Golden 1 Credit Union Review: A Wide Variety of Fee-Free Accounts
- Largest credit union in California
- Broad range of accounts
- Nearly all accounts are fee-free
- Fee-free access to more than 30,000 ATMs in the CO-OP network
- Branches in California only
- High overdraft fees
- High outbound wire transfer fees
About Golden 1 Credit Union
Golden 1 Credit Union is a California-based institution formed in 1933 in the state’s capital, Sacramento. Today, it has grown to be the largest credit union in California — and one of the largest in the United States, with over 1 million members and over $15 billion in assets. Even GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Credit Unions of 2021.
Golden 1 offers a wide range of banking products, from checking and savings accounts to CDs, IRAs, credit cards, insurance, investment services, and home, auto and personal loans.
Golden 1 Credit Union Banking Products
As befitting the largest credit union in California, Golden 1 offers an impressive array of banking products. Here’s more.
|Money Market Account||
Golden 1 Credit Union Checking Accounts
Golden 1 Credit Union offers two primary checking accounts — Free Checking and Premium Checking — and three additional checking accounts: New Generation Checking, Freedom Checking and Student Checking.
- Free Checking has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements.
- Premium Checking has an $8 monthly fee that is waivable with a monthly direct deposit, $500 daily balance, aggregate $5,000 balance or enrollment in Golden Prestige.
- $25 minimum for Premium Checking
- New Generation and Freedom Checking are designed for teenage account holders under age 18.
- To qualify for Student Checking, you must be at least 17.
- No monthly fees or minimum balances are required for all three youth accounts.
- All checking accounts have access to 30,000 free ATMs through the CO-OP network.
- Options to cover most customers
- Three youth checking accounts
- Only one Golden 1 Credit Union checking account pays interest.
- Top APY is 0.15% APY and requires at least $100,000 on deposit.
Golden 1 Credit Union Savings Accounts
Golden 1 Credit Union has one primary savings account and a host of secondary savings accounts, including a Flex Savings account, a Youth Savings account, a Santa Saver account and a Coverdell Education Savings account. Here’s what you need to know about Golden 1’s regular savings account.
- No monthly maintenance fee
- $1 minimum to open
- $0.01 minimum balance to earn APY
- No minimum balance fee
- Tiered interest rates of 0.05% for balances up to $10,000 and 0.08% for higher balances
- Low minimum opening deposit establishes you as a member.
- Regular Savings Account offers a decent APY for a no-fee account.
- APYs are below those available from online banks.
Golden 1 Credit Union Money Market Account
Golden 1 Credit Union offers a single money market account. Here are the details.
- $100 minimum opening deposit
- No monthly fee
- No minimum balance to earn APY
- Tiered interest rates ranging from 0.10% APY to 0.45% APY
- No minimum balance requirements
- No fees
- High APY of up to 0.45%
- $250,000 deposit required to earn the top APY of 0.45%
Golden 1 Credit Union CD Accounts
Golden 1 Credit Union calls its line of CDs, Term Savings Certificates. Here’s more.
- Terms from three months to 60 months
- $500 minimum
- Dividends paid and compounded monthly
- Automatic renewal at maturity, with a seven-day grace period
- APYs range from 0.20% to 1.10%
- Higher yields available with longer terms and higher balances
- Wide range of CDs, with maturities from three months to 60 months
- Longer-term rates for balances of $100,000 or more are well above average.
- Maturities are limited to five years.
- APYs for lower dollar amounts are far below the top rates offered for deposits of at least $100,000.
Golden 1 Credit Union is only located in a single state, in California. However, it’s still the sixth-largest credit union in America, and it has a broad range of capabilities commensurate with that title.
Physical Branch Locations
Golden 1 Credit Union has over 70 branch locations sprinkled throughout California.
Mobile & Digital Experience
Golden 1 Credit Union has a comprehensive suite of digital and mobile banking services. Available features include:
- Free email or text account alerts
- Text banking, including access to account balances, transactions and ATM locations
- Mobile deposit via the Golden 1 app on Android or iOS
- Face or fingerprint sign-in
- Online bill payment and PopMoney transfers
- Mobile wallet
- Money transfers
- Free credit score check via Credit Sense
The Golden 1 Credit Union mobile apps receive high praise from customers, with ratings of 4.6 stars from Google Play users and 4.8 stars from App Store reviewers.
How To Open an Account
You can open an account at any Golden 1 Credit Union branch or online via the credit union’s website. You’ll need to provide the following information to get started:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- State-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or California ID showing your current address
To open an account at Golden 1 Credit Union, you must first become a member. Membership is open to all Californians.
