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Best Military Banks and Credit Unions of 2018

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions
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Military banks and credit unions excel at serving those who serve their country. Our favorites can be flexible with families who have to handle frequent moves or deployments, with tailored advice and services.

In addition, these financial institutions offer the competitive rates and low fees you’d hope to find at any bank for members of the military, veterans and their families — and sometimes other civilians as well.

Best military bank
USAA
Learn more
at USAA

USAA

Best military credit unions
Navy Federal
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Navy Federal Credit Union

PenFed+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Service Credit Union

» Other options: Though we didn’t consider them for this review, many national and regional banks have special programs and discounts for active duty, reservists and veterans. Check out our other top picks here.

USAA

USAA
Learn more
at USAA

USAA is known for its insurance products, but USAA Bank also has a long history of serving military members and their families with attractive checking and savings accounts.

In addition, USAA has a good reputation. The bank was ranked No. 1 for customer service out of 295 brands in a 2017 customer experience index by the research firm Temkin Group, and it has had top rankings in previous years, too. (Its insurance and credit card businesses tied for the survey’s No. 2 slot.) There are various ways to ask for help, including highly rated mobile apps and a call center that’s open six days a week, which you can reach at (800) 531-8722.

Its checking accounts have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Withdrawals at USAA Bank-owned ATMs are free for members. You get 10 free withdrawals each month at the bank’s wider network of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs in the U.S. In addition, some of USAA’s checking accounts reimburse you up to $15 a month in fees for out-of-network domestic ATMs.

The bank has more than 11 million members and a range of products including bank accounts and auto loans. You also can use Apple Pay, deposit checks from your mobile device and access USAA’s online money-management tool.

To open a bank account at USAA, you or a family member must have served in the military. Active-duty service members may get reduced rates on credit cards and other loan debt. Read more about the bank’s offerings in NerdWallet’s USAA review.

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» Need to bank on the go? Check out our list of the best high-yield online savings accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal
Read full review
on NerdWallet
With 7 1/2 million members, Navy Federal is the biggest credit union in the world.

Credit unions, even big ones, typically offer better rates than banks. Navy Federal’s rates include stellar 3% returns on 12-month Special EasyStart Certificates and annual percentage yields of 0.35% or more on one of its interest checking accounts with a $1,500 average daily balance. It also offers auto loans with annual percentage rates as low as 2.59%.

Navy Federal has a strong presence on and near military installations in the U.S. and abroad. The credit union also belongs to the Co-op network, giving members fee-free access to more than 28,000 ATMs throughout North America. When you use overseas Visa/Plus ATMs, Navy Federal typically charges 1% and $1 per transaction.

Joining is also relatively easy. The short version: Be a military member, veteran or an employee of the Defense Department, or have a relative who is.

Despite its perks, Navy Federal hasn’t always been consumer-friendly in its loan practices. In October 2016, federal regulators ordered the credit union to pay $28.5 million — including $23 million to thousands of consumers — saying the credit union had misleading debt collection tactics and illegally cut off account access to members who hadn’t paid overdue loans.

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Pentagon Federal Credit Union

PenFed+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Although it’s not the biggest military credit union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union opens its arms to a wide group of people.

You’re eligible to apply if you’re in the military or a family member is, or if you’re an employee of the U.S. government or a qualifying organization, such as the American Red Cross or certain government contractors. If you don’t fall into those categories, you can become eligible by joining one of two charities: Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association; both ask for a $17 donation.

PenFed’s checking and savings accounts have consumer-friendly terms. Its checking account has an annual percentage yield of 0.20% for balances below $20,000 and 0.50% for balances of $20,000 to $50,000. The regular savings account earns only 0.05% APY but has a minimum deposit of just $5.

PenFed offers free access to over 68,000 ATMs through the Allpoint and Co-op networks, some of the largest fee-free ATM networks in the U.S. But to visit a branch, you need to be in the Washington, D.C., area or near select military bases in the U.S. and abroad.

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Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union has home branches near military bases and in neighboring areas in Texas, Colorado and Utah.

It also belongs to the Co-op network of shared branches. This means members can visit one of 5,000 branches of other financial institutions nationwide.

The Security Service Power Checking account has no minimum balance, monthly fee or direct deposit requirement, though it also doesn’t earn any returns. To earn interest, you’d have to upgrade to the Security Service Power Protected account, which requires a hefty monthly average account balance of $50,000 to avoid the $6 monthly fee.

You can open a basic savings account for as little as $5. You’ll have to keep at least $100 in the account, however, or open a Power or a Power Protected Checking account to avoid a $3 monthly fee. The savings account earns 0.10% APY.

Security Service shines brighter with its competitive share certificates; its five-year certificates earn at least 2.35% APY, depending on the deposit balance. The minimum deposit is $500.

You’re eligible to apply for Security Select if you’re an employee of the Defense Department or the armed forces near a select military base or work in certain areas of Texas, Colorado and Utah. Family members and civilians who live or work in those areas can also qualify.

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Service Credit Union

Service Credit Union, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, offers a military checking account that doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees or have a minimum balance requirements.

Its savings and share certificate accounts have promotional rates for active-duty military and certain other members, along with affordable balance minimums. Even without the bonus rates, Service Federal Credit Union’s five-year certificates are above average, earning 3.00% APY.

Service Credit Union membership is open to active-duty military and veterans, current and former Defense Department employees, and people who live or work in New Hampshire and select areas of Massachusetts. Family members of those eligible can also qualify for membership.

