Navy Federal Credit Union Review: Serving Those Who Have Served

GoBankingRates Score

Navy Federal Credit Union
4.7
SCORE
GOBankingRates Best Banks 2023 scores and rankings are objectively determined by our research/editorial team. Our scoring formula weighs several factors that differ from category to category depending on what consumers want from varying products and banks.
badge
Quick Take: Navy Federal Credit Union provides banking services for those who have served in the military or have worked for the Department of Defense, or immediate family members of those who qualify. If you are eligible, you can take advantage of its full slate of banking products and services and enjoy some perks, such as fee-free checking with no deposit minimums and round-the-clock, personalized customer service.
  • Checking Accounts
    4.8
  • Savings Accounts
    4.5
  • CD Accounts
    4.8
  • Banking Experience
    4.8
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • 24/7 customer service
  • No monthly fees on most checking accounts
  • Low required deposits

Cons

  • Restricted membership
  • Limited number of branches
  • Relatively low savings rate

Navy Federal Credit Union Overview

Navy Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, has over 10 million members and serves members of the armed forces, the Department of Defense, veterans and military dependents. NFCU has 350 branches, but also other options if you do not need to do your banking in person.

When it comes to accessing your money, however, a free ATM will likely be nearby, even if you’re not near a branch. The credit union has a co-op network of more than 30,000 ATMs. With features like round-the-clock customer service and fee-free accounts, it’s no wonder GOBankingRates named Navy Federal Credit Union one of the Best Credit Unions of 2023.

Key Features

Navy Federal Credit Union earned a score of 4.7 out of 5 stars with the following features.

NFCU Checking Accounts

NFCU has a variety of checking accounts, which all earn dividends and have no minimum opening deposit requirements.

  • Free Active Duty Checking: This account is designed for active duty, retired military or reserve military members. Other features include the following:
    • No fee
    • Get your military pay one day earlier if you have one qualifying military direct deposit of net pay within the first 90 days of account opening and don’t stop the direct deposits for more than 90 days
    • Free personalized checks
    • $240 of ATM rebates per year — $20 per statement period
  • Free Everyday Checking: Automatic overdraft savings protection transfers money from your linked savings account — without having to opt-in — at no fee
  • Free Easy Checking: No fee and no age restriction or military membership requirements and checking account protection to avoid overdraft fees.
  • Flagship Checking: This account does have a $10 fee, which is waivable if you maintain a daily account balance of $1,500.

NFCU Savings Accounts

NFCU offers one basic savings account option.

  • Share Savings: This account is required to become an NFCU member. Not only does the account have competitive rates, but it also includes digital banking and 24/7 customer service.
    • As long as you meet membership qualifications, it only requires a $5 deposit.

Once you become an NFCU member, you can open additional savings accounts — including a custodial savings account for minor children, an education savings account or an IRA — by opening a Share Savings Account. 

NFCU Money Market Accounts

NFCU offers two money market accounts. If you’re interested in earning more than a standard savings account can provide, an NFCU money market account might be worth your while. To earn dividends, however, you’ll need to maintain a minimum balance of at least $2,500. You can add money to your account whenever you like and make withdrawals via checks or an ATM.

The Jumbo Money Market Savings Account has the same features as the Money Market Savings Account. However, if your account balance is $100,000 or more, you can earn jumbo dividend rates, which are higher than the regular rates paid on the money market savings account.

NFCU CD Accounts

NFCU offers a selection of CDs, including standard and special certificates. Many of these CD, or certificate of deposit, options allow you to add money to your account at any time.

  • Standard Certificate: You can open this with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Terms are three months to seven years and offer an APY as high as for the longest term.
  • EasyStart Certificate: Easy to open because they require a minimum deposit of just $50. Terms are available from six months to 24 months.
  • Special EasyStart Certificate: Has a 12-month term, offers a APY. The minimum opening deposit is $50, and the maximum balance is $3,000. Additional deposits are allowed at any time up to the maximum balance.
  • SaveFirst Certificate: Requires just a $5 minimum opening deposit. After opening your account, you can add money at any time. Terms are from three months to 60 months.

