First Tech Federal Credit Union Review: A Customer-First Credit Union for Tech Industry Employees

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Our Take: If you haven't considered banking with a credit union, you might be missing out on lower fees, better interest rates and a more personal banking experience. First Technology Credit Union, better known as First Tech, provides membership and banking for employees of companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Amazon and Nike, as well as qualifying Oregon residents.
  • Accessibility
    4.8
  • User Experience
    4.5
  • Breadth of Products
    5.0
  • Opening Deposit Requirements
    4.8
How did we calculate this?

Choosing the right bank can be overwhelming because so many options are available. To keep things simple, consider why First Tech Federal Credit Union might or might not be a good option for you.

Pros

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Low minimum opening balances of $5 to $25 for most checking and savings accounts
  • Interest-bearing checking available
  • Variety of products and services, including loans, investing and insurance
  • Membership available through hundreds of partnering sponsor companies and other affiliations

Cons

  • Annual percentage yields aren't as competitive as high-yield accounts
  • No money market accounts
  • Limited geographic reach

About First Tech Federal Credit Union

First Tech was started by a handful of Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix employees back in 1952. The credit union now has more than 610,000 members and provides STEM scholarships each year to young, promising students.

Sponsors of

There are eight physical branches in Oregon and Washington, known as Experience Centers. Here are the requirements to become a member and qualify to bank with the credit union:

  • Work for one of First Tech’s sponsor companies such as HP, Google, Microsoft and Amazon
  • Live or work in Lane County, Oregon
  • Work for the State of Oregon
  • Belong to the Computer History Museum or Financial Fitness Association

First Tech Federal Credit Union Products

First Tech Federal Credit Union offers deposit accounts, investment services, loans and insurance products. Here’s a rundown:

Product Details
Checking Accounts
  • Three accounts available
  • $10 minimum opening balance
  • No monthly service fees
  • Earn 0.05% to 1.24% in member dividends
Savings Accounts
  • No monthly account fees
  • As little as $5 needed to open an account
  • Earn 0.05% to 4.89% in member dividends
Share Certificates
  • Terms between six months and five years
  • APY between 0.15% and 0.55%
Personal Loans
  • Personal, student refinancing and auto loans
  • Stock and CD-secured loans
Home Loans
  • Mortgages
  • Refinancing
  • Home equity
Individual Retirement Accounts
  • Traditional or Roth

First Tech offers a wide range of products that can compete with or beat the top banks. What sets the credit union apart is the additional dividend you’ll earn on your balances once you’re a member. Start Up checking and savings accounts are also available to help kids learn money skills and begin saving. Here’s a deeper dive into what First Tech has to offer:

Sponsors of

First Tech Federal Credit Union Checking Accounts

First Tech Credit Union offers two types of standard checking accounts — Carefree and Dividend Rewards — as well as a HSA Checking account designed to cover medical expenses. The Carefree account is the most basic, with no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements to worry about. You won’t have monthly fees or minimum balance requirements with a Dividend Rewards account, either, but you’ll also get unlimited ATM rebates and earn interest and dividends.

Features

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • $10 minimum to open
  • Earn 0.05% to 1.24% in member dividends

Pros

  • No monthly fees
  • Free ATM withdrawals at more than 30,000 Co-Op ATMs nationwide
  • Dividend Rewards checking pays APY up to 1.25%

Cons

  • Only two standard accounts available
  • Carefree account doesn’t earn interest or dividends

First Tech Federal Credit Union Savings Accounts

First Tech has three savings accounts: Instant Access, Carefree and Membership. All are simple to open and have no minimum balance requirements. You only need $5 to open the entry-level Membership savings account, though you’ll only get an APY up to 0.05%. The APY goes as high as 0.10% for the Carefree account and 0.15% for the Instant Access account.

Sponsors of

Features

  • As little as $5 needed to open an account
  • Free mobile banking with e-deposits
  • Earn 0.05% to 0.15% APY

Pros

  • Start Up savings account for kids earns a high 5% APY on balances up to $1,000
  • No monthly fees
  • Overdraft transfers are free

Cons

First Tech Federal Credit Union CD Accounts

First Tech Federal Credit Union’s CD is known as a Share Certificate. You’ll earn a fixed rate with these certificates, with an APY between 0.15% and 0.55%. Higher balances and longer terms fetch the best rates.

Features

  • Terms of six months to five years
  • APY as high as 0.55%

Pros

  • $500 minimum
  • No monthly or annual service fees
  • Balance can be used to secure loans

Cons

Banking Experience

First Tech serves the tech industry, so it stands to reason that innovation and the digital experience are at the forefront of banking with the credit union. Even so, its mobile app only gets mixed reviews from users.

Sponsors of

Customer Service

Customer service is available 24/7 by calling 855-855-8805. You can also send a secure message through the online banking platform or request a virtual appointment.

