Lake Michigan Credit Union Review: High APYs With a Regional Reach

Find out whether Lake Michigan Credit Union suits your needs.

Lake Michigan Credit Union has been serving the state of Michigan since 1933 when Grand Rapids teacher Lloyd F. Hutt saw a need for reliable banking amidst the Great Depression. What followed was the Grand Rapids Teachers Credit Union. From 13 teachers who wanted more from the banking industry, membership soared to 400,000 with $5.46 billion in assets by 2018.

So, is Lake Michigan Credit Union still meeting the vision of reliable, low-cost, nonprofit banking for the state that Mr. Hutt acted on nearly a century ago? Here’s a deep dive into the Lake Michigan Credit Union and whether or not it’s a bank that’s right for you.

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Who Is Lake Michigan Credit Union Best For?

With its regional footprint, LMCU offers a specific array of benefits and drawbacks to consider before opening an account.

Best for…

  • Residents of Michigan or Florida
  • Customers interested in banking with a nonprofit institution
  • Consumers who want an interest checking account with a very good rate of return

Membership in LMCU isn’t geographically restricted — you can join for just a $5 donation to an ALS charity even if you’re from out of state — but all of the branch locations are in Michigan’s lower peninsula or Florida, so you might not find it as convenient if you don’t live in either area. However, its excellent APY on qualifying balances in its Max Checking account and the knowledge that you’re banking with a nonprofit institution — that is, one that’s specifically built to serve your needs rather than those of shareholders — can be important for many people.

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Potential Drawbacks

  • Limited physical footprint
  • Monthly fees on several accounts if you don’t meet requirements

If convenient locations and ATMs matter to you, you will likely want to look elsewhere — even if you are a resident of Michigan. With a handful of branches clustered in west and southeast Michigan, you’re not likely to have an easy time popping by the local branch when you’re on the go unless you live near one.

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Types of Accounts Available

Lake Michigan Credit Union offers members an array of choices — with eight different types of checking and savings accounts to mortgages and IRAs.

Account NameMinimumsAmount needed for top interest rateAPY
Max CheckingNone$15,000 or less3.00%
Free CheckingNoneN/AN/A
Investor Checking$2,500 or $10 monthly fee$25,000 or more0.25% – 0.35%
Advantage 50 CheckingNoneN/A0.25%
PayCardNoneN/AN/A
Member Savings$300 or $5 monthly feeN/A0.25%
Max SavingsNone$250,000 or more0% – 2.00%
Holiday ClubNoneN/A0.25%
Certificates of Deposit$500$5000.75% – 2.05%
Money Market AccountNone$250,000 or more0.25% – 0.50%; no interest paid on accounts with balances under $2,500
Kids and Teens ClubNone$1,000 or less0.25% – 1.00%
Individual Retirement AccountNoneN/A0.75% – 2.05%
Coverdell Education Savings AccountNoneN/A0.80%

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Max Checking

One of the biggest selling points for LMCU is its Max Checking account that offers an eye-popping 3.00% APY on the first $15,000 for qualifying members.

  • High APY
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • Must meet four criteria to earn interest rate:
    • Direct deposit to Max Checking account
    • Minimum of 10 debit or credit card purchases a month
    • At least four logins to home banking per month
    • Commit to receiving eStatements/eNotices

Free Checking

While it doesn’t offer interest, LMCU’s Free Checking is an option for those seeking banking basics without excess fees.

  • Free debit card and LMCU ATM use
  • First order of checks is free
  • Free online access, mobile app
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees

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Investor Checking

In the event that you’ve exhausted the $15,000 cap on the 3.00% APY interest rate for Max Checking — or simply don’t qualify for the rate — LMCU also offers an investor checking account specifically for stashing cash between investment opportunities.

  • Tiered interest rates
  • Interest compounds daily and is paid monthly
  • Free online and mobile banking access
  • No account fee if you maintain a balance of $2,500

Advantage 50 Checking

An interest checking account specifically designed for those over 50.

  • 0.25% APY
  • Free debit card
  • Two free boxes of checks a year
  • No minimum balance to open or earn interest

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PayCard

For those people who might not qualify for a checking account, you can get the convenience of a debit card with a PayCard account.

  • Mobile/online banking
  • Can choose to have paycheck deposited directly to PayCard account

Member Savings

While the Max Checking account might make a savings account redundant to many, LMCU still pays over double the national average on its basic savings option.

  • 0.25% APY
  • $5 minimum to open an account
  • $300 minimum balance
  • $5 monthly fee for accounts below minimum
  • Can create additional sub-accounts for savings goals

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Max Savings

Max Savings offers a great savings rate that can get as high as 2.00% APY for some customers.

  • Interest paid on accounts with at least $100
  • Rates range from 0.25% to 2.00% APY
  • Need $100,000 to get 1.00% APY and $250,000 for 2.00% APY
  • No minimum deposit

Holiday Club

Earn some extra money while you save for the holidays with this option that automatically transfers funds into your primary account on Sept. 30 each year.

  • 0.25% APY interest rate
  • Funds transfer to your checking or savings account on Sept. 30
  • $3 fee for withdrawal prior to maturity

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Certificates of Deposit

You can unlock a range of additional saving options with an LMCU CD.

