Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

Get credit union benefits with easy membership requirements.

Some credit unions require members to meet strict criteria or pay high membership fees, but in many cases, it can be easy and cost-effective to join a credit union. Among the credit unions with open membership, GOBankingRates evaluated the best credit unions based on the following factors:

  • Minimum balance to open
  • Basic savings account APY
  • Range of products offered
  • Customer service and support

Read on to learn which credit unions have the best offerings. When you’re ready to join, find a credit union near you and take the plunge.

The Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

You can consider joining a credit union without worrying about meeting certain criteria — some credit unions have minimal eligibility requirements. GOBankingRates has identified some credit unions that anyone can join; listed here are those that require a small, one-time donation — between $5 and $25 — to join. Donations go toward charities or foundations supported by each credit union. By donating, civilians can even join military credit unions.

Here are 11 credit unions that anyone can join:

11 Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join
Credit UnionSavings AccountMinimum Balance to OpenAPYHow to Join
gte financial logoGTE Financial Credit UnionGTE Financial Savings$51.99%Learn More
Alliant Credit UnionAlliant Credit UnionHigh Rate Savings$51.11%Learn More
affinity plus federal credit unionAffinity Plus Federal Credit UnionMembership Savings$101.00%Learn More
lake michigan credit unionLake Michigan Credit UnionMember Savings$50.25%Learn More
connexus credit unionConnexus Credit UnionPersonal Savings Account$50.25%Learn More
northrop grumman federal credit unionNorthrop Grumman Federal Credit UnionRegular Savings$50.28%Learn More
american heritage federal credit unionAmerican Heritage Federal Credit UnionPrimary Share Savings$150.11%Learn More
melrose credit unionMelrose Credit UnionShare Savings Account$250.50%Learn More
nasa federal credit unionNASA Federal Credit UnionPrime Savings$50.10%Learn More
nuvision federal credit unionNuVision Federal Credit UnionPrimary Savings$50.10%Learn More
Air Force FCU logo 2017Air Force Federal Credit UnionRegular Savings$50.10%Learn More
Rates accurate as of Oct. 1, 2017

What Is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are nonprofit organizations that function like banks. A credit union is owned and controlled by its members — the people who actually use its services. Credit unions return profits to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower interest rates on loans.

The best credit unions are sometimes national credit unions, but if you’re not sure what you want, just do an internet search for “What are the best credit unions near me?” Compare a number of institutions, learn what it takes to join a credit union and look into the best online credit unions and nationwide credit unions, too.

Related: What’s the Difference Between Banks and Credit Unions?

Credit Union You Can Join Right Now

Find out how to join a credit union now. Review the details of 11 credit unions that will welcome anyone as a member:

1. GTE Financial Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who joins CU Savers Club
Fees: $5 Member Owner Share (one-time fee, refundable if you forfeit membership later), $10 to join CU Savers Club (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking account with no minimum balance
  • CU Rewards points
  • Unlimited check writing
  • Online banking with bill pay
  • Mobile banking
  • Access to over 30,000 no-fee ATMs

Membership perks:

  • Exclusive discounts, 2-for-1 tickets to Legoland
  • DirectTV rebates
  • Sprint discounts

GTE Financial Credit Union has high savings rates and a wide variety of financial services. The minimum balance to open a savings account is just $5 and it earns a significant 1.99% APY. Members have a live-chat customer service option, but there is no 24/7 phone support.

2. Alliant Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to Foster Care to Success
Fees: $5 minimum to open a High-Rate Savings account, minimum $10 contribution to Foster Care to Success (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free credit score access
  • Budget and planning tools
  • Free bill pay
  • 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • eDeposit and eDepositPlus
  • 24/7 customer service

Membership perks: N/A

Alliant Credit Union snagged a spot in this list of best credit unions anyone can join because of the 1.11% APY on its High-Rate Savings account and its array of services. Alliant doesn’t offer exclusive discounts — and it doesn’t have a live-chat customer service feature — but it pays a high savings rate.

Find Out: How Do Credit Unions Make Money?

3. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to the Affinity Plus Foundation
Fees: $10 minimum balance to open an account, $25 donation to the Affinity Plus Foundation (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • Savings accounts for kids
  • Business services
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Integration with Quicken and QuickBooks

Membership perks:

  • Rebates on buying or selling a home
  • Car-buying assistance
  • Insurance discounts for cars and homes
  • Sprint wireless plan discounts
  • Discounted tickets to Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America and the Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters

The list of best credit unions anyone can join features Affinity Plus because of its full range of financial services and live-chat customer support. You can join by making a one-time donation of $25 to the Affinity Plus Foundation. Members can open the Membership Savings Account and earn 1.00% APY, plus free credit advice, rewards for charitable donations and more.

Before You Join: Advantages and Disadvantages of Credit Unions

4. Lake Michigan Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to the ALS Association
Fees: $5 minimum balance to open an account, donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay
  • Unlimited check writing
  • Savings accounts for kids and teens
  • Business services
  • Pay cards for those who can’t get a regular savings account

Membership perks:

Lake Michigan Credit Union offers a variety of financial services and live-chat customer service, but its Member Savings account earns only 0.25% APY and there’s no 24/7 phone support. Still, LMCU members enjoy significant perks, like discounts on Sprint mobile accounts and special LifeLock rates.

5. Connexus Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to the Connexus Association
Fees: $5 minimum account balance for a Personal Savings Account, $5 donation to the Connexus Association (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • Savings accounts for kids
  • Holiday savings accounts
  • Health savings accounts
  • Education IRAs
  • Business services
  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay

Membership perks:

  • Free access to financial counseling

Connexus Credit Union offers a range of financial products and convenient customer support. Members enjoy products like home, student and auto loans and credit cards, but Connexus doesn’t currently offer insurance products or 24/7 phone support.

