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9 Best Banks & Credit Unions For Military / Veterans

Military members and veterans work hard for their money.

To achieve your financial goals, you need a bank that will give you the benefits and the rates you deserve.

How is a Credit Union Different from a Bank?

Banks are for profit organizations that are owned privately, while credit unions are non-profit.

This means that credit unions will have better rates, lower fees, and better interest in savings accounts.

However, credit unions are usually regional and have limited physical locations.

Below are the nine best banks and credit unions for military members and veterans.

#1. Navy Federal Credit Union

navy federal credit union - best banks for military
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 30,000+ fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: $1 on Visa/PLUS Transactions
  • Monthly Fees: $0
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 2.157%, VA 2.339%
  • Eligibility: Must be Active Duty, Retired, Veteran, or Family Member

Navy Federal Credit Union is one of the more popular financial institutions specializing in servicing military members and their families.

Their customer service, rates, and worldwide availability make them an excellent credit union for those who are eligible.

Pros:

Navy Federal has a massive network of branch locations worldwide, including Japan, Korea, Bahrain, Spain, and many more.

NFCU has 340 branches worldwide.

Active duty, student, and free easy checking accounts offer monthly ATM rebates.

They have competitive credit card and loan rates.

There are no monthly fees.

Cons:

Membership eligibility is strict compared to standard credit unions.

Navy Federal branches are only in 30 states. So, based on your location, it may not be the best bank for you.

Summary:

Navy Federal Credit Union is an amazing bank for any military member, veteran, and their families.

If you are looking for a credit union that is customer focused with great rates, go with Navy Federal.

Apply for an account today at Navy Federal Credit Union. Here’s where to apply: www.NavyFederal.org

#2. USAA

usaa logo
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 60,000 in network ATMs
  • ATM Fees: Free up to 10 in network withdraws, $2 Afterward
  • Monthly Fees: No
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: VA Loan Only with APR as low as 3.082%
  • Eligibility: Must be Active Duty, Retired, Veteran, a Precommissioned Officer, or Family Member

USAA is dedicated to providing its customers with a wide variety of services, from banking to insurance.

They want to ensure that their members are financially prepared for life’s big events.

Pros:

USAA offers several services, to include auto insurance, renter’s insurance, life insurance, investing, and free financial advice.

They offer $15 in ATM rebates a month for non-network ATMs.

You get discounted rates on insurance when you bundle services.

Get your pay sooner with an early direct deposit for active duty military.

Cons:

USAA only has five physical locations with a concentration on digital banking.

USAA has stricter loan requirements than other banks.

Strict eligibility requirements for membership.

Summary:

USAA provides you with the tools to be financially successful.

They are an excellent choice if you already use them for insurance or wish to bundle for additional savings.

If you want excellent customer service, outstanding features, and access to over 60,000 fee-free ATMs, sign up with USAA today.

Apply for an account today at USAA. Here’s where to apply: www.USAA.com

#3. Pentagon Federal Credit Union

penfed is a great credit union for military members
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes, with requirements
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 85,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: No
  • Monthly Fees: No
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Yes, rates will vary
  • Eligibility: No Restrictions

Pentagon Federal Credit Union has been servicing military members and their families since 1935 and now offers services without restrictions to everyone.

If you prefer mobile banking, PenFed is perfect for you, with easy access to your money no matter where you are.

Pros:

Compared to other banks, Pentagon Federal Credit Union does not charge overdraft fees.

There are no eligibility requirements to join PenFed.

You will have an extensive network of 85,000 fee-free ATMs.

Cons:

To waiver monthly fees, you must have a daily balance of $500 or have a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more.

There are few physical branches for you to visit.

PenFed does not offer ATM rebates.

Summary:

Pentagon Federal Credit Union has the largest selection of fee-free ATMs than any other bank/credit union on this list.

This credit union is perfect for anyone who is not affiliated with the military.

