All credit unions serve the community, but a few are also committed to serving those who serve: our brave men and women in uniform! Whether you’re on active duty or celebrating your veteran status, it’s easy to find a credit union that will reward you for your service to the American people. Military credit unions are an excellent resource for discounted loans, high-yield savings accounts, financial educational, and so much more. They also provide services that cater to the unique military lifestyle. How many banks offer overseas branches, accelerated payday programs or emergency loans? Just in time for the Fourth of July, here are NerdWallet’s picks for military credit unions.
Best Rewards Program – Service Credit Union (Portsmouth, NH)
Service Credit Union has locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Germany. We like them because they make a special effort to recognize military service members who have gone beyond the call of duty. If you’re serving in a combat zone (Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait or Qatar), you’re eligible for special rates on loans, early paycheck access, and a 10% APY savings account. Yes, you did read that correctly! All deposits up to $10,000 earn dividends. You can join Service Credit Union if you’re a civilian employee or military member associated with the Department of Defense, whether you’re active or retired. Many New Hampshire and Massachusetts residents also qualify for membership, as do family of eligible members. Please see Service Credit Union’s membership application page for complete details.
Most Inclusive Membership – Navy Federal Credit Union (Merrifield, VA)
Navy Federal Credit Union’s membership extends to all military affiliates in the United States. You can manage your account online or stop by one of their branches in Washington D.C., Virginia, California or Florida. They offer good all-around banking services like Active Duty Checking with free checks and interest, and no minimum balance requirement. Plus, they have great rates on loans, and an impressive selection of low APR credit cards. All Department of Defense uniformed personal and civilian employees qualify for membership, as do many other U.S. government employees and military affiliates. Please see their eligibility checklist for complete details.
Best Safety Net – SAFE Federal Credit Union (Sumter, SC)
SAFE Federal Credit Union has 18 branches in South Carolina, including one at the Shaw Air Force Base. Their SAFEkeeping Program offers active military members and called-to-duty National Guard members a number to call if they need financial assistance. SAFE Federal will work with you to create a reasonable action plan. You can also take advantage of discounted rates on loans, or ship your vehicle overseas when you’re deployed, as long as the vehicle is financed through the credit union. If you won’t need access to a bank branch for your day-to-day transactions, be sure to sign up as an eMember. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Lee, Clarendon, Sumter and Lexington counties in South Carolina. Please see SAFE Federal’s membership page for other ways to qualify.
Best International Presence – Andrews Federal Credit Union (Suitland, MD)
You’ve got plenty to worry about when you’re stationed overseas. Why should limited access to your credit union be one of them? Andrews Federal Credit Union has their own branches, not shared ones, in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. They also provide international toll-free numbers for 30 countries, so you can keep in touch by telephone for free, even on the other side of the world. When you return home, you can visit an Andrews Federal branch in Maryland, Washington D.C. or New Jersey. Membership includes civilians and military personnel associated with Joint Base Andrews, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and military installations in Central Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. If you don’t qualify for membership based on affiliation with the military or a select employee group, you can join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council.
Best for Spanish Speakers – First Light Federal Credit Union (El Paso, TX)
First Light Federal Credit Union has 9 branches in El Paso and Las Cruces. Bilingual service members are in luck, because their site is available in both English and Spanish. Be sure to check out their military resource page to find documents to help you with your finances and your family life. We especially like their deployment checklist to make sure you get your finances in order before you ship out. Membership is open to military personnel assigned to Fort Bliss, the Marine Corps Reserve Center, William Beaumont General Hospital and other local bases. Membership is also open to anyone who lives, works or worships in El Paso, Dona Ana County & the Fort Bliss community. Please see their membership page for complete details.
Best Mobile Banking Apps – Ent Federal Credit Union (Denver, CO)
Ent Federal Credit Union has 29 locations in and around Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. As a member of the military, you’ll get free checks, money orders and travelers’ checks with your checking account. To help you manage your account on the go, Ent Federal has a suite of apps for iPhone and Android. The Ent Mobile Banking app lets you view your account balance, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills and send secure messages to credit union staff. There is also a mobile deposit app and a credit union locator app, so you’ll always be able to find the nearest branch. You can also bank via text message. Membership is available to civilian and military personnel of the Colorado Air National Guard, the Colorado Army National Guard and Buckley Air Force Base. Membership is also open residents of nearby Colorado communities and family of eligible members. Please see their membership page for complete details.
On behalf of everyone at NerdWallet, happy Independence Day, and thanks for defending our country!