Navy Federal Credit Union Review 2021

Banking
Updated: 29th Sep 2021
Written by Meagan Drew
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March 26, 2021
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Navy Federal Credit Union was established by Naval Department employees in 1933 as a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union offering affordable rates and encouraging financial security for members of the Armed Forces.

Find out more about what they offer and why it is touted as one of the best military banks in this Navy Federal Review.

Feature(s):Details:
Minimum Deposit:$5 - $50
Online Savings APY:0.25%
CD Term Lengths:3-Months to 24-Months
Products Offered:CDs, Checking, Credit Cards, Loans, & Savings Account
Year Founded:1933

What is Navy Federal Credit Union?

Navy Federal Credit Union is a credit union that serves active-duty military, veterans, and their families.

Because Navy Federal Credit Union (NCFU) or Navy Fed is member-owned and not-for-profit, all surplus funds are returned to members in the form of dividend payments, reduced loan rates, and improvements to other various services.

>> More: Credit Unions vs. Banks

Who is Eligible to Join Navy Federal Credit Union?

Navy Federal Credit Union extends membership opportunities to all active-duty members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and immediate family members.

Despite the fact it has Navy in the title, the active-duty designator includes members of all branches of service: Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, and Space Force.

Members of the Delayed Entry Program, DoD Officer Candidate Schools/ROTC, DoD Reservists are also permitted membership.

Immediate family members include parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, and household members.

Navy Federal Credit Union also includes field memberships for personnel who support the Armed Forces, such as DoD civilians, U.S. Government employees assigned to DoD installations, DoD contractors, and DoD civilian retirees and annuitants.

How Does Navy Federal Credit Union Work?

Navy Federal Credit Union has a large online presence due to the nature of the membership population, but also has an impressive 343 branches with 26 international locations.

Navy Fed is also federally insured by The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which means members’ funds are insured up to $250,000 per account.

Navy Federal Credit Union Products

Free Active-Duty Checking®

Navy Federal Credit Union’s most popular product designed for active-duty personnel has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly service fee, early direct deposit, and offers ATM fee rebates.

Members are required to direct deposit checks into the account to participate in this account.

TL,DR: NFCU Free Active Duty Checking

  • $0 Monthly Maintenance Fees
  • .05%* APY
  • ATM fee rebates up to $240 a year
  • Free Bill Pay
  • Early Direct Deposit
  • NCUA Insured

Free Easy Checking

These NCUA insured checking accounts offer tons of perks like no monthly service fees with qualifying direct deposit, no minimum balance requirements, and dividends credited monthly.

These accounts require members to make at least 20 transactions in a month and offer ATM fee rebates too!

TL,DR: NFCU Free Easy Checking

  • $0 Monthly Maintenance Fees
  • .05%* APY
  • ATM fee rebates up to $120 a year
  • Free Bill Pay
  • No Minimum Balance Requirements

Free Campus Checking

Members looking to establish their children as NCFU Members and teach their children about financial responsibility love the Free Campus Checking Account.

This account comes with many of the same attractive features as the Navy Federal checking accounts but is designed for the younger NFCU members (14-18) to learn to control their spending and savings goals.

TL,DR: NFCU Free Easy Checking

  • Designed for members aged 14-18
  • $0 Monthly Maintenance Fees
  • .05%* APY
  • ATM fee rebates up to $120 a year
  • No Minimum Balance Requirements

Free EveryDay Checking

The Navy Fed Free EveryDay Checking is available to every member. The Navy Federal Credit Union website refers to this account as hassle-free, requirement-free, and fee-free.

It includes all the standard benefits of the other checking accounts without the limitations. It does have a slightly lower APY at .01%.

TL,DR: NFCU Free EveryDay Checking

  • $0 Monthly Maintenance Fees
  • .01%* APY
  • No Minimum Balance Requirements
  • Free Bill Pay

Flagship Checking

The Flagship Checking Account at Navy Fed allows members to make the most of their money. Since NFCU is a member-owned not-for-profit, there is a lot of opportunity for dividend payments out of surplus funds.

The Flagship Checking Account carries a tiered dividend payment structure that pays higher dividends, and APY, the more money members, carry in the account.

Unlike the other Navy Federal Credit Union accounts, the Flagship Checking Account does carry a monthly fee if the balance is less than a $1,500 rolling monthly average.

TL,DR: NFCU Flagship Checking

  • $0 Monthly Maintenance Fees with a $1,500 rolling monthly average balance, $10 if less
  • .35% to .45%* APY
  • ATM fee rebates up to $120 a year
  • Free Bill Pay
  • Higher dividends than their other checking products

>> More: Best checking accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union Savings Accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a few different types of Savings Accounts, being that they are a credit union and not a traditional bank.

They have standard savings accounts where money can be transferred or withdrawn at any time, carrying a .25% APY*.

>> More: Best High Yield Savings Accounts

Navy Federal Money Market Accounts

Navy Federal Credit Union has 2 different types of Money Market Accounts: MMSA (Money Market Savings Account) and Jumbo MMSA.

They do offer higher APYs in exchange for higher account balances.

The MMSAs also allow access to money through checks and ATM withdrawals. Additionally, members may add money systematically or whenever they have some extra cash laying around.

