at PenFed Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Pros

Checking account earns interest.
Members have access to 68,000 free ATMs.
2.00% APY on its online savings account.

Cons

0.05% APY on its basic savings account.
$1,000 minimum on share certificates is high.
Doesn't participate in shared branching.

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Overall

4.0

Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, offers a modest product selection for military-affiliated members and others. But it makes up for that with good interest rates for checking, online savings and money market certificates. PenFed offers a handy mobile app, plus it’s relatively easy to join for a credit union. Its $30 nonsufficient funds fee, however, isn’t as consumer friendly, especially since there’s no cap on how many times PenFed can charge it in one day.

 

Ratings methodology | Reviewed Dec. 19, 2018

Checking

4.5

Access America, PenFed’s lone checking option, has tiered interest rates that are better than the national average, though you can find higher rates elsewhere, particularly at top online banks. With daily balances under $20,000, you can earn an annual percentage yield of 0.20%; deposits of $20,000 to $50,000 earn 0.50%. Its network of ATMs is larger than that of many financial institutions.

Regular Savings Account
APY
0.05%
Min. balance for APY
$5

at PenFed Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

How does PenFed Credit Union compare?

PenFed Credit Union

Regular Savings Account

NerdWallet Rating

APY

0.05%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

No Monthly Fee

Credit Union

Mobile-friendly

Goldman Sachs Bank USA

Online Savings

NerdWallet Rating

at Goldman Sachs Bank USA,

Member, FDIC

APY

2.15%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

No Monthly Fee

Competitive APY

American Express National Bank

High Yield Savings Account

NerdWallet Rating

at American Express National Bank,

Member, FDIC

APY

2.10%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

Competitive APY

Live help 24/7

No Monthly Fee

Not for you? Read more bank reviews
NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while accountholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.
Overall
Customer service
Poor
Website / app
Poor
Rates
Poor
Fees
High
Inept customer service and lack of procedural rigour
I believe that people need to know that basic banking functions are not in place at PenFed. The "bill pay" service is accomplished through a buggy, outdated and overcomplicated web interface with poor execution of the actual service. Concretely: The bill payment was set up by me in September last year and worked so, so. At the time of the internet and global efforts to save on carbon dioxide, PenFed has decided to stick with sending out physical cheques (yes, in 2019!) as a replacement for ordinary bank transfers. As a consequence, the rent payment was delayed in March possibly due to the winter weather, and the cheque being stuck somewhere across the continent. The July rent wasn't paid at all. My landlords, in whose good books I would like to remain, had to ask for the second time this year where their rent was. Since the cheque is sent directly to their bank, they never held the paper in their hands but were simply notified that the cheque had been returned with "Failure to locate the account" and charged a 12$ fee. By now, I have talked four times to the customer service and still have yet to receive an acknowledgment that something went awry at PenFed. What had happened was that for some to me inexplicable reason the routing and account number at the bottom of the cheque had been misprinted. Some symbols were printed in and over the machine-readable code. Indeed, Bank of America corrected account and routing number which is visible on the printout explaining the reason for the fee charge. The correction was most likely done by some human who checked payment history, etc. It is therefore inconceivable that this cheque was not handed in for collection with PenFed! However, this information was only accessible to me after all my attempts to investigate with the PenFed customer service had failed. I was sent away three times with the bogus claim, that the collecting bank was not able to locate the account of my landlord!? This is such utter nonsense! How would then Bank of America inform and charge my landlord? PenFed customer service was adamant that the error must, must, must have been with the counterparty's bank. The reason for that bogus claim can only be explained by the incapability to sensibly string together the events and to close explanatory gaps: What should happen is, that when PenFed receives cheques for collection, any illegible cheque is moved into a queue where a human operator looks at the cheque. At that time the operator should have recognized my name and address and could have also confirmed cheque number and amount with the information available from the "bill pay" service. If that fails, the cheque goes into a register, indexed by the legible entries. At the time of me contacting customer service, a simple search through this register should have confirmed that the cheque was amongst the unrecognizable papers. At no time could the customer service even confirm the existence of such a register let alone confirm that the cheque was definitely not in this register. At no time was my predicament handled with the due diligence one would expect from the customer service of a bank or credit union. I would expect PenFed to remedy their failure by wiring the amount to my landlord's account. Instead, I got a lukewarm "just reissue a new cheque" leaving me without security that a new cheque would go through and my landlords without payment for another week. At no time was there later any acknowledgment by the supervisors that also PenFed's customer service had completely failed me. I expect eagerness of staff and supervisors to become a better institution, fix errors and genuinely help customers that got caught up in bad decisions made by the bank, such as relying on cheques to "fake" bank transfers. Instead, I have been fobbed off with bogus claims and embarrassed in front of my landlords.
Overall
Customer service
Poor
Website / app
Poor
Rates
Fair
Fees
Fair
Awful!
I have been a Texas Partners customer since the 80s. When they became Pen Fed they went down hill very quickly. I can not even begin to describe the mistakes they have made with our account. The branch manager is not even concerned but just hides in her office. I have never reported a business to better business bureau. But I am concerned about their complete incompetence. Other financial institutions in the area seem to be aware of the huge mistakes they are making. We have even had employees of Pen Fed admit that the issues are a nightmare. Somebody help!
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