Credit unions are known for tough membership requirements and a lack of account options. But Alliant and Connexus are two credit unions that have the chops to prove that thinking wrong.
Both institutions have a variety of accounts and make it easy to become a member. But which would work better for you?
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Why choose Alliant over Connexus?
- Higher savings account rates
- Lower overdraft fees on checking accounts
Why choose Connexus over Alliant?
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- Great checking account rates
Below is a detailed breakdown of how the credit unions compare when it comes to checking, savings, share certificates, bank experience and overdraft fees.
|Alliant High-Rate Checking||Connexus Xtraordinary Checking
|Interest on balances||0.65% APY||1.75% APY (up to $25,000)|
|Minimum opening deposit||None||None|
|ATMs||More than 80,000 free ATMs, and Alliant will reimburse fees incurred at out-of-network machines, up to $20 per month.||More than 50,000 free ATMs. For interest-earning Xtraordinary checking customers, Connexus offers ATM surcharge rebates of up to $25 per month. But after six out-of-network ATM transactions, Connexus charges its own fee of $2 per transaction.|
|Requirements to earn dividends||
Alliant’s 0.65% annual percentage yield looks relatively modest compared with Connexus’ supersized rate, but you don’t have to take as many steps each month to qualify. You can also earn the Alliant APY on high balances. If you don’t meet the requirements, your account earns 0% in dividends for the month.
Connexus’ 1.75% APY on balances of less than $25,000 is phenomenal, especially considering the national average among banks is just 0.06% APY. But you do have to jump through some hoops to earn the interest rate. If you don’t qualify for the month, you earn 0.20% APY for that period. Even if you do qualify, balances above $25,000 earn only 0.25% APY.
» Learn how Alliant and Connexus credit unions stack up against top banks in NerdWallet’s roundup of best checking accounts
|Alliant High-Rate Savings||Connexus Personal Savings|
|Interest on balances||1.45% APY||0.25% APY|
|Minimum opening deposit||$5, which Alliant will credit back to your account||$5|
|Monthly fees||$1, waived when members opt in to free e-statements||$5, waived when members have a balance of at least $100 or account has been open for less than a year.|
Alliant earns top marks for both high rates and low fees. The savings account yield is considerably higher than what Connexus offers, and it even tops the rates offered by some of the leading online savings accounts.
Alliant will also give you a $5 credit to offset the $5 you need to open a savings account. However, you have to keep a minimum daily average balance of at least $100 in the account to earn dividends.
Connexus has a lower interest rate, and you need a minimum balance of at least $100 to earn dividends. If your balance drops below that, not only do you not earn interest, but you’re charged a $5 monthly fee. The fee is waived if you have other accounts at Connexus.
» Want to compare these savings accounts with those offered at other banks and credit unions? Check out our roundup of NerdWallet’s best savings accounts.
|Minimum opening deposit||$1,000||$5,000
|APY on 1-year term||1.75%||1.40%|
|APY on 3-year term||1.90%||2.00%|
|APY on 5-year term||2.35%||2.00%|
Share certificates are the credit union version of certificates of deposit, also known as CDs.
Both Alliant and Connexus have certificates that earn well above the national average, which is 0.27% APY for a CD with a 12-month term. Alliant certificates have a lower minimum deposit, and they earn better rates on 12-month and five-year certificates. Because of those higher rates, Alliant gets the edge in this category.
» Read NerdWallet’s full review of Connexus Credit Union
Credit union experience
|Website||Easy to locate information on rates, fees and how to open an account. Harder to find a page that lists all branches.||Easy to find information on rates, fees and how to open an account. Harder to find a page that lists all branches.|
|Banking apps (current ratings from app store users)||4.5 out of five stars for iOS; 4.3 out of five stars for Android||4.5 out of five stars for iOS; 4.4 out of five stars for Android|
|Customer service||24/7 by phone. Also available via email and Twitter.||Extended hours by phone six days a week. Also available via chat and email.
Neither credit union has many branches, nor do they offer the convenience of participating in networks of shared branches with other credit unions. However, both participate in large networks of surcharge-free ATMs that extend across the country, with 80,000 available at Alliant and 54,000 at Connexus.
Both institutions have fairly easy membership requirements, even if you don’t live or work in a qualifying community. For Connexus, a one-time $5 donation to the Connexus Association, a charitable organization, will earn you membership. At Alliant, you can qualify by making a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success, a charity for foster teens.
|Overdraft fee||$25 nonsufficient funds fee; no limit to fees in a given day. “Courtesy pay” overdraft program covers checks, electronic payments and transfers that otherwise would be rejected for nonsufficient funds; $25 per occurrence.||$29.95 per transaction, no maximum number of fees per day.|
|Overdraft protection transfer fee||$3 per day||$8.95 per transfer|
|Extended overdraft fee||None||None|
At $25 per transaction, Alliant’s overdraft fee is cheaper than the $29.95 Connexus charges. Both are lower than the national median of $34, which is a plus. There’s no limit, however, to how many times either credit union can charge the fees per day.
Neither credit union charges a continuous overdraft fee, which some institutions charge if your account is in the red for, say, five straight business days. But, overall, Alliant wins this category because it has lower fees.
» Read NerdWallet’s full review of Alliant Credit Union.
Banking from home
Both Alliant and Connexus have headquarters in the Midwest and have few branches. The credit unions, however, accept members throughout the United States. If you join, chances are you’ll be managing your accounts online instead of visiting a branch. If you don’t mind banking via a computer or smartphone, either credit union would be a good choice.
Updated Feb. 1, 2018