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Consumers Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Consumers Credit Union Review

Consumers Credit Union

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.5 / 5.0
3.5 stars out of 5

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at Consumers CU
With super-high yields of up to 4.59% on its Free Rewards Checking account, Consumers Credit Union delivers a bigger-than-expected bang for your buck.

The bottom line:

  • Free Rewards Checking account holders must meet certain transaction requirements to earn the full 4.59% annual percentage yield. 
  • Consumers Credit Union is easy to join, even if you don’t live near its Lake County, Illinois, headquarters.
  • Beyond the nine Chicago-area branches, members have access to a nationwide network of 1,800 shared branches and 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

» MORE: More top banks and credit unions

Our Ratings
Checking5.0 stars out of 5
Savings3.0 stars out of 5
Share certificates1.5 stars out of 5
Bank experience4.0 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees2.0 stars out of 5
Overall3.5 stars out of 5

Read on for more details about Consumers Credit Union’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, bank experience and fees.

Checking

5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 / 5.0

It’s great when a financial institution offers a checking account that doesn’t have a monthly fee. But Consumers Credit Union goes a step further with its free checking account by offering an annual percentage yield. Users who meet certain requirements can earn an APY between 3.09% and 4.59% on balances of up to $20,000.

Members who complete at least 12 signature-based debit transactions each month, have a least one electronic deposit or payment, use online banking and sign up for e-statements earn 3.09% APY on balances of up to $10,000.

Those who sign up for a Consumers Credit Union Visa card and use it to spend $1,000 or more per month can earn 4.59% APY on checking balances of up to $20,000. And those who spend at least $500 on the Visa each month can earn 3.59% APY.

These yields are well above average for interest checking accounts. That’s part of the reason Consumers earns a spot in Nerdwallet’s best credit unions for 2017. Even if you don’t meet the monthly requirements to earn a bonus rate, you still earn 0.01% APY. The national average is 0.04%.

ProsCons
  • No monthly fee.

  • Doesn't charge ATM fees, and refunds those charged by other institutions.

  • Offers APYs from 3.09% to 4.59% if customers meet certain requirements.
  • Monthly spending, online access and account balance requirements to earn the promotional APY and be eligible for the ATM fee refund.

Account reviewed for rating: Free Rewards Checking

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Share savings

3.0 stars out of 5
3.0 / 5.0

All Consumers Credit Union members must open a share savings account to establish membership. This account has a deposit requirement of just $5, and it doesn’t charge a monthly fee. But it yields only 0.05% APY, a little below the national average. And you won’t want to make too many ATM withdrawals — after the sixth one within a month, each subsequent withdrawal costs $1.

ProsCons
  • Requires only $5 to open.

  • Doesn't charge a monthly fee.
  • Earns 0.05% APY, slightly less than the national average.

  • Charges $1 fee for each ATM withdrawal beyond six per month.
Account reviewed for rating: Savings

Share certificates

1.5 stars out of 5
1.5 / 5.0

You need only $250 to open a share certificate, the credit union version of a CD. Consumers Credit Union’s certificate term lengths range from 91 days to five years, but the rates are nothing to write home about. APYs start at 0.05% for certificates with a three-month term and go up to 1.60% APY for certificates with a five-year term.

The five-year APYs are in line with what other credit unions offer, but a three-year Consumers Credit Union share certificate earns less than half a percent.

To compare, Connexus Credit Union, which is also headquartered in the Midwest, requires a minimum deposit of $500 for share certificates. But its three-year certificate, with a $5,000 minimum balance, earns 2% APY.

ProsCons
  • Minimum deposit is only $250.
  • Earns average to below average rates.
Account reviewed for rating: Share certificates

Bank experience

4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0
Consumers Credit Union’s branches are concentrated in the Chicago area, but it has a much larger reach. The credit union participates in a shared network of 1,800 branches across the country and a surcharge-free ATM network that’s 30,000 strong. Users can reach customer service by phone and web chat on weekdays during normal business hours and on Saturday mornings.

Unlike some credit unions, it’s fairly easy to become a Consumers member. You’ll first need to join the Consumers Cooperative Association, an organization that supports educational initiatives in the Chicago area. That costs $5. Then you can open a Consumers Credit Union share savings account to establish membership.

Overdraft fees

2.0 stars out of 5
2.0 / 5.0

Consumers Credit Union charges overdraft fees of $30 per transaction. That’s a little less than the national median, but the costs add up if you have multiple overdrafts. And unlike some other banks and credit unions, Consumers CU won’t cap the number of overdraft fees charged per day. That’s not a good thing.

To avoid the charges, you can link a Consumers savings account to your checking to provide overdraft protection, but there’s a $10 fee for each transfer.

A rewarding checking option

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Consumers has average savings and certificate options, but Free Rewards Checking is where the credit union really shines. If you want to maximize interest earned in your checking account — and you can meet the transaction requirements — then this institution is worth a look.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @margarette.

Updated October 12, 2017.


Ratings methodology

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.