Having a great bank can be important for service members and veterans, especially for those who list branch and ATM availability, ease of access, and factors such as bank fees as prime concerns. NerdWallet recently released a list of the best military banks and credit unions, focusing specifically on the best banks in these categories. If you're in the military or are a veteran and are looking for a bank, this list is for you.
Best Customer Service: USAA
USAA was ranked number one for customer service in 2015 by research firm Forrester. To become a member, you, a parent, or your spouse must have served.
- Customer service requests can be made via various methods, including a convenient website and call center
- With over 11 million members, USAA offers bank accounts, auto loans, credit cards, and more
- They offer a military checking account with such perks as no fees or minimum balance, fee-free access to 60,000 "USAA preferred" ATMS
Easiest to Join: Pentagon Federal Credit Union
While branches rare only in Washington, D.C. or on select bases in the U.S. and abroad, Pentagon Federal Credit Union was ranked at the top for ease of joining. You can become a member if you or a family member is or were military, or you work for qualifying organizations such as the Department of Defense. You can also become a member by joining either of two charities, Voices for America's Troops, or the National Military Family association.
- Checking accounts offer 0.20 percent APY for balances below $20,000 and 0.50 percent APY for anything above that
- The savings account has a minimum deposit of $5
- Free access to over 56,000 ATMS through the Allpoint Network
Best Rates: Navy Federal Credit Union & Andrews Federal Credit Union
The largest credit union in the U.S., Navy Federal Credit Union grants membership to members of the military, relatives, and employees of the Department of Defense.
- One interest checking account offers a yield of 0.35 percent for minimum daily balances of $1,500
- The credit union offers 12-month Share certificates and CDS offer 3 percent returns.
- Members have access to tens of thousands of other credit unions' ATMS in North America
- Members can also get auto loans with annual rates as low as 1.79 percent
- For transactions on their over 1.5 million overseas Visa/Plus ATMs, Navy Fed only charges one dollar per transaction
Andrews Federal Credit Union tied for best rates. Although Andrews is somewhat more strict about who can join, non-military residents of Washington, D.C. can apply for membership, as can members of the nonprofit American consumer Council.
- It has one of the best savings rates, at 0.31 percent APY for balances of $100 or more
- CD rates at Andrews range from 0.80 percent return on a 12-month certificate with $1,000 minimum opening deposit
- Auto loans can be as low as 1.39 percent APR
- Like Navy Fed, Andrews belongs to a CO-Op that gets its members no-fee access to ATMs across the U.S.
Best Branch Network: Security Service Federal Credit Union
While Security Service Federal Credit Union only has branches in three states, like the above credit unions, it belongs to a CO-OP network for ATM access but also for branch needs. Membership is more restricted, allowing employees of the Department of Defense or armed forces near a military base, or select areas in Texas, Colorado, and Utah.
- If you need a branch, you have access to this credit union through 5,000 branches at other participating banks
- Earn $0.10 cash back for every $2 spent with their checking account
- The credit union also offers home and private loans, but also some military-specific programs such as deployment services, military deployment loans, and more