Associated Credit Union Review: Regional Branch With a Range of Banking Products

Associated Credit Union boasts some high APYs on its CDs.

Chartered in 1930, Associated Credit Union stands as one of Georgia’s longest-running financial institutions. Like most credit unions, Associated Credit Union is a nonprofit organization owned by its members, and its deposits are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration. ACU offers a wide range of products, from standard deposit accounts to loans and individual retirement accounts. Customer reviews are limited on the Better Business Bureau website, but the credit union sports an A+ rating from that organization. 

To help determine if Associated Credit Union might be a good option for you, here’s a look at the types of accounts the institution offers and the pros and cons of each.

Who Is Associated Credit Union Best For?

One of the standout features of Associated Credit Union is its CD rates. Customers looking for high-yielding CDs from an institution that also offers a broad range of supplemental accounts might be attracted to ACU. 

Associated Credit Union also has an obvious appeal to residents of greater Georgia, as that is where all of the credit union’s branches are located.

Pros

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  • Broad range of accounts
  • High CD rates
  • Good mobile app capability

Cons

  • Checking account fees are high and unavoidable on some accounts.
  • High overdraft fee
  • Free ATM withdrawals limited to four per month at network ATMs
  • Fee to withdraw cash from shared branch network

To gain access to Associated Credit Union’s high CD annual percentage yields and other features, you’ll first have to become a member. You can start the process quickly and easily at the Associated Credit Union website.

See: Best Credit Unions of 2020

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Who May Want To Skip Associated Credit Union?

Fee-averse individuals might want to skip Associated Credit Union. The standard checking account carries a $4.95 monthly fee that cannot be waived, although there is a free checking account option available. ATM withdrawals are free at ACU ATMs, but network withdrawals — or point-of-sale debit card withdrawals — over four per month are hit with a $0.75 fee.

Those living outside of the greater Atlanta area might find banking with Associated Credit Union inconvenient, as there are no branches outside this area and withdrawals from the shared branch network trigger a $3 fee per transaction.

Who Is Associated Credit Union Suitable For?
Best ForWorst For
Residents of the greater Atlanta areaResidents outside of the greater Atlanta area
High CD ratesHigh checking rates
Variety of accountsOnline account opening

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See: Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses

Types of Accounts Available

For a regional financial institution, Associated Credit Union has a fairly broad product line. Whether you’re looking for a checking or savings account, a money market account, an IRA, CDs or loan products, you can find them at ACU. Here’s an overview of Associated Credit Union’s current product line.

Associated Credit Union Product Line
ProductMinimum To OpenFee
Checking$25$0-$9.95
Savings$5-$50$0
Money Market$1,000N/A
IRAs$200N/A
CDs$100-$200N/A
LoansVaries by typeVaries by type

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Checking

The primary checking account at the credit union is the Associated Checking account. The other types of accounts are a basic, free checking account and an account for those with prior financial difficulties. The minimum to open each type of account is $25, but there is no ongoing balance requirement thereafter. 

Here are some details for each account type:

Associated Credit Union Checking Accounts
AccountMinimum to OpenAPY Monthly Fee
Associated Checking$25 Up to 0.15%$4.95 
Simple Checking$25 0.10%$0 
Lend-a-Hand Checking$25 N/A$9.95 

The Associated Checking account will likely be the best option for customers seeking a full-featured checking account. There is no minimum to earn interest, and you get the following perks: 

  • Identity monitoring
  • ID theft resolution
  • Waived fees on ACU ATM transactions and point-of-sale purchases
  • Cellphone insurance
  • Travel and leisure discount membership
  • Buyer’s protection and extended warranty

Mobile banking and bill pay also come with this account, but the Simple Checking account offers those services as well. 

There are no ATM fees at ACU ATMs or network ATMS for the first four withdrawals every month. Thereafter, ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale debit card withdrawals incur a $0.75 fee per transaction. Using the shared branch network to make a withdrawal incurs a $3 fee per transaction.

Pros

  • No ATM fees at ACU ATMs
  • Three types of checking accounts available
  • Free checking account option available

Cons

  • Fees of $0.75 per ATM withdrawal above four monthly withdrawals at non-ACU ATMs
  • No way to avoid checking account monthly maintenance fee on the standard account

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Savings

Associated Credit Union has one main savings account, the Share Savings account and three additional accounts: the PRO$PER Savings account, CU $aveMore account and Safari Savings Club for customers up to 15 years old. The credit union also offers education savings and health savings accounts. 

Here’s a quick overview of the rates and features of each savings account at ACU. 

