Our experts answer readers' banking questions and write unbiased product reviews (this is how we rate banking products). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own. Terms and conditions apply to the offers listed on this page.
Some credit unions let you join from anywhere in the U.S.
- At some credit unions, you can join online from anywhere in the U.S.
- To become a member, make a small donation to a charity or open a savings account.
- You will choose a credit union over a traditional bank if you want to earn a higher interest rate.
Credit unions require membership to open a bank account or use services. Typically, you must work for a select employer or live in a specific city or county.
Some credit unions, however, have fairly simple membership requirements that let you join from anywhere in the U.S.
If you're open to banking with a credit union versus a bank, we've compiled a list of potential credit unions to consider. You can also find these options in our best guides to bank accounts, guide to Hispanic-American banks and guide to black-owned banks.
Credit unions with simple membership requirements
1. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union Superior Money Market Account
Why it stands out:Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union Superior money market account pays high interest on its money market account and CDs. There is also a rewards program that allows you to earn points if you have a certain amount of money in your account or use a bank credit card.
Membership Requirements: The easiest way to join Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is to donate $25 to the Affinity Plus Foundation and open a savings account. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union has 26 branches in Minnesota and offers additional opportunities to become a member if you live or work in the state.
2. Alliant Credit Union
Why it stands out: Alliant Credit Union has high-yield savings and checking accounts with low minimum opening deposits.
Membership Requirements:You can become a member of Alliant Credit Union when you join Foster Care to Succeed, a nonprofit organization focused on foster children (Alliant covers the $5 initiation fee). You can also join the credit union if you live in certain parts of Illinois or work for an eligible employer.
3. Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Why it stands out:With Bethpage Federal Credit Union, you can earn a high interest rate on checking, certificate or money market accounts. The certificates are especially attractive if you're looking for an institution with a low minimum opening deposit – you only need $50 to open one.
Membership Requirements:With Bethpage Federal Credit Union, you can join online from anywhere in the U.S. as long as you open a savings account with a minimum $5 deposit.
4. Blue Federal Credit Union
Why it stands out:The Blue Extreme checking account is a great option if you're looking for a high-yield checking account. There is no minimum opening deposit and no monthly service fees.
The bank also offers live customer service 24/7, which is ideal if traditional banking hours don't work for you.
Membership Requirements:The easiest way to become a member is to donate $5 to the Blue Foundation and use another $5 to open the Blue Federal Credit Union Membership Share Savings Account. However, if you live in Colorado or Wyoming, you may also qualify if you meet another membership requirement.
5. Connexus Credit Union
Why it stands out:Connexus Credit Union pays competitive interest rates on all of its accounts. The Connexus Xtraordinary checking account is a solid choice if your priority is finding a high-yield checking account.
Membership Requirements: With Connexus Credit Union, you can join online from anywhere in the U.S. when you make a $5 donation to Connexus Association. If you or a family member lives in Minnesota, Ohio or Wisconsin, see if you meet any of the credit union's other membership requirements.
6. Consumer Credit Union
Why it stands out:Consumers Credit Union has a unique high-yield checking account that pays you high interest if you meet the requirements. Bank accounts have low minimum opening deposits. Customer support is also available 24/7 via live chat.
Membership Requirements: Anyone in the U.S. can become a member of Consumers Credit Union online. Simply pay a one-time $5 membership fee and open a savings account.
If you are an immigrant or not a U.S. citizen, Consumers lets you use a Matricula Consular ID or Permanent Resident Card instead of a U.S. government ID to open an account.
7. Hope Credit Union Savings Account
Why it stands out: Hope Credit Union Savings Account is a black-owned financial institution that gives back to local communities in certain parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. It has solid savings and checking accounts with no monthly service fees.
As a Juntos Avanzamos designated credit union, Hope Credit Union allows you to use a permanent resident card, foreign passport or Matricula Consular if you do not have a U.S. identification card. You can also use an ITIN number instead of a social security number. However, if you plan to use an alternative ID card, you must apply for it in person, not online.
Membership requirements:At Hope Credit Union, you can join online if you pay a $10 membership fee.
8. Latino Community Credit Union Savings Account
Why it stands out:The Latino Community Credit Union Savings Account is a Hispanic-owned financial institution that provides financial education and bilingual services to local communities in North Carolina. It also has savings and checking accounts with low minimum opening deposits.
Membership Requirements: If you don't live in North Carolina, you can still apply online by submitting an application and paying a $10 membership fee.
9. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Why it stands out:Pentagon Federal Credit Union pays competitive interest rates on its savings account and CDs. You may also like it if you are part of a military family.
Membership requirements:The easiest way to become part of Pentagon Federal Credit Union is to open a savings account with at least $5 in funds. You can also become a member if you have served in the military or work for a select employer.
10. Premier Members Credit Union earn a great free checking account
Why it stands out: the Premier Members Credit Union Earn Big Free checking account is one of the credit union's strongest accounts. It earns a competitive interest rate and has no monthly service fees.
Membership requirements:While Premier Members Credit Union is based in Colorado, you are still eligible for membership if you join Impact on Education, a charity in the Boulder Valley School District, and open a savings account online. If you live in Colorado, check to see if you live in an eligible county or work for a select employer.
11. Wings Financial Credit Union
Why it stands out:Wings Financial Credit Union offers high-yield savings and checking accounts. If you meet the bank account requirements for either of these accounts, you'll get a great rate.
Membership requirements:The easiest way to join Wings Financial Credit Union is to make a $5 donation to Wings Financial Foundation. However, if you or a family work in the aviation industry or live in an eligible county or metropolitan area, you may also be eligible.
What are the pros and cons of becoming a credit union member?
Still thinking about whether to choose a credit union or bank? Here are some of the key pros and cons to consider with credit unions that might influence your decision when deciding if a credit union is right for you.
Benefits of joining a credit union
Earn high interest rates.Credit unions typically offer higher interest rates than traditional banking institutions. With online banks, however, it might be more of a toss up since interest rates are similar.
Search credit unions and online banks for a high-yield bank account until you find one that meets your needs. When you open a high-yield savings or checking account, you have a safe place to keep your money and easily earn a competitive interest rate.
Fewer monthly service fees. Many of the credit unions on our list have bank accounts with no monthly account maintenance fees. At a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you may need to keep a certain amount in your account each month or meet certain requirements to have the fee waived. Meanwhile, online banks may not charge monthly fees.
Additional member benefits. Some credit unions have rewards programs. For example, Affinity Plus Credit Union has a rewards program that allows you to earn points when you have a certain amount of money in your account or use a bank credit card. Points can be spent on gift cards, travel or even donations to charities.
Local banking options. Online banks may only be available online, so some may not have physical locations. Credit unions often have a few local branches in a city or county. If you live near one of the credit unions mentioned, you can still visit a store and deposit cash.
Disadvantages of joining a credit union
Limited locations. Ultimately, your experience depends on where you live. If you don't live near a branch, you'll need to be comfortable with online and mobile banking. Otherwise, it can be difficult to manage your account.
Fewer products and services. Some credit unions offer limited account options. If you want more variety in your account options, a brick-and-mortar or online bank is probably a better choice.
When you should go with a credit union over a bank?
You'll choose a credit union over a bank if you find certain accounts or services that are ideal for your goals. Many of the featured credit unions have high-yield bank accounts. So when you find an account that suits your needs, you won't feel like you're compromising because there are fewer products and services to choose from.
You might also want to choose a credit union if you're struggling with traditional banking services or requirements. Some credit unions offer live customer service around the clock. At other featured institutions, you can use a foreign ID or ITIN number if you are not a U.S. citizen.