Best Credit Unions

Credit unions are nonprofit institutions that are owned by their members, and many of them keep fees down and offer respectable interest rates on at least some of their accounts.

person in credit union office
(Image credit: Getty Images)

All the institutions here are available to customers anywhere in the U.S. If you don’t qualify for membership based on geographic or employer affiliations, use the method listed in the “How to join” section. 

Alliant Credit Union

Why it won: Alliant achieved excellent scores for its checking account and CDs, and it goes easy on fees. 

Standout accounts: The free High-Rate Checking account yields 0.25% if you meet simple requirements, and the 18-month CD recently offered a 5.15% rate ($1,000 minimum deposit). 

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Where it is: Alliant operates online.

How to join: Become a member of the Foster Care to Success charity (Alliant pays the $5 membership fee on your behalf). You must also open a savings account; Alliant makes a complimentary $5 deposit for you.

To get a 0.25% yield on the High-Rate Checking account, make one monthly direct deposit into the account and sign up for electronic statements rather than paper statements. The account provides up to $20 monthly in ATM fee rebates, and the first box of checks is free. The Teen Checking account offers similar benefits for customers age 13 to 17, who can own the account jointly with parents. 

The free High-Rate Savings account and Kids Savings account (for children 12 or younger) yield 3.1% on balances of $100 or more. Along with 5.15% on an 18-month certificate, CD yields recently included 5% on a 12-month CD and 4.75% on a six-month CD.

Bellco Credit Union

Why it won: Bellco customers can choose from a variety of free checking accounts or a premium account with extra benefits, and most of the savings yields are solid. 

Standout accounts: Platinum Checking provides plenty of free perks for customers who meet minimum-balance requirements. The 17-month CD recently yielded 5% ($500 minimum deposit). 

Where it is: More than two dozen Colorado branches, mostly in the Denver area.

How to join: If you live outside of Colorado, join the Bellco Foundation with a minimum $10 donation. You must also pay a one-time, $5 membership fee and deposit at least $5 into a savings account.

Bellco’s free checking accounts include a basic account, an account for students age 13 to 24, and Boost Checking, which yields 2.25% on balances of up to $25,000 if you meet monthly requirements—making 15 debit card purchases and one direct deposit, and logging in to online or mobile banking. Platinum Checking, which waives its $12 monthly fee if you keep at least $15,000 in Bellco deposit and loan balances, offers free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and wire transfers. 

Among savings options, the Premier Money Market yields as much as 4% on balances of $50,000 or more (maintain a $10,000 minimum balance to avoid a $10 monthly fee). Along with the 17-month CD yielding 5%, other CD rates include 4.5% for a 13-month maturity and 4.25% for a term of two or three years.

Connexus Credit Union

Why it won: All of Connexus’s checking accounts are free, and some of the savings yields are impressive. 

Standout accounts: Xtraordinary Checking yields up to 1.75% if you meet activity requirements, and the 15-month CD recently yielded 5.05% ($5,000 minimum deposit).

Where it is: More than a dozen branches in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

How to join: Make a one-time, $5 donation to the Connexus Association and deposit $5 into a savings account.

With the free Xtraordinary Checking account, you earn 1.75% on balances of up to $25,000 and get up to $25 reimbursed monthly in ATM fees if you receive electronic statements and make at least 15 debit card purchases monthly or spend at least $400 on your debit card monthly. Connexus also offers a basic checking account as well as Teen Checking, which is available to kids age 10 to 17 and yields 2% on balances of up to $1,000. 

Rates vary on the Money Market Account depending on the balance, including a 2.51% yield for balances of $20,000 to $99,999 and 3.26% for balances of $100,000 to $249,999. Besides the 15-month CD, Connexus offers a one-year CD that recently yielded 5.01% with a $5,000 minimum deposit or 5.26% for balances of $100,000 or more.

Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.