However, if you need a physical location, go with Navy Federal.

Apply for an account today at Pentagon Federal Credit Union. Here’s where to apply: www.PenFed.org

#4. Chase

chase bank is great for active duty military and veterans
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 16,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: No, with direct deposit
  • Monthly Fees: $25 (Waived)
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 3.07%, VA % not available
  • Eligibility: All active, reserve, or National Guard servicemembers and veterans

Chase is one of the largest financial institutions in the United States and offers several benefits exclusively to service members and veterans.

Pros:

The $25 monthly service charge is waived for service members and veterans.

Chase does not charge annual rent for a 3” x 5” Safe Deposit Box.

The $550 annual fee for a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is completely waived for military members and spouses. You will save hundreds of dollars a year with the included benefits such as a $300 annual travel credit. (Checking account is not required)

Cons:

Chase only has 16,000 fee-free ATM locations compared to the other credit unions/banks on this list.

Interest rates on credit cards and loans are higher compared to credit unions.

Summary:

Most major banks do not offer many benefits to military members or veterans.

However, that is not the case with Chase.

Not only do they offer their standard checking account for free, but you also get a safe deposit box and can apply for the crazy benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

If you want a major bank instead of a credit union, go with Chase.

Even if you apply for another credit union, apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

Apply for an account today at Chase. Here’s where to apply: www.Chase.com

#5. Air Force Federal Credit Union

affcu bank and credit union for military
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes for Value and SAF-T, Rewards checking no
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 30,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: Free in network, $1 outside of network
  • Monthly Fees: $0 for Value and SAF-T, $4 Rewards Checking
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 3.289%, VA 3.163%
  • Eligibility: Military affiliation is not required

The Air Force Federal Credit Union was established in 1952 by service members for service members.

Since then, they have provided services to over 47,000 members worldwide and are continuing to grow.

Unlike in the past, membership is now available to everyone, including people not affiliated with the military.

Pros:

They offer financial education and retirement planning to ensure their members are ready for the future.

Air Force Federal Credit Union offers competitive rates for all its services, including auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards.

Cons:

There are no physical locations located outside of Texas.

The rewards checking account has a monthly fee.

The Air Force Federal Credit Union charges $29 per overdraft transaction, which can quickly compound if multiple transactions occur.

Summary:

The Air Force Federal Credit Union has great rates and a decent ATM selection.

If you live in Texas, they are an excellent choice, but if not, go with USAA or Navy Federal.

Apply for an account today at Air Force Federal Credit Union. Here’s where to apply: www.GoAFFCU.com

#6. Wells Fargo

wells fargo banking for military and veterans
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes, with a $500 direct deposit monthly
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 13,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: $0 for in network, $2.50 out of network
  • Monthly Fees: $10, waived with direct deposit
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 3.244%, VA 2.854%
  • Eligibility: Everyone

Wells Fargo has over 5,200 branches and has over 13,000 fee-free ATMs for their customers.

Their bank offers all the expectations from a major financial institution, but they also provide 24/7 fraud protection and tools to help you achieve your financial goals.

Pros:

Wells Fargo has a competitive VA mortgage APR, perfect for getting a new home with affordable monthly payments.

As a military member or veteran, you get four free non-network ATM transactions and four free internal ATM transactions a month.

With budget tracking software, you can see how you spend your money and where it is going.

Cons:

Wells Fargo gives minimal benefits to military members or veterans.

They charge a massive $35 overdraft fee per transaction up to three times daily, and a $12.50 transfer fee for overdraft transfers from your savings account.

Mediocre savings interest rates.

Summary:

Wells Fargo offers a great APR on VA mortgages and can sometimes bet the rates that Navy Federal offers.

They are an excellent overall bank and offer budgeting software to keep you on track financially.

If you live paycheck to paycheck and may go into overdraft, Wells Fargo is not the bank for you with its expensive overdraft fees.

