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6 Best Banks for the Military

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Military banks and credit unions are institutions that specialize in working with serving members of the military – whether in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard.

These banks and credit unions can often offer more flexibility to the military than civilians are not offered. These flexibilities are generally necessary given their functions. For example, if an active duty member is sent on deployment, it is understandable that they cannot meet minimum balance requirements. As such, many military banks have lower or no minimum balance requirements for checking and savings accounts or monthly service fees, among other benefits.

Another perk enjoyed by service members at these institutions is low-interest loans, as service members can be particularly affected by government shutdowns or periods of service they may need to unexpectedly extend.

Here are the best banks for the military, along with the benefits available to active and former military members.

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USAA

The United Services Automobile Association is a financial services group that provides banking, investing, and insurance services to individuals and families who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

USAA offers benefits, products and discounts to US service members and their families. These include free checking and savings accounts with no minimum balance fee, free checking, free rewards debit cards, free overdraft protection, and free online bill payment. There are also no ATM fees.

Some of the other benefits of this bank include:

  • Military pay available in advance with direct deposit
  • Competitive loan and credit card rates
  • Teams of people to help before, during and after deployment
  • Up to 25% savings with Avis, Hertz, Enterprise or Budget
  • Price matching on hotels, resorts, cruises and vacation packages and travel insurance with service charge waiver
  • ADT home security and surveillance discounts for your home and family, plus a three-month deployment credit

USAA is ranked among the Top 100 Banks and Best Online Banks for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See review.

Federal Naval Credit Union

Navy Federal was founded in 1933 by and for Navy members who wanted to help themselves and their colleagues achieve their financial goals. Today, it includes officers and enlisted personnel from all branches of the armed forces, Department of Defense employees, and their family members. Members benefit from:

  • Interest chequing accounts offering a return of 0.35% for a minimum daily balance of $1,500
  • 12-month stock certificates and CDs offer 3% returns
  • Auto loans with annual rates as low as 1.79%
  • The basic current account earns interest and does not charge monthly fees

Navy Federal Credit Union is ranked among the Top 100 Banks and Credit Unions for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See review.

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Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Physical branches are found only in Washington, DC, and some bases in the United States and abroad, but this bank is much easier to reach than the others on this list. While military banks generally require you to be a member of the armed forces to join, PenFed allows membership if you or a family member is or was in the military or if you work for or belong to qualified organizations such as the DoD, Voices for America’s Troops or the National Association of Military Families. Members will enjoy:

  • Chequing accounts offering 0.15% APY for balances less than $20,000 and 0.35% APY for any amount above
  • Savings account with a minimum deposit of $5
  • Free access to over 85,000 ATMs through the Allpoint network

PenFed is ranked among the top 100 banks for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See review.

Federal Credit Union Security Service

Federal Security Service was originally founded for the benefit of members of the Air Force and currently operates branches in Texas, Colorado and Utah. The good news is that the credit union participates in the creation of shared branches, so you can bank freely in thousands of partner locations across the country. Members will enjoy:

  • No minimum balance on checking accounts
  • Competitive pricing on CDs with terms as low as 3 months
  • Access to over 30,000 ATMs
  • Personal and auto loan rates via their website

Security Service Federal is ranked among the Top 100 Banks and Credit Unions for 2022 by GOBankingRates. See review.

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Andrews Federal Credit Union

Andrews is stricter than other banks on who can join, but non-military residents of Washington, DC can apply for membership, as can members of the American Consumer Council, a nonprofit organization. They offer their members:

  • 0.30% APY with a minimum monthly deposit of $50 or 0.05% with a minimum balance of $100
  • CD rates ranging from 0.05% return on a 12-month certificate with a minimum opening deposit of $1,000
  • Auto loans with an APR as low as 1.99%
  • Shared ATM locations nationwide with toll-free access

Service Credit Union

Service Credit Union was founded in 1957 to support service members and their families, and now has 50 walk-in locations in New Hampshire, North Dakota, Massachusetts, and even Germany. The union also serves former members of the military and DoD employees, certain New Hampshire employee groups, and members of the American Consumer Council. Members will enjoy:

  • ATM Fee Discount with Daily Check
  • Branches shared with locations nationwide
  • Annual savings rate of up to 10% APY with a deposit of up to $10,000 if you are currently on active duty in a combat zone as defined by the bank
  • Exclusive savings benefits that pay higher dividends than regular accounts if you’re a member of the armed forces or a veteran

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private banking and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo.