Redwood Credit Union Review: Regional One-Stop Shop for North Bay Californians
Breadth of Products
One good way to start a Redwood Credit Union review is to take a look at some of its strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a quick overview:
- Low overall fees
- A large variety of account types
- Credit and debit card rewards program
- Limited service area with just 19 branches
- No standout high-yield accounts
- Mobile app doesn't rate high with users
About Redwood Credit Union
Redwood Credit Union, also known as RCU, serves anyone living or working in the greater San Francisco and North Bay area. It traces its history back to 1950 and has since grown into one of the nation’s largest credit unions, with $5.7 billion in assets. Redwood offers a diverse range of accounts, from standard deposit accounts like checking and savings to Share Certificates, money market accounts, loans, insurance, credit cards, investments, wealth management and business services.
Redwood Credit Union Products
Redwood Credit Union offers an attractive lineup of account types and products. Here’s a rundown:
|Money Market Accounts||
|Individual Retirement Accounts||
Redwood Credit Union Checking Accounts
Redwood Credit Union has seven checking accounts: Free Checking, Dividend Checking, High-Balance Checking, Senior Checking, Start Smart Checking (for young adults ages 18-24) and two youth accounts — Jr. Ranger and Jr. Partner. Members have free access to more than 30,000 Co-Op ATM locations as well as 50-plus RCU ATMs in the San Francisco Bay area
- Non-RCU ATM fees reimbursed up to four times per month
- Jr. Ranger account available to kids 12 and under; Jr. Partner available to teens 13 to 17
- Dividend Checking pays APY of 0.10% on balances of $500 or more
- High Balance Checking pays APY of 0.15% on balances of $2,500 or more
- $3 monthly fee for Dividend Checking, but waived with $500 minimum daily balance
- $6 monthly fee for High Balance Checking, but waived with $2,500 minimum daily balance
- No minimum balance or monthly service fees for Free Checking, Senior Checking, Start Smart Checking or the two youth accounts
- Variety of options available
- Five accounts have no monthly service fees and no minimum requirements
- Interest-bearing options with competitive rates
- Free rewards program for credit and debit card use, with points redeemable for cash, travel, merchandise and more
- $2,500 minimum daily balance to avoid High Balance Checking fee
- $2,500 minimum balance to earn interest on High Balance Checking
Redwood Credit Union Savings Accounts
Redwood Credit Union offers three types of savings accounts: Regular Savings, Build-Your-Own Savings and Holiday Club. The Build-Your-Own Savings account is essentially the same as for Regular Savings, only with no monthly service fee, a lower minimum balance requirement, and the ability to track savings progress in RCU Online Banking. The Holiday Club account pays out accumulated savings every Oct. 31 for holiday spending.
- $5 minimum to open each account
- No monthly service fees for Build-Your-Own Savings and Holiday Club
- $3 monthly fee for Regular Savings, but waived with a $75 minimum balance by the end of the month
- $100 minimum to earn interest
- Dividends compounded and paid quarterly
- 0.10% APY across all accounts for all amounts
- Higher-than-average APY for U.S. savings accounts
- Low $5 minimums to open
- No monthly fees for two accounts
- Standard APY not as high as the best savings accounts
- Must deposit at least $100 to earn interest
- No high-yield options
Redwood Credit Union Money Market Accounts
Whereas some financial institutions don’t offer a single money market account, Redwood offers three: Money Market Growth, Balance Money Market and Advantage Plus Money Market, all designed to serve different customers. Money Market Growth is best for beginning savers because of its low opening deposit of $5. The minimum opening deposit for Balance Money Market is $2,500. Advantage Plus Money Market is for members who have at least $10,000 to open the account.
- Minimum balance to earn interest: $100 for Money Market Growth; $2,500 for Balance Money Market; $10,000 for Advantage Plus
- APY up to 0.25% for Money Market Growth and Advantage Plus accounts
- APY up to 0.60% for Balance Money Market
- Dividends compounded and paid monthly
- Tiered interest rates ranging from 0.15% APY to 0.60% APY
- High 0.60% APY for balances of at least $100,000 in the Balance Money Market
- Low $5 minimum to open a Money Market Growth account
- All accounts have check-writing privileges, with a maximum of six cleared per month
- Balance Money Market and Advantage Plus Money Market require an accompanying checking account
- APY for Money Market Growth and Advantage Plus not as high as the best money market accounts.
Redwood Credit Union CD Accounts
As a credit union, Redwood offers a Share Certificate instead of a CD, but both work the same. Its Standard Certificate comes with higher rates when accompanied by an active checking account.
- Terms from three months to five years
- Dividends compounded and paid monthly
- Add-on deposits during the term, with a $500 minimum
- Flexible dividend payment options
- Penalties for early withdrawal
- APY from 0.10% to 0.75% for Standard Certificate
- APY from 0.20% to 0.75% for Standard Certificate with Active Checking
- $1,000 minimum to open
- Can add checking account for higher rates
- Ability to add additional funds
- High rates for longer-term CDs with active checking component
- High $1,000 minimum
- APY for short-term certificates not as high as the best CD rates
Redwood Credit Union only serves a limited area in and around San Francisco, but it has a wide network of fee-free ATMs and offers mobile and digital services. Keep reading to learn more about the banking experience.
