State Employees’ Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and Certificates

SECU has solid accounts and branch network for its North Carolina residents, though membership is limited outside of the state.
Apr 18, 2022

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Overall bank rating

State Employees' Credit Union
  • Savings

  • Checking

  • CD rates

  • Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Established in 1937, State Employees’ Credit Union primarily serves people who work for the state of North Carolina and their families. Like other credit unions, SECU is member-owned and has specific fields of membership, or ways to join — in this case, mostly in North Carolina. Its ATM and branch networks are robust within the state, but they don’t extend beyond that. The account offering is solid for customers: low costs on checking and savings, decent rates on share certificates and up to two fee-free days a year in the event of overdrafts.

Best for: North Carolina state employees and families who prioritize access to in-person banking and 24/7 phone support over high savings rates.

Pros

  • Basic checking account earns dividends — the credit union version of interest.
  • Low monthly fee of $1 on basic savings and checking.
  • Easy way to avoid the fee on savings.
  • 24/7 phone support.

Cons

  • Membership is limited outside of North Carolina.
  • The $1 monthly checking fee cannot be waived.
  • Low savings rate.
  • Doesn’t participate in shared branching outside of North Carolina.

Full review

State Employees' Credit Union Share Account
State Employees' Credit Union Share Account

Savings

Member FDIC

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.10%
With $25 min. balance for APY

Low minimum, low fee but also a low rate: Like many credit unions, SECU requires members to open a share account, which is the credit union version of a savings account. You need just $25 minimum to open an account. There’s a monthly fee of $1, but only if a balance goes below $25. The low costs are a plus, but the rate is only 0.10% annual percentage yield, which is much lower than what you’d get with some of the best savings accounts.

State Employees' Credit Union Checking Account
State Employees' Credit Union Checking Account

Checking

Member FDIC

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$1.00
APY
0.05%
With $1 min. balance for APY

Low rate, low fee, no minimum: The 0.05% APY on SECU’s basic checking account is marginally better than what many traditional banks offer, but not by much. There's no minimum deposit required to open an account. But once the account is open, you must keep enough in it to cover the $1 monthly maintenance fee and any other charges you incur.

Statewide ATM access only: There are more than a thousand ATMs in North Carolina, but unlike some other credit unions, there’s no access to a nationwide ATM network.

State Employees' Credit Union CD
State Employees' Credit Union CD

CD

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
0.35%
3-year APY
0.50%
5-year APY
0.55%
Minimum deposit
$250

Wide range of terms: SECU offers a variety of share term certificates — the credit union equivalent of certificates of deposit. The certificate terms range from six months to five years.

Low opening deposit: The certificates require a minimum deposit of $250, which is reasonable compared with other banks and credit unions that often have minimums of $1,000 or more.

Banking experience

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

State-based membership: SECU’s network is best for those living in North Carolina. Membership is limited primarily to employees of the state government and their families. If you’re eligible, though, you’re joining a big community. The credit union claims membership of about 2.6 million, or 25%, of North Carolina’s residents.

Accessible customer support: The call center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mobile experience is mixed: The credit union has mixed ratings for its iOS and Android apps: Android users give the app higher ratings.

Overdraft fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

Two fee-free days: SECU waives nonsufficient funds fees for the first two days you overspend your checking account per year. In addition, SECU offers a program called Another Chance Alert to let members know about pending NSF transactions. The program gives members until 5:30 p.m. Eastern time that day to make a checking deposit to cover the shortfall.

Low overdraft fee: If you do overdraw your account after those first two forgiveness days, the fee is $12 per item. But that’s well below the typical amount for an overdraft fee, which is closer to $35, according to NerdWallet research.

Cheap overdraft alternative: Linking a SECU savings or credit account for overdraft transfers is also a cheap way to avoid overdraft fees. Checking account holders enrolled in this overdraft program get two free days of no overdrafts per year, and after that the credit union will charge 50 cents per transfer.

State Employees' Credit Union Share Account
State Employees' Credit Union Share Account

Savings

Member FDIC

3.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.10%
With $25 min. balance for APY

Low minimum, low fee but also a low rate: Like many credit unions, SECU requires members to open a share account, which is the credit union version of a savings account. You need just $25 minimum to open an account. There’s a monthly fee of $1, but only if a balance goes below $25. The low costs are a plus, but the rate is only 0.10% annual percentage yield, which is much lower than what you’d get with some of the best savings accounts.

How does State Employees' Credit Union compare?

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
APY

0.70%

With $0 min. balance for APY

APY

0.60%

With $1 min. balance for APY

APY

0.85%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

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.

Frequently asked questions