As you may know, most federal credit unions in the US have membership requirements that limit who can join these financial institutions.
They usually cater to specific groups of people – like those serving in the military, working in the education sector, or living in a particular state.
The good news is that there are also credit unions anyone can join, regardless of the industry you work in or where you live.
Below is a list of credit unions anyone can join regardless of the geographic area one is resident in, so you can take your pick.
Keep in mind that there will still be some eligibility requirements, like making a donation or joining a specific club or association—more details on that below.
6 Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join
Here are the top 6 credit unions that anyone can join today:
- Connexus Credit Union: Best Checking Accounts
- First Tech Federal Credit Union: Best Customer Experience
- Consumers Credit Union: Best Checking Account APY
- Alliant Credit Union: Best For Savings Account Rates
- NASA Federal Credit Union: Best for Account Holders Interested in National Space
- Lake Michigan Credit Union: Best If You Live In Michigan or Florida
1. Connexus Credit Union
Connexus has many offices, especially in Wisconsin, where it was founded in 1935. It also has thousands of shared branches and more than 54,000 ATMs all over the nation.
In-network ATMs are free, while there is a fee for the other ones. The good news is that they also reimburse up to $25 of those ATM expenses per month.
How To Join Connexus Credit Union
To join this credit union is as easy as paying a low one-time fee of $5, which is the membership cost of Connexus Association.
This organization provides college scholarships and financial education.
Anyone can become a credit union member. The membership is free if you come from certain areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Ohio.
Connexus Credit Union Checking Accounts
This federal credit union offers three checking account options.
The most popular one is the Xtraordinary Checking account described below, while the other 2 are variations.
One earns no interest, but it eliminates all of the fees, while the other has fewer requirements.
Still, it does earn some interest if you were finding it difficult to qualify for the Xtraordinary Checking Account.
Connexus Xtraordinary Checking Account
Connexus Xtraordinary Checking Account earns an excellent 1.75% APY (Annual Percentage Yield) on balances up to $25,000, as long as you meet some requirements.
You’ll need to choose e-statements, make a minimum of 15 monthly debit card purchases, or spend at least $400 by credit card each month.
On balances higher than $25,000, the interest rate will lower to 0.25%.
Connexus Credit Union Savings Accounts
Connexus Credit Union has many options when it comes to savings accounts.
It even has a savings account for the holidays, called the Holiday Club Account. This account doesn’t let you withdraw money until October, so you have plenty to spend for the holidays.
The regular personal savings account option has a savings rate of 0.25% APY. It charges no monthly maintenance fees but has a minimum deposit of $5.
If you want to use ATMs with this account, you will have to pay $1 each month, and there are some overdraft fees to consider.
Opening a checking account with them will guarantee no fees and a high annual percentage yield.
- Highest APY on checking accounts
- No maintenance fee
- Many varied account options
- Overdraft fees
- The savings account has an ATM fee
2. First Tech Federal Credit Union
First Tech Federal Credit Union is headquartered in California, but anyone living in the US can join.
It has open branches in 8 different states in the nation, plus one in Puerto Rico.
It is a CO-OP Shared Branch member, a network that offers almost 6,000 branches and 3,000 ATMs.
How To Join First Tech Credit Union
The easiest way to join First Tech Federal Credit Union is to donate $8 to the non-profit Financial Fitness Association.
By becoming a member of the Financial Fitness Association, you will automatically meet the eligibility requirements to be a member of First Tech.
First Tech Credit Union Checking Accounts
First Tech Credit Union has a variety of checking and saving accounts.
Worth mentioning is its high-yield earning Dividend Rewards Checking Account, with 1.00% APY on balances below $1,000.00.
To earn interest on the account, though, you must meet three requirements:
- Opt for e-statements instead of paper statements
- Make a minimum of 12 purchases with your debit card each month
- Open a Membership Savings account first
If you meet the requirements, you will have an extra benefit as well: First Tech will refund out-of-network ATM fees within the US.