Associated Credit Union Savings Accounts
TypeMinimum To OpenAPY  Monthly Fee
Share Savings$5 0.40%N/A 
PRO$PER Savings$10 0.40%N/A
CU $aveMore Savings — Balances up to $500$10 4.00%N/A 
Safari Savings Club — Balances up to $500$10 4.00%N/A 

Most savings accounts offer the same 0.40% APY, with the exception of small balances on the CU $aveMore account which pay a whopping 4.00% APY. All of the savings accounts are free of monthly fees. 

The PRO$PER savings account is unique in that members earn entries into a prize raffle for making deposits. For every additional $100 you deposit, you earn one prize drawing entry for the month, up to a maximum of 10 per month. You cannot make any withdrawals or you will lose your prize entry status. 

Pros

  • Multiple savings options.
  • High initial rate on CU $aveMore account
  • No fees
  • High rates compared to national banks
  • Prize-linked savings account

Cons

  • Low rates compared to online banks
  • High initial rate on CU $aveMore account is for first $500 only

See: Best Savings Accounts of 2020

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Money Market

Associated Credit Union offers a single money market account, although you can open this account in an IRA as well. But you can’t open this account online — you must visit a branch. 

Associated Credit Union Money Market Account
TypeMinimum To OpenAPYFee
Money Market Account$1,000Up to 0.65%N/A
IRA Money Market Account$50  Up to 0.40%N/A

ACU money market account rates are tiered, with breakpoints at the $5,000, $10,000 and $100,000 levels. 

Pros

  • Rates are higher than savings APYs
  • Relatively low minimum for a money market account
  • No fees
  • Larger deposits earn higher rates.

Cons

  • Cannot be opened online
  • No card access

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Compare: Advantages and Disadvantages of Credit Unions

CD Rates

Associated Credit Union offers a decent range of CDs, with standard maturities running between six months and five years. Minimums are low and APYs are high across the board. 

Associated Credit Union CDs
TermMinimum To OpenAPY 
6-Month TDA$2000.65%
9-Month TDA$2000.65%
1-Year TDA$2001.25%
2-Year TDA$2001.35%
3-Year TDA$2001.45%
5-Year TDA$2001.90%

CDs carry early withdrawal penalties. For terms of less than one year, you’ll forfeit 30 days’ interest. For terms of one year or more, the early withdrawal penalty jumps to 90 days’ interest. For the nine-month CD, you’re allowed one early withdrawal without penalty. 

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Time deposits renew automatically at Associated Credit Union, although you’ll receive at least 30 days’ notice before maturity. The credit union offers a 10-business-day grace period after maturity in which to change your term or close your account.   

Pros

  • High APYs
  • Reasonable variety of CD options
  • Very low CD minimum investment
  • One early withdrawal without penalty on the nine-month CD

Cons

  • No terms longer than five years

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Individual Retirement Accounts

Associated Credit Union doesn’t offer nonbank investment products, but you can open either a traditional or a Roth IRA. Three types of savings vehicles are available: straight share savings account, a money market account and a range of CDs. 

Associated Credit Union IRA Savings
TermMinimum To OpenAPY
IRA Share account$50  0.40%
IRA Money Market account$50  Up to 0.65%

You can get a much higher APY if you invest in an IRA CD rather than the IRA Share account at Associated Credit Union, but your money will be tied up until maturity unless you’re willing to pay an early withdrawal penalty.

Associated Credit Union IRA CDs 
TermMinimum To OpenAPY
1-Year IRA TDA$2001.25%
2-Year IRA TDA$2001.35%
3-Year IRA TDA$2001.45%
5-Year IRA TDA$2001.90%

Rates for the credit union’s IRA CDs are the same as for its taxable accounts. But there is no term shorter than one year. 

Pros

  • High IRA CD rates
  • Low investment minimums in IRAs
  • No fees

Cons

  • No short- or long-term IRA CDs

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See: Best National Banks of 2020

Loans

Associated Credit Union offers a wide range of loan types. For vehicles, you can get crediting union financing for new and used autos, boats, motorcycles and RVs. For home mortgages, ACU offers both fixed and variable loans.

Here’s a look at the full range of Associated Credit Union vehicle and home financing options:

Associated Credit Union Vehicle Loans 
TypeTermAPR
2019-2020 NADA Retail/MSRPUp to 84 Months2.25%-14.25%
2018 NADA RetailUp to 84 Months2.50%-14.50%
2017 NADA RetailUp to 72 Months2.75%-14.00%
2016 NADA RetailUp to 72 Months3.00%-14.25%
2015 NADA RetailUp to 72 Months3.50%-14.75%
2014 NADA RetailUp to 72 Months3.75%-15.00%
2013 NADA RetailUp to 60 Months4.00%-15.25%
2012 NADA RetailUp to 60 Months4.25%-15.50%
New BoatsUp to 120 Months4.99%-9.49%
Used Boats, 1-5 Years OldUp to 120 Months4.99%-10.49%
Used Boats, 6-7 Years Old60 Months6.99%-10.49%
Miscellaneous RV/Motor Homes, 1-7 Years OldUp to 120 Months4.99%-10.49%
New Motorcycles60 Months4.99%-8.99%
Used Motorcycles, 1-5 Years Old60 Months4.99%-9.49%

Here are the current rates for Associated Credit Union home loans. Note that points are essentially prepaid interest costs and can be used to lower the rate on a mortgage loan. 

