Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the world. With more than 12 million members, a network of 355 physical branches and more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs, the 90-year-old credit union offers easy in-person access for banking services, along with a highly rated mobile app.
What we like
- A highly rated mobile app and access to Zelle for convenient person-to-person payments
- High earning potential with competitive rates on some of its savings products
- A range of accounts that have no minimum balance requirements and no fees
- Impressive feedback from members on Trustpilot (4.6 out of 5 stars, based on more than 14,000 reviews)
What we don’t like
- Limited membership eligibility: You must have a military connection (Department of Defense, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, veterans and families)
- Branch network is relatively small compared with the best big banks
Who is Navy Federal Credit Union best suited for?
Navy Federal Credit Union is best for military members and their direct relatives. While “Navy” is in the name, the credit union is open to active duty and retired veterans of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force. If you have an immediate family member who is serving or has served, you’re eligible for membership, too.
Navy Federal Credit Union products
Navy Federal offers five different checking account options, which all come with different perks. Three of them -- Free Active Duty Checking, Free Easy Checking and Free Campus Checking -- offer rebates on ATM fees, while Free EveryDay Checking doesn’t include any ATM rebates.
If you’re looking for a checking account that earns interest, the Flagship Checking option is the way to go. As long as you maintain a minimum balance of $1,500, you can avoid a $10 monthly service fee and earn an annual percentage yield of between 0.35% and 0.45%.
Flagship Checking features
|APY||0.35% for balances up to $9,999; 0.40% for balances between $10,000 and $24,999; 0.45% on balances of more than $25,000|
|Monthly fee||$10 if you fall below the minimum balance|
|Overdraft fee||$20, but you can opt out of overdraft protection|
|Foreign transaction fee||1%|
Easily avoidable monthly fee
Wide range of other free options if you’re concerned about meeting the minimum balance requirement
A smaller balance earns a smaller interest rate
A foreign transaction fee on overseas debit card usage
Navy Federal offers the Basic Savings Account. It’s an appropriate name because there isn’t anything all that extraordinary about it. As long as you deposit $5, you can start earning 0.25% APY on your savings fund. Ultimately, you’re better off browsing the best high-yield savings accounts to accelerate your earning potential.
Savings Account Features
|Minimum balance||$5 to earn interest|
|Monthly maintenance fee||None|
No maintenance fees
Only $5 balance requirement to earn interest
Not a very competitive APY compared with the best savings accounts on the market
Navy Federal Credit Union offers a standard money market account, along with a jumbo money market account that offers higher rates on higher balances -- up to 2.25% on balances of more than $1 million. For savers with a more realistic amount to deposit, we’ll look at the credit union’s standard option below. While there isn’t a minimum balance requirement, you’ll need to deposit at least $2,500 to earn interest.
Standard MMA Account Features
|APY||0.95% to 1.50%|
|Minimum balance||None, but you’ll need at least $2,500 to earn interest|
|Monthly account fee||$0|
|Overdraft fee||$20 but easily avoidable|
|Excessive transaction fee||None|
|Foreign transaction fee||1% on debit card transactions made out of the country|
Competitive rate that beats the credit union’s rates on its standard savings and checking accounts
No excessive transaction fees
No monthly fee
The best money market accounts offer higher rates with lower balance requirements available
Interest only compounds monthly
Only large balances qualify for top rates
Navy Federal Credit Union really shines when it comes to savings certificates. Opening a standard certificate here requires a minimum balance of just $1,000, and you’ll find some of the best CD rates available on many of its term lengths. In some cases, you might be able to earn a slightly higher APY based on your deposit amount. Currently, deposits greater than $100,000 typically earn an additional 0.05% APY -- not exactly a massive bump worth writing home about.
One notable option for savers with less money and a need for some extra flexibility is the credit union’s EasyStart certificate program, which carries a minimum deposit of just $50 with the option to add more funds during the term.
Standard Certificate Features
|Early withdrawal penalties||90 days of interest on CDs 1 year or less; 180 days of interest on CDs between 1 year and 5 years; 365 days of interest on CDs longer|
Small minimum deposit requirement -- just $50 in some cases
EasyStart Certificates allow additional contributions
Some EasyStart Certificates have a maximum contribution of $3,000, severely limiting earning potential
Must deposit $100,000 to earn the top APY
In addition to its suite of checking and savings products, Navy Federal Credit Union offers credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, home equity loans and personal loans. The credit union is known for its exceptional customer experience, ranking first in Forrester’s CX Index Survey.
As the nation’s largest credit union, members can access the more sophisticated technology typically found at big banks -- a great mobile app, online chat, Zelle payments and other innovations -- while still enjoying the member-first model of a credit union that translates to lower fees and higher APY earning potential.
Overdraft fees and early withdrawal penalties
While Navy Federal Credit Union charges a $20 overdraft fee, it’s easy to avoid ever actually paying that $20. You can simply opt out of the protection altogether, or the credit union will allow you to link a credit line or a checking account for no charge to cover transactions when your account is at $0.
When it comes to CDs, the early withdrawal penalties are fairly standard -- ranging from 90 days of interest to 365 days of interest. While the credit union does not offer a no-penalty CD, the EasyStart Certificate program allows extra flexibility to deposit additional funds after you open the account.
Navy Federal Credit Union offers 24/7 customer service, and its representatives are all based in the US. To connect with one, call 888-842-6328. Additionally, there are easy ways to send messages via its online banking portal or on its Facebook and Twitter pages. The credit union offers a chat feature on its website, although the operation hours for this channel are unclear.
About Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union was founded in 1933, and the financial institution is headquartered outside Washington, DC in Vienna, Virginia. Its employees understand its members’ perspectives: 45% of its employees are directly tied to the military. The credit union’s branch network is intentionally designed to help active-duty service members: 189 of its 355 physical locations are either on or nearby a military installation. Additionally, the credit union’s website offers helpful educational content specific to military life.