Information about this product has been collected independently by the author. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Table of Contents
- Methodology for This List
- Top Military Financial Institutions
- Other Notable Military Financial Institutions:
- Major Banks With Military Accounts
- Chase Bank – Chase Military Banking
- Bank of America Military
- U.S. Bank Military Banking
- Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking
- Local and Regional Credit Unions
- Highest Interest Rates
Service members and their families have unique banking needs. It’s not uncommon for service members to travel frequently, relocate, work irregular hours, live overseas, maintain multiple official addresses in a year, etc. All of this can make banking difficult if you don’t use a military financial institution.
Military banks and credit unions are better at anticipating and meeting the needs of military families. Even then, they aren’t all created equal. We created this list of military financial institutions to help you narrow down the list and choose a bank that meets your needs.
I’ll run through the methodology used to compare the banks we list, but I’ll preface it by saying I can’t list every military bank and credit union in existence.
The Defense Credit Union Council consists of more than 180 credit union members with branches on military installations around the world. Collectively, they serve more than 25 million members. That doesn’t include other banks or financial institutions that aren’t classified as credit unions.
Methodology for This List
We can’t cover 180+ financial institutions in this article. Most of the credit unions you will find at your local base or military installation will do a fair job at offering you stable financial products and services for most basic banking needs. We focused on some of the military banks and credit unions offering the widest array of services that cater to the military population.
This includes features such as:
- Dedication to the military mission
- Free checking
- Remote check deposit through smartphones or scanners
- Free ATMs and ATM fee refunds
- Smartphone and tablet apps for full banking needs
- Full financial services, including loans, investments, insurance and other products
- Accessibility – either physical branches or excellent mobile banking options
- Additional features, such as savings account interest rates and CD rates
Inclusion on this page doesn’t mean this is the best financial institution for your banking needs, and not including a financial institution doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy. The above features help us narrow down the sheer number of financial institutions to a more manageable number.
From there, we went based on their features, size, accessibility and dedication to the military mission. While many large, commercial banks have military departments, they often don’t have the same understanding of service members’ needs as some of the financial institutions dedicated almost entirely to serving service members and their families.
Top Military Financial Institutions
The following chart lists our top-rated military financial institutions. We have avoided giving them a specific numerical ranking, as each of the top three will meet the needs of almost any military member.
If you are already a member of one of these banks and you are happy, then don’t change. But you may find that one or more of these military financial institutions offers something your current bank doesn’t offer. In that case, it may be worth your time to look deeper.
|Features||USAA Federal Savings Bank||Navy Federal Credit Union||Pentagon Federal Credit Union|
|Free Checking Accounts||USAA classic checking||Everyday Checking, Active-Duty Checking, Campus Checking and Easy Checking||PenFed Free Checking account|
|Free replacement checks||Yes||Yes||No|
|ATM Availability||Free use of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs nationwide||30,000 free ATMs||More than 40,000 surcharge-free ATMs within the U.S. network|
|ATM Fee Refunds||up to $15 per month||up to $20 per month||None;
Free withdrawals from PenFed ATMs; otherwise $1.50 withdrawal fee on some accounts
|Mobile Check Deposit||Scanner, iOS, Android, mail option||Scanner, iOS, Android, mail option||iOS, Android|
|Free online bill pay||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mortgages / VA Loans||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Insurance Products||Auto, home, life, health, renters', rental property insurance, valuable property, flood, umbrella, motorcycle, RV, boats, small business and more||Auto, home, renters, life||Auto, home, life, health|
|Investment Services||Investment advisors, full-service brokerage account, in-house mutual funds, stocks and bonds, annuities, investment calculators and other tools||Investment advisors, mutual funds, stocks and bonds and annuities||PenFed Wealth Management Program offered through CUNA Brokerage Services|
|International toll-free customer service||Yes: https://gethuman.com/phone-number/USAA/customer-service/eI5||Yes: https://www.navyfederal.org/contact-us/phone-numbers.html||Yes, from certain locations - https://www.penfed.org/Contact-Us/|
|Smart Phone / Tablet Apps||iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets||iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets||iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets|
|Additional services||Car-buying service; travel agency; member shopping discounts||PenFed Car Buying Service|
|Tools||USAA Money Manager |
track spending and budgeting; budgeting tools, retirement planning tools; variety of financial calculators
|Variety of financial calculators||Variety of financial calculators|
|Learn More:||Visit USAA Federal Savings Bank||Visit Navy Federal Credit Union||Visit Pentagon Federal Credit Union|
There are several similarities between these three military banks. They all offer free checking, the ability to manage your finances online and through your mobile phone or tablet, the ability to deposit checks remotely and more. The other benefits include excellent customer service and a dedication to serving the military community. This goes a long way in my book. Here are some quick high points for each of these three banks.
