10 Best Credit Unions Compared

Choosing between a credit union and a traditional bank can be a challenge. In most cases, credit unions offer lower loan rates, lower fees, and a higher savings return. Like banks, credit unions come in all shapes and sizes. Researching which credit union is for you is just as important as deciding how to budget your money. Use this list as a resource to help guide you into the world of credit unions, alternatives to regular banking institutions.

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1. Digital Federal Credit UnionDigital_Federal_Credit_Union_(logo)

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.05%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.05%-3.04%
Credit Card APR: 8.5%
Minimum Balance: $0

With over 429,000 members, Digital Federal Credit Union holds over $5.6 billion in assets. There is a $0 minimum to open an account and a there is no monthly fee to be an account holder. There is a $30 fee for any overdrafts or insufficient fund transactions.

2. Alliant Credit Unionalliant-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.09%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.65%
Credit Card APR: 9.24%-21.24%
Minimum Balance: $0

With over 282,000 members, Alliant Credit Union holds over $8.2 billion in assets. In 2013, Alliant’s return on assets was 0.48%. There is a $0 minimum to open an account, and there isn’t a monthly service fee. When an insufficient funds transaction occurs, there is a fee of $25.

3. America First Credit Unionamerica-first-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.05%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.10%
Credit Card APR: 6.99%-12.25%
Minimum Balance: $0

With over 648,000 members, America First Credit Union has over $6.2 billion in assets. They had the highest return on assets in 2013 with 1.86%. You can open an account with a $0 minimum and $2 monthly service fees. There is a penalty for having insufficient funds, and the fee is $27.

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4. Navy Federal Credit Unionnavy-federal-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.45%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.85%
Credit Card APR: 9.65%
Minimum Balance: $0

With over 4.79 million members, Navy Federal Credit Union is the large credit union in the United States. In 2013, its return on assets was 1.28%. Navy Federal Credit Union does not require a minimum balance to open, nor is there a monthly service fee. For insufficient funds, there is a $29 penalty fee.

5. State Employees Credit Unionsefcu

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.25%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.75%
Credit Card APR: 8.99%-13.99%
Minimum Balance: $1

With over 1.90 million members, State Employees Credit Union has approximately $28.3 billion in assets. The average return on assets was 0.39% in 2013. Although there is no monthly service fee, there is a $1 minimum to open the account. A transaction with insufficient funds with give you a $29 fee.

6. Boeing Employees Credit Unionboeing-employees-credit-union-becu_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 4.07%
Savings Interest Rate: 4.07%
Credit Card APR: 6.9%-17.9%
Minimum Balance: $25

With over 858,000 members, Boeing Employees Credit Union has $12.6 billion in assets. The company had the third highest return on assets in 2013 with 1.79%. There is no monthly service fee, $25 minimum is needed to open an account, and it has an account yield of 4.07% APY up to $500. $25 is the fee for insufficient funds.

7. Schools First Federal Credit Unionschools-first-federal-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.00%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.10%
Credit Card APR: varies
Minimum Balance: $25

With over 595,000 members, Schools First Credit Union has over $10.3 billion in assets. In 2013, its return on average assets was 1.14%. With a $25 minimum to open an account, there are zero monthly fees but a $20 fee for insufficient funds.

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8. The Golden 1 Credit Unionthe-golden-1-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.00%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.05%
Credit Card APR: 7.79%
Minimum Balance: $0

With approximately 668,000 members, The Golden 1 Credit Union has over $8.5 billion in assets. In 2013, its average return on investment was 1.31%. With no monthly service fee and no minimum account balance, there is a $27.50 fee for any insufficient funds that occur.

9. Security Service Federal Credit Unionsecurity-service-federal-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.00%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.10%
Credit Card APR: 6.49%
Minimum Balance: $0

With 971,000 members, Security Service Federal Credit Union holds $8 billion in assets. The average return on assets for the company was 0.66% in 2013. There is no minimum to open the accounts, and no monthly service fee. Although, you will receive a fee of $27.50 for insufficient funds.

10. PenFed Federal Credit Unionpenfed-federal-credit-union_toe

Bank Type: Branch and Online
Checking Interest Rate: 0.00%
Savings Interest Rate: 0.05%
Credit Card APR: 0%
Minimum Balance: $25

With 1.30 million members, PenFed Federal Credit Union has $17.6 billion in assets. In 2013, the average return for assets was 0.72%. There is a $10 monthly service fee and a $25 minimum to open an account. Trying to use your account with insufficient funds will land you a $30 fee.

As you can see, credit unions differ greatly from traditional banks. Credit unions generally have higher interest and their accounts and lower rates on credit cards, making them a smarter choice for a budget-conscious consumer. With this list of the Top 10 Credit Unions for 2015, do some research and make an educated decision on who you decide to bank with.