You can reach Golden 1 Credit Union customer service at 877-GOLDEN1 or 877-465-3361. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Customer Service: 877-GOLDEN1 or 877-465-3361
Routing Number: 321175261
Locations: Golden 1 Credit Union Location Near You
Golden 1 Credit Union Fees
Golden 1 Credit Union doesn’t charge the high monthly maintenance fees that many banks do. The credit union’s Premium Checking account does have an $8 monthly fee, but that’s easily waived with a monthly direct deposit, average $500 daily balance or other qualifying activities. Beyond that, the credit union’s checking, savings, money market and CD accounts have no monthly fees.
Certain services or actions trigger relatively high fees at Golden 1, however. An overdraft, for example, costs $29.50 per transaction. And while that fee is not as high as at some institutions, it’s still quite a hit.
If you intend to send outbound wires, Golden 1 might not be the solution for you, as it charges $25 for an outgoing domestic wire and $40 for an outbound international wire. Rather than waiving or rebating out-of-network ATM withdrawals or transfers, Golden 1 charges a $2 per transaction fee instead.
Golden 1 Credit Union vs. Competitors
You may wonder what the difference is when it comes to credit unions vs. banks. Here’s a look at how Golden 1 Credit Union stacks up against three major banking institutions.
|Golden 1 Credit Union||No-fee accounts and decent APYs for Californians|
|Bank of America||Investment arm, Merrill Lynch|
|Chase Bank||Credit card lineup, national branch access|
|Wells Fargo||Rewards program|
Golden 1 Credit Union vs. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has a fairly robust rewards program — something Golden 1 has yet to add to its arsenal. However, Golden 1 Credit Union dominates Wells Fargo when it comes to CD APYs.
Golden 1 Credit Union vs. Chase Bank
Golden 1 is no match when it comes to branch access versus Chase, which offers 4,700 branches across the United States. Overall, Golden 1 Credit Union tops Chase when it comes to fee-free accounts and APYs, particularly on checking and CD accounts.
Golden 1 Credit Union vs. Bank of America
Bank of America’s greatest strength over Golden 1 Credit Union, besides its accessibility in 50 states, is its investment arm, Merrill Lynch. Investors can make commission-free trades using the Merrill Edge program or work with a full-service financial advisor. But Golden 1 takes the crown over Bank of America when it comes to APYs on its accounts.
Golden 1 Credit Union is the largest in California for good reason — it provides accounts and services that customers need and want. With membership open to all California residents, those living on the West Coast have easy access to a one-stop shop when it comes to their financial accounts. Savings, money market and CD accounts are all fee-free, and there’s even a free checking account for those so inclined.
The drawbacks of Golden 1 Credit Union are its service-related fees. The credit union charges a $29.50 overdraft fee, and transactions at out-of-network ATMs cost $2 each. Outgoing domestic wires are expensive at $25 each, as are international outbound wires at $40 each.
More Low-Fee Banks
- Capital One
- Chime Bank
- Discover Bank
- FNBO Direct
- Synchrony Bank
- TCF Bank
- Texas Capital Bank
- Quontic Bank
- Citizens Equity First Credit Union
- Ent Credit Union
- GreenState Credit Union
- Hudson Valley Credit Union
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
- Suncoast Credit Union
- Wings Financial Credit Union
You can get nearly any type of banking account you’d like at Golden 1 Credit Union, and most of those can be had with no monthly fee.
Golden 1 Credit Union is an easy way for Californians to get access to extensive bank accounts and services without paying exorbitant account-related fees. The bank’s CD rates are quite good, and while not as high as the rates available at online banks, the APYs on the bank’s checking and savings accounts are better than what’s found at some major national banks like Chase.
Golden 1 Credit Union FAQHere are answers to some of Golden 1 Credit Union's more commonly asked questions.
- Who can join Golden 1?
- Golden 1 Credit Union membership is open to all Californians.
- Is Golden 1 FDIC insured?
- As a credit union, Golden 1 is covered by the National Credit Union Association, not the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. However, the insurance is essentially identical, covering the same $250,000 per depositor.
- Does Golden 1 have Zelle?
- Golden 1 doesn't currently offer Zelle. However, customers can transfer money to their own external accounts using online banking, and they can pay and receive money from third parties with PopMoney.
- How many branches does Golden 1 Credit Union have?
- Golden 1 Credit Union has over 70 California-based branches.
- Does Golden 1 have mobile deposit?
- Yes, you can make remote deposits via the Golden 1 mobile app.
- What ATMs can I use with Golden 1?
- You can use more than 240 Golden 1 ATMs or more than 30,000 CO-OP ATMs nationwide, free of charge.
- Does Golden 1 offer free money for signing up for an account?
- Golden 1 doesn't currently have any new account promotions, however, has been known to offer specials in the past on their banking products. Check the official website for more details and information on the latest.
Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 12, 2020.
This content is not provided by Golden 1 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 Golden 1 Credit Union.