USAA Federal Savings Bank
USAA Federal Savings Bank offers 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, including the USAA Money Manager; a car-buying service and more.
You can run your entire financial household through USAA, including banking, insurance and investments. Few companies offer such a wide range of high-quality services.
The biggest downside to USAA is a lack of physical branches. However, their online banking, bill pay and mobile app are top-notch and eliminate the need for many branch visits.
Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union offers their customers 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; 350 physical branches and more.
NFCU offers competitive VA loan products and a wide range of services. Their extensive network of physical branches makes this a good choice for service members and veterans who live near an NFCU branch.
Learn more about Navy Federal Credit Union.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union
PenFed offers free checking with direct deposit, online and mobile access; remote check deposit; home, auto and personal loans; VA loans and insurance products. PenFed is well-known for offering competitive interest rates on loans and CDs. They also have numerous branches, primarily located near military installations.
Learn more about Pentagon Federal Credit Union.
Other Notable Military Financial Institutions:
There are several other notable military banks and credit unions that go along with the big three financial institutions mentioned in the above table. Some notable military banks include:
Air Force Federal Credit Union
Account types include checking, savings, investments (through Infinex Financial Group), auto and home loans, VA loans and credit cards. Features MoneyTracker to monitor account transactions, online calculators, online bill pay and more.
Learn more: Air Force Federal Credit Union.
Armed Forces Bank
Account types include checking, savings, CDs, IRAs, money market accounts, auto, consumer and home loans, VA loans and credit cards. Features online financial education section, online bill pay, online banking and mobile banking.
Learn more: Armed Forces Bank.
Major Banks With Military Accounts
Many major financial institutions also offer accounts for military members. These often come with free checking (usually requires direct deposit), and some other perks. Be sure to compare their features with your current bank and the military institutions listed above to see which is best for your needs.
Chase Bank – Chase Military Banking
Chase Bank deserves high praise for its military banking features and its efforts in the military community. While it is not specifically a military banking institution, it does offer a military banking product specifically designed for current and former service members.
Chase supports the military and veteran community through the Veteran Jobs Mission, which they co-founded in 2011. This coalition of more than 260 companies has committed to hiring one million veterans. Chase has hired more than 10,000 veterans as part of this program.
Chase Military Banking Features: Current and former service members are eligible to open the Chase Premier Plus Checking account with Chase military banking benefits. Features include no monthly service fee, no minimum balance requirement, no fee for basic checks, no fee for money orders or cashier’s checks and a host of additional benefits.
Chase Bank Sign-up Bonus: Chase currently has a $225 sign-up offer for new customers who open a new Chase Total Checking account and meet requirements. The sign-up bonus offers are available for the following accounts:
- Chase Total Checking: $225 sign-up bonus
- Chase Secure Banking: $100 sign-up bonus
Chase Bank Sign-up Bonus Details: The above sign-up bonus offers are only available for a limited time and have certain requirements, including setting up direct deposit and a minimum initial deposit. These accounts may also have monthly fees unless you meet requirements such as maintaining a minimum account balance or having additional Chase accounts.
Learn more at Chase Bank.
Bank of America Military
Bank of America account types include checking; savings; credit cards; auto, home and personal loans; investment; VA loans; online and mobile banking; free bill pay and more.
Learn More: Bank of America Military Account.
U.S. Bank Military Banking
The U.S. Bank’s military checking accounts feature free checking, online and mobile banking; online and mobile bill pay; free non-U.S. bank ATM transactions; free mobile check deposits and more. They also offer saving on mortgage closing costs, 100 free self-directed investment trades, free U.S. Bank logo checks and 50% off all other personal styles, additional Easy Checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees and more.
Learn More: U.S. Bank Military Banking.
Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking
Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking offers online and mobile banking; checking and savings accounts; auto, home, and personal loans, VA loans; homeowners, flood and mortgage insurance; online tools for monitoring budgeting, spending and saving; digital wallet options; up to four free ATM cash withdrawals per statement cycle at non-Wells Fargo ATMs and investment and wealth management services.
Learn more: Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking.
Local and Regional Credit Unions
Don’t forget to look at the credit unions at your local base or region. Many of these financial institutions are more convenient if you need to visit a bank or credit union in person. You may also need to open an account with a different bank or credit union if you are stationed overseas and need an account in the local currency. Many credit unions offer foreign currency accounts if they have a branch at an overseas location. Larger banks don’t always offer this service.
As with everything, determine the items that are most essential to you, and find the service that is the best match for your needs.
Highest Interest Rates
Most of the banks listed above are full-service banks, meaning they offer just about every type of banking service you may need – checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, loans, credit cards and sometimes even insurance and investing. Most of these banks also offer an extensive ATM network and several physical locations.
Not all full-service banks offer high-interest rates on their savings accounts. Some of the highest interest rates in the nation are found at online-only banks.