To join, you can make a one-time, $5 donation to the Connexus Association, a nonprofit that supports charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society, United Way, American Red Cross and more.

6. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation
Fees: $8 minimum to open a Regular Savings Account, donation to Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

Membership perks:

  • Discounts on Kash Chandani and Company tax services
  • Discounts on Get Away Today Vacations

Northrop Grumman offers comprehensive financial services, but no live-chat or 24/7 phone customer service. Members also don’t get some of the perks other credit unions offer and its regular savings account earns 0.28% APY. You can join by making a one-time donation to the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and displaying regional aircraft artifacts.

7. American Heritage Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online, in-store, by mail or over the phone
Who can join: Anyone who makes a donation to the Kids-N-Hope Foundation
Fees: $15 minimum to open a Primary Share Savings account, donation to Kids-N-Hope Foundation (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • Online banking and bill pay
  • Home, student and auto loans
  • Credit cards

Membership perks:

  • Commission rebate of 20 percent when you buy or sell your home
  • ScoreCard Rewards
  • Sprint mobile discounts
  • Auto purchase discounts

Philadelphia-based American Heritage Federal Credit Union requires a small deposit of $15 to open a savings account. The Primary Share Savings account from AHFCU earns only 0.11% APY — one of the lowest on the list — but it offers 0.16% APY on balances of $10,000 or more.

Members also get access to other perks like 4.00% APY on a four-month CD. You can join by meeting eligibility requirements or making a one-time donation to the Kids-N-Hope Foundation, which helps children receive specialized care like music therapy.

Explore: 10 Best Credit Unions for CD Rates

8. Melrose Credit Union

How to join: Online
Who can join: Anyone
Fees: $25 minimum opening deposit, $1 membership fee (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • Free starter checks
  • Online banking and bill pay
  • Kids’ accounts
  • Business services
  • Home, student and auto loans

Membership perks:

  • Free financial education workshops and seminars
  • Free EZ Legal Services
  • Free financial planning education

Melrose Credit Union provides members with affordable loans and free financial education — and 0.50% APY on its Share Savings Account. It does not offer credit cards, live chat or 24/7 customer service.

Anyone who pays the one-time membership fee of $1 and makes a $25 opening deposit, however, can join. The free EZ Legal Services give members access to free wills, living wills, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies and funeral directives.

9. NASA Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online
Who can join: Anyone who joins the National Space Society
Fees: $0

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • One NSF fee waived per year
  • Cash back debit card
  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay
  • Business services
  • Access to 30,000 free ATMs

Membership perks:

  • $1 membership rewards program
  • Rebate for buying or selling a home
  • Discounts on tax preparation products and services
  • Discounts on Sprint mobile plans, Allied moving services, DirectTV and ShopAmerica

NASA Federal Credit Union has a range of financial products and 24/7 customer phone support — but its Prime Savings account requires $5 to open and earns only 0.10% APY. The membership rewards program consist of perks like free, out-of-network ATM transactions and discounts on loan rates.

Find Out: What’s the Difference Between a Credit Union and a Federal Credit Union?

10. NuVision Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online
Who can join: Anyone who becomes a member of the American Consumer Council
Fees: $5 opening balance, $5 membership for the American Consumer Council

Membership benefits:

  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay
  • Business services
  • Youth accounts
  • Loyalty rewards program
  • Home, auto and student loans
  • Credit cards
  • Insurance products
  • Competitive mortgage rates

Membership perks:

  • Discounts on SeaWorld tickets, DirectTV and other services

NuVision Federal Credit Union Primary Savings offers a full range of financial services and live-chat customer service, but its Primary Savings account has a minimum opening deposit of $5 and earns only 0.10% APY. It also doesn’t offer a basic, free checking account but you can waive any fees with a minimum balance or other qualifiers. You can join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council, which provides education and information about consumer products and services.

11. Air Force Federal Credit Union

How to join: Online
Who can join: Anyone who becomes a member of the Airman Heritage Foundation
Fees: $5 minimum opening deposit, $25 annual membership to the Airman Heritage Foundation

Membership benefits:

  • Free checking
  • No minimum balance
  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay
  • Access to 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Christmas Club savings program
  • Cash back rewards

Membership perks: N/A

The Air Force Federal Credit Union serves the financial needs of military members and their families. A regular savings account is just $5 to open but earns only 0.10% APY. Offers include home, auto and student loans — as well as credit cards and customer service via live chat.

To join, you’ll have to meet broad eligibility requirements or become a member of the Airman Heritage Foundation. Membership will cost you $25 for one year, $70 for three years or $300 for a lifetime.

Can Anyone Join a Credit Union?

Typically, you have to meet certain criteria to join a credit union, but there are many different kinds of credit unions. For example, there are credit unions just for military members, employees of certain organizations or members of certain labor unions, churches or alumni associations.

Most credit unions extend membership to family members, so if you have a relative who’s a member, you’re likely eligible to join. And, as you can see, several credit unions do extend membership to everyone. Ultimately, the best way to join a credit union is to find the one that most closely matches your needs.

Natalie Campisi contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates assessed information about credit unions, including sourcing information from the financial institution provider websites as of Sept. 25, 2017. To comprise this list of the best credit unions anyone can join, GOBankingRates considered the following factors: (1) minimum balance to open an account; (2) savings account APY; (3) variety of products available; and (4) customer service offerings. 

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article.