Physical Branch Locations
Redwood Credit Union has 19 branch locations — one in San Francisco and 18 in California’s North Bay region. Hours may vary by branch, so be sure to check online or call ahead to get the hours for your local branch.
You can reach Redwood Credit Union customer service at 800-479-7928 or 707-545-4000. Customer service hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need help after hours, there’s an online form you can fill out.
Customer Service Numbers: 800-479-7928 or 707-545-4000
Routing Number: 321177586
Mobile and Digital Experience
Redwood Credit Union offers both online and mobile banking options. Its website is easy to navigate, making it a breeze to find accounts and rates. However, the mobile app gets pretty pedestrian reviews from users, with 4.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 3.7 stars on the App Store.
You can still handle a lot of functions on the app, including the following:
- Make deposits
- Transfer money
- Pay bills
- Check balances
- View transaction history
- Order new checks
- Initiate stop payments
- View credit score
- Set up and edit account alerts
- Pay others with RCUpay, Redwood’s P2P service
- Schedule one-time or recurring payments & transfers
- Locate branches and ATMs
- Create budgets
How To Open an Account
You’ll need to be a Redwood Credit Union member to open an account there. If you live or work in RCU’s service area, which consists of San Francisco and the North Bay of California, you can qualify. The specific counties served are Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, San Francisco, Solano and Contra Costa.
Once you’re a member, it’s easy to open an account online. You’ll need the following information to get started:
- Social Security number or ITIN
- Date of birth for all account holders
- Phone number
- Email address
- Physical U.S. address
- Debit card or account information for funding purposes
- A valid ID such as a driver’s license, military ID, passport or Permanent Resident Card
If you want to open an IRA or HSA, you’ll have to visit a branch.
Redwood Credit Union Fees
As a credit union, most of Redwood’s fees are lower than at big national banks. It does charge fees for certain activities and services, however. Here are some you might face as a Redwood member:
|Official check||$5 each|
|Wire transfer||$25 each (wire currency exchange is 1% of the amount)|
|NSF or overdraft||$23|
|Non-network ATM fee||$1|
Redwood Credit Union vs. Competitors
Redwood Credit Union has several rivals in its own backyard of California. Here’s a look at how they compare:
|Credit Union||Best For|
|Redwood Credit Union||Strong product lineup and comparatively low fees|
|Golden 1 Credit Union||Large branch network|
|Patelco Credit Union||High money market rates, low CD minimums|
|First Technology Federal Credit Union||High checking and savings rates|
Redwood Credit Union vs. Golden 1 Credit Union
Golden 1 Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the U.S., let alone in California, with more than 1 million members, assets of over $16 billion and more than 70 branches across California, giving it a considerable edge over Redwood, with 19 branches. If you value branch access and in-person banking, Golden 1 is the better option. But if you want to see your savings grow at a faster clip, go with Redwood. It offers a 0.10% APY on savings accounts and an APY up to 0.60% on money market accounts vs. 0.05% and 0.35%, respectively, for Golden 1.
Redwood Credit Union vs. Patelco Credit Union
Patelco Credit Union tops Redwood when it comes to money market account rates, with a 2.0% APY on the first $2,000 deposited in its Money Market Select account and a 1.0% APY on the next $3,000 deposited. But Redwood charges lower monthly service fees for its checking accounts and has a lower charge for out-of-network ATM transactions.
Redwood Credit Union vs. First Technology Federal Credit Union
First Technology Credit Union offers the types of supercharged “teaser” accounts that are not available at Redwood Credit Union. For example, First Technology pays a 1.25% APY on its Dividend Rewards Checking account for balances up to $10,000, and a 5.0% APY on its Start-Up Savings account for balances up to $1,000. Redwood can’t match those rates, but it does a better job at keeping fees low. For example, Redwood charges a $1 out-of-network ATM fee and a $23 overdraft fee vs. First Technology’s $2 and $33, respectively.
Is Redwood Credit Union Good?
Redwood Credit Union’s is great for customers living in their service areas that are looking for a wide range of accounts. Although RCU only serves California’s North Bay area, any resident or workers in that area can join. Account fees are either nonexistent or low and easily waivable, and there are plenty of accounts to choose from. You won’t find any standout accounts that offer extraordinarily high yields, but Redwood is a decent all-in-one choice.
Redwood Credit Union’s best feature is its wide array of accounts. With multiple checking and money market options in particular, the credit union has accounts to meet most customers’ financial needs.
Redwood Credit Union FAQHere are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Redwood Credit Union.
- Is Redwood Credit Union federally insured?
- Yes, Redwood Credit Union deposits are federally insured.
- Does Redwood Credit Union offer Zelle?
- Redwood doesn't use Zelle. Instead, it offers RCUPay, which is a proprietary payment service on the app that functions similarly to Zelle.
- Does Redwood Credit Union have free checking?
- Redwood Credit Union offers numerous free checking choices. One is aptly dubbed "Free Checking." Other checking accounts with no monthly service fees are Senior Checking, Start Smart Checking and the two youth accounts.
- Can I deposit cash at a Redwood ATM?
- Yes, you can deposit up to 30 bills of any denomination at a time into an RCU ATM.
- Does Redwood offer free money for signing up for an account?
- Redwood Credit Union doesn't currently offer any signup promotions for new accounts. But check the website from time to time to see if any future promotions pop up.
Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of Jan. 30, 2021.
This content is not provided by Redwood 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 Redwood Credit Union.