America First Credit Union Review: Competitive Rates and a Wide Selection of Accounts
Minimum Opening Deposits
- Wide selection of savings accounts
- Easy membership criteria
- Competitive rates
- Service area limited to a few Western states
- Money Market Checking has a high minimum balance requirement
About America First Credit Union
America First Credit Union was established March 16, 1939, in Salt Lake City. Over the past eight decades, America First has grown to almost $16 billion in assets, more than 1.1 million members and 128 full-service branches.
America First Credit Union has a full range of banking products, including checking, savings and money market accounts. Membership in the credit union is open to anyone who lives, volunteers, worships, attends school or works in its service area. GOBankingRates has named America First one of the Top 100 Banks of 2022 in its annual rankings. Read on to find out more about what this credit union offers.
America First Credit Union offers two checking accounts. Here are the details for each one.
Classic Checking Account
America First Credit Union’s Classic Checking is an interest-bearing account with no minimum opening deposit and no monthly or low-balance fees. The account pays a 0.05% dividend on balances of $500 or more.
Premium Checking Account
The Premium Checking account is also an interest-bearing account with no minimum opening deposit and no low-balance fees, but it does have a $6 monthly fee. However, the credit union will waive the fee if you meet all the following three requirements:
- Direct deposit into your account of at least $500
- 20 or more transactions with your Visa credit or debit card
- Average daily checking balance of at least $1,500
The account pays a 0.05% dividend on balances of $500 or more. And it also comes with some extra perks and benefits, such as ATM fee offsets, mobile phone protection and identity protection.
America First Credit Union has a variety of savings accounts to help you meet your savings goals. In addition to the accounts listed here, the credit union also offers a Health Savings Account, a Coverdell Education Savings Account and a Charitable/Memorial Account.
Share Savings Account
The Share Savings account is part of your membership at America First Credit Union, so it’s a given you will have one if you choose to bank here. It has a minimum opening balance and a minimum earning balance of $1 and pays a 0.05% dividend on the account’s balance.
Wedding Savings Account
The happy couple (or another interested party) can open a Wedding Savings account to help accumulate funds for your upcoming honeymoon, a down payment on a home or something else. America First will provide complimentary registry cards to include with your wedding announcements and invitations.
Youth Savings Account
The Youth Savings account requires no annual fees or minimum deposit, which makes it affordable to open. Plus, it has competitive dividends and flexible terms. America First does not publish the dividend rates for this account, so you will need to call the credit union to find out.
Student Savings Account
America First Credit Union’s Student Savings account is designed for people under 26. The account will be converted to a Money Market Savings on the first of the month following the account holder’s 26th birthday. The account offers the following tiered dividend rates, according to balance range:
- $0.01 to $499.99: 0.50%
- $500 to $999.99: 0.40%
- $1,000+: 0.05%
Money Market Accounts
America First has two money market accounts. Here’s a look at each option.
Money Market Checking Account
The Money Market Checking account has no monthly fees, but it does have a $10,000 minimum opening balance and a minimum earning balance of $2,000. The account pays a 0.05% dividend across all balance tiers from $2,000 to $250,000+ and includes a customizable debit card.
Money Market Savings Account
The Money Market Savings account does not have any monthly fees or a minimum opening balance requirement. The minimum earning balance is $0.01. The dividends vary between 0.05% and 0.15%, depending on your balance tier.
America First Credit Union’s CDs come in a variety of terms and have rates higher than the national average.
Regular Certificate Accounts
Regular CDs are offered in terms of three months to five years and require a $500 minimum opening deposit and a $500 minimum earning balance. Terms range from three months to five years, and rates increase with longer terms, ranging from 0.20%-0.75% APY.
Bump-Rate Certificate Accounts
While most CDs have a locked-in rate for the entire term, Bump-Rate CDs give you the option of bumping up your CD rate once during its term, which can help you earn more if rates rise. Terms range from three months to five years, and rates range from 0.05% -0.60% APY, with longer terms typically paying higher rates. A $500 minimum opening deposit is required.
