Alliant Credit Union Review: Is This Easy-To-Join Credit Union Right for You?

Alliant Credit Union has high APYs, low fees and more.

With more than $11 billion in assets, Alliant Credit Union is the largest credit union in Illinois, and one of the biggest in America. The not-for-profit financial cooperative traces its roots back over 80 years, and it now serves over 450,000 members nationwide. Alliant Credit Union offers a wide variety of traditional account types, from checking and savings to CDs, retirement accounts and loans, and it pairs these offerings with modern online, mobile and banking services. Here’s a review of Alliant Credit Union from top to bottom, including all major account types, features, benefits and drawbacks.

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Who Is Alliant Credit Union Best For?

No credit union is the absolute best for all customers, including Alliant. Alliant is best primarily for customers who want no-fee accounts that pay high interest while having extensive ATM access. If the credit union’s network of over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs isn’t enough, Alliant will also rebate up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM fees for you. If these sound like features that most customers would want, you’d be right, as demonstrated by the over $11 billion in customer assets that Alliant maintains.

Here’s an overview of the credit union’s pros and cons to help you determine if Alliant Credit Union is the right choice for you.

Alliant Credit Union Pros and Cons
ProsCons
More than 80,000 fee-free ATMsHigh overdraft fees
High annual percentage yields (APY) on checking and savingsHigh miscellaneous fees, like Courtesy Pay
Kid and teen accountsLimited branch network
No-fee checking and savings accountsNo cash accepted at branch locations
Out-of-network ATM fee rebates of up to $20/month

If Alliant Credit Union’s large network and high annual percentage yields seem appealing to you, it’s easy and convenient to open an account today.

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Who May Want To Skip Alliant Credit Union?

If you’re the type of customer who doesn’t keep a close eye on your accounts, you may want to be careful banking with Alliant Credit Union. Every time you overdraw your account, you’ll get hit with a $25 nonsufficient funds fee — or even worse, a $28 “courtesy pay” fee — with no maximum. You might also want to skip Alliant if you need in-branch contact, as the Alliant Credit Union branch network is extremely limited.

Who Is Alliant Credit Union Suitable For?
Best ForWorst For
Heavy ATM usersFrequently overdraw account
Looking for no-fee accountsWant broad investment services
In need of high APYsPrefer banking in a branch

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Types of Accounts Available

Alliant Credit Union offers a wide range of financial products, from checking and savings accounts to credit cards, loans, IRAs and investment options. Here’s an overview of the checking, savings and CD options at Alliant Credit Union.

Alliant Credit Union Checking, Savings and CD Accounts
AccountMinimum DepositAPYMonthly Fees
High-Rate Checking$00.45%$0
Teen Checking$00.45%$0
High-Rate Savings$5 (paid for by Alliant)1.65%$0 (with eStatements)
Supplemental Savings$01.65%$0 (with eStatements)
Kids Savings$5 (paid for by Alliant)1.65%$0
CDs (including Regular, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA and SEP IRA Certificates)$1,0001.95%-2.10%$0

 

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Related: Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

Checking Accounts

Alliant offers one main checking account, High-Rate Checking, along with a Teen Checking account. For the most part, both accounts are identical, charging no monthly fee if you elect eStatements, and paying a 0.45% APY.

You can access either type of account using Alliant’s online banking and mobile apps. Although there are no monthly maintenance fees, you can still trigger fees based on your activity. For example, if you close your account within 90 days of opening, you’ll get hit with a $10 fee.

Pros

  • High APY for a checking account
  • No fees
  • No account minimums
  • Teen account available
  • Good no-fee ATM access

Cons

  • Unlimited NSF/Courtesy Pay fees
  • Inactivity fee
  • Account closure fee within the first 90 days

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Savings Accounts

Alliant Credit Union offers three types of savings accounts: High-Rate Savings, Supplemental Savings and Kids Savings. In terms of the basic account highlights, all three are essentially the same, charging no fees, having a $5 minimum and paying a 1.65% APY.

The High-Rate Savings account is the primary account, designed to be a primary savings account with a high APY. You’ll need to keep at least $100 in the account to earn the stated APY. Alliant will pay the $5 that’s required to open the account.