Accessibility and Branch Availability

First Tech doesn’t have a lot of branches, with only eight Experience Center locations in Oregon and Washington. If you prefer banking in person, you’ll want to live in one of its service areas. However, members do have access to more than 30,000 Co-Op ATMs nationwide.

Mobile and Digital Experience

First Tech offers both online and mobile banking to members. They’re designed with safety in mind and allow two-factor authentication to ensure no one has access to your accounts without your approval. Both are simply designed for ease of use. Here are some of the things you can do on the digital banking platforms:

  • Manage accounts
  • Pay people and bills
  • Send secure messages
  • Find branches and ATMs
  • Make mobile deposits
  • Pay loans
  • Manage cards
  • Set account alerts

Despite its connection to the tech industry, First Tech Federal Credit Union’s mobile app doesn’t receive the highest ratings from users compared with other banking apps. Here’s how they rate it:

Sponsors of

Convenience and Ease of Use

First Tech’s dedication to customer service means there’s always someone available when you need help. Visit an Experience Center, schedule a virtual appointment, send a secure message when you’re logged in to your account or call for help.

How To Open an Account

You can open a First Tech account at a branch or through the website. To open an account online, you’ll need to apply for membership first. You’ll be asked to provide the following:

  • Government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Social Security number
  • Contact details such as home address, email address and phone number
  • Bank and routing information if you plan on funding the account online

Key Information

Customer Service Number:

  • 855-855-8805
  • 503-644-4034 for international calls

Routing Number: 321180379

First Tech Federal Credit Union Fees

First Tech charges fees for certain activities and services. Here’s a quick look:

Type Amount
Monthly maintenance $0
Out-of-network ATM $2 per transaction
Stop payment $20
Cashier’s check $0 (limit three per day)
Wire transfer (incoming) $5
Wire transfer (outgoing) $20 domestic, $50 international
NSF/overdraft/returned item $33
Sponsors of

First Tech Federal Credit Union vs. Competitors

No First Tech Federal Credit Union review would be complete without a look at how it stacks up against rivals. Here’s how it compares to other credit unions in its area:

Credit Union Best For
First Tech
Tech industry employees who want fee-free checking and savings accounts
BECU Customers in the Northwest looking for member discounts
OnPoint Community Credit Union Oregon residents looking for a strong community banking presence
Alliant Credit Union Lower fees for certain activities

First Tech Federal Credit Union vs. BECU

BECU was established in 1935 by a group of Boeing employees and currently accepts membership from qualified applicants in select counties in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The credit union touts membership perks such as discounts to sporting events, home shows, auto shows and local fairs. First Tech is the better choice if you work for a major tech company, or live or work in Lane County, Oregon.

First Tech Federal Credit Union vs. OnPoint Community Credit Union

OnPoint doesn’t have the range of services offered by First Tech, but it does have a bigger presence in Oregon with 36 branches and membership available to residents of 28 counties. First Tech has the edge when it comes to monthly fees — OnPoint charges fees for certain deposit accounts, whereas First Tech has no monthly fees.

First Tech Federal Credit Union vs. Alliant Credit Union

First Tech beats Alliant when it comes to rates and account options. However, Alliant’s fees for certain items are slightly lower, which may make a difference if your account is occasionally overdrawn or you receive wires. An Alliant NSF fee is $25, compared to First Tech’s $33. Also, incoming wire transfers are free at Alliant, while First Tech charges $5 each.

Final Take

First Tech Federal Credit Union provides a comprehensive lineup of banking, investment, loans and insurance products and services. It’s a decent option if you’re a qualifying Oregon resident or work for a sponsor company. And the best part: It’s easy to sign up for membership and open an account.

Editor’s Favorite

With the Dividend Rewards checking account, you won’t have to worry about minimum monthly balances or maintenance fees. You’ll also earn up to 1.25% on your balances and get reimbursements on ATM withdrawal fees for a hassle-free banking experience.

First Tech Federal Credit Union FAQ

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about First Tech Federal Credit Union.
  • Does First Tech offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • Although First Tech does not currently list any free promotions at the moment, past offers from First Tech included a $1,000 bonus for Microsoft employees who opened a checking account and credit card and set up direct deposit.
  • How do you become a member of First Tech Credit Union?
    • Membership is open to employees of the State of Oregon or partner tech companies; those who live or work in Lane County, Oregon; or are members of the Computer History Museum or Financial Fitness Association. You'll need to sign up using a photo ID and Social Security number.
  • Does First Tech Credit Union use Zelle?
    • You can send money using Zelle when you bank with First Tech. And it's free.
  • Can I add a joint account holder at First Tech?
    • You can add an additional account holder when you apply for an account online or by calling customer service after you've opened an account.
  • Does First Tech Federal Credit Union have physical branches?

Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Jan. 27, 2021.

This content is not provided by First Tech Federal 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 First Tech Federal Credit Union.

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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.

First Tech Federal Credit Union Review: A Customer-First Credit Union for Tech Industry Employees
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