Where to Put Your Money
With so many financial institutions to choose from, it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide where to do your banking. Military families, service members, and veterans have unique circumstances and needs based on their jobs. These unique needs can make banking complicated. The armed forces will often require people to move to new locations, work strange hours, and relocate many times during the year. In some cases, service members need to have multiple addresses. All of these factors can add on lots of complexities when it comes to managing money and make finding a bank difficult.
Bank? Credit Union? Local, national, or even international institution? Each place can offer great incentives as a reward when people choose to do their banking with that specific place, but how does one decide?
Let us help
We have taken the liberty of compiling a list of financial institutions and credit unions with military in mind. Much of the research we will share with you has been assisted by reference to a blog done by Ryan Guina on the site called the Military Wallet. We have also included some useful pointers from the DCUC (Defense Credit Union Council). This post will also include references from a pamphlet by the DCUC designed to help veterans, service personnel, and military families make decisions about money.
Military-associated banks and credit unions are better at anticipating the challenges that service members, military families, and even veterans will face. However, even within military-associated financial institutions, some places stand out better than others. Just like each person is unique, banking needs will differ for each person and situation. Hopefully, this blog will help present you with options so you can make the best choice for your situation and unique needs.
What to Consider When Looking
Convenience – You can evaluate convenience in this age of banking by being able to:
- Have access to your accounts 24-7 to be able to review anything about your money and accounts including balances, recent deposits, payments or movement of your money.
- The ability to pay your bills online, or have direct deposits from your job directly into your bank account.
- Withdraw cash from a local ATM (without penalties or extra charges).
- The ability to easily contact customer service when problems arise.
Cost – Fees for Banking Features
- Ultimately you will need to pay for banking services, and many credit unions and banks are free to set their fees for maintaining accounts, writing checks, paying bills online, as well as using ATMs. It will be up to you to know which fees work best for your financial situation and money management.
- Loans, or interest bearing accounts can also have fees associated with them and can be determined by each individual bank or financial institution. By knowing these fees, shopping around and comparing, you will be able to select something that will have the best benefits for your needs.
Service – How do you plan to use your account?
- Determining what you use most with your account can help you know which bank or credit union will serve you the best.
- How frequently do you use ATMs? Non-local or non-associated ATMs have steep fees attached to them and those charges can add up quickly. The option to withdraw without penalty or through a large network of ATMs can be a great feature to have.
- Do you pay most of your bills online or through a different service? Online bill payments may increase the fees you pay if that is not an included service.
- How is the bank or credit union’s customer service reputation? Having a financial institution you can count on to help solve problems and remedy fraud is very valuable when you need it.
Three standout military minded financial institutions are:
These three military minded banks are familiar with the unique needs service members, families, and veterans possess. Each of these banks offer free checking, the option to deposit checks remotely, and the ability to manage your accounts online. Their customer service is clearly dedicated to helping military personnel and they have excellent reputations in placing their customer satisfaction.
Free checking, free replacement checks, no minimum balance, online and mobile access, remote check deposit, ATM reimbursements; home, auto, and personal loans; VA loans; full investment services; a variety of insurance products, financial advice, and planning. Additionally, free online tools, such as the USAA Money Manager; a car-buying service, and more are all available through USAA Federal Savings Bank.
The lack of physical branches is USAA’s main drawback. Their online banking, bill pay, and mobile app, on the other hand, are excellent and reduce the need for branch visits.
USAA can handle all aspects of your financial life, including banking, insurance, and investing. This is one of the few financial institutions that can be considered a one-stop shop for all money needs.
Find out more about USAA HERE
Navy Federal Credit Union
Customers can get free checking, free replacement checks, no minimum balance, online and mobile access, remote check deposit, ATM reimbursements, home, auto, and personal loans, VA loans, full investment services, a variety of insurance products, financial advice and planning, free online tools, and more from Navy Federal Credit Union.
NFCU has a large network of physical branches, and for military members and veterans who live near one of their locations, they are an excellent choice. Although, their comprehensive range of services and competitive VA loan solutions also make choosing them as your bank a great option.
Find out more about NFCU HERE
Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Free banking with direct deposit, online and mobile access; remote check deposit; house, auto, and personal loans; VA loans and insurance products are all available with PenFed. PenFed is well-known for providing low interest rates on loans and CDs. They also have a number of branches, most of which are near military bases.
Find out more about PenFed HERE
Additional Military Minded Financial Institutions
Air Force Federal Credit Union
Checking, savings, investments (via Infinex Financial Group), auto and house loans, VA loans, and credit cards are all available with AFCU. MoneyTracker for account transactions, online calculators, online bill pay, and more are included.
Learn more about AFCU HERE
Armed Forces Bank
AFB includes options like checking, savings, CDs, IRAs, money market accounts, auto, consumer, and house loans, VA loans, and credit cards. Online financial education, online bill pay, online banking, and mobile banking are all available.
Learn more about AFB HERE
Major Banks that have Military Options
Chase Bank- Chase Military Banking
Chase Bank is not a specified Military Bank, but it does provide military banking options designed especially for current and previous service members. This bank is a huge supporter of veteran assistance, and was a co-founder of the Veterans Job Mission. This program involves over 260 companies who have a goal to hire one million veterans. Chase bank has succeeded in hiring more than 10,000 as part of this effort.
Current and past service members are eligible to open the Chase Premier Plus Checking account, which comes with Chase military banking privileges. There’s no monthly service cost, no minimum balance requirement, no fee for basic checks, money orders, or cashier’s checks, and a number of other perks.
Learn more about Chase bank HERE
Bank of America Military
Find out more details about BofA Military Accounts HERE
US Bank Military Banking
Find out more details about US Bank Military Accounts HERE
Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking
Find out more details about Wells Fargo Military Accounts HERE
Make the Choice Best for You
Banks work best at taking care of your money when they meet all the needs you will have. Shopping around and making sure you know all the options available will let you make the best choice.
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