The Supplemental Savings account is a mirror image of the High-Rate Savings account, but multiple accounts — up to 19 in all — can be opened and given different names. This can help savers organize their financial goals into accounts titled, for example, “house” or “car” or “education.” Just like the High-Rate Savings account, every Supplemental Savings account requires a $100 minimum to earn the stated APY.

Alliant’s Kids Savings Account is designed for kids 12 years old or younger. The account requires joint ownership with the parents, grandparents or guardian of the child, and Alliant pays the $5 required to open the account. After turning 13, kids become eligible to open an Alliant Teen Checking account.

Pros

  • High APY across all savings accounts
  • No fee for savings accounts
  • $5 minimum to open paid for by Alliant
  • Kids account available

Cons

  • Only one type of standard savings account available

Related: 8 Best Banks for High School Students

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Money Market Account

At the present time, Alliant Credit Union doesn’t offer any money market accounts.

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CDs

Alliant Credit Union offers a decent range of CDs, from 12 months to 60 months. Rates are currently tightly clustered around the 2.00% APY mark for all maturities, although they’re subject to change at any time. This places Alliant’s CDs far above the national average. According to the St. Louis Fed, the national average rate for a 12-month CD currently stands at just 0.49%.

Here’s an overview of the different CD term lengths and rates currently offered by Alliant Credit Union:

Alliant Credit Union CD Rates
TermAPY
12-17 months1.95%
18-23 months1.95%
24-35 months2.00%
36-47 months2.00%
48 months2.00%
60 months2.10%

Alliant Credit Union does charge an early withdrawal penalty if you need to take out your money before your CD matures, just like most financial institutions. Here’s the fee you’ll pay for an early CD withdrawal:

Alliant Credit Union Early CD Withdrawal Penalties
TermEarly Withdrawal Penalty (Days of Dividends Lost)
12-17 monthsNumber of days the certificate is open, up to 90 days
18-23 monthsNumber of days the certificate is open, up to 120 days
24-48 months or 60 monthsNumber of days the certificate is open, up to 180 days
During 7-day grace periodNumber of days the certificate is open

Pros

  • High APYs across all maturities
  • No fee to open

Cons

  • Relatively high $1,000 minimum
  • Early withdrawal penalties
  • No short-term or long-term CDs

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Individual Retirement Accounts

Alliant Credit Union offers three types of IRAs: Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP-IRAs. Traditional IRAs are what most people think of when they think of individual retirement accounts, as contributions may be eligible for a tax deduction while withdrawals are fully taxable. With Roth IRAs, contributions don’t trigger a tax deduction but withdrawals are tax-free. SEP-IRAs are for self-employed or small-business owners.

Within these IRAs, Alliant offers three ways to invest: Traditional IRA Shares, Traditional IRA Certificates or investment alternatives. Essentially, Traditional IRA shares are like a savings account and Traditional IRA Certificates are CDs. Investment alternatives allow you to pick and choose other investments, like stocks. For all three IRA types, Traditional IRA Shares currently pay 1.65% APY. CDs are available in the same 12-60 month maturities as with non-IRA investments at Alliant.

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Pros

  • Multiple IRA types
  • Very high savings account APY
  • Ability to invest in shares, CDs or alternative investments

Cons

  • Most funds cannot be withdrawn until at least age 59 1/2.

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Related: Best IRA Providers of 2019-2020

Investment (Nonbank) Options

Beyond basic banking accounts, Alliant Credit Union offers trust services, retirement services and investment services. Trust accounts are designed to protect assets from probate and estate taxes and are available with savings, checking and CD accounts. Deposits are insured up to $250,000 via the NCUA and dividends are paid monthly on balances of at least $100. There’s no maximum limit on Alliant Credit Union trust accounts.

On the investment side, Alliant provides no-cost, no-obligation consulting, with customized solutions available. The credit union offers comprehensive investment and retirement planning services via its partner LPL Financial.

Pros

  • Trust accounts available, with no limits
  • Free financial consulting available

Cons

  • Comprehensive financial planning is outsourced to LPL Financial.