First Tech Credit Union Savings Accounts
Savings accounts also earn APY, but it’s not as good as the one on checking accounts. If you want to enroll in the highest savings rates account, your minimum initial deposit should be not less than $5,000.
First Tech Federal Credit Union is known for its excellent customer service experience. Some of the credit union’s branches open on Saturdays, which is convenient.
And if you get stuck when the credit union is closed, you can get help by phone or social media.
Its online banking and mobile banking are very positively rated.
- Customer service
- Many branches and ATMs in the US + Puerto Rico
- Mobile app and online banking
- Average APY
- Requirements to meet
3. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union is the local credit union in Illinois. It is currently one of the largest credit unions in the state, with more than 100,000 members and more than $1.2 billion in assets.
All of its branch locations are in the Chicago surroundings. Customers can also access CO-OP shared branches and ATMs.
How To Join Consumers Credit Union
Anyone can become a member, even outside of Illinois, by donating the membership fee of $5 to a non-profit affiliated with Consumers Credit Union.
Almost every one of its accounts can be opened online, except for free checking accounts and IRAs.
Requirements to open a Consumers Credit Union Account Online:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a government-issued ID
- Have a social security number (SSN)
- Have your routing and account numbers if you are transferring money from another account
If you can’t meet these requirements, you can go to one of the branches in Chicago and open an account in person or by calling customer service.
Consumers Credit Union Checking Accounts
The Reward Checking Account earns the highest yield we have seen so far in a checking account: 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000.
To get this APY, you’ll have to meet all of the requirements, including spending $100 or more on an affiliated credit card monthly.
Consumer Credit Union offers many other checking account options as well.
There’s a bare one that earns no interest rate and some middle ones with lower interest than the Reward Checking Account (but fewer requirements to meet).
If you have the option, going for the Reward Checking Account would be a sound decision. An annual percentage yield like that is hard to come by.
Consumers Credit Union Savings Accounts
The basic savings account is completely free, but it also earns significantly less interest than the checking accounts: only 0.03% APY.
In addition to the accounts mentioned above, many others, including the one dedicated to students, plus CDs, money market, and IRA CD accounts.
- Best APY earned on checking account (4.09%)
- No monthly fee
- Many account options to choose from
- Brick-and-mortar branches are available only in the Chicago area, Illinois.
- Mandatory requirements to earn APY.
4. Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union, just like the other credit unions included in this article, doesn’t require you to live in a specific region or work in a predefined industry to join.
This credit union has many perks, including its high yield savings accounts, low service fees, and excellent customer service.
Alliant’s online banking also has very positive reviews, which is fundamental, mainly because this credit union is online-only.
Alliant Credit Union doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar locations, so you will have to be comfortable using their online banking. The good news is that you can reach their customer service by phone, email, and online.
Alliant also strives for a very high standard transparency policy. They will always inform their members of every fee they incur, making sure there are no “surprise” fees. That’s something to appreciate, as it helps gain the trust of account holders.
With Alliant Credit Union, you can access more than 80,000 free ATMs across the country. It also reimburses up to $20 out-of-network ATM charges per month.
It’s important to notice that ATM withdrawals have a limit: no more than $500 a day, and it could be even less in case you have a history of overdrafts.
How To Join Alliant Credit Union
Its membership is available to any US citizen or resident.
To join Alliant Credit Union, you’ll need to either live or work near Chicago or make a donation of $5 to Foster Care to Success.
Alliant Credit Union Account Options
Alliant offers many options regarding checking accounts, savings accounts, and CDs.
The most popular savings account is High Rate Savings. It has a minimum deposit required of $5, donated, and a minimum balance of $100 to earn 0.55% APY.
In addition to this savings account, there is a Kids Savings Account available with Alliant.
The most popular checking account is High Rate Checking which requires no minimum deposit and no monthly fee. On top of that, earns 0.25% APY.
- Customer service
- The first deposit of $5 gets donated
- Highest APY on savings account
- Free ATMs and refunds
- Highly rated online banking and mobile app
- Limit on ATM withdrawals
- No brick-and-mortar branch locations available
5. NASA Federal Credit Union
NASA Federal Credit Union started in 1949 with only 7 NASA employees who wanted to help their colleagues have a better financial institution. It now has more than 177,000 members.
