Navy Federal Credit Union Review

Navy Federal Credit Union

Overall Rating

9

Bottom Line

Between well-regarded customer service and accounts suited for anyone, Navy Federal stands out as a solid credit union overall.

Pros

  • Tons of checking account options
  • Excellent customer service
  • Limited fees
  • Both in-person and online banking

Cons

  • Low savings rates
  • No reimbursement for ATM fees
  • Eligibility restrictions

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), usually referred to as Navy Federal or Navy Fed, is a global credit union based out of Vienna, Virginia.

Founded in 1933 by a small group of naval employees, Navy Federal is now the largest credit union in the US in terms of both assets and membership.

Navy Federal offers deposit accounts, credit cards, investment accounts and IRAs, personal loans, and refinancing.

NFCU provides accounts and financial services to members of all branches of the armed forces, as well as their family members.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about qualifying for membership, plus an in-depth look at the products, features, and service come along with choosing Navy Federal as a financial partner.

In This Article

Navy Federal Checking Accounts

All Navy Federal checking accounts have no monthly service fees (with one exception) and come with a Navy Federal Zero Liability debit card.

Each account has full access to digital banking, and dividends are credited monthly.

Let’s take a look at each account option:

Free Active Duty Checking

Free Active Duty Checking is designed for both active duty and retired service members. The account comes with up to $240 per year in ATM rebates, plus free personalized checks.

The checking account is interest-bearing, and the APY and dividend rate are both 0.05%. Account-holders can also access their paycheck a day early with direct deposit, and there are no minimum balance requirements.

To qualify for this account, you’ll need a qualifying military direct deposit. If your direct deposit doesn’t show up in your account for 90 days, the account automatically converts to a Free EveryDay Checking account.

Free Easy Checking

Free Easy Checking is an interest-bearing account with a 0.05% APY and 0.05% dividend rate.

You’ll get $120 per year in ATM fee reimbursements, and there are no minimum balance requirements.

Free Campus Checking

Free Campus Checking is an account for members aged 14 to 24 but is otherwise nearly identical to Free Easy Checking — members get the same $120 per year in ATM rebates, along with a 0.05% APY and dividend rate.

The account has no minimum deposit requirements.

Free EveryDay Checking

Free EveryDay Checking is a basic checking account that’s available to all Navy Federal members.

The account has lower APY and dividend rates of just 0.01% each, and there are no ATM fee reimbursements.

Flagship Checking

Flagship Checking is Navy Federal’s highest-earning checking option with a variable APY of 0.35% to 0.45%.

The same rate applies to dividends, and you’ll have to maintain a balance of $1,500 or more to get dividends paid out.

If you enroll in direct deposit, you’ll get $120 per year in ATM rebates. The account is also the only checking option that comes with a potential monthly fee of $10, which you can avoid your balancer stays at $1,500 or more.

Basic Savings is Navy Federal’s only savings account and is required for membership.

You can open multiple Basic accounts as the main account and an emergency fund, and both come with the same features — Basic Savings has no monthly fee, and comes with a 0.25% APY, and requires a balance of just $5 to earn dividends at the same rate.

Basic Savings is designed to help you fulfill all of your short and long-term savings goals and comes with useful tools and guidance along the way.

You can automate your savings habits with recurring transfers and keep yourself on track with a savings goal calculator.

Navy Federal’s Money Market account comes with a tiered APY up to 0.50%. The rate is based on your balance, and goes up the more you deposit. Here’s the current breakdown:

  • Up to $2,499: 0.00% APY
  • $2,500 to $9,999: 0.40% APY
  • $10,000 to $24,999: 0.45% APY
  • $25,000 to $49,999: 0.45% APY
  • $50,000+: 0.45% APY

If you have a higher total balance, you can opt for a Jumbo Money Market, which gives you access to a slightly higher rate.

If you have less than $100,000, you’re better off with the standard option, but the max rate of 0.50% is up for grabs if your balance is $100,000 or more.

Both Money Market accounts are fee-free, and you’ll have some added flexibility in accessing your money than a standard savings account.

Here are the current CDs that Navy Federal has to offer:

Standard CD

A Standard Navy Federal CD, also known as a Share Certificate, allows for terms ranging from 3 months to 7 years, with higher rates the longer you commit your funds.

There’s a $1,000 minimum deposit requirement, and you’ll get a small boost on your rate if you deposit $100,000 or more.

