Join These 4 Credit Unions for Incredible Savings with High APYs Accessible to All!

Opting to bank with a credit union can provide a range of benefits. Notably, these institutions typically offer better rates on loans and credit products while also offering greater returns on savings accounts. CNBC Select recently compiled a list of the best savings accounts available at credit unions. We chose the accounts that boast high interest rates while charging no monthly fees and requiring low or no minimum balances. We also only feature credit unions that are simple to join and insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Our methodology is explained further below.

Best credit union savings accounts:

  • Best overall: Quorum Federal Credit Union HighQ Savings Account

Whether you're looking for a savings account to start a rainy day fund or a place to store larger sums of money, the Quorum Federal Credit Union HighQ Savings Account is an excellent choice. With a consistently high annual percentage yield (APY) on all balances, maintaining your account is hassle-free. Provided you choose electronic statements, there are no monthly fees, although a charge of $10 per month applies for paper statements. Additionally, there are no minimum balance or deposit requirements. Members who also have a Quorum checking account can access over 90,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.

To become a member of Quorum, you must first join the credit union. Eligibility requirements include working for, or having retired from, an eligible SEG company. Alternatively, membership is available if you join the American Consumer Council (ACC) or Select Savers Club (SSC). Signing up for the ACC is free, while the SSC requires a $5 fee, which Quorum will pay for you.

Best for a high APY on all balances: Ultra Savings from KeyPoint Credit Union

If a high deposit ($1,000) doesn't deter you, the Ultra Savings account from KeyPoint Credit Union may be the perfect choice. Currently, the account offers an impressive APY of 4.85%, regardless of your balance. There are no further balance requirements, and no monthly fees are applied. You can also obtain an ATM card for your savings account and use KeyPoint's locator to find your nearest ATM.

It's seamless to join the credit union while applying for Ultra Savings, and one of the available options is enrolling with The Financial Fitness Association (FFA), and KeyPoint generously pays for the membership fee of for the first year. Eligibility to become a member also extends to those who live or work in one of California's eligible counties, immediate family members of current members, or those employed by a member company.

Optimal for deposits below $10,000

Who can benefit from this? If you're unwilling to commit a large sum of money for a high rate of interest on savings, SmartStart Savings from Affinity Federal Credit Union can be an ideal option.

SmartStart Savings offers an APY of 4% for the first $10,000 you deposit and 1% thereafter. Although the limit is not perfect, an average saver should not be discouraged. According to the latest Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) by the Federal Reserve, the average transaction account balance for Americans is $5,300 - lower than Affinity's limit.

There are no account fees for SmartSavings by Affinity and no minimum balance is required. However, if you choose to receive paper statements, there's a $2 fee every month.

Automating your savings and setting up direct deposits from your salary can result in the funds being transferred as early as two days into your SmartSavings account.

Joining Affinity is straightforward - you can do so in-branch, online, or over the phone. A $5 membership deposit is all that's required, which will be held in a separate Membership Eligibility Account.

Optimal for Low Deposits

Who can benefit from this? If you only plan on keeping a small amount in your savings account, Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Primary Savings can be a lucrative option.

Primary Savings offers an APY of 6.17% on sums up to $1,000, followed by 0.16% to 6.17%. If you reach the cap, you may want to start another savings account to keep earning high returns.

A $5 deposit will suffice to open an account and retain it. There are no additional monthly fees. You can get an ATM card and use it at any CO-OP or DCU ATM in the United States.

Eligibility to become a member of the credit union and open this account requires you to be a relative of an existing DCU member, work, study, live, or worship in one of DCU's communities or work, retired from, or retired from one of DCU's participating companies. Alternatively, you can join one of the associations DCU collaborates with. The most reasonable option among them is the non-profit organization - Reach Out for Schools, which offers memberships starting at $10.

Frequently asked questions about credit union savings accounts

What exactly is a credit union?

A credit union is akin to a bank in that it provides financial products and services. However, unlike a traditional bank, it is owned by its members, who elect a board of directors to manage the credit union and represent their interests.

Credit unions prioritize providing the best service and rates to their members, often offering more attractive fees and rates compared to for-profit banks. However, credit unions may have limited branch access and customer experience compared to bigger banks, including less advanced technological features and more restricted communication options outside of regular work hours.

What types of savings accounts are available at credit unions?

Credit unions offer various savings accounts, from high-yield savings accounts, CDs to IRAs, which function similarly to the savings accounts at traditional banks. However, there are certain credit union-specific terminologies, such as the reference of savings and checking accounts to "share accounts," and earned interest as "variable dividends."

Are credit unions FDIC-insured?

While the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) only insures deposits in banks, credit unions have their insurance fund, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which is managed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The NCUSIF provides up to $250,000 insurance coverage per account for federal and state-chartered credit unions. It adds an extra $250,000 insurance coverage for each account holder on jointly-owned accounts. All accounts on the list of credit unions are NCUA-insured.

Are credit unions better than banks for savings?

Credit unions tend to offer competitive interest rates and lower fees on savings accounts compared to traditional banks. However, credit unions may have less technologically advanced websites and apps than for-profit banks, resulting in a lower level of user experience. When choosing between a credit union and a bank, you should prioritize your needs and preferences, such as personalized customer service, better online experience, higher interest rate, or nearby branch availability.

Bottom line

Credit union savings accounts can provide high-interest rates and low account fees or none at all, but it is essential to compare different options to find what best suits your needs. Keeping multiple accounts is also an option, either to chase competitive APYs or to organize your savings goals.

Our Approach

To identify the credit union savings accounts that provide the most profitable returns, CNBC Select employed an extensive analysis of numerous savings accounts offered by credit unions in the United States. Our ranking process was based upon accounts that delivered above-average Annual Percentage Yield (APY), lacked monthly maintenance fees, and demonstrated low (or zero) minimum balance requirements. In addition, we considered credit unions that have a membership option open to everyone.

While the selected accounts presented within this article reliably sit among the highest APY rates, we comprehensively compared each savings account on a range of factors including account accessibility, ease of use, customer reviews, and insurance policies, where available. We also scrutinized the deposit options and frequency of compounding for every account.

Each account listed within this article is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000. It is worth noting that fee structures and rates for savings accounts are not guaranteed for a lifetime, and they tend to fluctuate based on the Federal Reserve interest rate. Your earnings will be dictated by any accompanying fees and the balance that is held within your high-yield savings account. Financial institutions typically require a deposit of new money to open an account, meaning it is not possible to transfer money from an existing account at the same bank.

Keep abreast of CNBC Select’s comprehensive coverage of credit cards, banking, and money by following us on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Editorial Note: The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the Select editorial staff and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any third party.

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