Top 10 Best Federal Credit Unions

Suggested by SMS

Federally chartered credit unions were established in 1934 following the passage of the Federal Credit Union Act. The law’s purpose was to help individuals establish credit and promote sound financial principles through a nationwide system of non-profit credit unions.

Credit unions can be chartered under state or federal law. Some credit unions are chartered under both. The National Credit Union Administration currently oversees and charters all credit unions both state and federal.

Credit unions have become a major force in the economy. Credit unions have approximately 100 million members and employ nearly 300,000 employees that manage assets of over $900 billion. Read on to find out more about the top ten federal credit unions in the United States.

10. American Airlines Federal Credit Union

American Airlines Federal Credit Union was founded by a small contingent of American Airlines employees in 1936. The founding member’s vision was to create a member owned institution where fellow employees could help each other.

Today AA Credit Union has grown to become one of the largest federal credit unions in the country managing assets of over $5 billion. The credit union has a net worth of $526 million and over 225,000 members.

The credit union has expanded to include all airline employee and government employees. The relationship with American Airlines remains strong but the performance of the credit union is not tied to the fiscal health or profitability of the airline.

American Airlines Federal Credit Union offers a wide spectrum of financial services such as checking, savings, new and used vehicle loans, home loans, and credit cards.

The organization has more than 40 branches throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. They also offer online banking for customer convenience. Online banking services include free online bill pay and transfers.

9. Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service was founded in 1956 with a total of eight members and $25 in deposits. The original membership qualifier was being a member or family member of someone in the United States Air Force Security Service.

Today the credit union offers over 2000 different ways to qualify. Security Service currently has over 825,000 members and 70 locations throughout the United States making it the eighth largest credit union in the world and largest in Texas.

Security Service offers certificates of deposit, credit and debit cards, investment vehicles and insurance, online banking, home loans, business banking, and special events for members. The organization is led by Chief Executive Officer and President David E. Reynolds. SSFCU was chosen as the Federal Credit Union of the Year in 1999.

8. Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union

Suncoast was chartered January 31, 1994 under the name Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union. Today they are one of the top ten largest federal credit unions in the United States and serve over half a million members in 15 different Florida counties.

As of March 31, 2011 the total assets of the credit union was over $5 billion. The organization also has loans in the amount of $3.8 billion and membership equity of $286 million.

Suncoast offers a wide range of financial products and services to its members such as mortgages, savings and checking accounts, vehicle loans, credit cards, student loans, investment accounts, health savings accounts, small business accounts and more. Membership is open to virtually anyone and not limited to teachers.

From its humble beginnings Suncoast has excellent educational products and services for children and teens that promote healthy financial habits. Children and teens can open checking accounts under the supervision of their parents or guardians. There are always kid’s contests and giveaways happening that promote financial literacy.

7. Digital Federal Credit Union

Digital Federal is based in Marlborough, Massachusetts and features a membership base of over 350,000 members. DCU as it is commonly referred to, has 20 branches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire but has members that live in all 50 states. DCU was chartered in 1979 for the employees of Digital Equipment Corporation.

Digital offers members all of the great services that the largest for-profit banks for less. One of the main advantages of federal credit unions are they can do business for less and pass the savings onto their members.

DCU provides savings accounts, checking accounts, CD’s, retirement accounts, and a long list of consumer loans. The credit union’s main goal is to help all of their members reach their individual financial goals. They do this by operating under the company principles of putting people first, doing the right thing, and making a difference.

To help educate consumers the credit union adopted the financial education program StreetWise in 2001. Members learn about identity protection, credit reporting, home buying, and how financial products operate. DCU has adapted this program for teens and teaches these skills in local high schools.

6. Kinecta Federal Credit Union

Kinecta Federal Credit Union has blossomed into one of the country’s largest credit unions with over 225,000 members and $3.5 billion in assets. The idea for the credit union came about because Hughes Aircraft employees had to drive through the busy California traffic on their lunch time to handle the financial business.

Lou Merandi, the credit union founder and former aircraft tool designer simply went into the office of the Hughes Aircraft president and told him of the problem and asked if they could organize a credit union. Hughes replied with a simple yes and asked that things be run with integrity.

Kinecta changed its name from Hughes Aircraft Employees Federal Credit Union in 2001 to reflect its broader membership base. Membership is open to any immediate family member of an existing member, anyone who works for their list of preferred employers, and anyone who lives, worships, works or attends school is certain Southern California counties.

