Patelco Credit Union Review: Great Rates With Membership Benefits

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Patelco Credit Union
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.
Quick Take: Patelco Credit Union offers a complete array of financial services products to allow you to do all of your banking in one place. When you open an account, you become a member of the credit union, which is owned by members, not shareholders. This means that Patelco can offer better interest rates because it doesn't need to worry about generating profits for shareholders.
  • Checking Accounts
  • Savings Accounts
  • CD Accounts
  • Banking Experience
How did we calculate this?


  • Use of more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
  • Competitive rates
  • Special membership perks and discounts


  • Restrictive membership criteria
  • Limited branch availability

Patelco Credit Union Overview

Patelco Credit Union is considered one of the largest credit unions in the U.S., with more than 400,000 members and $8 billion in assets. It primarily serves the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California and has 37 local branches and over 6,000 shared branches.

Membership in Patelco is open to those who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Live, work, attend school or worship in Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Marin, Merced, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus or Yolo counties, or the cities of Bakersfield, Eureka, McKinleyville or Santa Cruz
  • Enrolled at or an alumnus of San Francisco State University, Cal State East Bay or the University of California, Berkeley
  • Employed by one of more than 1,100 member companies or associations

You also can join Patelco if you have a family member or roommate who is a current member or if you join the Financial Fitness Association.

Read on to find out why GOBankingRates has named Patelco Credit Union as one of the Best Credit Unions of 2023.

Key Features

Here are the key features of Patelco Credit Union that helped it earn an overall score of 4.3 out of 5 from GOBankingRates.

Checking Accounts

Patelco Credit Union offers four checking account options. Here’s a look at each one.

Plus Checking

Plus Checking, with no minimum opening deposit or minimum monthly balance requirements, provides the most benefits, including identity theft protection, free credit monitoring, exclusive local and national discounts and roadside assistance. Account holders can also take advantage of the Automatic Round-Up feature, which rounds up your debit card purchases to the next whole dollar and then transfers the difference — plus a 10% match — to your savings account. You’ll also receive two free ATM fee rebates per month. However, a $6.95 monthly service fee does apply, and the credit union does not offer any options to waive it.

Free Checking

Free Checking is Patelco Credit Union’s basic checking account. The account keeps things simple with no monthly fee and no minimum balance, which means that you won’t have to worry about meeting requirements to avoid a fee. The account also offers the ability to get paid up to two days early with direct deposit.

Interest Checking

Patelco’s Interest Checking account pays APY with no minimum balance required to earn interest. However, there is a $5 monthly maintenance fee, which the credit union will waive if you set up a monthly direct deposit of $100 or more, maintain a minimum daily balance of $500 or are a Patelco Commitment Household member.

Teen Checking

Patelco’s Teen Checking option is for teens ages 13 to 17. The account has no monthly fees. Account holders will receive a Mastercard debit card with a $200 limit on debit transactions and a $100 limit on daily ATM withdrawals.

Savings Accounts

Patelco Credit Union offers three savings account options. Here are the details for each account.

Regular Savings

Patelco Credit Union’s Regular Savings account requires no minimum opening deposit and pays APY across all balance tiers. And you won’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees, either, which means your savings balance will add up faster.

Holiday Club Savings

Patelco Credit Union’s Holiday Club Savings account also pays interest and requires a $20 minimum opening deposit. The account allows you to make deposits at any time during the year, including auto transfers from a linked checking or savings account.

On Nov. 15, the balance and dividends are transferred to a linked account so you can use the funds for holiday shopping. Plus, the account automatically renews each year to help you begin saving for next year’s holiday purchases.

Kids Savings

Patelco Credit Union’s Kids Savings account is available for young people up to age 17. It requires no minimum deposit or balance and has no monthly fees. Plus, the credit union deposits the first $1 into the account.

CD Accounts

Share certificates are like certificates of deposit and earn a fixed rate of interest for a specified period of time. Share certificates at Patelco Credit Union require a minimum opening deposit of $250 and are offered in terms ranging from three to 60 months. Standard share certificates earn APY to APY, with longer terms earning higher rates and shorter terms earning lower rates.

Banking Experience

When looking for a financial institution, it can help to know its standout features. Here’s what you need to know about the banking experience at Patelco Credit Union. 

Breadth of Products

Patelco Credit Union offers everything you would expect — and maybe even more — from a credit union, from a full range of deposit accounts to credit cards, insurance and a variety of loans. Additionally, the credit union offers a wealth of financial wellness resources, including webinars, courses and coaching, to help you meet various financial goals.

Membership Benefits

When you become a member of Patelco Credit Union, not only can you benefit from competitive savings rates, but you can also get rewarded. The credit union’s LevelUp program will reduce your loan’s interest rate over time as a reward for your on-time monthly payments.

Your membership also comes with special perks and discounts on car purchases and rentals, vacation bookings and family entertainment.

To encourage members to keep all of their accounts at Patelco, the credit union also offers the Commitment Household Membership program. Members of the program enjoy no fees at non-Patelco ATMs; no fees or minimum balances for savings, interest checking, health savings, cashier’s checks or domestic wire transfers; a new consumer loan discount; and access to special offers.

Customer Service

One more area where Patelco Credit Union stands out is the accessibility of its customer service. Call 800-358-8228 for automated or live customer service. Live chat for your desktop or mobile device is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday-Friday. For non-urgent matters, you can also send a secure message online.

If you’re interested in speaking face to face with a team member, you can set up an appointment online to meet with someone in a branch, or you can set up a virtual meeting. Additionally, you can communicate by mail.

Comparable Credit Union Options

When you’re looking for a new place to park your money, you’ll want to look at a few options to determine which one is best for you. Here’s how Patelco Credit Union stacks up against some competitors.

Provident Credit Union

Provident Credit Union offers an APY of for its Super Reward Checking account on balances up to $25,000 with qualifying deposits and transactions. On the other hand, Patelco Credit Union’s interest-bearing checking account only pays APY.

However, Provident’s Super Reward Checking account has a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25, while Patelco Credit Union’s interest-bearing checking account has no minimum opening deposit.

Golden 1 Credit Union

Golden 1 Credit Union offers a package of benefits to its members who are age 62 or older. The benefits include no monthly service fee, two free boxes of checks per year, notary service and more. Patelco doesn’t offer a similar benefits package.

However, the highest share certificate interest rates are more accessible at Patelco than those at Golden 1 because Golden 1 requires such high minimum deposits for its best rates.

Final Take

Patelco Credit Union offers a complete menu of banking and financial services for people who are looking for a financial institution in Northern California with competitive rates and low fees. Because it is a credit union, owned by members and not beholden to shareholders, it can offer interest rates that are often better than what might be found at large, publicly held banks. While its physical footprint is limited to Northern California, members can take advantage of shared branches and ATMs, as well as online and mobile banking, to do their banking anywhere in the country.

Patelco Credit Union FAQ

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Patelco Credit Union.
  • Is Patelco a nationwide credit union?
    • Patelco branches and ATMs are located in Northern California. Members also can bank at any of more than 6,000 shared branches or over 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
  • What does Patelco stand for?
    • Patelco Credit Union was founded by employees of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. The name is an abbreviation.
  • Does Patelco use Zelle?
    • Yes. Members can use Zelle to send and receive money when using online banking or the Patelco mobile app.
  • Who owns Patelco Credit Union?
    • Patelco Credit Union is member-owned.
  • How much can Patelco members withdraw from an ATM?
    • The daily ATM withdrawal limit is $500.

Karen Doyle 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. 30, 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.

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