Its headquarters are in Upper Marlboro, Massachusetts. This credit union has 12 branch locations in different states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
It is also a Nasa FCU CO-OP Shared Branch member and offers almost 6,000 branches and 3,000 ATMs across the country. You can use ATMs for free if you stay within this network. No ATM expenses refund available.
How To Join NASA Federal Credit Union
There are several ways of becoming a member. The easiest one available for people not working at NASA is to sign up for a one-year membership at the National Space Society (NSS).
The National Space Society is free if you open an account at NASA Federal Credit Union at the same time. So if you are interested at all in space, you will get a double reward: eligibility for NASA FCU + Free 1 year NSS membership.
As it happens with most other credit unions, you can also join if a family member of yours is already part of this credit union.
NASA Federal Credit Union Account Options
NASA Federal Credit Union offers a simple checking account with no minimum opening deposit.
There’s a monthly fee of $7, which you can avoid if you maintain a combined minimum balance of $2,500 between all the accounts you have open at NASA FCU, and an overdraft fee of $32.
You won’t earn interest on its checking accounts.
The most popular savings account is the NASA Federal Credit Union Prime Savings, which includes an APY of 0.10% (which is pretty low).
There are CD account options available too, which have a higher interest at 0.35% or 0.45% but have added minimum opening deposit and minimum balance to earn interest on the account.
Perks of NASA Federal Credit Union:
- See real FICO credit scores if you use online banking. You can also check their monthly fluctuations and the reasons why they happen.
- Full-service mobile app with direct check deposits, bill payments, free money transfers, and customer service messaging.
- Convenient Paypal connection. With NASA FCU, you can transfer personal funds to friends or family members with an account with a different bank or credit union by using Paypal without downloading an additional app.
- Member of CO-OP shared branches
- FICO scores
- National Space Society complimentary membership
- Full-service mobile app
- PayPal payments and transfers
- CD accounts available
- Out-of-network ATM fees
- Monthly fees (can be waived)
- Low APY on savings account
- No interest rates earned on checking accounts
- Overdraft fee
6. Lake Michigan Credit Union
Lake Michigan credit union was founded in 1933 by a group of teachers, and it now has more than 40 branches and 100 ATMs in Michigan alone. It is also part of the Allpoint network – so you can access more than 55,000 free ATMs worldwide.
Allpoint Network is well known for providing a great service, especially for online banks, and it is one of the most secure in the world.
The fee for out-of-network ATMs usage is as low as $1, so nothing to worry about anyway. Lake Michigan Credit Union even offers refunds on ATM fees of up to $15 each month.
All of Lake Michigan Credit Union’s accounts can be opened online, except its youth savings account and IRA.
How To Join Lake Michigan Credit Union
Lake Michigan Credit Union lets you join for free if you are a Michigan or Florida resident.
While you can still become a member if you live outside these two states, you will have to donate $5 to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Foundation.
Lake Michigan Credit Union Checking Accounts
The most popular checking account at Lake Michigan Credit Union is the Max Checking Account. I suppose it’s called max because it maximizes your earnings.
It has a very high 3.0% APY. In addition, it doesn’t promote keeping a large sum in the account since, after a $15,000 balance, the interest rate earned on your money will lower significantly.
There are no monthly fees and no minimum deposit accounts required, but there is an overdraft fee of $30 that you will have to pay each time.
On top of the low fees and high yield checking account, some extra perks of this account are free online banking, bill pay, and a free debit card if you agree to at least one direct deposit per month.
Max Checking Account is not the only checking account option offered by Lake Michigan Credit union.
It has a simpler account that doesn’t give you any interest or a more expensive one, which allows you to take your money out while still earning interest.
Lake Michigan Credit Union Savings Accounts
The two main savings accounts offered by the Lake Michigan credit union are the Member Savings account and the Max Savings Account.
