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Must-Join Credit Unions

rhutnik
rhutnik | | 35 posts since 2017

What credit inions are part of your personal "must join" list? I joined the American Consimer Council (for Andrews FCU eligibility) for free with a promo code, and I was trying to see if this could get me into any other credit unions as well (if there is an answer to this please let me know as well, I couldn't find it on the Big List of Credit Unions Anyone Can Join). I know PenFed, Navy Fed, and Alliant are usually pretty good with rates, especially for CDs, but are there any others that are particularly worth finding memberships for before deals come out? Thanks for the help.



Answers
Kaight
Kaight | | 141 posts since 2011
There are any number of must-join credit unions. But if you put a gun to my head and allowed me to offer just a single name, I would face no dilemma. I would tell you straightaway: Alliant Credit Union. It is the best and most essential of all financial institutions in the USA. Period.
Bozo
Bozo | | 859 posts since 2011
Rates come and go, but I have been very pleased with Alliant. Their customer service (both on-line and over the phone) is superb. For example, just last week I needed to transfer a sum of money from savings to checking, and thought it might raise a red flag. So, I called Alliant's toll-free number, they answered quite promptly, and the CSR attended to the transfer.

PenFed, well you have to be patient. It does take them a bit longer to respond if you have a query.

Navy Federal (with its expanded FOM), well, it's anybody's guess. I guess if you have a pulse, and can claim you have a veteran in your family tree, you can join. Inside joke.

Of the three, I'd go with Alliant. When one thinks of a full-service financial institution, one thinks of three things : rates, service, and fees. I'd give Alliant a passing grade on rates, but stellar marks for great service and low fees.
Bozo
Bozo | | 859 posts since 2011
One thing worthy of note. If you do on-line banking (as many here do, I suspect), Alliant's website is quite user-friendly. I'm not sure who designed it, but I suspect the task given to the web-developer was "make this site so easy to navigate, any Bozo can do it."
rhutnik
rhutnik | | 35 posts since 2017
Very interesting, thanks for that! I was able to manually look up all the credit unions in the table that are affiliated with the American Consumer Council. Any others besides the ones described here that have had nice deals in the past, mostly for CDs? I know it's helpful to join some in advance so you can latch onto the deal right away.
Bozo
Bozo | | 859 posts since 2011
One thing I did not raise is the issue of "must join" for folks over 59 1/2 with IRA CDs. There, one should consider two credit unions: PenFed and NWFCU. The issue is simple. Over 59 1/2, one can withdraw from IRA CDs from each (partial withdrawals) with no EWP. Patelco seemingly has a similar perquisite, but the home office waffles, so I'd go with PF or NWFCU. Once one gets into RMD territory, having a "no questions asked" ability to make a partial withdrawal from an IRA CD with no EWP trumps any RMD withdrawal provision out there. It gets complicated, but many financial institutions take the position that the "no EWP" applies only to your particular CD. Better not to go down that particular rabbit hole.

As a personal example, I have an IRA CD maturing in January of 2018. I'll harvest a portion to satisfy my RMD, then send the rest as a rollover to PenFed's then-available seven year IRA CD. While the rates probably won't be stellar, the IRA CD will essentially operate like a savings account. Totally liquid, no EWP, fully-insured. Any withdrawal I make in the future will qualify for my RMD.
Bozo
Bozo | | 859 posts since 2011
The irony being, with most CDs, if you "cash in", in whole or in part, there's this nasty EWP. With PenFed, NWFCU, and State Farm (and perhaps Patelco, depending on who you talk to), there's no EWP. Pardon me for dumping on Patelco, but the interpretation I received when I opened my IRA CD was vastly different from the interpretation when I called the home office. The bad taste lingers.
Bozo
Bozo | | 859 posts since 2011
As a follow-up to my comment of a "partial" IRA CD indirect rollover, I may have been mistaken. I reviewed the applicable provisions of the Tax Code, and it appears an indirect rollover must be of the entire amount of the "cash out". An elegant workaround is just to do a custodian-to-custodian transfer of the maturing IRA CD to, say, Vanguard. Plop what you need in VMMXX (Vanguard's money market fund), and the rest in whatever you wish. Once the funds hit Vanguard, take an IRA withdrawal from VMMXX. Whatever you don't take from VMMXX, keep it in Vanguard or do a custodian-to-custodian out to another IRA CD. Never assume I know what I'm talking about. I don't.
HollyHolly
HollyHolly | | 16 posts since 2015
I can't remember what INOVA requires (maybe joining a charity they support for $10, which counts as an investment expense, I think) but at least once a year, INOVA has a very good CD offer. Also, MT America Credit Union at least once a year has very good CD rates, and ACC works there. Melrose Credit Union generally has good rates for CDs and anyone can join. Xcel FCC frequently has good rates for CDs, and ACC works there too.
RandyVT
RandyVT | | 1 posts since 2017
Credit Unions are "must-join" because they are responsible first and foremost to their members, not to stockholders. A local credit union, local to where you live is where to look first. Sometimes, a credit union whose main office is not in your town, but has a local branch in your town, is the best choice because as credit unions grow, they can serve more people, and as they grow, they can provide more services appropriate for your needs. Some credit unions serve geographically very diverse constituent groups, and that may best meet your needs. Over the last 50 years, small credit unions that were established as service organizations to employee groups, local communities, or other more narrowly defined groups have expanded their member eligibility rules. And larger credit unions often can provide more services at lower rates than the older, more narrowly defined organizations. A credit union may provide the basic financial services you need; checking or on-line bill payment services, payroll electronic deposit service, automobile loans, home mortgage loans and/or home equity lines of credit, and credit card services, among others. If you seek a firm to best handle retirement investments, it is hard for credit unions to compete with the retirement custodian services of large firms like Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, TIAA-CREF and others. I have not hard a bank account for more than 35 years. I would always choose to support my community and my fellow workers by supporting my local credit union over the unknown stockholders of a bank. And as I've learned more about the wide variety of financial tools I must prudently use in my life, I personally have settled on 2: a credit union and Vanguard. I was a member of Coors Credit Union for over 35 years (Golden, Colorado) and now I have moved my credit union choice services to Credit Union of Colorado, a larger, state-wide organization. I recommend Vanguard for larger investments (retirement and others) and I recommend reviewing your local choices for your particular "must-join" credit union for those type needs, and join whichever suits your needs and locale.