12 Best Credit Unions Consumer Reports 2019 – Top Rated

12 Best Credit Unions Consumer Reports 2019 – Top Rated

If you’re like a lot of Americans, you have a checking account at one of the nation’s three largest banks: Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo. Together, these giant banks hold about 32 percent of all U.S. FDIC-insured bank assets, and they provide many benefits such as big branch networks, state-of-the-art digital banking platforms, and sophisticated security systems.

Top 12 Credit Unions

$8.77Bestseller No. 1
Bestseller No. 2
CU 2.0: A Guide for Credit Unions Competing in the Digital Age
33 Reviews
CU 2.0: A Guide for Credit Unions Competing in the Digital Age
  • Drake, Kirk (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 3
Navy Federal Credit Union
808 Reviews
Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Safe and Secure. Access your accounts 24 hours a day.
  • Use a four digit passcode to see your balances quicker.
Bestseller No. 4
The Data-Driven Credit Union: Creating a Data-Driven Decision Culture in your Credit Union
6 Reviews
Bestseller No. 5
Federal Credit Union Handbook
  • Administration, National Credit Union (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 6
Strategy for Credit Unions: A guide for Management and Boards
3 Reviews
Strategy for Credit Unions: A guide for Management and Boards
  • Shaw, Alan T (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 7
WPCU Home Banking (Kindle Tablet Edition)
  • Account summary
  • Account transactions
Bestseller No. 8
Head and Heart: My Life in Credit Unions
2 Reviews
Head and Heart: My Life in Credit Unions
  • Likens, James D (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 9
Eastman Credit Union (Kindle Tablet Edition)
28 Reviews
Eastman Credit Union (Kindle Tablet Edition)
  • Account summary
  • Account transactions

What We Found

It’s not because their services were poor—in general, our members were satisfied with them overall. Rather, our survey showed that there are meaningfully better banking alternatives at nearly 90 banks—including some that operate mostly online and credit unions.

For example, two newcomers to the ratings top our list of banks and credit unions—the First Republic and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. USAA and Schwab Bank still tops our list of online banks. HSBC continues to be our lowest rated bank. A company spokesman says the bank has made changes since the period covered by our 2017 summer survey and continues to work on improvements.

Shop Around
At some banks, if you have eligible checking and savings accounts at the same bank with combined balances of, say, $20,000, $50,000, or more, you may get extra benefits. Those benefits can include preferred interest rates, fee discounts, and added rewards on savings, mortgages, credit cards, and brokerage accounts that you open. But when you buy any “product bundle” that contains a number of services rolled into one offering, it may be hard to know whether the total costs and benefits of the package deal are better than the same collection of services bought separately from multiple different providers.

Key Bank Products and Services

How can you get the best service and the lowest fees? Follow this mix-and-match plan for maximum savings:

A checking account is the engine of household personal finances, and financial institutions of every size–from the biggest banks to small community banks to national and local credit unions–typically offer most, if not all, of the key services and technologies you need. Those include online and mobile banking, direct paycheck deposit, debit card access to your money through nationwide bank-owned or fee-free ATM networks, online bill payment, remote check deposit using your smartphone, fast digital person-to-person (P2P) money transfers online and by mobile device to almost anyone, student checking, and health savings accounts.

Certificates of Deposit
Compare interest rates for CDs at the online banks we rated. On 12-month CDs, for example, Ally, Capital One 360, Discover, and Synchrony were paying 1.75 to 2.05 percent annual percentage yields (APYs) in March 2018, vs. 0.02 to 0.10 percent by two major banks in New York. The best deal for the amount you plan to deposit and the period of time for which you invest will vary based on the institution.

Also, comparison shop online at websites such as Bankrate and DepositAccounts, which collect rate data from thousands of banks and credit unions. But be careful when reviewing search results on such sites: Banks that don’t necessarily have the highest CD rates but advertise on the site might get the top position. So scroll down the list to check for better rates. Neither of these websites includes every CD issuer.

Auto Loans
Choose a credit union for a car loan because those institutions often offer the lowest rates—another good reason to join one. For example, credit unions were charging only 2.79 percent on 48-month new car loans on average in the fourth quarter of 2017, while banks were charging 4.64 percent, according to the latest comparison by the National Credit Union Association, using data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Credit Cards and Mortgages
Shop online if you are looking for a credit card or mortgage because the market for these products is national. You don’t want to limit your options by confining your search to, say, the bank where you have a checking account.

For credit cards, use a comparison site such as CreditCards.com. For credit cards that pay cash-back rewards, use Consumer Reports’ Credit Card Adviser comparison tool. For mortgages, go to HSH.com. But check other sites to broaden your search. Bankrate provides rates for credit cards and mortgages, as well as auto loans and CDs. And if you’re a member of Costco, be sure to explore the rates its mortgage lenders offer.

Brokerage Services
While banks push their own investment services, shop first at one of the higher-rated investment companies according to our most recently published survey in 2015. Such companies include Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and USAA.

Prepaid Cards
If you want a prepaid card for use in addition to a bank account, check Bluebird, offered by Walmart and American Express, or Liquid, offered by Chase. We found both of them best among 20 reloadable prepaid cards rated in 2016 because of their low fees and terms that are favorable to consumers. And both do much of what a checking account does.

Paper Checks

Despite the ubiquity of electronic banking and our increasingly cashless society, consumers still write a lot of paper checks. But you don’t have to buy checks from your financial institution. Instead, we found bargain prices at Costco and Walmart. Check the prices online at those two retailers and compare them with the cost at your bank or credit union.

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