Harrisburg and has e-branch locations throughout Pennsylvania. Their regular checking account will reimburse your ATM fees up to $20 per month when you sign up for a regular direct deposit. Even if you don’t, they’ll reimburse your fees up to $8 a month and pay a small amount of interest on your balance. This account also comes with free basic checks and a free, optional FICO score service to monitor your credit health. Membership is open to people who work for the government, a municipality or a local school district in Pennsylvania. Visit PSECU’s Eligibility page to see many other ways to qualify. Pennsylvania residents who don’t automatically qualify can join by becoming a member of the Pennsylvania Recreation & Parks Society.

Texas Trust Credit Union (Grand Prairie, TX) – Public Servant Checking

Texas Trust Credit Union has branches in Arlington, Athens, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Mansfield. With their Public Service Checking account, you have access to 40,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the Allpoint network. Additionally, you’ll get up to $15 back on ATM fees each month, and up to $8 back per month on foreign ATM fees. This account comes with free email alerts to help you monitor your account activity, plus mobile banking, the MoneyTracker account management system, and free checks for life. You can also deposit checks from your home computer with their Deposit Anytime program. The top-tier version of this account is available to all government employees or school employees, and retires receiving a pension or retirement pay. Lower tiers are available to all members. Credit union membership is open to people who live, work or worship in Dallas, Tarrant or Henderson counties, or the majority of Ellis or Johnson counties. Family of eligible members may also join.

Capital Educators Federal Credit Union (Meridian, ID) – High Yield Checking

Capital Educators Federal Credit Union (CapEd) has branches in Eagle, Kuna, Boise, Meridian and Nampa. When you meet the minimum monthly requirements, their High Yield Checking account refunds ATM fees up to $25 each qualification cycle, and your balance up to $10,000 earns 2.50% APY. You’ll need to make at least 12 debit card purchases each cycle, set up one regular direct deposit, enroll in online banking and sign up to receive e-statements. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements one month, you’ll still earn 0.05% APY on your balance. Membership is open to anyone who lives in Idaho. Your membership helps fund programs like CapEd’s Teacher Grants program!

Campus Federal Credit Union (Baton Rouge, LA) – Lagniappe Checking

Campus Federal Credit Union has branches in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport. Their Lagniappe Checking account offers unlimited ATM refunds, up to $4.99 per individual transaction, and 2.50% APY on balances up to $10,000 when you meet the minimum monthly requirements. These include one regular direct deposit (or equivalent), 15 debit card purchases, and signing up for e-statements. This free account also comes with 12 checks at opening. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, or worships in Baton Rouge, New Orleans or Shreveport. Members of select employee groups and family of eligible members may also join. See Campus Federal Credit Union’s Membership Eligibility page for additional ways to join.

Leominster Credit Union (Leominster, MA) – LCU Tunes Checking

Leominster Credit Union has branches in Leominster, Clinton, Holden, Sterling, Worcester and Paxton. With the LCU Tunes Checking account, you’ll earn $25 in music downloads from iTunes or Amazon.com, your choice, at signup. You’ll earn an additional $10 each cycle and unlimited ATM refunds nationwide when you meet the minimum monthly requirements. You’ll need to make at least 10 debit card transactions, sign up for e-statements and access your account online at least once. Your first order of standard checks is free when you open an account. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, or owns a business in Worcester, Middlesex, Norfolk, Hampden, Franklin or Hampshire counties in Massachusetts.

Allegiance Credit Union (Oklahoma City, OK) – Allegiance Rewards Checking

Allegiance Credit Union has branches in Oklahoma City and Edmond. Their Rewards Checking account earns 2.00% APY on balances up to $20,000 and offers free nationwide ATM refunds up to $25 each month. To qualify for rewards, you’ll need to make at least 12 debit card purchases each cycle, sign up for e-statements, and have at least one direct deposit per cycle. Your account still earns 0.15% APY if the monthly qualifications aren’t met. Membership is open to anyone who resides, works, worships or attends school in Logan, Canadian, Oklahoma, Cleveland, McClain or Pottawatomie counties. Please see Allegiance Credit Union’s Membership Qualifications page for other ways to qualify.

Raritan Bay Federal Credit Union (Sayreville, NJ) – Kasasa Cash

Raritan Bay Federal Credit Union has branches in Sayreville, Parlin, South River and Edison. Their Kasasa Cash account pays 2.10% APY on balances up to $10,000 and reimburses all ATM fees when you meet the monthly requirements. You’ll need to make at least 10 signature-based debit card transactions, have one regular direct deposit, sign up for e-statements and access the Kasasa 360 online account manager at least once per cycle. You’ll still earn 0.01% APY when the qualification aren’t met. This account also comes with extra identity theft protection. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Middlesex County.

Corning Credit Union (Corning, NY) – Windfall Checking

Corning Credit Union has locations in New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The Windfall Checking account pays 2.00% APY on your balance up to $20,000 and refunds ATM fees up to $30 a month! Basic requirements to earn rewards include receiving electronic statements, setting up a regular direct deposit, and completing at least 12 transactions with a CCU credit card or check card each month. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Chemung County in New York, Brunswick County or the City of Wilmington in North Carolina, and Franklin County, Mon Valley or Waynesboro in Pennsylvania. Visit Corning Credit Union’s membership page for additional ways to qualify.

IAA Credit Union (Bloomington, IL) – Dollars & Sense Checking

IAA Credit Union’s Dollars & Sense Checking account is intended for young adults (23 and younger) looking to establish financial independence. Regardless of your balance or account activity, your ATM fees are refunded up to $10 per month. You’ll also have access to special rates on a Money Market account or car loan, and be able to take advantage of free financial literacy seminars. This local Bloomington credit union serves members of the Illinois Farm Bureau, COUNTRY Financial policyholders, GROWMARK patrons, and members of select employee groups, as well as family of eligible members. Contact IAA Credit Union directly for details.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.