Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union Review: An Online Banking Option With Debit Card Rewards

GOBankingRates Score

Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union
4.3
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.
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Quick Take: With more than 800 employees and 550,000 members, PSECU is Pennsylvania's largest credit union. With straightforward, fee-free checking and savings products, low-interest-rate loans and a dedication to communities across the state, PSECU meets the needs of Pennsylvania residents and other eligible individuals of all ages and income levels.
  • Checking Accounts
    4.5
  • Savings Accounts
    4.0
  • CD Accounts
    4.5
  • Banking Experience
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Free checking with no minimum balance 
  • Variety of loan products 
  • Special savings rates for kids under 18 
  • Rewards debit card 

Cons

  • Other financial institutions offer higher yields on savings
  • Limited customer service options and availability

    Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union Overview

    Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union was created in 1934 and now has more than 550,000 members — and, as of December 2021, $8 billion in assets.

    There’s very little not to like about PSECU. Ranked among GOBankingRates’ picks for the Best Credit Unions of 2023, PSECU offers a dividend-earning checking account, competitive interest rates on loans for members and a wealth of services.

    PSECU was originally founded to help low-income state workers obtain loans at fair interest rates and better manage their money to improve their quality of life. Today, PSECU remains true to that vision with a wide range of loan products for its members, including auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans, mortgages, student loans and debt consolidation loans.

    Notably, PSECU shows that it cares about the state and local communities, donating time and money to organizations across the state and providing free financial education. For cause-conscious Pennsylvania residents and college students, PSECU checks all the boxes for a great place to bank.  

    Key Features

    Here’s a look at features to consider to help you decide whether PSECU is the right credit union for you.

    Checking Account

    PSECU has one checking product, which keeps things simple. The free checking account, with no minimum balance, offers a dividend rate of . Not every credit union offers a dividend-earning checking account with an optional Courtesy Pay feature, which covers up to $500 in ACH transactions and bill payer checks even if there isn’t money in your account. You can opt out of the Courtesy Pay service if you would prefer not to pay the $15-per-transaction fee.

    PSECU gives members access to a network of 70,000 fee-free ATMs, free checks and a free overdraft protection transfer service. Through the organization’s online banking platform and digital banking app, members can get account alerts and free credit score access.

    Of all the free services offered by PSECU, its overdraft protection transfer service may be one of the most convenient — and the hardest to find at bigger banks or other credit unions. If you set up the service, you won’t be charged a fee if your checking account goes into overdraft and pulls money from your savings account, money market account or other share account. However, if you use your PSECU Visa card to cover the payment, it will be considered a cash advance and you will be charged the associated fees plus interest, if applicable.

    Savings Accounts

    PSECU’s savings account products are also simple and straightforward. The organization permits members to open a savings account — and as many as four more savings shares — with a single $5 deposit to secure your membership in the credit union.

    Multiple savings shares, all with a dividend yield of 0.45% APY, make it easy to manage your money and save for events.

    For instance, you can set up one share for emergency savings and work to accrue the recommended three to six months in emergency savings, set up another share for a family vacation and another for a down payment on a new car or home renovation.

    Children under 18 can open accounts and earn higher-yield dividends on balances up to $500.

    Money Market Account

    PSECU’s money market account offers premium dividends on balances greater than $500. No minimum is required to open or maintain the account, making it the ideal long-term savings vehicle if you want to start small.

    Share Certificates

    For short- and long-term savings, a share certificate — the credit union version of a certificate of deposit — may be your best option. As long as you’re a member with $5 deposited in any PSECU savings account, you can take advantage of certificate savings at higher yields.

    The credit union offers share certificates with terms ranging from three to 60 months, with a three-month certificate returning APY and a 60-month certificate bringing in APY. PSECU sometimes makes other terms available at promotional rates.

    A minimum deposit of $500 is required, and certificates are insured by the National Credit Union Administration — the credit union equivalent of the FDIC — for up to $250,000 across accounts.

    Banking Experience

    Your banking experience plays an important role in your overall satisfaction with your financial institution. Here’s what you can expect when you bank with PSECU.

    Rewards and Referrals

    PSECU has two features you won’t find with many other credit unions: a rewards debit card and a referral program for members. If you already have a PSECU account, you can earn $50 for each friend who joins the credit union, up to $500 per calendar year.

    The PSECU rewards debit card can earn you $0.05 in cash rewards with every debit card purchase over $10. The reward jumps to $0.10 when your checking account receives at least $500 per month in qualifying direct deposits.

