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All Contents © 2018The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Miriam Cross, Staff Writer
| July 6, 2018
As nonprofit institutions owned by their members, credit unions share their profits via lower fees and higher rates. Anyone in the U.S. can join the credit unions we evaluated.
Here's a look at our top picks for credit unions anyone can join.
Hanscom Federal Credit Union is based in Massachusetts, but customers anywhere in the country can join. Although most of its 21 branches are clustered in and around Boston, Hanscom has more than 5,000 "shared branches" across the country at which you can deposit checks, transfer money and more. You can also access more than 100,000 ATMs surcharge-free and, depending on your checking account, get additional free ATM transactions or up to $20 in rebates.
Three of its four checking accounts are fee-free. The basic account lets you earn "MemberPoints" on purchases that you can redeem for travel, merchandise or gift cards, while Premier Checking ($9.95 per month unless your average daily balance exceeds $2,000) ladles on an extra 250 points each month and yields 0.3%. You can also choose among several savings accounts, such as CU Thrive, which rewards customers who set up automatic monthly transfers (capped at $500 per month and for a one-year term)with a 3% rate. The money market account earns up to 1% and requires an initial $2,000 deposit. CDs require either a $250 investment to earn a flat 0.85% on three-, six- or 12-month terms, or a $1,000 investment to earn, say, 1.25% on one-year and 2.25% on five-year terms.
If you're not working for (or retired from) the federal government in Massachusetts or another eligible employer, you can become a Hanscom member if you join one of three partner organizations, including the Burlington Players ($12), a volunteer theater group.
Employees of several companies, including Honeywell and Liberty Mutual Insurance, and residents of certain parts of Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are eligible to join Connexus free. Everyone else can join by donating $5 to the Connexus Association, which provides scholarships and supports education.
Checking accounts don't require an initial minimum deposit. The no-frills Innovative account doesn't pay interest; the MyRewards account pays 1.35% and Xtraordinary Checking pays 1.75% on up to $25,000 in deposits, provided you meet certain requirements each month. For Xtraordinary, this means 15 debit card transactions, one direct deposit and one bill payment, plus electing to receive electronic instead of paper statements; the MyRewards rules are a bit more relaxed. Falling short in either account means your rate will drop to 0.2%. The three savings accounts (regular, youth and holiday-oriented) all earn 0.25% as long as you keep a minimum daily balance of $100 or more. Money market accounts earn between 0.5% and 1.15% on balances over $1,000 (and the requirements to earn interest are similar to those for the checking accounts). You'll need at least $5,000 to open a CD; a one-year term earns 2.5%, and the five-year option earns 3.25%.
Thirteen branches are sprinkled around Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. The more than 54,000 CO-OP and MoneyPass ATMs are free to use, and all checking customers get at least four free out-of-network ATM transactions per month (interest-checking customers can also receive up to $25 in rebates for out-of-network ATM charges). You can send money free to anyone through Connexus's peer-to-peer payment system.
These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:
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