America First Credit Union
The bottom line
- America First offers a good checking account and some of the most competitive share certificate rates to be found. Savings account interest rates aren’t as competitive.
- For residents of Utah, Nevada and certain parts of metro Phoenix, joining is easy. If you deposit and keep at least $1 in a Share Savings Account, you’ll have access to all of America First’s products and services.
» For other good financial institutions, check out NerdWallet’s best credit unions
4.5 / 5.0
America First offers two types of checking accounts: Regular Checking and Money Market Checking. Regular Checking is free to open, although you must have at least $500 in the account to start earning interest. (For Money Market Checking, you need $10,000 to open an account.) In both cases, the rates aren’t high to start, and you’ll probably get a higher return by putting that money into a savings account.
» Interested in how other banks compare? Take a look at NerdWallet’s best checking accounts
Savings and money market accounts
4.0 / 5.0
America First’s savings and money market accounts set themselves apart from the crowd with very low minimum opening balances: $1 and $0, respectively. Interest rates are decent but unremarkable.
» For higher rates, check out NerdWallet’s best savings accounts
4.5 / 5.0
With high interest rates and low minimum deposits, America First’s share certificates are some of the best products the credit union has to offer. Look here if you want to compare its share certificates to those of other credit unions or to the CDs offered by banks.
» Want more options? See our list of the best CD rates for the month
3.5 / 5.0
People who live in the region can become members by keeping just $1 in a Share Savings Account. In return, they get a well-functioning website and mobile apps that let them apply for loans, deposit checks and transfer money between accounts no matter where they are. Customers also can get help through Twitter or by phone.
One downside is that America First does not participate in the shared branch system used by many other credit unions. To bank in person, you’ll be limited to certain parts of Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Arizona, where all of its more than 120 branches are clustered.
2.5 / 5.0
America First’s overdraft policies are a mixed bag. If you don’t enroll in overdraft services and try to buy something that costs more than the money you have in your account, your debit card will be denied, costing you nothing except perhaps an embarrassing moment at the store.
If you do enroll, the credit union will transfer money to your checking account from a line of credit for free when your account is overdrawn. But if neither your checking account nor the line of credit has enough money to cover the charge, you’ll be hit with a $25 fee. You’ll be charged for each overdraft, no matter how many you accrue per day. If you’re out shopping and haven’t realized that you’ve overdrawn your account, that can get expensive quickly.
Best for long-term savers
Updated Aug. 28, 2017.
NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, customer experience and overdraft fees.
Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.
Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.