Founded in 1933 in Sacramento, California, Golden 1 Credit Union began as a financial institution for employees of California and was created under the name California State Employees’ Credit Union #1. Today, it is known as Golden 1.
This financial institution controls more than $18 billion in consumer assets with over 70 branches and home loan centers across the state of California. As of 2022, Golden 1 Credit Union has more than 1.1 million member-owners.
Golden 1 is a member-only credit union. To become a member, you must be a resident of California. Learn more about how to join this credit union, what products are available, how competitive the certificates of deposit are, and whether or not this credit union is a good fit for you here.
In this post you'll learn:
Certificates of Deposit
There is only one type of certificate of deposit with Golden 1 Credit Union and it is a standard CD account. Referred to as term savings certificates, these CDs are available in term lengths from 3 to 60 months.
Golden 1 uses a tiered rate structure that awards higher interest rates for higher balances. See the interest rates available now in the table below.
Standard Term Savings Certificate Rates
|Term||$500 – $9,999.99||$10,000 – $24,999.99||$25,000 – $49,999.99||$50,000 – $99,999.99||$100,000+|
|3 – 5 months||0.15% APY||0.15% APY||0.20% APY||0.20% APY||0.25% APY|
|6 – 11 months||0.30% APY||0.30% APY||0.35% APY||0.35% APY||0.40% APY|
|12 – 17 months||0.50% APY||0.50% APY||0.50% APY||0.55% APY||0.60% APY|
|18 – 23 months||0.50% APY||0.50% APY||0.50% APY||0.55% APY||0.60% APY|
|24 – 35 months||0.65% APY||0.65% APY||0.65% APY||0.70% APY||0.75% APY|
|36 – 47 months||0.70% APY||0.70% APY||0.75% APY||0.80% APY||0.85% APY|
|48 – 59 months||0.80% APY||0.80% APY||0.80% APY||0.85% APY||0.90% APY|
|60 months||1.00% APY||1.00% APY||1.00% APY||1.04% APY||1.10% APY|
Wondering how these rates compare to other CDs? The national average interest rate on a 6-month certificate is 0.10%, on a 12-month CD is 0.17%, on a 24-month CD is 0.22%, and on a 60-month CD is 0.32% according to recent FDIC data. Note that these rates are on the rise.
These rates are fairly competitive when compared to the best products out there, but they’re certainly not the highest we’ve seen. Many digital banks like Synchrony and Marcus by Goldman Sachs are beating these rates by a wide margin. A five-year CD with Synchrony, for example, will earn an interest rate of 2.25% right now.
Funding the CD
You can fund this account using any of the following methods:
- Mobile or paper check deposit
- Cash deposit
- ACH transfer (initiated by Golden 1 or an external bank)
- Domestic wire transfer
As with most CDs, you are not permitted to make additional deposits into this account after opening and funding it.
The minimum deposit requirement when opening this account is $500, which is fairly average for similar products. After opening, there is no low balance fee. There is no minimum balance required to earn interest or monthly maintenance fee for this account.
Interest is compounded and credited monthly. You can optionally have the dividends paid out monthly if you want to collect regular payments as a source of income, which many customers do. There is no extra charge for choosing this option and you can choose any payout method that works for you between bank transfer, cash, or check. Otherwise, dividends will be credited automatically to your account each month.
Another noteworthy aspect of this account is that you can use the funds as collateral for a Certificate Loan. A certificate loan with Golden 1 Credit Union is a secured loan with lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than unsecured loan products with the credit union. This is a good choice for borrowers who want to build their credit as these loans are easier to qualify for and accrue less interest than similar alternatives.
And if you do choose to use your CD balance as collateral when applying, the principal will still continue to earn interest until you repay the loan or the account matures.
Many banks and credit unions offer six-month CDs as the shortest terms available, so it’s nice to see Golden 1 starting at three months for its standard CDs. There are no step-up or bump-up CDs, variable-rate CDs, no-penalty CDs, or brokered CDs available with this credit union.
Grace Period and Early Withdrawal Fees
All CDs automatically are set to renew when they mature. When your account reaches maturity, there is a seven-day grace period during which you can withdraw some or all of your funds or close your account without incurring early withdrawal penalties if you do not wish to renew your certificate.