Here’s what the different tiers look like:

  • 3 months: 0.40% (0.45% with $100,000+)
  • 6 months: 0.45% (0.50% with $100,000+)
  • 9 months: 0.50% (0.55% with $100,000+)
  • 12, 18, or 24 months: 0.55% APY (0.60% with $100,000+)
  • 3 or 4 years: 0.70% APY (0.75% with $100,000+)
  • 5 or 7 years: 0.90% APY (0.95% with $100,000+)

EasyStart CD

EasyStart CDs have a low minimum deposit requirement of just $50. The rates are lower than other options, but the low threshold for opening makes this a more accessible option.

Here are the current term lengths and rates:

  • 6 months: 0.40% APY
  • 12, 18, or 24 months: 0.50% APY

Special EasyStart CD

The Special EasyStart CD has the same $50 minimum deposit requirement but earns at a much higher rate of 3.00%. There’s a maximum balance limit of $3,000, and the only term length available is two months.

To open a Special EasyStart CD, you’ll first need a Navy Federal checking account and direct deposit, and there’s a limit of one of these accounts per member.

SaveFirst CD

SaveFirst is a straightforward CD option that earns the same rate of 0.40%, no matter how long you commit your funds. You only need $5 to open an account and can choose a term length anywhere from 3 to 60 months.

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a wide variety of credit card opinions. Each one comes with 24/7 access to customer representatives, plus no fees on balance transfers or foreign transactions.

Let’s take a quick look at what else comes along with each credit card:

cashRewards

cashRewards is a no annual fee card that earns 1.5% cashback on all purchases. You can start redeeming rewards as soon as you earn them, and you’ll get a $200 initial bonus when you spend at least $2,000 in your first 90 days.

More Rewards (AmEx)

The More Rewards American Express card is a tiered rewards card with no annual fee. You’ll earn triple points on purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and single points for everything else.

When you open a new card, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points when you spend at least $1,000 in your first 90 days.

Visa Signature Flagship Rewards

Signature Flaghship Rewards has no annual fee for your first year, but it’s $49 for each year after. You’ll also get a free Amazon Prime membership for a year ($130 value).

The card earns triple points for travel and double points on all other purchases. You can also take advantage of a $100 statement credit toward Global Entry or TSA Pre-check.

GO Rewards

GO Rewards is a no-annual fee credit card that comes with an intro APR on purchases of 0% for 6 months. For rewards, you’ll get triple points at restaurants, double points on gas, and single points on everything else.

Platinum

Platinum is a good option if you’re looking to save on interest. There are no rewards, but with a 12-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers, it’s a good choice to help pay down existing debt.

nRewards Secured

nRewards Secured is a card for those who are new to credit cards and looking to establish their credit score. There’s no annual fee, and all purchases earn single points.

What makes the card unique is that it’s linked to your savings account. The balance in your credit card established the credit limit for the card, so you won’t have to worry about spending more than you have.

After 6 months, your account is reviewed, and if you’re eligible, you can upgrade to a cashRewards card.

Navy Federal Credit Union Features

Here are the top features that Navy Federal Credit Union has to offer its members:

344 Branches Worldwide

Navy Federal has 344 brick and mortar branches, including 26 international locations and 184 branches on or near military installations.

Its greatest presence is in Virginia near its headquarters, but Navy Federal currently operates branches in 30 US states.

30,000 Free ATMs

Aside from its own branch ATMs, Navy Federal also belongs to the CO-OP network, giving members access to more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. You can find either type of ATM through the locator on the website or app.

Online Banking

With Navy Federal online banking, you can manage your accounts and bank cards digitally whenever you need to. Transfers, bill pay, and account maintenance are seamless, and you can reduce waste and increase account security with paperless statements.

Mobile App

Navy Federal’s mobile banking app is available on both iOS and Android and currently holds a respectable 3.8-star (out of 5) rating in both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

With mobile banking, you can make mobile check deposits, set up notifications and alerts, and take care of any other banking needs that you would online or in-branch.

Member Benefits

As a Navy Federal member, you’ll be in line for some exclusive benefits. Discounts on everything from insurance to car rentals are up for grabs, and you could even be eligible for a reduced rate on a home or auto loan.

Navy Federal Credit Union Fees

With Navy Federal, there aren’t a ton of traditional banking fees, but it isn’t entirely fee-free. Let’s take a look at the most common charges that you’ll see.

Monthly Maintenance Fees

Almost all Navy Federal deposit accounts come without a monthly fee, with the lone exception of Flagship Checking. There’s a $10 monthly fee if your balance falls under $1,500, so be sure you can maintain at least that amount if you plan to open this account.