Associated Credit Union Home Loans 
TermRateAPRPoints
30-Year Fixed Rate3.500% 3.629%0.250%
15-Year Fixed Rate 3.125% 3.319%0.000%
7-Year Fixed Rate3.125%3.518%0.000%
5/5 ARM3.000%3.693%0.250%
6/5 ARM3.500%3.849%0.250%
30-Year Fixed Investment 4.375%4.577%0.250%

Pros

  • Auto loans of up to 84 months
  • Low rates for those with good credit
  • Multiple home and vehicle loan options available

Cons

  • Vehicle loan rates can be high for those with bad credit.

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See: Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses

How To Bank With Associated Credit Union

You can open certain Associated Credit Union accounts, such as basic savings and checking, online. But for others, such as IRA or money market accounts, you’ll need to visit a branch. Note that at the time of publication, the online application service was not functioning, so you might have to call the credit union or visit a branch for particulars of the account-opening process. 

Technology

The ACU mobile app, available for Apple and Android, allows you to conduct nearly any banking transaction using your mobile device. Options include:

  • Check deposit
  • Mobile payments
  • Funds transfer
  • Bill pay
  • Account alert management
  • Person-to-person transfers
  • Locating an ATM or branch

Customer Service

You can reach Associated Credit Union customer service at 770-448-8200 or 800-952-1927. Phone service hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. 

You can also visit ACU’s support page to fill out an email help request form, and a representative will call you back. Of course, you can also visit a branch anytime during regular operating hours.

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See: Best Online Banks of 2020

Fees

Fees at Associated Credit Union can be quite high, and some seem a bit archaic compared to current norms. Although a free checking account option is available, the standard checking account costs $4.95 monthly, with no fee waiver available. Here are some other fees:

  • Paper statements: $2.95
  • Non-ACU ATM and point-of-sale debit card withdrawals: $0.75 after the fourth in a given month
  • Shared branch network withdrawals: $3
  • Overdraft fee: $30
  • Inactivity fee: $5 with no transactions for 10 or more months

That being said, the credit union does offer fee-free savings accounts, CDs and a money market account, which is a plus.

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Availability of Funds

You can access your cash or make point-of-sale or credit transactions via Associated Credit Union’s ATM/debit card. ATM withdrawals and POS transactions are limited to $1,000 per day and credit transactions are limited to seven per day, with a total daily limit of $1,500. 

In the greater Atlanta area, you can access your funds at an Associated Credit Union branch. You can also use the shared branch network or any of 30,000 CO-OP ATMs to access funds, but you’ll pay a $3 fee to withdraw cash from a shared branch. Non-ACU ATM network transactions over four per month incur a $0.75 fee. 

Check Out: Best Credit Unions That Treat 9/11’s Heroes Like VIPS

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Should You Bank With Associated Credit Union?

A lot of factors can go into the decision about whether or not Associated Credit Union might be the one true bank for you. Here’s a quick review of the pros and cons to help you decide. 

Benefits

Customers looking for a full-featured financial institution, particularly those living in the greater Atlanta area, might be impressed by the wide range of accounts offered by Associated Credit Union. The credit union’s CDs are the star performers, with high yields across the board. Standard checking and savings accounts earn interest as well, and the credit union’s loan and mortgage rates are competitive. Although the credit union is regionally focused, you can take advantage of its shared branch network and 30,000-strong CO-OP ATM network to access your funds.

Drawbacks

In an era of low fees and high yields, Associated Credit Union’s offerings come up short. The credit union’s standard checking account still charges a $4.95 fee, and its checking and savings account APYs are quite low compared to the top-tier yields available from some competitors. Fees for heavy use of network ATMs and the shared branch network add up quickly, and you’ll pay a stiff fee for overdrawing your account. Even leaving your account inactive for less than a year will trigger a fee. Although the credit union’s breadth of service is impressive, it seems to be behind the times when it comes to charging these formerly common banking fees that are becoming less and less typical.

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Rates are updated periodically and subject to change. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Feb. 7, 2020.

This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. 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 Associated 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.