Desert Financial Credit Union Review: An Arizona Credit Union Available to Most Arizona Residents

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Our Take: Banking with a credit union has its perks, including lower fees and higher interest rates than you'll find at most traditional banks. The catch is, not everyone qualifies to become a credit union member. From that standpoint, Desert Financial Credit Union, or DFCU, is pretty accessible since it accepts most residents of Arizona. DFCU currently boasts around 325,000 members. Keep reading this in-depth Desert Financial Credit Union review to decide if it's worth switching to.
  • Accessibility
    4.8
  • Breadth of Products
    5.0
  • Opening Deposit Requirements
    4.8
  • Fees
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Free checking
  • Cash back and discounts through the Relationship Rewards program
  • Courtesy overdraft coverage available
  • Low minimum opening deposit of $25 for savings account
  • Comprehensive and highly rated mobile banking app

Cons

  • Limited to select Arizona residents and family members
  • Many of the same fees charged at most traditional banks

About Desert Financial Credit Union

Desert Financial Credit Union is a statewide credit union with 52 branches in Arizona. It was founded nearly 80 years ago and focuses on serving local communities with a members-first philosophy. To bank with DFCU, you must live, attend school, volunteer or worship in Arizona, be related to someone who banks at the credit union, or be an employee.

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Desert Financial Credit Union Products

Desert Financial Credit Union provides you with a range of banking services exclusive to members. Here’s a quick look.

Product Details
Checking Account
Savings Account
  • $25 minimum opening balance
  • Must open a Membership Savings Account once you become a member
  • Annual percentage yield up to 0.10%
Money Market Account
CD Accounts
  • Terms between six months and five years
  • Earn up to 0.90% APY
  • No monthly or annual service fees
Personal Loans
  • Personal, student and auto loans available
  • Signature loans have terms of up to 48 months
Home Loans
  • Mortgages
  • Refinancing
  • Renovation
IRAs
  • Traditional or Roth

Desert Financial Credit Union provides a full lineup of products and services similar to most major banks. Deposit accounts, loans and wealth planning are all available under one umbrella. Read on for a closer look at some of its products.

Desert Financial Credit Union Checking Account

DFCU only offers one checking account: Free Checking. But the good news is, it lives up to its name. There are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. Before you can open the checking account, however, you’ll need to sign up for a membership with the credit union and open a savings account with at least $25. Here’s more:

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Features

  • No monthly service fees
  • Rewards Members eligible for annual cash back based on the number of transactions and direct deposits as well as account balances and loan activity
  • Comes with a linked member savings account

Pros

  • More than 50 physical branches
  • Access to online, mobile and voice app banking
  • Free budget tracking tool available
  • Free ATM withdrawals at more than 30,000 co-op ATMs nationwide

Cons

  • Only one type of checking account available
  • Balances do not earn interest

Desert Financial Credit Union Savings Account

Desert Financial’s Membership Savings account is the foundation of banking with the credit union. You’ll need to open the savings account to become a member and before you open other types of accounts. Fortunately, you only need $25 to get started.

Features

  • APY as high as 0.10%
  • Unlimited transactions at Desert Financial ATMs

Pros

  • Low $25 opening balance
  • Unlimited over-the-counter transactions

Cons

  • $2 fee for each excess transaction
  • APY not as high as at other banks

Desert Financial Money Market Account

Desert Financial doesn’t offer interest-bearing checking accounts, so a good option is a money market account. You can write checks and pay bills with this account while earning interest on your balance. You’ll need at least $2,000 to open a Desert Financial Credit Union money market account, but there are many perks when you do.

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Features

  • Unlimited at-the-counter transactions
  • Check-writing capabilities

Pros

  • APY as high as 0.45%, depending on the balance
  • Tiered interest rates

Cons

  • Monthly low balance fee of $15
  • High opening deposit

Desert Financial Credit Union CD Account

Desert Financial Credit Union’s CD is known as a Savings Certificate. Funding one will guarantee you an interest rate for a set period of time. The best CD rates are typically available when you lock in your money for several years, but make sure you won’t need the funds or you’ll be subject to an early withdrawal penalty.

Features

  • Terms of six months to five years available
  • APY as high as 0.90%

Pros

  • Low $1,000 minimum
  • No monthly or annual service fees
  • Automatic renewal available

Cons

  • Automatic renewal adjusts to current rate, which may be lower than the past rate

Banking Experience

DFCU is best for Arizona residents who work or live near a branch since counter transactions are free and unlimited for savings and money market accounts. If you can’t make it to a branch, the Desert Financial Credit Union mobile app and online banking platform are great tools that let you handle a lot of bank activities anytime and anywhere.

