Freedom Credit Union is an established financial institution serving Greater Philadelphia and controlling about $1.1 billion in total customer assets as of January 2023. It was founded in 1934 and today is more than 70,000 members strong. This credit union, also referred to as FCU, is known for its customer care and community outreach in Philly.
In terms of Freedom Credit Union’s banking products, they offer some highly competitive CD (certificate of deposit) rates to their members with their 5 year CD yielding 4.86% APY (annual percentage yield) is one of the highest offers in the country currently.
To see if this credit union and their CD rates are right for you, continue reading our review below.
Freedom Credit Union CD Rates + Account Details
Freedom Credit Union currently has only one type of CD account available and this is a standard certificate of deposit. Terms are available for between six and 60 months or five years. See the current rates on these accounts below.
To put these yields into perspective, the current national average for a 12 month CD and a 60 month CD sit at 1.28% and 1.21% APY, respectively, according to FDIC data.
Even the top yields offered from FDIC-insured online banks are just barely inching over the 4.50% APY mark for both 12 and 60 month terms – so this 60 month CD offered by Freedom Credit Union is one of the most competitive CD rates on the market for 5 year terms.
Minimum Deposit Requirements
The minimum opening deposit required for all certificates is $500 for members over the age of 25 or just $250 for members equal to or younger than 25 years old. This is a unique rule that may make these accounts slightly more attractive to young adults, for whom CDs and other savings accounts probably aren’t top of mind.
Compounding and Crediting Interest
Dividends are compounded and credited monthly for standard certificates with Freedom Credit Union.
You are permitted to withdraw your interest each month without penalty by transferring the funds to another account with FCU or a separate bank, or you can just leave it in there to continue compounding.
Grace Period and Early Withdrawal Fees
Freedom Credit Union has a standard grace period of 10 days upon the maturity of your CD. During this 10 day window you can modify your CD – either by deposit amount or term – or close it out entirely.
If nothing is done during the grace period your CD will automatically renew into a new CD with the same term and the going APY at that time.
If you need access to the funds in your CD prior to its maturity you will face an early withdrawal penalty fee.
Early withdrawal fees are as follows:
- Early withdrawal from a certificate of less than or equal to six months will incur a penalty fee equal to 90 days’ worth of interest
- Early withdrawal from a certificate of between 12 and 36 months will incur a penalty fee equal to 180 days’ worth of interest
- Early withdrawal from a certificate of between 48 and 60 months will incur a penalty fee equal to 360 days’ worth of interest
If you withdraw within six days of taking out a CD, you’ll pay a penalty fee equal to seven days’ worth of interest.
All CDs with Freedom Credit Union are federally insured by the NCUA up to the permitted limit of $250,000 per account, per depositor.
Freedom Credit Union does not offer any non-standard types of certificates such as bump-up CDs or no-penalty CDs.
How To Join Freedom Credit Union
Unfortunately, not just anyone can start banking with Freedom Credit Union. Only those living, working, going to school, or otherwise finding themselves often in select counties around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are eligible to join. These counties are:
Attending church or volunteering in these counties also counts. Basically, you just need to be associated with one of the qualifying counties to be eligible for membership.
If you’re nowhere near one of these counties and you don’t have a direct family member who’s a member, you won’t be able to join Freedom Credit Union. And unlike many credit unions, particularly larger ones that are online-only, there is no workaround for people to join through other means such as becoming a member of a particular nonprofit or making a charitable donation.
For those who do qualify for membership, there are a couple of things you’ll need to do to join the credit union. First, you’ll fill out an application by providing your personal information, employment information, social security number, and mailing address. Normal stuff.
Then, you’ll follow the steps to open a Primary Share account. This is a savings account that serves as your ticket to membership and represents your share of the credit union. You’re only required to deposit $5 when signing up but can deposit as much as you want. This account does earn interest at a rate of 0.50%, which isn’t great compared to the – albeit much higher than it normally is – national average of 0.33%. We don’t really recommend using this account for most of your savings because it isn’t going to come close to beating (or in 2023 times, softening the blow of) inflation. For that, go for a high-yield online savings account.
Once your share account is set up, you can open any other accounts you’re interested in now or come back to the site later to start that process.
You can open an account completely online or visit an in-person branch to do this along with a banker. That said, there are only four branch locations around Philadelphia. You can find all of Freedom Credit Union locations by using the aforementioned link.
Freedom Credit union offers a number of exclusive member perks such as discounts at resorts and attractions in the community. Stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Pocono Mountains; unwind at the CoCo Key Resort at Mt. Laurel; or visit Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey; Washington, D.C., or Lake George, New York; at discounted rates just for being a member.
Freedom Credit Union Customer Sentiment
Reviews of Freedom Credit Union’s customer support are overwhelmingly positive. Especially if you do most of your banking in person at a branch, you can expect quality customer service. This credit union seems to put emphasis on taking time with its members and this is reflected in the fact that many people stick with FCU for many years, even decades.
As for the less-than-ideal parts, some members complain about the sign up and application processes to open new accounts saying that they’re lengthy or frustrating. To us, these don’t seem to be any different from the standard.
The Freedom Credit Union mobile app is what we like to see with high ratings for both Apple and Android users. As of January 2023, the app has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on both Google Play and the App Store.
It’s fairly common to see traditional banks and credit unions still using outdated systems or practices, but Freedom Credit Union’s app is reliable and intuitive with smooth functionality. It’s not weighed down with the bells and whistles that come with other banking apps, and this is a strength. But it’s still modern enough to not be infuriating to younger folks.
If you’re in the market for a long term CD and are fortunate enough to join Freedom Credit Union, then their 48 month and especially their 60 month CDs are going to be hard to beat.
That said, their shorter term deposits are competitive, but similar rates can also be found with other credit unions that have nationwide acceptance as well as online, FDIC-insured banks.
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