  • Terms from three months to five years
  • Rates from 0.75% to 2.05% APY
  • $500 minimum balance

Money Market Accounts

You can write a limited number of checks from your MMA while still getting great interest rates.

  • 0.25% to 0.50% interest
  • Minimum balance of $2,500 to accrue interest
  • No minimum deposit

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Kids and Teens Club

An option for parents to help kids and teens save and develop good financial habits.

  • 0.25% APY on balances over $1,000
  • 1.00% APY on balances of $1,000 or less
  • Must be 12 or younger for kids account
  • Must be between the ages of 13-17 for teens account

Individual Retirement Accounts

You can open an IRA with LMCU if you want to focus your tax-advantaged retirement planning on banking products.

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  • Contributions legally limited to $6,000, or $7,000 for those over 50
  • Traditional and Roth options
  • Can use either CDs or MMA
  • No opening or maintenance fees
  • APY of up to 2.05%, depending on what option/term you select

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Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

This specialized account offers you a chance to get tax benefits for saving money to spend on education costs.

  • 0.80% APY
  • Tax-free earnings
  • No minimum balance
  • No maintenance fees
  • No taxes on qualifying withdrawals

Loans

There are a number of loan products available to LMCU members.

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Mortgages

If you qualify, you can get a new mortgage, refinance or construction loan as a member — including options for low to no down payments.

Home Equity Loans

There are options to borrow money against the value of your home as an LMCU member.

Auto and RV Loans

Members have a chance to finance major vehicle purchases through LMCU.

  • Loan rates as low as 2.74% APR
  • Options for boats, RVs, cars, four-wheelers and other vehicles

Personal Loans

Whether it’s for debt consolidation or another purpose, members can explore options for a personal loan with LMCU.

  • No application fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • No collateral requirements

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How To Bank With Lake Michigan Credit Union

As a credit union, LMCU is only an option for members. However, membership is so easy it shouldn’t present a serious barrier to anyone. You can become a member for free if you live in Michigan’s lower peninsula or Florida or are an immediate family member of an LMCU member. And if you’re from out of state, you can obtain membership by making a $5 donation to the ALS Foundation.

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Fees

While several accounts have no monthly fees, you can still get hit with surcharges for other activities.

  • Account Closing (new account within 90 days) — $5.00
  • Account Research — $0.50/item, $20.00/hour
  • Basic Checking (for daily balances that fall below $300) — $5.00/month
  • Bill Pay (free to members with direct deposit) — $5.95/month
  • Cashier’s Checks — $2.00
  • Check Book Balancing — $20.00/hour
  • Check Cashing for Non-Members — $5.00/item
  • Copy Fee — $2.00 per copy
  • Courtesy Pay — $30.00/occurrence
  • Debit Card Replacement Fee — $5.00
  • Deferred Compensation Transfer to Another Financial Institution — $35.00
  • Dormant Account (charged after six months without account activity) — $5.00/month
  • Escheatment Fee — $50.00/occurrence
  • Garnishment/Levy — $45.00/item
  • Holiday Club Fee (each withdrawal prior to maturity) — $3.00
  • HSA Transfer Fee — $35.00
  • IMMA Excessive Transaction Fee (in excess of six withdrawals or transfers/month) — $5.00/each
  • Instant Checks (sheet of four) — $2.00/each
  • IRA Transfer to Another Financial Institution $35.00
  • Investor Checking (minimum daily balances under $2,500) — $10.00/month
  • Money Orders — $2.00/each
  • Non-Proprietary ATM Fee — $1.00 per transaction, $1.00 per inquiry
  • Non-Relationship Account (account balances under $300 in the 00 account suffix with no other account relationship. Members who are 23 and younger are exempt) — $5.00/month
  • Returned Check/Debit Card — $30.00/each
  • Overdraft from Line of Credit — $5.00
  • Returned Item Fee — $5.00/item
  • Statement Copies — $5.00/each
  • Stop Payments (single and series) — $25.00/each
  • Telephone Transfer (phone banking is free) — $1.00/each
  • Visa Gift Card — $4.95

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Availability of Funds

Depending on the type of deposit, it might take more or less time for your funds to become available to you to withdraw.

Available immediately:

  • Cash
  • Electronic direct deposits
  • Wire transfers
  • First $200 of all aggregate deposits of any type in a given day

Available the next business day:

  • Deposits at an ATM or other machine

For deposited checks, amounts over $200 may be withheld past one business day, but you should receive notification of this from LMCU.

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Nonprofit Banking for Michiganders

While some might chafe at having relatively few banking locations to rely upon, that’s less likely to be an issue for those living in the lower peninsula of Michigan or Florida. And, regardless of how important convenient locations are to your banking needs, a checking account that pays 3.00% APY — a rate that beats most online savings accounts, let alone other checking accounts — is the sort of benefit that makes LMCU an appealing choice. If you can take advantage of that excellent rate while avoiding any additional fees, there’s plenty of reason to give this Great Lake State credit union a shot.

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Rates are updated periodically and subject to change. All other information on accounts is accurate as of March 11, 2020.

About the Author

Joel Anderson is a business and finance writer with over a decade of experience writing about the wide world of finance. Based in Los Angeles, he specializes in writing about the financial markets, stocks, macroeconomic concepts and focuses on helping make complex financial concepts digestible for the retail investor.