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Customer Service

Customer service is available at a branch or by calling 602-433-7000. You can also email or chat live. Chat hours are on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

Accessibility and Branch Availability

There are 52 Desert Financial Credit Union branches throughout Arizona. Some are located in Walmart or Safeway stores.

Mobile and Digital Experience

The Desert Financial mobile banking app earns high marks from users. Bank encryption is standard and integrates with most smartphone security features such as password lock and Touch ID. Here are some of the things you can do on the app:

  • Make deposits
  • Transfer money
  • Pay bills
  • Set budget goals
  • Review transactions and balances
  • Secure messaging
  • Find branches and ATMs
  • Receive account alerts

Convenience and Ease of Use

The Desert Financial app ranks high among users for its easy-to-navigate interface. Following are Desert Financial Credit Union reviews for the app from customers:

How To Open an Account

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You can open a Desert Financial Credit Union account at a branch, over the phone or online. If you want to open an account online, you’ll need to apply for membership and provide the following information:

  • Government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Social Security number
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Bank account number and routing number if you want to transfer funds from an existing bank account

Key Information

Customer Service Number: 602-433-7000

Routing Number: 122187238

Desert Financial Credit Union Fees

Although some DFCU accounts come with no monthly service fees, you might face fees for certain activities. Here’s a quick rundown:

Type Amount
Low balance $15 for money market account, although it can be waived if you keep a minimum $2,000 daily balance.
Returned item $35
Cashier’s check $5
Wire transfer (incoming) $10 domestic
Wire transfer (outgoing) $20 domestic, $60 international
NSF $35

Desert Financial Credit Union vs. Competitors

Before deciding on a financial institution, it’s always a good idea to compare it to others. Here’s how Desert Financial Credit Union stacks up against some of its competitors.

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Credit Union Best For
Desert Financial Credit Union Arizona customers who prefer working with a community-focused credit union
Arizona Federal Credit Union Families
OneAZ Credit Union Customers in central Arizona
Navy Federal Credit Union Military members and their family

Desert Financial Credit Union vs. Arizona Federal Credit Union

Both credit unions are good choices in Arizona, but Arizona Federal offers checking for young adults and teens, which might make it a better option for families. However, AFCU has a small monthly service fee and minimum opening deposit for its standard checking account. Desert Financial has the edge here by offering completely fee-free checking with no minimum opening deposit requirement.

Desert Financial Credit Union vs. OneAZ Credit Union

OneAZ has fewer than half the branches available that DFCU has, and most are concentrated in the central part of the state near Tuscon, Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff. If you live in this region and prefer to deal with a smaller credit union, OneAZ might be a better option. However, if having access to branches across the state is important, Desert Financial is the better pick.

Desert Financial Credit Union vs. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is exclusively for members of the U.S. military, National Guard and Department of Defense and their family members. If you qualify for membership, you’ll have access to one of the biggest and highest-rated credit unions in the country, with 9 million members and awards from Fortune and Forrester’s for company culture and customer service. But Desert Federal Credit Union is the better choice for non-military customers who live in Arizona.

Final Take

Desert Financial Credit Union is a good alternative to traditional banks because of its community-oriented service, low fees and better-than-average APY on savings accounts. If you’re a qualifying Arizona resident, membership means you’ll have access to banking services and rewards you might not find at major banks.

Editor’s Favorite

The Relationship Rewards Program lets you earn points for savings and purchases which you can use for free checks and other products, member discounts, lower interest rates on loans and cash back.

Desert Financial Credit Union FAQ

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Desert Financial Credit Union.
  • Who qualifies for membership to Desert Financial Credit Union?
    • DFCU membership is open to Arizona residents, students and volunteers except for those in Apache, Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz counties, along with relatives of members and employees of Desert Financial.
  • How long does it take to open an account with Desert Financial?
    • Opening an account online is fairly fast -- you should be good to go in 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how you open the account.
  • Does Desert Financial Credit Union offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • No cash bonuses for new DFCU accounts are available at this time, but it's always worth asking before you open an account.

Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Jan. 23, 2021.

This content is not provided by Desert Financial 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 Desert Financial Credit Union.

About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

Desert Financial Credit Union Review: An Arizona Credit Union Available to Most Arizona Residents
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