Pawtucket Credit Union Review: Can Pawtucket Credit Union Serve Your Needs?

This credit union offers plenty of services in its member states

Pawtucket Credit Union, commonly known as PCU, serves members in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The credit union had more than 84,000 members and $2.3 billion in assets as of 2018, the latest data available on its website. PCU offers its members a wide variety of products, from checking, savings and money market accounts to IRAs, CDs and loans. Keep reading to find out more about the pros and cons of the Pawtucket Credit Union banking experience.

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Who Is Pawtucket Credit Union Best For? 

Pawtucket Credit Union only serves three states — Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut — so if you live in one of those states it might be worth looking into. Conversely, if you live outside of PCU’s immediate service area you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Here’s a quick rundown of other pros and cons of Pawtucket Credit Union:

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Pros:

  • Wide range of accounts 
  • In-branch service and online banking
  • Can waive account fees through direct deposits, minimum balances or debit card activity

Cons:

  • No mobile app
  • Low interest rates for deposit products
  • No investment options
  • Some accounts have service fees without qualifying activities

Compare: Best Credit Unions of 2020

Who Might Want To Choose Pawtucket Credit Union?

Residents or workers in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts are the best prospects for PCU because they’re the ones eligible for membership. The credit union might also be a good fit for customers looking for an “all-in-one” relationship with a financial institution that has physical branches and a wide product line. As with many credit unions, PCU offers multiple loan options, making it a good choice for customers who need to borrow money.

Who Might Want To Skip Pawtucket Credit Union?

PCU isn’t a good choice for folks who don’t live or work in the service area, for the obvious reason that they’ll be denied membership. Beyond that, customers looking for top-tier yields, no-fee accounts or investment options are not good candidates for PCU, either. Although the credit union provides a wide range of accounts, it can’t compete with online-only institutions in terms of fees and annual percentage yield.

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Pawtucket Credit Union
Types of Accounts Available

PCU offers a decent lineup of deposit and loan accounts to its members. Here’s an overview of the products available. 

Pawtucket Credit Union Accounts
Account APY
Fees 
Checking 0% – 0.90% Monthly Service Charge: $0 – $12
Savings 0.10% – 0.35% N/A
Money Market 0.25% – 0.90% $0 – $5
CDs  0.50% – 0.90% N/A
IRAs   0.10% N/A

Pawtucket Credit Union Checking Accounts

PCU offers four checking accounts: Simple, Spectrum, Direct Plus and Debit Card.  Here’s a rundown of some of the features for each account:

Pawtucket Credit Union Checking Account Features by Account Type
Feature Simple Spectrum Direct Plus Debit Card
Monthly Fee $4.95 $12, but waived if you meet minimum balance requirements
$10, but waived if you meet direct deposit requirements
$10, but waived with 12 monthly debit card transactions
APY N/A N/A 0.20%  0.90%  
Minimum Balance None $1,000 average daily checking  balance or $5,000 average daily balance in all PCU accounts None None
ATM Fees $0 at PCU ATMs; $2.50 at non-network ATMs  $0 at PCU ATMs; 10 free non-network ATM withdrawals monthly $0 at all ATMs $0 at all ATMs
Additional Requirements None Minimum balance required Direct deposit required eStatements required

All PCU checking accounts offer eStatements, a free ATM/debit card, point-of-sale transactions, online banking and bill pay. You also can sign up for up to $600 of overdraft protection on your checking accounts, but you’ll still pay a fee of up to $37.50 even if the bank covers your overdraft. 

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Pros:

  • Four account types to choose from
  • Some accounts pay interest

Cons: 

  • All accounts have a monthly fee, although most have fee waiver provisions
  • No waiver of third-party ATM fees
  • High overdraft fee

See:  Best Checking Accounts of 2020

Pawtucket Credit Union Savings Accounts

PCU offers a single traditional savings account, called the Statement Savings account. This account requires a low $5 opening deposit, offers ATM card access and credits interest monthly. To earn the current 0.10% APY on the account, you’ll have to deposit at least $25.  The Statement Savings account has the same Overdraft Protection feature as PCU’s checking accounts, which will cover overdrafts of up to $600 for a fee of up to $37.50. 

You can add direct deposit to your Statement Savings account to transform it into a Direct Statement Savings account. The only difference between these two accounts is that the Direct Statement Savings account requires direct deposit; in exchange, you’ll receive up to 10 free non-network ATM withdrawals per month. The traditional Statement Savings account charges $2.50 for non-network ATM transactions. 

In addition to the primary Statement Savings account, PCU offers Vacation and Christmas Club accounts. These have the same $5 opening requirement and are designed to accept weekly deposits towards vacation or holiday spending. You’ll get the same 0.10% APY as with the Statement Savings account. 

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Pros:

  • Low minimum deposits
  • Free in-network ATM withdrawals
  • Christmas and Vacation Club accounts

Cons:

  • Low APY
  • High overdraft fee
  • $2.50 non-network ATM fee for Statement Savings accounts

Pawtucket Credit Union Money Market Accounts

PCU currently offers a single money market account: the Money Market Special. This account requires a minimum of $2,500 to open but pays interest on balances that fall as low as $25. Interest is paid in three tiers: 

  • $25 to $2,499.99: 0.25% APY
  • $2,500 to $9,999.99: 0.65% APY
  • $10,000 and over: 0.90% APY

You’ll face an excess transaction fee of $10 on each check, ACH or point-of-sale transaction after the first six per month. 

