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Golden 1 Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Golden 1 Credit Union Review

Golden 1 Credit Union
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5.0
4.0 stars out of 5

With more than 76 branches in 38 of the 58 counties across California, Golden 1 Credit Union is a financial institution many Californians will find accessible. You’ll see your money grow more quickly at competitors that offer higher interest rates, but no fees and no or low minimum opening deposits make Golden 1’s accounts attractive options.

Membership is limited to people who live or work in a qualifying county, belong to a qualifying employee group, have a family member who is already a member or elect to join the Financial Fitness Association at $8 a year. Its extensive Co-op ATM and shared branching networks mean you’ll be able to access basic services when you find yourself out of state.

The bottom line

  • Golden 1 Credit Union is easy to join if you live or work in any of the 38 counties in California it serves
  • You won’t pay any monthly fees for its basic checking or savings accounts or certificates of deposit, although interest rates aren’t the highest in the field
  • Golden 1 participates in shared Co-op ATM and branching networks and has extended customer service hours, making services and help accessible
Our ratings
Checking4.5 stars out of 5
Savings3.5 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit3.0 stars out of 5
Customer experience4.0 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees3.0 stars out of 5
Overall4.0 stars out of 5

Read on for more details about Golden 1’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.


4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 / 5.0
Although it won’t earn you any interest, Golden 1’s free checking account has no monthly fees or minimum opening deposit. It offers an extensive free ATM network accessible nationwide.

  • Free access to over 30,000 ATMs across the country through the Co-op network
  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum opening deposit
  • Account doesn't earn interest

Account reviewed for rating: free checking

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts


3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0
Golden 1’s regular savings account is free and has a low minimum opening deposit of $1. But its interest rate of 0.15% isn’t the best in the game.

  • No monthly fee
  • Low minimum opening deposit of $1
  • At 0.15%, the interest rate could be worse, but better rates are out there
  • You’ll have to have at least $100 before you start earning interest

Account reviewed for rating: regular savings

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Certificates of deposit

3.0 stars out of 5
3.0 / 5.0
With a solid range of term lengths, Golden 1’s savings certificates can make sense if you’re looking to put away some money to grow at a better interest rate than its savings accounts. But other institutions offer more competitive CDs.

  • CD term lengths range from 3 months to 5 years
  • Minimum opening deposit is $1,000

  • Annual percentage yields range from 0.15% to 1.45% for balances under $10,000

» MORE: Best CD rates

Customer experience

4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0
Customer experience at Golden 1 is solid. Sure, it’s a little behind in the technology department: It doesn’t have chat support, its Twitter page interacts with customers but doesn’t resolve issues, and the website looks slightly outdated. But phone assistance is available from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Golden 1 also participates in the shared branching network, which means you’ll be able to get help at more than 5,000 participating branches even if you find yourself away from the over 76 branches in California. Free transactions at non-Golden 1 branches are limited to four per month, though. Decently rated mobile apps — 3.0 for iOS and 3.6 for Android — mean you’ll be able to deposit checks and access other basic banking functions on the go.

Overdraft fees

3.0 stars out of 5
3.0 / 5.0
If you overdraw your account at Golden 1, the fees aren’t pretty. You’ll be slapped with a $29.50 fee, up to six times a day. The good news is that it doesn’t cost anything to link your savings account or a personal line of credit to your checking account in case of an overdraft. Any overdraft transfers from the savings account or line of credit won’t cost you a fee. Golden 1 also doesn’t charge continuous negative balance fees.

» MORE: Overdraft fees: What banks charge

A good credit union for Californians

Although interest rates could be higher and overdraft fees are expensive if you don’t enroll in an overdraft protection program, Golden 1 Credit Union is a good no-frills financial institution for people who live in one of the 38 counties in California that it serves.

Amber Murakami-Fester is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @iamyams.

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.