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If you’re affiliated with the military, it may be in your best interest to consider one of these financial institutions as your next place to bank. They make it a priority to serve you as a member of their community.

Updated April 12, 2018.

The best military banks and credit unions excel at serving those who serve their country. Our favorites offer a combination of tailored accounts, competitive rates and low fees.

Best military bank
USAA
Learn more
at USAA

USAA

Best military credit unions
Navy Federal
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Navy Federal Credit Union

PenFed+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Service Credit Union


» Other options: Though we didn’t consider them for this review, many national and regional banks have special programs and discounts for active duty, reservists and veterans. Check out our other top bank and credit union picks here.

USAA

USAA
Learn more
at USAA

Eligibility: The bank has more than 11 million members. To open a bank account at USAA, you or a family member must have served in the military. In addition to banking benefits, active-duty service members may get reduced rates on credit cards and other loan debt.

Customer service: USAA was ranked No. 1 for customer service out of 295 brands in a 2017 customer experience index by the research firm Temkin Group, and it has had top rankings in previous years, too. There are various ways to ask for help, including highly rated mobile apps and a call center that’s open six days a week, which you can reach at (800) 531-8722.

Accounts and other products: Its checking accounts have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. The company also offers a range of products including bank accounts and auto loans. You also can use Apple Pay, deposit checks from your mobile device and access USAA’s online money-management tool. Read more about the bank’s offerings in NerdWallet’s USAA review.

ATMs: Withdrawals at USAA Bank-owned ATMs are free for members. You get 10 free withdrawals each month at the bank’s wider network of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs in the U.S. In addition, some of USAA’s checking accounts reimburse you up to $15 a month in fees for out-of-network domestic ATMs.

[Back to top]

» Need to bank on the go? Check out our list of the best high-yield online savings accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Eligibility: An applicant must be a member of the military, a veteran or an employee of the Defense Department, or have a relative who is. With more than seven and a half million members, Navy Federal is the largest credit union in the world.

Accounts and other products: Credit unions, even big ones, typically offer better rates than banks. Navy Federal’s rates include 3% returns on 12-month Special EasyStart Certificates and annual percentage yields of 0.35% or more on one of its interest checking accounts with a $1,500 average daily balance. It also offers auto loans with annual percentage rates as low as 2.59%.

ATMs and branches: Navy Federal has a strong presence on and near military installations in the U.S. and abroad. The credit union also belongs to the Co-op network, giving members fee-free access to more than 28,000 ATMs throughout North America. When you use overseas Visa/PLUS ATMs, Navy Federal typically charges 1% and $1 per transaction.

Note: Despite its perks, Navy Federal hasn’t always been consumer-friendly in its loan practices. In October 2016, federal regulators ordered the credit union to pay $28.5 million — including $23 million to thousands of consumers — saying the credit union had misleading debt collection tactics and illegally cut off account access to members who hadn’t paid overdue loans.

[Back to top]

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

PenFed+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Eligibility: You’re eligible to apply if you’re in the military or a family member is, or if you’re an employee of the U.S. government or a qualifying organization, such as the American Red Cross or certain government contractors. If you don’t fall into those categories, you can become eligible by joining one of two charities: Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association; both ask for a $17 donation.

Accounts: PenFed’s checking and savings accounts have consumer-friendly terms. Its checking account has an annual percentage yield of 0.20% for balances below $20,000 and 0.50% for balances of $20,000 to $50,000. The regular savings account earns only 0.05% APY but has a minimum deposit of just $5.

ATMs and branches: PenFed offers free access to over 68,000 ATMs through the Allpoint and Co-op networks, some of the largest fee-free ATM networks in the U.S. But to visit a branch, you need to be in the Washington, D.C., area or near select military bases in the U.S. and abroad.

[Back to top]

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Eligibility: You’re eligible to apply for Security Select if you’re an employee of the Defense Department or the armed forces near a select military base or work in certain areas of Texas, Colorado and Utah. Family members and civilians who live or work in those areas can also qualify.

Accounts: The Security Service Power Checking account has no minimum balance, monthly fee or direct deposit requirement, though it also doesn’t earn any returns. To earn interest, you’d have to upgrade to the Security Service Power Protected account, which requires a hefty average monthly balance of $50,000 to avoid the $6 monthly fee.

You can open a basic savings account for as little as $5. You’ll have to keep at least $100 in the account, however, or open a Power or a Power Protected Checking account to avoid a $3 monthly fee. The savings account earns 0.10% APY.

Security Service shines brighter with its competitive share certificates; its five-year certificates earn at least 2.35% APY, depending on the deposit balance. The minimum deposit is $500.

Branches: Security Select belongs to the Co-op network of shared branches. This means members can visit one of 5,000 branches of other financial institutions nationwide.

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Service Credit Union

Eligibility: Service Credit Union membership is open to active-duty military and veterans, current and former Defense Department employees, and people who live or work in New Hampshire and select areas of Massachusetts. Family members of those eligible can also qualify for membership.

Accounts: Service’s military checking account doesn’t charge monthly fees or have a minimum balance requirement. Its savings and share certificate accounts have promotional rates for active-duty military and certain other members, along with affordable balance minimums. Even without the bonus rates, Service Federal Credit Union’s five-year certificates are above average, earning 3.00% APY.

[Back to top]

If you’re affiliated with the military, it may be in your best interest to consider one of these financial institutions as your next place to bank. They make it a priority to serve you as a member of their community.

Updated April 12, 2018.