Is Navy Federal Credit Union a Good Bank?

FT Contributor  | 

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) is the largest credit union in the United States. It provides banking and financial services for its 9.2 million members representing the military and Department of Defense (DoD). Eligible members consist of Department of Defense, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and Space Force active duty personnel, veterans, civilian and contractor personnel, as well as their families.

NFCU has 342 branches worldwide. Most are located throughout the United States, but there are 26 branches at international locations and 75 on military base installations. If you qualify for membership because of your military service or work at the DoD, or because you’re related to qualifying personnel, NFCU is worth considering for your banking needs.

As with all credit unions, they’re established as a not-for-profit financial institution, which means banking fees tend to be lower and interest rates on your deposits higher.

Who Can Join Navy Federal Credit Union?

Generally, only people with military or Department of Defense associations (including family members of active-duty or retired service members, and veterans) can bank with NFCU. Delayed Entry Program (DEP), DoD Officer Candidate or ROTC, and DoD Reservists can also join.

The limited number of people who can join to take advantage of Navy Federal’s services and products is the biggest drawback. There is some flexibility, though. Navy Federal states that family members may also join. The following family members qualify for membership:

  • Spouses;
  • Children (including adopted and stepchildren);
  • Parents;
  • Grandparents;
  • Grandchildren;
  • Siblings;
  • Household members.

Navy Federal Credit Union Services

NFCU offers several core banking services. Members will appreciate their high value and low costs. Take a closer look at the type of accounts and financial products you can have with the military credit union.

Checking Accounts

NFCU offers five types of checking accounts. All receive a monthly dividend rate of 0.05% to 0.45%, depending on the account, from any profits the credit union makes. Besides the dividend, all checking accounts earn an additional 0.05% to 0.45% annual percentage yield (APY) of interest, depending on the checking account tier. Other NFCU checking account features, which vary according to account type, include:

  • No monthly maintenance fee;
  • ATM fee rebates ($120 to $240 per year);
  • Early access to direct deposit military pay;
  • No minimum balance requirement;
  • Free personalized checks.

Savings Accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union only provides one type of savings account. You may open as many savings accounts as you need to save for goals, such as an emergency fund, saving for a home down payment, or to grow a vacation fund. There are no fees or minimum balance requirements and you’ll earn up to 0.25% APY on your deposits.

Certificates of Deposit

If you have a lump sum you won’t need for some time, NFCU’s certificates of deposit come with term lengths between three months and seven years, with current APYs between 0.48% and 3.50%.

Money Market Accounts

For a hybrid of checking and savings, turn to a money market account. You’ll earn an APY as high as 1.00% while having more flexibility in the types of withdrawals you can make than a savings account allows. You’ll have access to checks to pay bills and a debit card to make ATM withdrawals from a money market account.

Keep in mind that you have the option to make more withdrawals and payments than you would with a savings account, but you’re still limited to six telephone or electronic withdrawals or transfers per month, because of federal regulations.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a valuable addition to many individuals. Navy Federal offers six different types of credit cards to cover your finance needs. They include:

  • One secured credit card which may be helpful to repair or build your credit;
  • One cash-back rewards card that pays you back a small percentage of the amount you spent in card purchases;
  • One balance transfer credit card with a low-interest rate for when you want to pay off other higher-interest credit card balances for less by moving them to the balance transfer card;
  • Three points-earning cards for travel rewards, so you can redeem part of your spending on travel or merchandise.

Navy Federal Credit Union Financial Products

Other financial products and services offered by NFCU, including:

  • Vehicle loans (auto, boat, RV);
  • Home mortgages;
  • Student loans;
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs);
  • Educational savings accounts (ESAs);
  • Business credit cards.

Besides the variety of bank accounts and financial products, members have access to a library of military resources, online learning about personal finance, and special discounts. Some of the member-exclusive offers include:

  • Discounts when you use your Visa at select retailers;
  • Savings on Geico insurance;
  • Cash back on closing fees when using the RealtyPlus program;
  • Member discounts on car rentals from Enterprise and Hertz;
  • Savings on a vehicle when purchased through the Auto Buying Program.

Navy Federal Credit Union Customer Service

NFCU is praised for its excellent customer service. You have access to 342 branches when you need help or you can reach out to NFCU’s customer service 24/7 by phone, email, or live chat on pages where the service is available. You can also reach out to NFCU through its social media channels.

Navy Federal Credit Union Contact Information

Here is the information you need to contact NFCU:

  • Phone number: 1-888-842-6328;
  • International phone number for collect calls: 1-703-255-8837;
  • Online banking tech support: 1-888-868-8123;
  • Telecommunications device for the hearing impaired: 1-888-869-5863;
  • Online sign-in page;
  • Facebook;
  • Twitter;
  • General mailing address:
    Navy Federal
    P.O. Box 3000
    Merrifield, VA  22119-3000.

Pros and Cons of Navy Federal Credit Union

Users have reported both benefits and disadvantages to banking with NFCU. If you’re trying to make a decision to choose the right bank and whether or not NFCU is right for you, consider these points:

Drawbacks

  • Only open to people with military affiliations who qualify for military benefits;
  • Has relatively few physical branches — many of the services you may need are handled through online banking;
  • Low-interest rates on your deposits compared to other banks and credit unions.

Benefits

  • Wide ATM network of over 30,000 free cash machines;
  • Relatively few fees and service charges.

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