You will pay a fee if you remove money from this account (not including monthly interest payments) before it reaches maturity. The early withdrawal penalties for making a withdrawal before your account matures are as follows:
- Early withdrawal from a term of between 3 and 11 months will incur a penalty equal to 90 days’ interest
- Early withdrawal from a term of between 12 and 23 months will incur a penalty equal to 180 days’ interest
- Early withdrawal from a term of 24 months or more will incur a penalty equal to 365 days’ interest
Note that these early withdrawal fees are pretty average for standard certificate accounts. If you don’t want your account to renew automatically, you can provide written notice prior to maturity or during the grace period.
All Golden 1 certificates of deposit are federally insured by the NCUA up to the limit of $250,000 per account, per depositor. These accounts are just as safe and secure as any other CDs.
How to Become a Member
Anyone living in California is eligible to become a member of Golden 1 Credit Union. There are no specific communities you must be a part of if you are a resident of California.
You can apply in person at a branch location, online using this link, or by calling 1-877-465-3361. This application only takes a few minutes to fill out.
You may be eligible for membership if you are an active-duty military member who typically lives in California but you are currently located out of state. If you do not live in California but your family member or domestic partner is a member of Golden 1, you can also join this credit union.
The final way to become a member is by being an employee of one of 1,000 Select Employee Groups across the country. These include nonprofit organizations, universities, and more. Indicate in your application that you do not live or work in California and select “I belong to a Select Employee Group” to find your place of employment.
If your application is approved, all you need to do to join is open a Golden 1 savings account with a deposit of at least $1. This is a Regular Savings account that earns an interest rate of 0.05%. With this account, which makes you a member-owner for as long as it is open and active, there are no monthly maintenance fees and in-network ATM transactions are unlimited (as long as you stay within your monthly limit of six withdrawals/transfers per federal guidelines for savings accounts).
There are several other savings and checking accounts you may choose to open as well when becoming a member, but the one mentioned above is the only one that is required for membership.
Consumer Sentiment & Reviews
So what is it like actually being a customer of this credit union? Customer sentiment for this credit union is mostly positive, with many reviewers reporting smooth experiences when opening new accounts and helpful customer service interactions. High interest rates draw many new customers to the credit union and keep them satisfied.
But there are negatives as well. Many complaints are about the credit cards specifically but some deposit account users say that this credit union is difficult to work with when problems arise such as unauthorized transactions or changing the ownership of an account.
Overall, it seems like in-person service is better for most than online service and is a strong point for this institution. According to reviewers, the customer service you are likely to receive at a branch may be different than that you are likely to receive when you call or email.
While it is possible to open and manage a term savings certificate completely online, there are Golden 1 Credit Union branch locations as well. There are 50 full-service branch locations in 45 cities across California as well as five non-teller branches where you can perform basic transactions like deposits and withdrawals. There are 210 Golden 1 branded ATMs that members can use surcharge-free. See all branch and ATM locations here.
App reviews show a rather surprising difference between Apple and Android user experiences. The app has a rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store, indicating that it might not be optimized as well for Android devices as it is for Apple. Keep this in mind but note that the app is in the process of being updated for Android devices. At least for Apple users, the most recent update brought major improvements.
The app is functional but prone to “breaking” and is not always as responsive as it could be. The user interface is simple, which may be a strength or weakness depending on what you’re used to. Fans of comprehensive financial apps from giants like Chase and Bank of America may be disappointed.
There are a few different ways to get in touch with a customer support representative. The first is to call the member service contact center at 1-877-465-3361. This phone line, which is not dedicated to any specific account, is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm Pacific Time and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time.
Alternatively, you can email your question or request to email@example.com and you should receive a response within one business day. You can also see the FAQ section of the site for help with general questions.
Golden 1 also offers 24/7 technical support for mobile and online banking. The number for this is 1-844-670-9542.
If you qualify for membership, Golden 1 Credit Union might be right for you. While you can find better CD rates with other banks, the rates available from Golden 1 Credit Union are definitely not bad and it’s easy to become a member. These certificates have low minimum opening deposit requirements and reasonable early withdrawal penalties and there are many convenient branch locations across California.
And with a little more flexibility than most including the option to use the funds in your CD as collateral for a certificate secured loan or receive regular interest payments, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a standard CD that has less strict terms and conditions. But if you’re just hunting for the best rates or you don’t want to have to join a credit union (or aren’t eligible), you should probably keep looking.