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Compare PenFed Credit Union banking products: Savings and Checking

This military-focused credit union offers no-fee savings accounts — and high APYs on its checking account.

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PenFed Credit Union

PenFed caters to the military community, but it’s not necessarily a requirement to apply. You can earn up to 0.50% on it’s checking account with a balance from $20,000 to $50,000. Its savings accounts are free, but fall short with a low 0.05% if you have a balance less than $250,000.

Am I eligible?

PenFed is a little vague about its exact criteria for membership, but you’re a shoo-in if you identify with one of the following:

  • Member of an affiliate partner, which include:
    • American Red Cross
    • American Society of Military Comptrollers
    • National War College Alumni Association
    • Military Officers Association of America
    • United States Department of Energy
    • United States Army Warrant Officers Association
    • Navy League of the United States
    • Coast Guard Auxiliary Association
    • Marine Corps League
  • Active member of the military
  • Veteran
  • Employee of the United States Government

If you don’t meet any of these requirements, contact PenFed to see if there’s another way you could qualify.

What banking products does PenFed Credit Union offer?

PenFed puts its focus on savings products like free savings accounts, money markets and CDs. But it also offers a checking account, personal loans, mortgages and credit card products.

Personal banking

Checking
  • Access America Checking. Deposit $25 to open an account, and waive the $10 monthly service fee by maintaining a balance of $500 or by setting up a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. Accounts with balances between $500 and $49,999 can earn an APY of 0.20%, while balances of $50,000 qualify for an APY of 0.50%.
Savings
  • Regular Savings. This free savings account requires just $5 for the initial deposit, and establishes your membership with PenFed Credit Union. All account balances earn an APY of 0.05%.
  • Premium Online Savings. An account for those with large savings, there’s no monthly maintenance fee, but to earn the 1.80% APY you need a daily account balance of $250,000.
  • Money Market Savings. Streamline your savings by setting up a monthly direct deposit to this travel-oriented savings account. You can only transfer or withdraw your funds once a year on October 1.
  • Money Market. These accounts work like savings, but with easier access to your account with checks and a debit card. Deposit $25 to get started, and earn tiered APYs depending on your balance:
    • Less than $10,000 earns 0.05% APY
    • $10,000–$99,999 earns 0.10% APY
    • $100,000+ earns 0.15% APY
  • Money Market Certificates. Terms range from six months to seven years, with APYs ranging from 1.70% to 2.50%. Get started with a minimum deposit of $1,000. But keep in mind there’s a penalty for withdrawing funds early.
Other personal products
  • IRAs. Plan for retirement with savings or investment accounts. Certificates and Roth IRAs are also available.
  • Credit cards. Earn cashback and bonus points with a PenFed credit card.
  • Loans. PenFed Credit Union loans lends you cash to pay for a car, higher education or other expenses.
  • Mortgages. Take out a mortgage for a new house or refinance one you already own; you can also apply for a home equity loan.

PenFed doesn’t offer banking products to small or commercial businesses, so entrepreneurs should scout accounts elsewhere.

Why should I open an account at PenFed Credit Union?

PenFed Credit Union online banking platform offers standard features like automatic bill pay, mobile check deposit and an ATM locator. Other features include:
  • Checking account APY. With an industry average at 0.06%, PenFed’s minimum 0.20% on its checking account is a nice feature — but you have to maintain a $500 daily balance.
  • Easy ATM access. PenFed is part of the AllPoint ATM network, which gives members free access to over 68,000 ATMs spread across the nation.
  • Strong app. The PenFed Mobile App is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.2 out of 5 stars in the Apple Store, with users reporting a positive experience banking from a smartphone.

Accessibility for military

PenFed has branch locations in the following locations:

  • Hagatna, Guam
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Kadena, Japan
  • Puerto Rico

Military members might find this convenient if they find themselves deployed to one of these locations.

What should I look out for?

Typical of a credit union, PenFed is designed to be a one-stop financial hub for users rather than a one-off provider. But, before signing up, keep in mind these drawbacks:

  • Scant checking account options. PedFed only offers one checking account option for members.
  • Limited access within the US. Branch locations are essentially nonexistent in the northwest, and there are just 46 overall. If face-to-face interaction is important to you, verify a nearby hub first.
  • $30 fee for nonsufficient funds. PenFed will ding you with a $30 fee each time your account falls below $0. And there’s no limit as to how many times a day it can charge you. So a bad day and low balance could be very expensive to remedy.
  • Low APY on Regular Savings account. With the national average hovering at 0.09% APY, the basic account falls short with a low 0.05% APY.

Compare PenFed Federal Credit Union to the competition

Name Product Annual percentage yield (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account

1.00% on $0 to $10,000 but you’ll need to be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and make at least $1,000 in debit card purchases a month
$0 per month or $15 per month for Aspiration Plus ($12.50 per month if you pay annually)
$10
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank High Yield Savings

0.61% on $0 to $24,999
0.25% on $25,000 to $99,999
0.15% on $100,000+
$0
$250
No monthly maintenance fees. No minimum balance requirements. Interest compounded daily.
Chime Savings
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Savings
0.50%
$0
$0
Grow your savings automatically with recurring transfers, round-ups on debit card purchases and 0.5% APY.
Discover Online Savings Account
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Discover Online Savings Account
0.40%
$0
$0
Take advantage of a high-interest online savings account with no fees, no minimums and more.
UFB Direct High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
UFB Direct High Yield Savings
0.20%
$0
$100
Earn an APY when your balance is higher than $10,000 with this no-monthly-fee savings account.
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PenFed customer service

Got questions? Here’s how to get in touch with customer service:

  • Phone. Call 800-247-5626.
  • Email. Write to info@penfed.org.
  • Electronic message. Send a note through the PenFed website, whether or not you have an account.
  • Fax. 800-557-7328.
  • Snail mail. General letters should be addressed to:
    Box 1432
    Alexandria, VA
    22313-2032

Bottom line

Folks looking for a full-service financial provider might enjoy PenFed’s breadth of options, from basic savings accounts to credit cards. But if you’re looking for lower initial deposits or higher APYs on basic savings, see what competitors have to offer.

Frequently asked questions

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