    Customer Service

    Customer service representatives are available by phone Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. PSECU also offers self-service support by phone and secure email through the online banking platform.

    Digital Experience

    PSECU redesigned its online platform in 2021 to mirror its mobile apps. The update, based on customer feedback, was focused on improving navigation and making it easier to access products. The site includes such elements as transaction history and current finances, credit score, quick links to oft-used features and personalized money tips.

    PSECU’s iOS mobile app is highly regarded. It has 4.8 out of 5 stars on the App Store and a 4.7 rating on Google Play.

    Comparable Banking Options

    PSECU has competition not just from other credit unions, but also from banks.

    1st Ed Credit Union

    Like PSECU, 1st Ed Credit Union is in Pennsylvania. But you’ll need to maintain a balance of at least $100 to earn dividends with its checking account, while PSECU checking accounts earn dividends on the entire balance. However, 1st Ed’s rewards program is potentially more lucrative, offering 1 point for every $4 in debit signature transactions and 1 point for every dollar in credit transactions with the 1st Ed Visa Platinum card. Customers earn bonus points for shopping with partner merchants.

    Wells Fargo

    PSECU may fare well against other local credit unions, but how does it stack up against the bigger banks? Wells Fargo’s standard checking account has a $500 minimum balance to avoid monthly fees, and the bank does not offer interest on its basic checking products. You also need a minimum of $25 to open a checking account at Wells Fargo. You might think a bigger bank would offer greater access to ATMs without fees, but there are just 12,000 ATMs in the Wells Fargo network, compared to 70,000 fee-free ATMs in PSECU’s network.

    How To Join PSECU

    Employees of over 1,000 employers headquartered in Pennsylvania qualify for membership in PSECU. So do those who have a relationship with a participating Pennsylvania college or university or a family member who’s a PSECU member. Otherwise, you can join by becoming a Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society member — PSECU will contribute $10 toward the $20 one-time membership fee when you open your PSECU account online.

    The online application takes just a few minutes and asks for basic identifying, contact and employment information. In addition, you’ll need a credit or debit card to fund your new account with at least $5. The savings account is mandatory for members. A checking account is optional.

    Final Take

    PSECU’s commitment to community, generous referral rewards program and free checking stand out to make it a top credit union for Pennsylvania residents. High yields for kids, plus a minimum required balance of $5 for a PSECU savings account, also make the credit union stand out as a solid choice for Pennsylvania families.

    PSECU FAQ

    Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union.
    • Is PSECU legitimate?
      • Yes. PSECU is Pennsylvania's largest credit union.
    • Who is eligible for membership in PSECU?
      • PSECU has partnered with more than 1,000 Pennsylvania employers, enabling their workers and family members to join the credit union. Employees of Pennsylvania state or local governments, municipalities and school districts and their family members are among those who can join. If you are a graduate, faculty or staff member, student or former student at one of many Pennsylvania colleges, you and your family members are also qualified to join. If you don't meet any of these criteria, you can become a member by joining the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society for a one-time fee of $20. PSECU will contribute $10 toward that fee when you open your PSECU account online. 
    • Where can I find a PSECU branch?
      • PSECU is a digital-first credit union. You can access banking services online or through the PSECU mobile app. You also can withdraw, deposit or transfer funds and view account balances at any of 70,000 fee-free ATMs throughout the U.S. Alternatively, you can make withdrawals at other ATMs and receive rebates of up to $20 per month for out-of-network ATM fees. 
    • How can I take advantage of PSECU's referral program?
      • Members in good standing who are 18 or older can visit refer.psecu.com and enter their email to generate an exclusive referral link. They can share that link with friends and receive $50 in their accounts for each friend who becomes a member. Members can earn up to $500 per year via these referrals. 
    • What credit score do you need for a PSECU credit card?
      • PSECU doesn't disclose minimum credit score requirements. However, low-interest and rewards cards like the ones PSECU offers generally require at least a "good" FICO score of 670 to 739.
    • Does PSECU pull credit?
      • PSECU's account disclosure indicates that it does. However, in some cases, the check is just a soft pull to verify identity.
    • How long does it take to get approved for a PSECU loan?
      • PSECU offers several types of loans, each of which has its own underwriting and approval process. Contact the credit union at 800-237-7328 with questions about the specific loan type you're interested in.

    Daria Uhlig 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 Jan. 4, 2023.

    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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    About the Author

    Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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