Navy Federal Credit Union Certificate of Deposits

Navy Federal Credit Union has a myriad of Certificate of Deposits or CDs for its members to choose from.

They have short-term, long-term, mid-ranged, and CDs with various minimum deposit amounts for any budget.

Navy Federal Credit Union CD Rates

TermAPY
3 Months:0.40%
6 Months:0.45%
9 Months:0.50%
12 Months:0.55%
18 Months:0.55%
24 Months:0.55%

>> More: Best CD Rates

Additional Products Offered by Navy Federal:

  • Credit Cards: There are many credit cards to choose from at Navy Federal Credit Union. Each with its own competitive and attractive features. Navy Fed has cash-back credit cards, travel miles cards, and points-based cards to accommodate members in their goals. NCFU also offers several cards with a $0 Annual Fee.
  • Personal Loans: Personal loans with repayment options between three and 15 years are available through Navy Federal Credit Union for members with good credit. Rates are tiered by the loan’s length and start at 7.49% APR* up to 36 months.
  • Auto Loans: Navy Federal Credit Union has extremely competitive rates on auto loans. Navy Fed has no prepayment penalties and has rates as low as 1.79% APR* for well-qualified members.
  • Mortgages: Navy Federal Credit Union truly earns its members’ business for life with the competitive loan rates they can offer across the board. The mortgage rates at NFCU are no different. NCFU’s rates are protected and highly competitive. Furthermore, NFCU has loans that require no down payment, and no PMI is required, which can mean thousands of dollars of savings over the life of the loan.

NFCU Review: Fees, Customer Support, & Experience

Fees

Many of Navy Federal Credit Union’s accounts have no fees at all with a qualifying direct deposit.

The only checking account that does carry a Navy Federal Credit Union fee is the Flagship Checking Account, and only if the account is under $1,500 rolling monthly average.

Insufficient funds returned check fee and returned loan payment fees are both $29.00, which is on the low end of its competitors.

Customer Support

Navy Federal Credit Union prides itself on its excellent customer support and customer experience.

NFCU has stateside reps available 24/7 to assist with member needs at home or abroad. Mobile banking is also available online or through their app 24/7.

Navy Federal Credit Union reports that 70% of their members use their digital banking services. If members prefer to speak to an actual person, there are almost 350 branches to choose from in the United States and overseas.

Banking Experience

Navy Federal is a credit union and not a bank, but they offer many perks that make them attractive to service members and their families for their daily banking needs.

Navy Federal Review: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Super-low auto and loan rates
  • No monthly maintenance fees for most of their products
  • ATM Fee Reimbursement
  • Early Direct Deposit
  • No Minimum Balance Requirements on Many of the Products
  • NCUA Insured

Cons:

  • Limited Membership Availability
  • Banking Technology not as Advanced as Some Competitors

How Does NFCU Compare to Other Banks?

#1. NFCU vs. USAA

USAA is another financial institution that only services military members and their families. Offering some of the best insurance rates, credit cards, checking accounts, and savings accounts, USAA is a strong choice and worth considering.

Moreover, USAA also offers an array of loans if you are also looking for that as well.

>> More: Full USAA Bank Review

#2. NFCU vs. Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers loans, credit cards, savings accounts, CDs, and checking accounts. With a more broad membership, PFCU is easy to qualify for and comes with competitive rates.

That said, USAA and NFCU are overall better banks if you qualify for them.

#3. Chime Bank vs. Navy Federal

Chime Bank is a financial technology company that offers a fee free banking experiencing. Partnering with Stride Bank and The Bankcorp, members FDIC, Chime offers a credit card, checking account, and a savings account.

>> More: Full Chime Bank Review

Navy Federal Credit Union FAQs

Is Navy Federal Credit Union a Good Bank?

Navy Federal Credit Union is not a bank, but they do offer banking products. Shopping around a bit will probably find members better APY on checking and savings products, but Navy Fed accounts have the added perk of early direct deposit and no-fee accounts.

Is NFCU Insured?

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures accounts at Navy Federal Credit Union up to $250,000 per account holder.

Does NFCU Have Local Branches?

Navy Federal Credit Union has 343 branch locations worldwide. There are 26 international locations, 184 branches on or near military installations, and a network of 30,000 free ATMs.

Which Is Better USAA or Navy Federal?

USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union serve similar populations, so it is natural to compare the two. Navy Federal has over 300 branch locations, whereas USAA has one. If in-person transactions are important to you, you will be much happier with Navy Federal.

USAA offers better banking products and higher yields for their banking products.

NFCU typically has much more competitive loan rates than USAA and has less stringent loan approval qualifications.

The decision between USAA and Navy Federal is certainly a personal one. If you are trying to get the most bang for your buck and don’t mind having money at two different institutions, you might want to try being a member at both.

Bottom Line: Navy Federal Credit Union Review

If you are eligible for Navy Federal Credit Union membership, it is worth taking a closer look. Navy Federal offers benefits that military personnel find important and has excellent customer service.

*Rates current as of 3/22/21

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Meagan Drew
Meagan Drew
Meagan Drew is a personal finance writer with 7 years experience in wealth management. As a former Series 7 and 63 certified advisor, Meagan specializes in making financial topics relatable and consumable, no matter the reader’s experience level. Meagan is a veteran, military spouse, and mom of 4 currently living in Colorado Springs.