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

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 12 credit unions that anyone can join:

RankCredit UnionMinimum Balance to OpenAPYHow to Join
1Alliant Credit Union$51.95%Learn More
2Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union$101.00%Learn More
3Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union$50.33%Learn More
4Lake Michigan Credit Union$50.25%Learn More
5Connexus Credit Union$50.25%Learn More
6American Heritage Federal Credit Union$150.16%Learn More
7NASA Federal Credit Union$50.10%Learn More
8GTE Financial Credit Union$50.10%Learn More
9NuVision Federal Credit Union$50.10%Learn More
10State Department Federal Credit Union$10.10%Learn More
11Hughes Federal Credit Union$500.25%Learn More
12Teachers Federal Credit Union$250.10%Learn More

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, shop around and compare a number of institutions. You should also learn what it takes to join each credit union and look into the best online and nationwide credit unions, too.

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

Credit Union You Can Join Right Now

Review the details of these 12 credit unions that will welcome anyone as a member:

1. Alliant Credit Union

How to join: Make a donation to Foster Care to Success
Fees: $5 minimum to open a High-Rate Savings account, minimum $5 contribution to Foster Care to Success (one-time fee, nonrefundable)

Membership benefits:

  • Free credit score access
  • Free bill pay
  • 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • 24/7 customer service

Membership perks: N/A

Alliant Credit Union snagged the top spot in this list of best credit unions anyone can join because of the 1.95% APY on its High-Rate Savings account and its array of services, which include a free checking account with ATM rebates and a free Visa debit card.

Find Out: How Do Credit Unions Make Money?

2. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

How to join: Make 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

Membership perks:

  • Cash rewards on buying or selling a home
  • Car-buying assistance
  • Insurance discounts for cars and homes
  • Sprint wireless plan cash rewards
  • 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. 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

3. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union

How to join: Become a member of the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation
Fees: $5 minimum to open a Regular Savings Account, $60 membership to Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation

Membership benefits:

Membership perks:

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

Northrop Grumman offers comprehensive financial services. Members also don’t get some of the perks other credit unions offer and its regular savings account earns 0.33% APY. You can join by making a donation to the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and displaying regional aircraft artifacts.

Related: 5 Best Credit Unions for Personal Loans

4. Lake Michigan Credit Union

How to join: Make a donation to the ALS Association
Fees: $5 minimum balance to open an account, $5 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
  • Free debit card and LMCU ATM use

Membership perks:

Lake Michigan Credit Union offers a variety of financial services, but its Member Savings account earns only 0.25% APY. Still, LMCU members enjoy significant perks, like discounts on Sprint mobile accounts and special LifeLock rates.

5. Connexus Credit Union

How to join: Make 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
  • IRAs
  • Online and mobile banking and bill pay

Membership perks:

  • Free access to financial counseling

Connexus Credit Union offers a range of financial products. Members enjoy products like home, student and auto loans and credit cards, as well as life insurance through TruStage.

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, American Red Cross and more.

6. American Heritage Federal Credit Union

How to join: Become a member of the Kids-N-Hope Foundation
Fees: $15 opening deposit, membership in the Kids-N-Hope Foundation

Membership benefits:

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

Membership perks:

  • Discounted Phillies and 76ers tickets
  • Discounted tickets to the Museum of the American Revolution
  • Discounts with vendors like TurboTax, Sprint, ADT Home Security and car rentals

Philadelphia-based American Heritage Federal Credit Union requires a $15 minimum deposit to open a regular savings account, but requires no minimum balance. The Primary Share Savings account from AHFCU earns only 0.16% APY — one of the lowest on the list — but it offers 0.21% APY on balances of $10,000 or more.

Members also get access to other perks like 2.70% APY on a 47-month CD and 3.05% APY on a 59-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

7. NASA Federal Credit Union

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

Membership benefits:

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

Membership perks:

  • Three free non-NASA FCU ATM transitions
  • Free cash-back debit card
  • Visa Classic and Platinum credit cards with no annual fee

NASA Federal Credit Union has a range of financial products — 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?

8. GTE Financial Credit Union

How to join: Join 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:

  • 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, 25 percent off tickets to Legoland
  • ADT Home Security discounts
  • 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 0.10% APY on balances over $100.

9. NuVision Federal Credit Union

How to join: Become a member of the American Consumer Council
Fees: $5 opening balance, $8 membership for the American Consumer Council

Membership benefits:

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

Membership perks: N/A

NuVision Federal Credit Union Primary Savings offers a full range of financial services, 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.

10. State Department Federal Credit Union

How to join: Become a member of the American Consumer Council
Fees: $1 minimum opening balance, $8 for membership in the American Consumer Council

Membership benefits:

  • Free Visa debit card
  • Unlimited check writing
  • Purchase Rewards program

Membership perks:

  • Free credit report
  • Foreign currency exchange
  • Free traveler’s checks

The savings rates with the State Department Federal Credit Union is just a 0.10% APY, but you get a variety of banking and loan services available to you as a member. Plus, given the bank’s status in serving employees of the U.S. State Department, a number of services related to foreign travel are offered with your account.

11. Hughes Federal Credit Union

How to join: Make a small donation to the Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library, Friends of the Pima County Public Library, Friends of the Green County Public Library or the Tuscon Audubon Society
Fees: $50 minimum deposit plus a small one-time donation to one of four local nonprofit organizations

Membership benefits:

  • Overdraft protection
  • Unlimited check writing
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Free online and mobile bill pay
  • Free Visa debit card

Membership perks:

  • 10 percent off at the Madaras Gallery

Although the savings account has only a 0.25% APY, the associated checking account is offered for free and comes with a wide variety of perks and benefits. Hughes Federal Credit Union also offers access to a variety of investing, loan and banking products.

12. Teachers Federal Credit Union

How to join: Anyone can become a member with a $1 membership fee
Fees: $1 one-time membership fee, $25 minimum to open an account

Membership benefits:

  • E-Z Bill Pay
  • Easy and convenient online access
  • Free certified financial planning

Membership perks: N/A

Formerly known as Melrose Credit Union, the Teachers Federal Credit Union offers a 0.10% APY on its savings accounts. Members can also access E-Z Bill Pay and an array of banking services through online and mobile platforms.

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 and Joel Anderson 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 Nov. 26, 2018. 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 alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article.