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.
- Earn up to 4.09% APY on the first $10,000 with a free Rewards Checking Account.
- Savings account earnings are capped at 2.00% APY and require a checking account.
- Full service credit union with nationwide availability.
Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking
Min Opening Deposit
Min Balance Requirement
Up to 4.09% 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 5.09%, CCU has some of the highest checking APYs available. The APY ranges from 2.09% to 4.09% 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. Below are the requirements for each tier:
2.09% (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.
3.09% (Tier B)
- Meet the 3.09% requirements plus:
- Spend $500 or more in CCU Visa credit card purchase transactions each month; no minimum number of transactions.
4.09% (Tier A)
- 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. CCU has over 30,000 ATMs and you’ll receive unlimited reimbursements for any ATM fees. There’s also 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 two different savings accounts. Unfortunately, rates aren't as competitive (compared to the best high yield savings accounts), ranging from 0.05% to 2.00% APY. Both savings accounts require a $5 minimum deposit to open. The $5 deposit is equivalent to owning one share of the credit union. If you close the account, the money is returned to you.
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. You may incur ATM fees if your free Rewards Checking doesn’t meet tier requirements.
With the Smart Saver savings account, you can earn up to 2.00% APY, but you’ll need to meet certain requirements. These include the following:
- Minimum monthly deposit of $50 up to $1,000
- CCU checking account
- Direct deposit or ACH credits totaling $500 or more to your CCU checking monthly
If you don’t have a CCU checking account, the Smart Saver will only earn 0.25% APY.
How Do I Open an Account?
You can open an account at a branch or online at https://www.myconsumers.org. If you have questions about opening an account, you can call CCU at 877-275-2228.
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.
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 3.09% to 5.09% 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 same can’t be said for CCU’s savings account. The Smart Saver provides CCU’s best earnings at 2.00% APY. But you’ll need a CCU checking account and to meet the minimum Smart Saver requirements. If you are looking for a high-interest, stand-alone savings account, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Consumers Credit Union Review
- Interest Rates - 80
- Fees and Charges - 90
- Customer Service - 90
- Ease of Use - 90
- Tools and Resources - 90
- Products and Services - 90
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 here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.