Apply for an account today at Wells Fargo. Here’s where to apply: www.WellsFargo.com

#7. US Bank

us bank building
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 4,200 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: No
  • Monthly Fees: No
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 3.319%, VA 3.883%
  • Eligibility: All active, reserve, or National Guard servicemembers and veterans

US Bank is a major financial institution that has over 2,900 locations in 25 states.

As a military member or veteran, US Bank provides you with exclusive benefits.

Pros:

Military members and veterans get the platinum checking package from US Bank free of charge.

You will get 100 free stock trades a year from US Bancorp Investments.

You will have no minimum balance requirements or account maintenance fees.

Cons:

US Bank offers the least amount of fee-free ATMs out of this list. However, they do not charge a fee for non-network ATMs.

Interest rates on auto loans, credit cards, and mortgages are higher than most credit unions.

Summary:

The US Bank platinum package is a decent checking account option for a major bank.

However, with a limited amount of free ATMs and higher interest rates, you may want to look at another institution.

Apply for an account today at US Bank. Here’s where to apply: www.USBank.com

#8. PNC

pnc bank for military and veterans

  • Free Checking Accounts: Yes
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 18,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: $3 at non-PNC ATMs, $5 internationally
  • Monthly Fees: No
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional and VA loans are offered
  • Eligibility: Military Members and Veterans

Bank at PNC will provide you with everything you need to succeed with additional features to help plan your budget.

Pros:

The monthly fee is waived for military members and veterans.

PNC offers budget planning tools to get you organized and know where your money is.

PNC gives you an extra 24 hours before charging an overdraft fee if the balance falls under $0.

You will receive a $5 ATM reimbursement each month and two free non-PNC ATM transactions.

Cons:

PNC offers some but not many benefits for military members and veterans.

They have the most expensive ATM fees on the list.

Interest rates for personal borrowing are high compared to the competition.

Summary:

PNC gives you the tools to succeed financially, and they waive their monthly fee for military members and veterans.

PNC is a good overall bank but has high ATM fees and does not offer many military benefits.

Apply for an account today at PNC. Here’s where to apply: www.PNC.com

#9. Security Service Federal Credit Union

security service federal credit union
Image: Wikimedia.org
  • Free Checking Accounts: No
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Free Online Bill Pay: Yes
  • Mobile Check Deposit: Yes
  • ATM Availability: 30,000 fee-free ATMs
  • ATM Fees: Free for in network, $1.50 outside of network
  • Monthly Fees: $6
  • Mortgages / VA Loans: Conventional APR as low as 2.628%, VA 5.418%
  • Eligibility: Must be in Texas, Colorado, or Utah

If you are looking for a regional bank in Texas, Colorado, or Utah, then Security Service Federal Credit Union is excellent.

They offer unique benefits compared to other financial institutions, but it costs $6 a month.

Pros:

Checking accounts comes with 24/7 ID theft protection, where they will monitor your credit report and provide alerts for data breaches or high-risk transactions.

Mobile device insurance is included with the power protected checking account, where it will cover up to $500 a year against damage, failure, or theft.

Cons:

The biggest drawback to SSFCU is that it is only available for residents or military members in Texas, Colorado, or Utah.

They charge a $6 monthly fee for their checking account, but it comes with benefits not found in free accounts.

The VA mortgage rate is much higher compared to its competitors.

Summary:

Security Service Federal Credit Union is an excellent bank for those in Texas, Colorado, or Utah.

However, you are not eligible for an account if you live outside those bounds.

SSFCU charges a monthly fee, but you get unique features not found at other banks, such as mobile device insurance.

This credit union would be higher on the list if it were not for the strict eligibility requirements.

Apply for an account today at Security Service Federal Credit Union. Here’s where to apply: www.SSFCU.org

See Also

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See a list of the best banks and credit unions for active duty and retired military. These banks and credit unions provide special benefits to those serving in uniform, helping them make wise financial decisions.
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