Vystar Credit Union Review: Credit Union Access for Florida and Southeast Georgia Residents

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Quick Take: Vystar Credit Union provides free and low-cost banking services to military families as well as eligible individuals who live or work in Florida and areas of Southeast Georgia. With over 775,000 members, it's in the top 20 of the largest credit unions in the country and is the largest mortgage lender in Northeast Florida.  
  • Fees
    5.0
  • Community Presence
    4.5
  • CDs
    4.8
  • Breadth of Products
    4.8
How did we calculate this?

Take a look at a summary of the following VyStar Credit Union review by comparing the credit union’s pros and cons.

Pros

  • No-fee checking and savings accounts
  • Low, $5 opening deposit requirements
  • Free withdrawals at over 20,000 ATMs
  • There are 100 branches available, including locations in Target, Costco, Walgreens, CVS and Speedway. 

Cons

  • Only available to military personnel and families or Florida and Southeast Georgia residents
  • Earning 0.10% in dividends on balances over $50  isn't as competitive.

VyStar Credit Union Bank Overview History

VyStar Credit Union started in 1952 as Jax Navy Federal to serve military, civil servants and the families stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Today, Jax Navy Federal is VyStar and expanded membership to all military families and residents of Florida and Southeastern Georgia. There are over 100 branches in Florida and 11 in Georgia, with some located in retail stores such as Target, Walgreens, CVS and Speedway.

VyStar Credit Union is a good alternative to a traditional bank. It isn’t always easy to qualify for credit union membership due to requirements such as career affiliation or school association. VyStar is more accessible because it’s available to military members and family, as well as Florida and Southeast Georgia residents. Its accessibility is part of the reason it ranks as no. 14 in the GOBankingRates study of the Best Credit Unions of 2022. Vystar also earned a place in the GOBankingRates’ Top 100 Banks list at no. 39 for its combination of varied financial services, low fees and high yields. As a member, you’ll have access to low-cost financial services and higher interest rates, known as dividends.

VyStar Credit Union Review: Products

VyStar Credit Union’s account services will cover nearly every financial need you may have. Handling all your money-related aspects in one place may simplify your life.

VyStar Credit Union Checking Accounts

VyStar Credit Union offers an array of checking account options, all of which have no monthly minimums and don’t require an opening balance. They earn a dividend of 0.00% on balances over $50. You’ll also get the following services at no charge: unlimited check writing, incoming wire transfers, official checks, stop payments and fund transfers.

Besides the standard checking account, teens and seniors have access to customized checking that caters best to their needs. All checking account holders have access to free ATM withdrawals at over 20,000 ATMs in retail stores nationwide such as Walgreens, CVS, Costco and Target. While this is great, the $32 overdraft fee is another story. Keep an eye on your account balance by downloading the mobile app and enabling balance notifications to avoid overdrawing your account.

VyStar Credit Union Savings Account

To get started with VyStar Credit Union, you’ll need to open a savings account first. All you need is $5 to get started. Use the account to save for goals or to set up as your overdraft backup account. In addition to the primary account, VyStar offers a Kids Club account for young savers and a Holiday account to put money aside for Christmas. You’ll earn 0.00% APY on your balance — as long as you keep at least $50 in the account — and won’t have to worry about monthly service fees.

VyStar Credit Union Money Market Account

When high yields are critical, consider a money market account for the bulk of your savings. A VyStar money market will pay you the highest available dividend while still allowing you to write checks and pay bills. There are no minimum balance requirements to open an account. However, you will need to maintain a savings account to be a credit union member and access VyStar’s stellar money market account.

You’ll have check-writing privileges with the potential to earn between 0.20% to 0.40% APY based on your account balance. If you plan on making numerous withdrawals and bill payments each month, a checking account may be a better option — federal law limits VyStar’s money market account to six transfers or withdrawals per month.

VyStar Credit Union CD Rates

Finding the best CD rates takes some shopping around. Traditional CDs will lock your money in for a determined amount of time and you can’t make withdrawals or deposits without penalties (if allowed).

VyStar Credit Union offers traditional CDs with terms of three to 120 months and an 18-month Step Up Certificate with a minimum investment of $500. The Step Up Certificate is a unique product. You can continue to deposit $2,000 or more at a time during the 18-month term to keep growing your savings. Regardless of the CD you choose, you can earn between 0.25% to 1.10% based on the term you choose and the amount you commit.

Best Features of VyStar Credit Union

Before writing a bank review, the GOBankingRates team analyzes a financial institution’s services, features and rates, noting its strengths and weaknesses. VyStar Credit Union’s best features are:

Fees

Credit unions are well-known as low-fee financial institutions because they run as not-for-profit organizations. VyStar Credit Union offers members low-cost banking services with no fees for account maintenance, official checks or network ATM withdrawals.

Community Presence

VyStar Credit Union has branches and ATMs throughout the areas it services. It’s also highly involved in the community, providing loans to local families and small businesses as well as partnering with nonprofits by donating more than $3 million in 2020 alone.