ATM Fees

Navy Federal doesn’t charge fees for using out-of-network ATMs, but it also doesn’t reimburse the fees charged by the ATM. ATM fees can add up in a hurry, so always take a look at the map before opening an account to make sure that you have one nearby.

Overdraft Fees

If you overdraft your account, there’s a standard $29 fee, charged up to three times a day if you keep making transactions.

Navy Federal provides three options to get around it — you can cover your overdraft with a transfer from your savings, open a line of credit, or opt into Optional Overdraft Protection Service (OOPS).

The best option is linking with your savings, which automatically corrects your balance for free. A line of credit comes with a variable interest rate, and OOPS coverage still costs $20 per transfer.

Wire Transfer Fees

Incoming wires to your Navy Federal accounts are always free, but sending them comes with a fee. Domestic transfers are $14 each, and international wires cost $25. Overall, these fees are definitely lower than what you can expect to see from an average bank.

Getting Started

To sign up for a Navy Federal account, you’ll first have to determine if you’re eligible.

Navy Federal membership is exclusive to those who have ties to US military members, and all of the following people are eligible:

  • Active Duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Space Force
  • Delayed Entry Program recruits
  • Department of Defense (DoD) officer candidates/ROTC, reservists, civilian employees, contractors, and retirees
  • Veterans, retirees, and annuitants
  • Immediate family members of members

If you qualify, you can sign up online at www.navyfederal.org for an account in as little as 10 minutes. You can also opt to enroll over the phone or in-branch.

To join Navy Federal, you’ll need your Social Security Number, current home address, US ID, and a credit card or bank account for funding.

Navy Federal Credit Union Promotions

There’s no sign-up bonus for a new Navy Federal membership or account at the moment, but there’s a pretty solid referral program once you’re in.

When you refer new Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), you’ll get $100 per new member. There’s a limit of 5 referrals per member, so you can earn up to $500 if you keep bringing in new people.

Security

Navy Federal accounts are monitored 24/7 by fraud protection software, and you can protect yourself with biometric authentication (including VoiceID), card freezes, and custom notifications.

Navy Federal also utilizes 2-step authentication to log in and has digital tools in place to protect against phishing, card scams, and wire fraud.

Like most credit unions, Navy Federal accounts are protected by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), so your money is insured for up to $250,000.

Customer Service

Navy Federal has an outstanding reputation when it comes to customer service, with an impressive 4.7-star rating on TrustPilot.

Part of the appeal is that someone is always available — phone support (1-888-842-6328) is available 24/7.

Otherwise, you can send a secure message online, pop into your local branch, or chat with someone on the website or social media.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Tons of checking account options
  • Excellent customer service
  • Limited fees
  • Both in-person and online banking

Cons:

  • Low savings rates
  • No reimbursement for ATM fees
  • Eligibility restrictions
  • No sign-up bonus

Alternatives to Navy Federal Credit Union

If you’re interested in banking partners that are available exclusively to those associated with the military, Navy Federal isn’t the only option.

USAA and Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) both offer similar platforms and are worth taking a look at.

FAQs

Is Navy Federal a good credit union?

Yes — it’s the biggest one for a reason. Between well-regarded customer service and accounts suited for anyone, Navy Federal stands out as a solid credit union overall.

What’s so special about Navy Federal Credit Union?

It depends on who you ask. It could be the sheer fact that it’s the biggest credit union in the US or that its approach is specifically tailored to those who serve and their families.

At the end of the day, it’s all about what you need in a financial institution. It’s entirely possible that Navy Federal isn’t special at all for you specifically and that there’s a better option out there. Take the time to figure out what you want and need, and find the financial partner that can provide it.

Is there a monthly fee for Navy Federal?

No, there is no monthly fee for a Navy Federal membership. That said, there might be one for your specific account, so be sure to understand all of the ins and outs before opening one.

Is Navy Federal Credit Union Right For You?

If you’re associated with the US military, you already have the unique ability to be a part of the largest credit unions in the country.

That membership gives you access to a high level of customer service, tons of account options, plus some solid perks along the way.

With Navy Federal, you can feel good about choosing a well-established personal finance solution that brings a lot to the table.

On the other hand, the fact is that while there’s a lot to like, it might not be your highest-earning option.

Navy Federal offers competitive rates overall but definitely doesn’t come with the truly high-yield APYs that you’ll see in other credit unions and online banks. There’s also no sign-up bonus to entice potential new members.

Finding the best banking solution for you is a matter of identifying your goals and using the correct tools to get you there.

Here’s to making it happen.