NASA Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and Share Certificates

Spencer Tierney
By Spencer Tierney 
Edited by Sara Clarke

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

Overall institution rating

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

NASA Federal Credit Union, founded in 1949 by several people in the scientific community, stands out for its share certificates, the credit union equivalent of certificates of deposit. It also has highly rated mobile apps and a robust third-party network of ATMs and branches. The credit union has no monthly fee on its membership savings account but requires a minimum balance or monthly transactions to waive checking account fees. There’s also a steep overdraft fee for transactions that drop your account balance below zero.

Although the credit union focuses on NASA employees and their families for membership (one branch is at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.), anyone nationwide can become a member.

Best for: Those who prefer a credit union, want high certificate rates and wide access to ATMs, and aren’t likely to overdraft or need branches outside the D.C. area.

Pros

  • No monthly fees on savings account.
  • Competitive rates on some share certificates.
  • Anyone can become a member.
  • Large, free, nationwide ATM network.
  • Participates in shared branching with other credit unions.

Cons

  • Expensive overdraft fee.
  • Monthly fees (though they are avoidable).
  • Low rates on savings accounts.

Full review

Checking

NASA Federal Credit Union Premier eChecking
NASA Federal Credit Union Premier eChecking

Checking

Federally insured by NCUA

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$8.00
Bonus
N/A

Monthly fees for all accounts, though avoidable. Premier eChecking, which we rated, offers a relatively easy way to avoid its monthly fee of $8 by enrolling in eStatements and one type of monthly activity: a direct deposit or three bill payments. The other two checking accounts require minimum balances of $2,500 to waive monthly fees.

Some decent perks. Members can access more than 36,000 ATMs through the Co-op Solutions network. Account holders can receive paychecks up to two days early, which is becoming a more common perk.

The debit card rewards aren’t worth much. The credit union’s debit card has a cash-back rewards program, but each transaction only earns 2 cents or 5 cents. Earning the annual maximum of $250 would take thousands of transactions.

Savings

NASA Federal Credit Union Prime Savings
NASA Federal Credit Union Prime Savings

Savings

Federally insured by NCUA

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.10%
With $5 min. balance for APY
Bonus
N/A

No monthly fee. NASA Federal’s Prime Savings is the main savings account, which all members must open to establish and maintain their membership. There’s no monthly fee and the opening minimum of $5 is low.

Low rate. As the key downside, the annual percentage yield of 0.10% is low. You can find more attractive options on our list of best high-yield savings accounts.

Certificates of deposit

NASA Federal Credit Union Share Certificate
NASA Federal Credit Union Share Certificate

CD

Federally insured by NCUA

5.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
4.50%
3-year APY
4.25%
5-year APY
4.00%
Minimum deposit
$1,000

Competitive yields for many terms. NASA Federal offers a strong lineup of share certificates with terms ranging from six months to five years. Rates tend to be much higher than national average CD rates; a one-year rate average is 1.86%.

» COMPARE: See our list of best CD rates

Add-on and bump-up certificates. The credit union also has a few nonstandard certificates. The one-year add-on certificate lets members deposit more money into the account over time, which isn’t usually allowed for certificates. The two- and three-year bump-up certificates each provide a one-time opportunity for a member to request a higher rate during a term if the credit union has since raised the rate for the same term length and type of certificate. Learn more about how bump-up CDs work.

Customer experience

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

Easy to join. In addition to NASA employees and their families and employees of the credit union’s partner companies or associations, anyone can join the credit union by accepting a complimentary membership to the affiliated nonprofit organization National Space Society.

Strong digital offerings for a credit union. NASA Federal’s mobile app ratings for Apple and Android devices are both high, and the services for desktop and mobile users are more extensive than credit unions traditionally offer. In addition to standard features such as alerts, transfers and bill pay, members can view credit scores and finances at a glance, lock and unlock cards if lost or stolen, and restrict card usage based on types of transactions or merchants. The credit union’s app has more features than the website: mobile check deposit and biometric app log-in.

Extended support hours and several channels. You can call, email, live chat or message the credit union’s support team. Talking to a live representative is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. There are also more than a dozen branches for members, mostly around the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Shared branches can offer limited services nationwide. For members too far from the credit union’s branches, deposit and withdrawal services are available at about 5,600 branches of other credit unions through a shared network. Other services may be available but vary by credit union.

Overdraft fees

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

Expensive overdraft costs. Checks, bill payments and online transactions that cause your account balance to go negative cost $32 per instance, regardless of whether the transaction is rejected or goes through. This amount is close to what overdraft fees can cost, but some larger banks and credit unions have eliminated their overdraft costs in the past few years. Negative balances at NASA Federal can’t be more than $500 below zero.

» See more options: Best banks for overdrafts

Cheaper overdraft alternatives. In the event of an overdraft, there are free transfers from a savings account and a fee-free overdraft line of credit.

Slight savings grace. One nonsufficient funds fee is waived annually.

How does NASA 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.

Learn more

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.