The Member Savings Account doesn’t have any special requirements to open, other than a minimum balance of $100 and being a Lake Michigan Credit Union member, of course.
It earns an average of 0.25% APY, much lower than the checking account APY.
The Max Savings account earns the same APY as the Members Savings Account with a minimum balance requirement of $100. If you want to raise your APY to 0.60%, you can do that by keeping at least $100,000 in your account.
Other attractive saving account options are the Holiday Club, dedicated to people who would like to save for the holidays, and the Kids and Teen Club.
CD, money market, and IRA account options are included in Michigan Lake Credit union’s financial offering.
Lake Michigan credit union also has financial products like auto loans (with reasonable rates), mortgage loans, and credit cards.
- High APY on checking account
- No fees
- Free to join if you live or work in either Michigan or Florida
- Free online banking and debit card with direct deposit
- ATM fees refund and Allpoint network
- APY on the checking account loses its appeal with a balance of $15,000 or more
- Brick and mortar branch locations only in Michigan and Florida
How We Chose The Best Credit Unions That Anyone Can Join
We chose the best credit unions that anyone can join on this list based on the following criteria:
- Eligibility requirements
- Branch locations
- Monthly maintenance fees
- Other fees for using services (ATM, for example)
- Overdraft protection
- Minimum deposit requirement
- Customer service
- Interest rates earned on the accounts (APY)
- Variety of accounts and services offered
- Mobile and internet banking
Disclaimer: This article aims to provide helpful information if you’re interested in joining a credit union. However, it’s always a good idea to talk to a financial advisor before making your decision.
Credit Unions Anyone Can Join FAQs
What is a Credit Union?
A credit union is a financial institution that operates similarly to a bank. Credit unions are one of the most popular alternatives to bank accounts.
The main difference between a bank and a credit union is that the latter doesn’t answer to external shareholders but its own members.
Members have voting rights because they become shareholders of the financial institution when they join.
In other words, you would be both a customer and a shareholder if you decide to opt for a credit union.
Most credit unions are open only if you work or live in a specific State or work within a particular job industry.
Some let you join if you have a family member already in the organization, belong to a specific religious group, and so on.
In exchange for a small fee or some other requirement, many of them let anyone join, and if you want to know more about them, read above.
A good reason to prefer credit unions over banks is that they hold a reputation for better customer service, outstanding APY, and overall charge lower fees.
That, of course, may not be true for all of them since there is a large variety.
What about insurance on my deposits?
Since credit unions are not covered by the FDIC, which only insures banks, a National Credit Union Administration protects deposit accounts at federally insured credit unions.
The NCUA is an independent federal agency that protects credit union members.
Can civilians join Navy Federal Credit Union?
Navy Federal Credit Union is the single largest credit union in the United States, with $111,986,000,000 in assets.
Until 2017 it was difficult to join if you weren’t a member of the military. Still, lately, Navy Federal Credit Union has been expanding its field of membership and letting some civilians in as well.
As of today, to be a member of the Navy Federal Credit union, you have to be either a member of the military or at least a family member of one.
Family members that qualify are parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and spouses.
That doesn’t mean that Navy Federal Credit Union is now open to all, but it’s a lot more open than it used to be. It’s not that uncommon to have at least one family member who’s served in the military.
Until 2017, even honorably discharged veterans of the military weren’t able to join this credit union! Now members of the military include, for eligibility purposes: active-duty soldiers, navy officers, marines, coast guards, reservists, veterans, and retirees, among others.
If you are not sure you qualify, Navy Credit Union has an eligibility tool on its website that you can use.
Can anyone join American Airlines Credit Union?
The short answer is: NO. To join American Airlines Credit Union, you have to be employed in the air transportation industry or be a family member of someone in the air transportation industry.
Anyone else won’t be allowed to join American Airlines Credit Union.
American Airlines was founded by a small group of American Airlines employees. It grew, and it is now aiming to serve anyone working in the air transportation industry and their families.
It offers exclusive benefits in addition to the usual financial products such as personal loans, auto loans, interest-bearing accounts, and so on.