NFCU Banking Experience

NFCU’s 24/7 stateside customer service is the exception when it comes to financial institutions. Knowing you’ll never be without a credit union representative to assist you is well worth the peace of mind. GOBankingRates has ranked it amongst the Best Credit Unions of 2023

Account maintenance and minimum balance fees can really add up at some institutions, but that’s not the case at NFCU. Monthly fees are nonexistent with all but one of NFCU’s checking accounts. Plus, the credit union’s savings accounts don’t have any monthly fees either, and you’ll receive free checks, too.

NFCU Mobile App

Navy Federal Credit Union provides around-the-clock secure communication. It has a rating of 4.9 stars on the App Store and 4.1 stars on Google Play.

NFCU Customer Service

NFCU has a variety of customer service options. 

  • Call 888-842-6328 within the U.S. around the clock to speak to a representative.
  • Call toll free from 12 different countries for an international collect call to speak to a representative
  • Log in to online banking and send a secure message or access help via chat or social media.

Comparable Credit Union Options

If you’re still not sure whether NFCU is right for you, take a look at how it compares to two other credit unions.

Navy Federal Credit Union vs. Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers additional paths to membership if you don’t have close ties to the military. However, NFCU has better starting APRs on its credit cards than Pentagon Federal Credit Union does.

Navy Federal Credit Union vs. Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union offers more ways to join and extra savings account options compared to Navy Federal’s offerings. However, NFCU’s Special EasyStart Certificate has a much lower minimum opening deposit than Alliant’s 12-month CD and offers a higher APY.

Final Take

Navy Federal Credit Union is best for those who meet the membership qualifications of being former or current military personnel or a family member of those eligible. With such benefits as fee-free accounts, a large ATM network and 24/7 customer service, NFCU has low-cost banking options with higher-than-average dividends.

If you believe Navy Federal Credit Union will meet your financial needs, the first step is to open a Share Savings account.

Navy Federal Credit Union FAQ

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Navy Federal Credit Union.
  • Is it worth joining Navy Federal Credit Union?
    • If you meet NFCU membership qualifications, they are a good option to join as they are ranked highly for their 24/7 customer service and low-cost banking options.
  • Is Navy Federal Credit Union a good bank?
    • Navy Federal Credit Union is a great banking choice for former or current military personnel, those who have worked at the Department of Defense and family members of those who qualify.
  • What's so good about Navy Federal Credit Union?
    • Navy Federal Credit Union has many low-cost banking options with higher-than-average dividends. It was also ranked one of the Best Credit Unions of 2023 by GOBankingRates.
  • Which is better: Navy Federal or USAA?
    • None of USAA's checking accounts include monthly service fees, while NFCU's Flagship Checking does include a service fee of $10 if you don't meet the minimum required balance of $1,500. But Navy Federal has a much wider variety of checking account options than USAA's two offerings. It is best to do a side-by-side comparison to make sure whatever bank you choose meets your individual needs.

Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 16, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

To discover the Best Credit Unions, GOBankingRates looked exclusively at the 50 credit unions in terms of total asset size that had available published data. To determine rankings, GOBankingRates looked at the following factors: (1) total assets as sourced from the NCUA; (2) number of branch locations as sourced from the NCUA; (3) minimum deposit to open a checking account; (4) monthly checking fee ratio (percentage based on the minimum to avoid the fee compared to the monthly fee itself); (5) checking APY; (6) minimum to open a savings account; (7) minimum balance needed to achieve savings APY; (8) savings APY; (9) minimum to open a 12-month CD account; (10) 12-month CD APY; (11) 60-month CD APY; (12) customer service options offered (24/7 customer service and live chat with a human); (13) Bauer rating (out of 5 stars); (14) products/services offered (auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, investment services and insurance); and (15) the average mobile app rating between the Android and Apple app stores. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being best. Factors (1), (2) and (12) were weighted 0.5 times, and factor (14) was weighted 2 times. For all savings and checking account data, only the basic accounts/products offered at each institution were analyzed.

Is this your bank?

Stay Up to Date on the Latest From Your Bank

Keep a good thing going with top financial tips and advice from GOBankingRates.

Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

Thank You For Signing Up!

Get ready to receive top financial tips from the experts at GOBankingRates.

Take Advantage of our Best Offer(s)

BEFORE YOU GO

See Today's Best
Banking Offers