Dedicated Savings Account
The Dedicated Savings account requires no minimum balance and allows you to pick the deposit and the term of the account. Minimum automatic monthly deposits of $10 are required and term lengths vary between three months and five years. Account holders can deposit a maximum of $10,000 per month. APYs for this account range from 0.20% to 0.75%.
Flexible Certificate Accounts
Flexible Certificate accounts require a $500 minimum opening deposit and are offered in a 12-month term at a 0.30% APY. You can make additional deposits of up to $10,000 per month, and you can withdraw funds penalty-free during the first five days of each quarter.
Ladder Certificate Accounts
If you’re interested in laddering your CD accounts to get higher long-term rates while still retaining access to a portion of your invested funds, America First offers terms from three to 60 months with rates of 0.20%-0.75% APY. A $500 minimum opening deposit is required for each CD.
America First Credit Union got an overall score of 4.4 from GOBankingRates due to the following outstanding features.
Minimum Opening Deposits
Most of America First’s accounts have no minimum opening deposits, which makes it affordable to open more than one account at a time. The credit union’s CD accounts do require a $500 minimum opening deposit, which is quite reasonable compared to the $1,000 and $2,500 minimum opening deposits some other banks require. And while the Money Market Checking account’s minimum opening deposit of $10,000 is somewhat high, you can open a Money Market Savings account instead with no minimum deposit.
Monthly fees can drain your bank account over time. However, America First keeps monthly fees to a minimum. Out of its two checking options, only one has a monthly fee. However, the fee is low, and the credit union gives options for waiving it. None of America First’s other accounts — savings, money market or CDs — have monthly fees.
America First’s mobile app gets high scores from users. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 in the App Store and 4.8 out of 5 in Google Play. The app offers several perks, including tools to help you track your spending and monitor your budget.
You also can add accounts from other banks and credit unions to keep everything in one place. Biometric authentication is available as an additional layer of security for your account.
While America First Credit Union does not have the highest rates available, it does offer competitive rates that are worth considering — especially if you live in its service area and find that its products and services are a good match for your financial lifestyle and goals. For example, it pays up to 0.75% APY on more than one of its CD accounts, up to 0.50% APY on the Student Savings account and up to 0.70% APY on the Dedicated Savings account.
America First Credit Union has an impressive number of products for a comparatively small financial institution. Although its service area is restricted to just a few states, it’s pretty easy for most people to join.
America First Credit Union vs. Competitors
If you’re considering joining America First Credit Union, it helps to compare it to similar credit unions. Here’s a look at how it stacks up against other credit unions.
America First Credit Union vs. Mountain America Credit Union
Mountain America Credit Union offers Youth Certificates, which is not among America First’s options when it comes to CDs. Even so, America First offers a variety of CD accounts, including Bump-Rate, Ladder and Flexible certificate accounts, which gives you more options when it comes to saving.
America First Credit Union vs. Goldenwest Credit Union
Goldenwest Credit Union offers one more checking account option than America First does. However, America First offers four savings accounts, not counting health savings accounts and education savings accounts, whereas Goldenwest only offers two savings accounts in addition to its HSAs and ESAs. And more savings options equal being able to make a better choice for your savings goals.
America First Credit Union vs. Utah Community Credit Union
Like Mountain America Credit Union, Utah Community Credit Union also offers CDs for children, while America First does not. However, America First has higher certificate of deposit rates than UCCU. For example, UCCU’s Standard Certificate rate for 60 months is 0.65% APY, while America First’s rate for the same term on its Regular Certificate is 0.75% APY.
America First Credit Union offers many of the accounts and features that the big banks have, but with other perks such as more personalized service and better interest rates on certain accounts. Those who live in America First’s service area can get all their financial products in one place and save money while doing so.
America First Credit Union FAQHere are answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about America First Credit Union.
- Which states have America First Credit Union locations?
- America First Credit Union has locations in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
- What was the original name of America First Credit Union?
- The original name was Fort Douglas Civilian Employees Credit Union.
- Is America First Credit Union insured?
- Yes, accounts at America First Credit Union are insured for up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.
Karen Doyle contributed to the reporting for this article.
Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Jan. 10, 2022.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by America First 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 America First Credit Union.
This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.