How to Join a Military Credit Union Without Joining the Service

Civilians can still access military credit unions' great rates.

The life of a service member can be fraught with sudden change. You could be spending time with your family one day and gearing up for deployment the next. Military credit unions provide Department of Defense employees and their family members with stability through reliable banking options.

You don’t necessarily have to wear the uniform to take advantage of a military credit union. Read on to find out which institutions also offer their competitive interest rates and products to civilians.

Click through to discover important money lessons from service members.

Military Credit Unions Open to Civilians

Use the following instructions to join a military credit union even if you’re not a service member, veteran or military spouse. You might find that you already meet other non-military eligibility requirements through another organization that you’re currently a member of, or because of where you live.

Air Force Federal Credit Union

AFFCU, with headquarters in San Antonio, offers membership to Department of Defense employees stationed or working in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana or Mississippi. Civilians are eligible to join if they:

  • Have contractual relationships with the DoD and live in AFFCU’s member states
  • Are part of select San Antonio churches, labor unions or local businesses
  • Become a member of The Airman Heritage Foundation

To join, you will need:

  • Valid driver’s license, state ID or passport
  • Social Security number
  • Information for any joint account owners you will be adding to the account
  • Information for any account you wish to switch over to AFFCU

Opening a savings account through AFFCU requires a $5 initial deposit. A one-year membership to The Airman Heritage Foundation costs $25. The credit union also offers checking accounts, money market accounts, credit cards and an individual retirement account service center. The credit union offers some of the best CD rates, too. Online services include a mobile app that allows you to monitor your account and online bill pay.

Pacific Marine Credit Union

Originally Camp Pendleton Federal Credit Union, named so after the large Marine Corps base north of San Diego, civilians qualify for PMCU membership if they:

  • Live, work or worship in either San Diego, Riverside or San Bernardino Counties
  • Are an immediate family member of a current PMCU member

If you meet the criteria, you may begin your application process either online or in person. You’ll need the following documents and information to complete your application:

  • Valid driver’s license, state ID or passport
  • Mailing address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth

Additionally, approved accounts require a $50 deposit. PMCU offers its members products such as savings accounts — including accounts geared toward kids and teens — checking, money market accounts, auto and life insurance, mortgage loans and wealth management planning.

Watch and Learn: 3 Ways Thinking Like the Military Can Save You Money

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union does not require military affiliation to become a member. The membership request takes only a few minutes to complete and can be done online.

The first step to gaining membership requires establishing eligibility. Active-duty military, military spouses, military employees, military retirees and even housemates can simply select the appropriate option. For people who are not affiliated with the U.S. military in any way, PenFed directs you to the charity of your choice:

  • National Military Family Association: Prospective PenFed members have the option of joining — i.e., donating to — the National Military Family Association for $20. This leading military charity supports the needs of military families and children.
  • Voices for America’s Troops: A $15 contribution helps Voices for America’s Troops improve the quality and sustainability of programs for troops and their families. Once you’re a member of this organization, you can meet eligibility requirements to join PenFed.

After making a contribution to a charity partner, step two asks applicants to enter their contact information. Then you can fund your PenFed basic savings account with a $5 minimum deposit.

The easy three-step application makes saving money with the country’s third-largest credit union a viable option for anyone. As a member of PenFed, you can access a variety of banking products with competitive rates, including money market certificates with up to a 3.10% APY as of June 20, 2018, and a suite of rewards credit cards.

Read: 15 Best Credit Union Credit Cards

Service Credit Union

SCU was founded as the Portsmouth Air Force Base Federal Credit Union. All current or former employees of the DoD and their families are eligible to join. Civilians can join if they:

  • Live or work in the state of New Hampshire or the Falmouth, Mass., area.

To open an account, you will need the following:

  • Driver’s license, government-issued ID or military ID
  • Previous home address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years
  • Social Security number or tax identification number
  • Credit, debit or a U.S. bank account to fund your account

The online application process takes about 10 minutes. SCU savings accounts require a deposit of $5 and offer a 0.20% APY as of June 20, 2018.

Get Higher Savings Rates and Lower Loan Rates

Military credit union membership often comes with higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower loan rates than many national banks. Although they were initially founded to assist service members, many of today’s military credit unions are also open to civilians. Research military credit unions in your area to see if you can take advantage of what they have to offer.

Click through to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of credit unions.

More on Military Finances

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. No institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement in this article. 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. All fees and rates are current as of June 20, 2018, and are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion.