When it comes to banking, some people prefer banks, while others swear by credit unions. The only problem with credit unions is that many don't offer nationwide availability. However, Consumers Credit Union is the best of both worlds - a credit union that offers nationwide free checking.
It's also why Consumers Credit Union is consistently at the top of our list of Best Nationwide Credit Unions.
Should you consider Consumers Credit Union for your banking needs? Find out in our Consumers Credit Union review below.
- Full-service credit union with nationwide availability
- Earn up to 5.00% APY with a free Rewards Checking Account
- Highest savings account APY requires a linked checking account
Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking
Min Opening Deposit
Min Balance Requirement
Up to 5.00% APY
Unlimited via Reimbursement
Who Is Consumers Credit Union?
Consumers Credit Union (CCU) is a full-service financial institution. Meaning, they offer checking, savings, credit cards, loans, mortgages, branches, online banking, and business services. They were founded in 1930 and are based in Lake County, IL. CCU has more than 100,000 members and $1.2 billion in assets.
Being a credit union, CCU is a non-profit. When you join CCU, you become a member. Its members elect people to the credit union’s all-volunteer board of directors. Unpaid volunteers also serve on credit committees and supervisory committees.
What Do They Offer?
In this article, we’ll focus on CCU’s checking and savings products. To become a member of CCU, you have to apply. Membership is open to everyone and costs a one-time fee of $5, which goes to the Consumers Cooperative Association.
Free Rewards Checking
At up to 5.00%, CCU has some of the highest checking APYs available. The APY ranges from 3.00% to 5.00% on the first $10,000. For any balance over $10,000, the APY drops to 0.20%. For balances over $25,000, the APY drops further to 0.10%. To sum up the tiers, your first $10,000 earns the highest APY.
Within the first $10,000 tier are additional tiers that determine which APY you’ll receive. Open a Rewards Checking Account here >>
Below are the requirements for each tier:
3.00% (Tier C)
- Receive eDocuments.
- Complete at least 12 debit card purchases totaling $100 or more each month. Debit card transactions can be made with or without using your personal identification number (PIN).
- Direct deposits or ACH credits totaling $500 or more must post to your account monthly.
4.00% (Tier B)
- Meet the 3.00% requirements plus:
- Spend $500 or more in CCU Visa credit card purchase transactions each month; no minimum number of transactions.
5.00% (Tier A)
- Meet the 4.00% APY requirements plus:
- Spend $1,000 or more in CCU Visa credit card purchase transactions each month; no minimum number of transactions.
- There’s no minimum balance to open a free checking account and there's no limit on the number of checks you can write.
- If you don’t meet the above requirements, your checking will still be free, but your APY will drop to 0.01%. You also don’t receive ATM refunds.
CCU offers a savings account as well as a money market account. It "Smart Saver" account pays up to 1.5% if you also have a CCU checking account. To earn the high rate, you'll need to meet two requirements:
- Direct deposit at least $500 per month to your CCU checking account
- Deposit $50 to $1,000 per month your savings account
Note that the $1,000 is the maximum that you can deposit per month. This means that you won't be able to transfer over your entire emergency fund from an existing account to immediately begin earning the 1.5% interest.
It should also be noted that if you don't have a CCU checking account, the most that you can earn in the CCU savings account is 0.25% APY. Both the "Smart Saver" and money market accounts require a $5 minimum deposit to open.
Online Auto Loans
Consumers CU is one of the few credit unions that we've found that offers online auto loans. You can easily sign up and complete your application online, and they'll send a check directly to the dealer (or you can pick it up). It's that simple.
Are There Any Fees?
There is a one-time $5 fee to join the credit union. For savings accounts, this fee is your opening deposit and will be returned to you if the account is closed.
There are no fees for opening and maintaining a free Rewards Checking or savings account. Consumers Credit Union has fee-free ATM network that includes over 30,000 ATMs and it provides unlimited reimbursements of out-of-network ATM charges.
How Does Consumers Credit Union Compare?
Consumers Credit Union is currently offering some of the best interest rates that we're seeing anywhere, especially in regard to its Rewards Checking account. But that doesn't mean it will be the best choice for everyone. Here's a quick look at how Consumers Credit Union compares:
How Do I Open An Account?
You can open an account at a branch or by visiting the Consumers Credit Union website.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes. CCU uses bank-grade encryption and best security practices. Additionally, CCU debit cards have chip technology for better security.
Unlike banks, credit union funds are not protected by the FDIC. Instead, CCU is federally regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). NCUA’s National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund provides credit union members with up to $250,000 in insurance coverage.
How Do I Contact Consumers Credit Union?
If you have questions about your account, you can call CCU at 877-275-2228. Their phone support hours are Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm and Saturday, 8am - 2pm (CT). Live chat support is also available 24/7.
As with most credit unions, CCU prides itself on offering superior customer service. The credit union is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and currently enjoys an A+ BBB rating.
Is It Worth It?
CCU’s free Rewards Checking account has all the features you’d expect from a checking account.
Once you get past the one-time $5 fee and meet tier requirements, you can begin earning from 3.00% to 5.00% APY on a balance up to $10,000. The requirements to earn a higher APY aren’t stringent and most shouldn’t have a problem hitting them. For that reason, the free Rewards Checking is certainly worth it.
The Smart Saver account pays a competitive APY of up to 1.50% as well. But you’ll need a CCU checking account and to meet the minimum Smart Saver requirements. If you're looking for a high-interest, stand-alone savings account, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Consumers Credit Union FAQs
Here are a few of the most common questions that people ask about Consumers Credit Union.
Can anyone join Consumers Credit Union?
Yes, there are no employment or location requirements to join Consumers Credit Union. However, you will need to pay a $5.00 membership fee when you apply.
Is Consumers Credit Union a real bank?
CCU is a federally-insured credit union, not a bank. Credit unions are owned by and exist to serve their members rather than an outside owner or stock shareholders. When it comes to available products and features, though, the best credit unions and banks are very similar.
Does Consumers Credit Union have a mobile app?
Yes, the CCU mobile app is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App store.
Can Consumers Credit Union members use Zelle?
Yes, members can send and receive money instantly and fee-free with Zelle from the CCU mobile app or by visiting the "Bill Pay" section of their online account portal.
Does Consumers Credit Union have any available signup bonuses?
No, CCU isn't currently offering any cash bonuses for opening a new account.
Consumers Credit Union Features
Account Opening Fee
5,500+ branches that are part of the CU Service Centers® Network
30,000+ surcharge-free ATMs that are part of the CO-OP Network
Out-Of-Network ATM Fee Reimbursements
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm (CT)
Saturday, 8am - 2pm (CT)
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
NCUA Charter Number
Consumers Credit Union Review
Fees and Charges
Ease of Use
Tools and Resources
Products and Services
Consumers Credit Union (CCU) is a full-service, nationwide credit union that offers high-yield rewards checking as well as online auto loan applications.
- High-yield rewards checking
- Online auto loan applications
- No monthly fee or minimum balance requirements
- There is a $5 one-time fee to become a credit union member
- To get the highest APY, you need to meet certain requirements
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared toward anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
Editor: Clint Proctor Reviewed by: Claire Tak