5. Alaska USA Federal Credit Union

Alaska USA was founded in 1948 before Alaska had achieved statehood. Membership was exclusively for federal personnel who had been transferred to the area. A group of 15 people were responsible for starting the credit union. Today the credit union has over 400,000 members with branch locations in Alaska, California and Washington State. Alaska USA Federal has assets totaling more than $4 billion dollars. There are 60 full service branches most of which are open seven days a week for customer convenience.

The credit union offers exceptional financial products and services to its members including interest bearing checking and savings accounts, consumer, business and personal loans, a wide variety of mortgage products, home, auto and life insurance, and credit cards.

The online banking portion of their website features encrypted SSL security that safely allows members to conduct banking online. They also have a mobile app that works with most internet capable cell phones and PDA’s. The mobile app is free to download and use. Features include bill pay, credit card payment capability, ATM and branch location, balance inquires, and money transfers.

4. Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Pentagon Federal Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the United States with over one million members worldwide. It currently serves employees and family members in all branches of the military, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and defense related organizations.

PenFed offer their members with an array of services such as:

  • High interest-bearing checking and savings accounts
  • Some of the lowest auto loan rates in the United States as low as 2.49%
  • No-fee ATM machines with a network of over 32,000 nationwide locations (All-Point Network)
  • Online banking featuring bill pay
  • Financial resource center
  • Insurance
  • Student loans

PenFed was founded in 1935 and has grown into one of the strongest financial institutions in the world with assets totaling over $15 billion. Each member is also a partial owner of the credit union which has instilled a sense of pride and community among its owners. The board of directors is comprised by volunteer members that are lead by Chairman James F. Quinn.

PenFed does a great deal to reach out to armed forces members and their families. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation was founded in 2001 as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization. The foundation provides monetary support and personal money management counseling and tools.

3. America First Federal Credit Union

America First Federal was founded in Utah by 59 people. Legend has it that a tobacco can was big enough to fit all of their finances. The organization was founded in 1939 in Salt Lake City. The credit union moved to Ogden in 1947 but would not hire its first employee until 1954. That first employee worked as the credit union manager and treasurer – a rare combination in today’s world.

America First Federal is regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The credit union’s leadership board is comprised of volunteers that are elected to three-year terms. The current chairman is James Wendler. The Chief Executive Officer is Rick Craig.

America First has grown from its tobacco can beginnings to become the 11th largest credit union with the 6th largest membership base in the entire country serving people from all 50 states and around the world. All member finances are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Federal Government up to $250,000.

Most people fit the criteria to join America First. Their website has a full list of the eligibility requirements. Services include several checking and savings account types, money market accounts, loans, education savings plans, insurance and investing products, online banking and a network of 28,000 no-fee ATM machines.

2. Desert Schools Federal Credit Union

Desert Schools Federal Credit Union is a federally chartered credit union founded in 1939. The organization is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and has over 50 branch locations throughout Central Arizona. Desert Schools is the largest credit union in the state and one of the largest in the United States with an impressive membership base of nearly 400,000.

The organization began with a group of 15 teachers who wanted to create an organization that would help people meet and exceed their financial goals. The first member was teacher Jewell Mitchell. Within six months the total assets grew to nearly $1,000 and membership reached 54 people.

Desert Schools is lead by their guiding principles that employees refer to as “The Big Four.” These core values are as follows:

  • Build valuable member relationships by providing solutions
  • Create a fun environment that fosters employee satisfaction
  • Be positive force in the community by getting involved and making a difference
  • Achieve solid financial growth through sound financial decision making

The credit union offers great financial services and products common throughout the credit union industry including low interest loans, interest-bearing checking and savings accounts, business solutions, and safe online banking.

The credit union is lead by nine appointed members who serve three-year terms. All board members are volunteers that are overseen by a supervisory committee. Board members set policies and work together with management and the supervisory committee to make the credit union better. Each of the nearly 400,000 members has equal voting power to elect board members.

1. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the world in terms of assets and membership base. As of the first quarter of 2011 Navy Federal Credit Union had over $44 billion in assets, $32.7 billion in member savings, $30.5 billion in outstanding loans, $4 billion in reserves, and a membership base of 3.6 million people.

The credit union is not only known for its sheer size and economic influence but it also serves as one of the best companies to work for in the United States. Fortune named Navy Federal one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2008.

The organization was founded in 1933 with membership open to Navy employees who were members of the Federal Employees Union. The original credit union was dissolved in 1947 and became a federal credit union. Membership is now open to Navy contractors which resulted in the large membership increase.

Navy Federal has several services including online and mobile banking that allows members to conduct transactions from their smart phones.