Pros:

  • Interest paid on balances as small as $25
  • Higher rates at top tiers

Cons:

  • $2,500 minimum to open

Pawtucket Credit Union Certificates of Deposit 

PCU offers CDs with maturities of three, six, 12, 18, 24, 36 and 60 months. It also occasionally offers nine-month and 48-month CDs and a 15-month “Easy Access” CD which allows up to two penalty-free withdrawals, though none are currently available.

Each CD term requires a $1,000 minimum to open. You can deposit up to $2,500 online, but if you’d rather deposit more you can do so at a branch or mail in a check to PCU’s main branch in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Rates currently range from a 0.50% APY on the three-month CD to a 0.90% APY on the six-, 24-, 36- and 60-month CDs. 

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Like most CDs, those at PCU come with early withdrawal penalties. For terms of one year or less, an early withdrawal is hit with a penalty of three months’ interest. For maturities of more than one year, the penalty rises to six months’ interest.

Pros:

  • Special CDs occasionally available

Cons:

  • Low rates compared with other financial institutions

Pawtucket Credit Union IRAs

Three types of IRAs are available at PCU: Traditional, Roth and Education (Coverdell ESA). Within those accounts, members can open either IRA savings accounts or IRA CD accounts. IRA savings accounts require a $25 minimum to open, while CDs carry a $500 minimum. 

IRA savings accounts pay a flat 0.10% APY. CD rates are the same as with the credit union’s non-IRA CDs. However, nine- and 48-month CDs are currently available in IRAs, whereas they cannot be purchased in non-IRA accounts at PCU. The same early withdrawal penalties apply to IRA CDs as with non-IRA CDs.  

Pros:

  • Wide range of maturities available
  • $500 minimum

Cons:

  • Low APY on IRA savings account
  • Rates on CDs are not high overall

Pawtucket Credit Union Loans

One of the main functions of a credit union is to make loans available to local members, and PCU is no different. It offers a wide range of loans, from home equity and mortgage loans to auto loans, credit cards and personal loans. 

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For home equity loans, Pawtucket offers an annual percentage rate as low as 3.875% on amounts up to $500,000. Lines of credit can go as low as 2.75% APR for the first 12 months, jumping to a low of 4.0% thereafter. 

Members need a credit score of at least 730 to snag the credit union’s lowest rate of 4.45% for auto loans. Personal loans for 48 months start at a 12.99% APR. PCU also offers new and refinancing loans of 48 to 60 months for motorcycles, RVs, boats and trailers.

One interesting loan offered by PCU is a CD-secured loan. If you have an existing CD at the credit union, you can borrow against it at a rate equal to your CD’s interest rate plus a premium of 3%. 

Pros:

  • Wide range of loans available
  • Low rates on home equity loans and lines of credit
  • CD-secured loan available

Cons:

  • Personal loan rates are high
  • Top auto loan rates require at least a 730 credit score

How To Bank with Pawtucket Credit Union

Because PCU is a full-service institution, you can visit one of its branches if you want to open an account. It has 16 branches in Rhode Island and one in Massachusetts (though none are listed in Connecticut). You can also open most accounts online if you provide the following information: 

  • Social Security or Tax ID number
  • Government-issued ID such as driver’s license or state ID
  • Funding information, such as another bank’s routing number and your account number

You’ll also have to become a member to open an account at PCU. To join, you must live, work or apply for a PCU Home Loan in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut, or have plans to move to one of those three states.

Mobile and Online Banking

You can access your accounts online at PCU’s website, but it doesn’t offer a mobile app. Here a few things you can do on PCU’s Online banking platform: 

  • View balances and transaction history
  • Transfer funds to internal accounts, external accounts, or to other members
  • Set account alerts
  • Pay bills
  • Secure messaging
  • Add accounts

Other banking services available online include stopping payment on checks or signing up for eStatements.

Fees 

Although PCU charges a lot of fees for its accounts, most members can avoid them. Checking accounts, for example, have monthly fees ranging from $4.95 to $12, but those fees are waived with qualifying activities such as direct deposits, minimum balances or debit card activity. You’ll want to avoid PCU’s overdraft fee, which reaches as high as $37.50. Also, excess transactions in savings and money market accounts trigger a $10 fee. 

Beyond that, most of Pawtucket’s fees are for special services. For example, you’ll pay $30 to stop payment on a check, $4 for a money order and a 1% charge on international transactions in a foreign currency. If you receive domestic or international wire transfers, you’ll pay $15 for the privilege — a bit unusual, considering that many institutions don’t charge to receive funds. Outbound wire transfers at PCU cost $20 for domestic wires and $45 for international wires. 

Availability of Funds

The PCU website doesn’t have much information about when money is available after you deposit it, so your best bet is to contact customer service at 800-298-2212 to learn more.

You can access your PCU account with its ATM/debit card and use it to make withdrawals at any Cirrus Plus, SUM, NYCE or Visa-labeled ATMs. Cash withdrawals are limited to $500 per 24-hour period.

Pawtucket Credit Union In a Nutshell

If you live or work in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut, PCU might be worth a look. The credit union has a broad array of basic banking accounts and also provides a number of loan options to members. PCU’s main drawbacks are its low-interest rates, lack of investment options and limited service area.

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Rates and fees are accurate as of April 28, 2020. Rates and fees are subject to change. 

This content is not provided by Pawtucket Credit Union. 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 Pawtucket Credit Union.

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About the Author

John Csiszar

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.

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