What Can You Expect When Banking With Police and Fire Federal Credit Union?

FT Contributor
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Police and Fire Federal Credit Union (PFFCU) provides banking and financial services to its members. PFFCU has 17 branches — eight in Philadelphia, six in other Pennsylvania cities, and three branches in New Jersey, with eight offering drive-thru teller services.

If you’re not familiar with credit unions, they provide banking and financial services to a specific group of people. A credit union may serve specific vocations, or a certain geographical area. While PFFCU started by offering retired and active Philadelphia police officers, firefighters, and their families membership, a large number of area employees can qualify to join through their employer’s member group affiliations in a wide variety of fields and industries.

A bank works differently than a credit union. All members own a small portion of the not-for-profit credit union. Banking fees are often less expensive than for-profit bank’s fees. This also means that interest rates are often more favorable, since any earnings go back to the members in more services and better pricing. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the switch to a credit union, consider the benefits and drawbacks of banking with Police and Fire Federal Credit Union.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union Services

PFFCU delivers value in all their types of accounts and services. Low-to-no fees and many of the services you come to expect from higher-tier accounts are standard. In addition, your money is safe and federally insured up to $250,000. A unique feature of credit unions is the monthly dividend bonus. Besides earning interest, you’ll also receive a dividend payout in the form of a percentage each month.

Free Checking Account

There’s only one checking account available at PFFCU. There’s no need for a variety — all members have equal access to a free, interest-bearing account. Regardless of your balance, there is no monthly maintenance fee. You’ll earn an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.500% and a dividend of 0.499% on the first $5,000 and a 0.100% dividend and 0.100% APY on higher balances.

In addition, there are no overdraft fees if you choose to link a savings account or overdraft line of credit to cover the overdrawn balance. Otherwise, debit card overdrafts are $7 and overdrawn checks and automated clearing house (ACH) transfers cost $18 per overdraft. When you consider that overdraft charges at many banks are as high as $38, the occasional negative balance at PFFCU will be a lot less costly to your budget.

Savings Account

There are two types of savings accounts available through Police and Fire Federal Credit Union — savings and money market accounts. Make deposits online, by direct deposit, mail, telephone, or in person at a local branch. You can choose from:

  • Savings: Ideal for encouraging kids to save more, the free account has a minimum balance requirement of $5 per month. You’ll earn a 0.100% APY and a matching 0.100% dividend.
  • Savings Plus: Geared for dedicated savers, the account comes with no fees or minimum monthly balance requirements. You’ll earn a total of 0.400% each month — 0.200% APY in interest and a 0.200% dividend.
  • Premier Yield: A money market account that provides customers with the ability to make payments and withdrawals from the account. A combination of dividend and interest rate amounts to earnings of 1.019% on deposits over $2,500 (0.510% APY in interest and 0.509% dividend).

Certificates of Deposit

If you’d like to set some money aside for longer periods without worrying about the volatility of interest yields, a CD could provide you with an interest rate you can rely on. Choose terms between three months and five years for rates between 0.550% and 1.250% APY.

Money you may need in the short term, such as your emergency savings fund, should not be invested in a certificate of deposit. Once you agree to the length of time, withdrawing the funds early comes with penalties. CDs are best for a down payment or college savings you don’t foresee needing in the next few months. As for emergency savings, it’s best to deposit the money into a savings or money market account.

Benefits of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

If you’re wondering how to choose the right bank, weighing the pros and cons may be a simple way to make a decision. The pros of banking with PFFCU include:

  • Low-to-no fees;
  • Free overdraft protection options;
  • New member bonuses of up to $1,000 available;
  • Online and mobile banking available;
  • Opportunity to earn higher interest rates and a monthly dividend;
  • Plenty of account options and financial products available including home and auto loans, retirement accounts, insurance, and investment services.

Drawbacks of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

Although PFFCU probably looks good so far, the credit union is not for everyone. Some of the drawbacks that may set you back include:

  • Membership is limited to a very specific group of individuals or employees of member groups;
  • Branches cover a small service area of Pennsylvania and New Jersey;
  • High-yield savings accounts may offer better interest rates than PFFCU.

How to Apply for a PFFCU Bank Account

To open a bank account with Police and Fire Federal Credit Union, you’ll need to sign up for membership first. The process is simple and is part of the account-opening process. The process can be completed online, by visiting a branch, or by calling 1-800-239-1837. You’ll need a government-issued photo ID, Social Security number, mailing address, and funds.

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