6 Best Banks for Military Members

USAA vs Navy Federal Credit Union

Military banks and credit unions are institutions that specialize in working with active-duty members of the military — be it in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard.

These banks and credit unions often can provide more flexibility to service members that civilians are not offered. These flexibilities are usually necessary in light of their jobs. For example, if an active-service member is sent on deployment, it’s understandable if they cannot meet the minimum balance requirements. As such, many military banks have lower or no minimum balance requirements for checking and savings accounts or monthly service fees, amongst other perks. 

Another benefit military members enjoy at these institutions is low-interest loans, as service members can be particularly affected by government shutdowns or tours of duty that they unexpectedly might have to extend.

Here are the best banks for service members, plus the perks active and former military personnel enjoy with membership.

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The United Services Automobile Association is a financial services group that offers banking, investing and insurance to people and families who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

A Better Way to Bank

USAA offers benefits, products and discounts for U.S. military members and their families. These include free checking and savings accounts with no minimum balance fees, free checks, free rewards debit cards, free overdraft protection and free web bill pay. There are also no ATM fees.

 Some of this bank’s other perks include:

  • Military pay made available in advance with direct deposit
  • Competitive lending and credit card rates 
  • Teams of people to help before, during and after deployment
  • Savings of up to 25% with Avis, Hertz, Enterprise or Budget
  • Price matching on hotels, resorts, cruises and vacation packages and travel insurance with waived service fees
  • ADT home security and monitoring discounts for your home and family, plus three-month deployment credit

USAA ranks among the Top 100 Banks and Best Online Banks for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See the review.

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal was created in 1933 by and for Navy members who wanted to help themselves and their coworkers meet their financial goals. Today, it includes officers and enlisted personnel of all branches of the armed services, Department of Defense employees and their family members. Members enjoy:

  • Interest checking accounts offering a yield of 0.35% for minimum daily balances of $1,500
  • 12-month Share certificates and CDs offer 3% returns
  • Auto loans with annual rates as low as 1.79%
  • Basic checking account earns interest and doesn’t charge monthly fees
A Better Way to Bank

Navy Federal Credit Union ranks among the Top 100 Banks and Best Credit Unions for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See the review.

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Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Physical branches are only in Washington, D.C., and on select bases in the U.S. and abroad, but this bank is much easier to join than others on this list. While military banks usually require being a member of the armed forces to join, PenFed allows membership if you or a family member are or were military or if you work for or belong to qualifying organizations such as the DoD, Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family association. Members will enjoy: 

  • Checking accounts that offer 0.15% APY for balances below $20,000 and 0.35% APY for anything above
  • Savings account with a minimum deposit of $5
  • Free access to over 85,000 ATMS through the Allpoint Network

PenFed ranks among the Top 100 Banks for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See the review.

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal was originally founded to benefit members of the Air Force and currently operates branches in Texas, Colorado and Utah. The good news is that the credit union takes part in shared branching, so you can bank freely at thousands of their partner locations throughout the country. Members will enjoy:

  • No minimum balance on checking accounts 
  • Competitive rates on CDs with terms as low as 3 months
  • Access to over 30,000 ATMs
  • Personal and auto loan rates through their website
A Better Way to Bank

Security Service Federal ranks among the Top 100 Banks and Best Credit Unions for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See the review.

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Andrews Federal Credit Union

Andrews is more strict than other banks about who can join, but non-military residents of Washington, D.C., can apply for membership, as can members of the American Consumer Council, a non-profit organization. They offer to their members:

  • 0.30% APY with minimum monthly deposit of $50 or 0.05% with $100 minimum balance
  • CD rates ranging from 0.05% return on a 12-month certificate with $1,000 minimum opening deposit
  • Auto loans with as low as 1.99% APR
  • Shared ATM locations throughout the country with no-fee access

Service Credit Union

Service Credit Union was founded in 1957 to support military members and their families, and now has 50 walk-in locations throughout New Hampshire, North Dakota, Massachusetts and even Germany. The union also serves former members of the military and employees of the DoD, select employee groups in New Hampshire and members of the American Consumer Council. Members will enjoy:

  • ATM fee rebates with Everyday Checking
  • Shared branching with locations throughout the country
  • Annual savings rate as high as 10% APY with a deposit of up to $10,000 if you are currently serving active duty in a combat zone as defined by the bank
  • Exclusive savings benefits that pay higher dividends than regular accounts if you are a member of the armed forces or a veteran

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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