CD Account Options

VyStar Credit Union’s traditional CDs aren’t different from ones you’d find at other banks. The biggest issue with a traditional CD is that the amount you invest is locked in and can’t be withdrawn or increased. However, the 18-month Step Up Certificate by VyStar Credit Union is noteworthy. You can start with as little as $500 and continue to deposit $2,000 or more at a time during the 18-month term to take advantage of the guaranteed interest rate.

Breadth of Products

Credit unions often provide account holders with a variety of accounts, products and services. VyStar offers banking, savings, investments, retirement planning, credit cards, loans and insurance to individuals and businesses for full-service convenience.

Editor’s Favorite

VyStar Credit Union’s 18-Month Step Up Certificate is the standout feature. It lets you speed up reaching your savings goal. You’ll lock in your savings at a higher interest rate and have the ability to deposit $2,000 or more at a time during the 18-month term.

Banking Experience

VyStar Credit Union provides a friendly, community experience for account holders. VyStar’s strength lies in the number of physical branches and accessible phone services provided.

Customer Service

If you need help, visit a local branch or call customer service 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m at 1-800-445-6289.

Accessibility and Branch Availability

There are 100 branches in Florida and 11 in Georgia, with some located in retailer stores such as Target, Walgreens, CVS and Speedway.

Mobile and Digital Experience

VyStar Credit Union could improve the mobile app experience. VyStar Credit Union reviews from customers mention the app is down often and can be glitchy. Here are the ratings and where you can download the app.

The VyStar mobile banking app is designed to make managing your account possible at any time day or night, review recent transactions and balances, pay bills, make mobile deposits and find the nearest ATM.

VyStar secures your accounts and information online using multi-factor authentication (MFA), timed log out, encryption and firewalls.

Convenience and Ease of Use

Based on VyStar Credit Union customer reviews, the online banking platform seems to be more reliable than the mobile app. Both provide basic, straightforward services. For everything else, call customer service or visit a local branch.

How To Open an Account

To open a bank account with VyStar, you’ll need to sign up for membership first online, at a branch or over the phone. Membership is available to military personnel, individuals who live or work in Florida and southeast Georgia, as well as their families. Once you’re approved for membership, you’ll need to open a Primary savings account with at least $5. You’ll need the following to open an account:

  • Social Security number
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Bank and routing number for the first deposit
  • Email address

Fees

There are times when you may accidentally bounce a check or need to send or receive a wire transfer. Here are VyStar Credit Union’s most common fees:

  • Monthly Maintenance Fees: None
  • Returned Item Fee: $8
  • Wire Transfer (Incoming): None
  • Wire Transfer (Outgoing): $15
  • NSF/Overdraft Fee: $32

VyStar Credit Union vs. Competitors

Other credit unions are offering similar products to VyStar. Here’s how they compare:

Credit Union Best For
VyStar Credit Union Northeastern Florida residents
Georgia United Credit Union Georgia residents
Alliant Credit Union Savings
Jax Federal Credit Union Access to branches nationwide

VyStar Credit Union vs. Georgia United Credit Union

VyStar serves Florida and parts of southeastern Georgia but only has 11 branches in the Peach State. VyStar makes up for its regional branches with an ATM network of 20,000 machines, but sometimes you need to walk into a branch for help. Residents of Georgia looking for a larger presence may find that Georgia United Credit Union is a good option.

VyStar Credit Union vs. Alliant

VyStar offers membership to community members in select areas of Florida and Georgia. In contrast, Alliant’s membership is available to anyone in the country willing to join Foster Care Success. It’s worth it — Alliant’s accounts earn 0.60% on $100 balances or greater compared to VyStar’s 0.10% APY.

VyStar Credit Union vs. Jax Federal Credit Union

VyStar and Jax Federal Credit Union both started in Jacksonville and offer checking and savings accounts but VyStar’s offerings are more diverse. VyStar has more members than Jax Federal’s 36,000. However, Jax provides customers with 5,000 shared branch locations nationwide, beating VyStar’s 111 branches.

Final Take

VyStar Credit Union is a great choice for customers based in the Jacksonville area and its surroundings. The bank offers free checking and savings accounts while paying competitive interest rates. Opening an account with VyStar is simple — apply online, call or visit a branch near you to get started.

VyStar Credit Union FAQ

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about VyStar Credit Union.
  • Does VyStar Credit Union offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • VyStar Credit Union doesn't have any cash bonuses when you sign up at this time.
  • How long do VyStar Credit Union deposits take to clear?
    • VyStar generally makes check and cash deposits available on the same business day the deposit was received.
  • How many withdrawals or transfers can I make from my VyStar savings account?
    • ou can make only six "reauthorized, automatic, internet or telephone transfers and withdrawals" to comply with federal regulations. Vystar may close your account if you exceed the limit.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Apr. 28, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by VyStar 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 VyStar Credit Union.

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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