First Tech Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

First Tech provides solid checking options and offers free access to a large network of ATMs and branches.
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Written by Tony Armstrong
Lead Assigning Editor
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Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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Co-written by Ruth Sarreal
Content Management Specialist

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First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Savings
  • Checking
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Customer experience
  • Overdraft fees

Overall institution rating

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

First Tech Federal Credit Union offers a great checking account with no monthly fees. Anyone can apply for membership if they meet an easy requirement. Best for: Those who want a free rewards checking account and the option for in-person or virtual service, and who are unlikely to overdraft.

Pros

  • No monthly fees.
  • Large free nationwide ATM network.
  • ATM fee rebates.
  • 24/7 customer service by phone.
  • Participates in shared branching with other credit unions.

Cons

  • Expensive overdraft fee.
  • Low rates on some accounts.

Full review

Savings

First Tech Federal Credit Union Membership Savings
First Tech Federal Credit Union Membership Savings

Savings

Federally insured by NCUA

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.05%
With $5 min. balance for APY
Bonus
N/A

Having a Membership Savings account is necessary to be a member of the credit union, and allows you to open other accounts at First Tech. Though you won’t make much interest with the Membership Savings account — it earns less than the average national savings account rate of 0.36% APY — you need only $5 to open an account, and there are no monthly fees (though a fee for inactivity can be assessed).

The credit union also offers a Rewards Savings account that pays 5.00% APY on balances under $25,000. To have the Rewards Savings account, you’ll need to have a Rewards Checking account, which pays up to 5.00% APY on balances up to $15,000. For both Rewards accounts, you’ll need to meet a few requirements to earn the high APY. The Rewards Savings account wasn’t factored into our rating for the credit union.

» See how these rates stack up: Check out the best savings accounts

Checking

First Tech Federal Credit Union Rewards Checking
First Tech Federal Credit Union Rewards Checking

Checking

Federally insured by NCUA

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$0
APY
5.00%
With $0.01 min. balance for APY
Bonus
N/A

First Tech offers a checking account that pays up to 5.00% APY on balances up to $15,000, but you’ll have to jump through some hoops to get that rate: Enroll in electronic statements, spend at least $500 per month over at least 20 transactions with a linked debit or credit card and have at least $500 in monthly ACH or direct deposits. Meeting those requirements allows you to earn the account’s high APY, get up to $15 in ATM fee rebates each month, earn cash back on loans and additional cash back on credit card spending. Balances over $15,000 earn 0.10% APY.

Without meeting the requirements, you’ll miss out on those perks and your balance will earn just 0.01%. But either way, there are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements for this account.

Certificates of deposit

First Tech Federal Credit Union CD
First Tech Federal Credit Union CD

CD

Federally insured by NCUA

3.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
4.00%
3-year APY
1.80%
5-year APY
3.00%
Minimum deposit
$500

Some of First Tech’s share certificates (credit unions’ version of certificates of deposit) have rates that aren’t far from some of the best rates from online banks. The credit union’s minimum deposit requirement is reasonable (and lower than what some credit unions require), though you can find lower requirements — and higher rates — at some online banks.

» Want to comparison shop? See the best CD rates

Customer experience

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

Unlike many credit unions, First Tech makes it easy to join. The most straightforward ways to apply to become a member are to work or live in Lane County, Oregon, work for a qualifying technology or telecom company or for the state of Oregon, or be related to a First Tech member. You can also apply to join First Tech if you're a member of the Computer History Museum or a nonprofit called the Financial Fitness Association. Not many credit unions provide this type of option.

Though First Tech is easy to join, it has only a few dozen branches, mostly along the West Coast. If you aren't near one, you won't have access to in-person banking. The credit union's website is easy to use, however, and members can contact First Tech 24/7 by phone. You can also make an appointment for in-person or virtual support, or get help by mail, secure messaging or online chat.

First Tech’s mobile apps receive decent to high reviews from Android and iOS users.

Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The credit union’s overdraft policy is pricey. Though First Tech’s overdraft fee is slightly lower than what some banks charge, it’s more costly than what you’ll find at some other credit unions. You’ll owe $33 every time you overdraw your account. First Tech charges an overdraft fee up to five times per day, which would cost you $165. Note that some banks and credit unions don’t charge overdraft fees.

The credit union offers free overdraft transfers from a linked First Tech savings account or personal line of credit.

» COMPARE: Check out our picks for best banks for overdrafts

How does First Tech Federal Credit Union compare?

NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5

APY 

4.60%

With $0 min. balance for APY

APY 

5.00%

With $5,000 min. balance for APY

Bonus 

$300

Earn up to $300 with direct deposit. Terms apply.

Bonus 

N/A

Learn more

at SoFi Bank, N.A.

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at CIT Bank

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, banking 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. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.