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Loans

Alliant Credit Union offers a wide variety of loan products, broadly grouped into these four categories: personal loans, home loans, vehicle loans and credit cards. Beyond these top-level categories, specific products offered by Alliant include the following:

  • Auto loans
  • Mortgages
  • Visa Platinum Rewards credit card
  • Visa Platinum credit card
  • Visa Signature credit card
  • Personal loans
  • Car buying service
  • RV loans
  • Home equity line of credit

Pros

  • Wide range of loan products
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Three credit card options
  • Vehicle service program available to Alliant members at no cost

Cons

  • Some loans have origination fees.
  • Credit cards can come with high interest rates.

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How To Bank With Alliant Credit Union

To bank with Alliant Credit Union, you’ll first have to become a member. However, Alliant Credit Union is an easy credit union to join. There are five classifications of people who are eligible to join Alliant:

  • Employees and retirees of select organizations
  • Relatives of existing Alliant members
  • Members of select organizations
  • Residents or workers in a qualifying community
  • Supporters of the credit union’s partner charity, Foster Care to Success

If you’re an eligible member over the age of 18, you can proceed with your application with a valid government-issued ID and a Social Security number or Tax ID number.

Alliant Credit Union has a comprehensive online account management feature on its website. You can log on anytime to transfer money, pay bills, access statement history and set up account alerts. The credit union also provides members with quarterly credit reports free of charge. The Alliant Money Management and Budget Tool lets you set financial goals, create a budget, monitor your finances and track your net worth.

Technology

Alliant Credit Union has fully functional apps available for both Android and iOS. Account management tools available on the apps include the following:

  • View balance
  • Reorder accounts
  • Send a secure message
  • Deposit checks
  • See transaction history
  • Set up external accounts
  • Transfer between accounts
  • Pay bills
  • Set travel notifications
  • Find ATMs
  • Check ATM fee rebate status
  • Track finances via financial management tool
  • Activate cards

The mobile apps also allow access to the Alliant Money Management and Budget Tool.

Customer Service

Alliant Credit Union offers 24/7 customer service via telephone at 800-328-1935. For international customers, help is available at 773-462-2000. You can also send a secure message via the app.

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Fees

Overall, Alliant Credit Union has low fees. With the exception of origination fees for some loans and the interest rate you’ll pay on loan products, there aren’t many costs to banking with Alliant. Importantly for most customers, the credit union’s checking, savings and CD accounts all come with no monthly maintenance fees. For the most part, you won’t encounter any fees unless you trigger them through your activities. For example, you’ll incur a fee if your account goes dormant if you close it within 90 days of when you opened it, if you withdraw your CD money before maturity or if you overdraw your account. However, those fees are relatively easy to avoid for most customers.

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Availability of Funds

Alliant Credit Union offers excellent access to funds via its ATM network. In addition to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs, Alliant Credit Union rebates up to $20 per month in out-of-network fees. This means you can generally access out-of-network ATMs four or more times per month and still not have to worry about paying a fee. Alliant Credit Union also provides a free first box of checks for checking account customers.

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See: Best Banks 2020

The Takeaway on Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union has enough features in the plus column that it should appeal to a wide range of banking customers. From the breadth of its product offerings to its no-fee, high-APY checking and savings accounts, Alliant Credit Union is a strong contender when it comes to top credit unions.

Alliant offers a fully functional mobile app and a user-friendly web-based interface, but it’s lacking when it comes to branch locations. The credit union only lists a single branch, at its headquarters in Chicago, and even this branch doesn’t accept or dispense cash. You’ll need to use an ATM if you need to make a cash transaction.

For customers comfortable with an online experience, however, access is not an issue with Alliant Credit Union. With over 80,000 fee-free ATMs, plus a generous out-of-network fee rebate policy, you’ll never be far from your money with Alliant.

Advantages

  • High APYs, particularly on checking and savings accounts
  • Good online and mobile banking services
  • Large ATM network
  • Out-of-network ATM fee rebates

Drawbacks

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  • Cash not accepted at branch locations
  • Limited branch locations
  • High ancillary fees for overdrafts, dormant accounts and account closures within 90 days

If the benefits of opening a Alliant Credit Union account sounds enticing to you, its easy to open an account today.

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Rates and fees are accurate as of Dec. 11, 2019, and are subject to change. This content is not provided by Alliant Credit Union. 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 Alliant Credit Union.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.