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Navy Federal Credit Union

Get information on the Navy Federal Credit Union.

The NFCU offers similar services to other banks, like ATM access, to its members. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
The NFCU offers similar services to other banks, like ATM access, to its members.

The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), established in 1933, offers banking services to military persons. According to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), a credit union is a non-profit cooperative that is owned by its members and has a board of directors made up of willing volunteers. Credit unions offer low interest rates on loans and pay dividends to its members with the goal of keeping costs as low as possible.

Navy Federal Credit Union Membership Eligibility

The NFCU is not just a credit union for Navy personnel, but is open to members of all branches of the military (Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force) and their family members. Other persons eligible to join include civilian employees, contractors and government employees of the Department of Defense and those enrolled in the officer candidate programs, regardless of military branch. Both active duty and retired personnel can join.

Membership Benefits

The Navy Federal Credit Union offers all of the services of a traditional bank, but usually with lower fees. As of 2008, the benefits of a NFCU membership include:

  • Low fees or no fees (depending on service)
  • Free checks (depending on chosen account)
  • Dividends on account balances
  • Low rates
  • Ownership in the credit union
  • Savings clubs

The NFCU Web site features a search engine that allows members to locate the number of free ATMs in a particular zip code. The ATMs allow account holders to transfer funds, check balances, withdraw up to $600 per day and make deposits into an account.

Understanding Dividends

A dividend is a percentage of the credit union's quarterly or annual earnings that is distributed to its members. The percentage is determined by the board of directors and is based on the type of account or service as well as the balance on that account or service.

NFCU Services

For a credit union to compete with commercial, for-profit banks, it must offer comparable services with lower prices with the added incentive of dividends paid to members.

As of 2008, the Navy Federal Credit Union offered the following types of accounts and services:

  • Savings accounts (share, educational and money market)
  • Checking accounts, including accounts for active duty members, online banking, students and high-balance account-holders
  • Loans (auto, equity, line-of-credit and mortgages)
  • Credit cards and checking debit cards (both personal and business)
  • Investments (retirement plans, trusts and annuities)
  • Small business accounts

Given that additional services could be added at any time, members may want to check the NFCU Web site periodically to verify current services and fee schedules.

Differences between Traditional Banks and NFCU

Besides lower fees and ownership stakes, a credit union differs from a commercial bank in the fact that those with deposits in the credit union hold some form of common relationship, such as an employer or other shared interest. Credit union members are a cooperative group of individuals with similar goals. As a result, participation in the credit union benefits its members instead of corporate shareholders.

As the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues explain, credit unions influence the rates and fees offered by traditional banks by providing competition to what easily could be a monopoly on savings and investments. The Navy Federal Credit Union offers not only a balance to traditional banks, but also a long history of supporting its members.

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