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Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the nation by a wide margin and has been since the 1960s.
This massive financial cooperative was founded in 1933 by Navy Department employees as the Navy Department Employees’ Credit Union of the District of Columbia.
Dropping the unwieldy name and extending membership to all Navy employees worldwide (rather than just those in D.C.), the credit union became known as the Navy Federal Credit Union in 1954.
Fast forward to today, you no longer have to be affiliated with the Navy to become a member of Navy Federal, but you do need to have military or family ties to join.
Navy Federal is a global credit union with international locations and hundreds of branches, but you’ll want to consider factors beyond accessibility before applying for membership.
Acclaimed not for its savings accounts but for its loans and customer service, Navy Federal Credit Union could be a good option for you, but it depends on what you’re looking for. For information about Navy Federal’s suite of NCUA-insured deposit products, keep reading.
In this post you'll learn:
Navy Federal deposit accounts are federally insured by the NCUA up to $250,000 per depositor or $500,000 for joint accounts.
Navy Federal is unique in that it offers several different types of certificates, some standard and some variable-rate; some short-term and some requiring much longer investments.
Navy Federal Credit Union CD Rates
|deposit amount:||$1,000 – $50k||$100k +|
Navy Federal standard certificate accounts require a minimum deposit of $1,000. To put these rates in perspective, the current national average for 12 month CDs sits at just 0.16% APY right now, so 0.55 – 0.60% for the same term is pretty decent. That said, if you’re comfortable with an FDIC insured online savings account there are still accounts that hold APYs above 0.60% APY. For example, the Axos High Yield Savings account still holds an APY of 0.61% APY!
In a normal interest rate environment, NFCU’s deposit rates would vary by deposit amount, however in today’s market a minimum deposit of anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 is going to have the same payoff in terms of APY.
Navy Federal also sells a 3 year variable rate certificate. This type of CD enables you to leverage upward market trends to earn more interest, but it also leaves you more vulnerable to downward market trends.
Rates on these variable certificates adjust automatically at 12 and 24 months after issuance, at which point you can also add money if you choose, but will not decrease more than 0.50% of the original rate. The current APY on this type of account is 0.42%, which is less attractive when compared to a standard Navy Federal 3 year CD, so you definitely don’t want to commit to one of these unless you’re almost certain rates are going to increase significantly within at least a year.
There are EasyStart and Special EasyStart certificates as well. See EasyStart rates below.
Navy Federal Credit Union Easy Start CD Rates
One benefit of an EasyStart certificate is that it only requires an opening deposit of $50, but these accounts earn slightly lower APYs than their standard counterparts, making this really only a decent option for those that don’t have at least $1,000 to deposit (and maintain) but still want to earn while they save. There is no maximum balance or account limit associated with these CDs.
The Special EasyStart certificate is a 12 month term with a $50 minimum deposit, $3,000 maximum balance, and a 3.50% APY.
A Special EasyStart certificate account is available only to Navy Federal customers that have checking and direct deposit accounts with Navy Federal. Money may be added to EasyStart certificates at any time. Customers are limited to one Special EasyStart account per member.
All certificate dividends are compounded daily and credited monthly. These will be deposited to the certificate account automatically unless a dividend distribution option is chosen when the account is opened. There is a generous 21 day grace period for Navy Federal certificates.
Early Withdrawal Fees
Early withdrawal from terms of
- 12 months or less will be charged fees equal to whichever option costs less: 90 days’ interest or all dividends on the amount withdrawn since issuance/renewal.
- Early withdrawal from terms greater than 12 months will cost either 180 days’ interest or all dividends on the amount withdrawn since issuance/renewal and from terms of five years or more will cost 365 days’ interest or all dividends.
Navy Federal money market savings accounts are fine, but you’ll see that they’re not particularly attractive.
Navy Federal Credit Union Money Market Rates
|$0 – $9,999||0.40%|
|$10k – $24,999||0.45%|
|$25k – $49,999||0.45%|
The current national average for money market accounts is just 0.07% APY to put these offers in perspective, however slightly better rates can be had through online institutions such as Vio Bank, Tab Bank, or Discover.
A $2,500 minimum average daily balance is required to earn interest, but you won’t be charged a fee if your balance drops below this. Dividends are compounded and credited monthly. For every transaction you make over the six transaction limits enforced under federal regulation D, you’ll be charged $10.
An initial share with Navy Federal costs $5 and gets you a Share Savings Account. This is also how much you’ll need to keep in your savings account. With an APY of 0.25%, this savings product isn’t ideal for growing your money, but it doesn’t come with many inconveniences such as monthly maintenance or low balance fees. It does come with a $3 quarterly inactivity fee if your account is inactive for 12 months during any given quarter. Dividends are compounded and credited monthly.
Navy Federal also offers a SaveFirst Account with an APY of 0.40%. With a slightly better rate of return but equal minimum deposit, this account is a better option for anyone wanting to put money away for designated purposes like weddings or vacations. Select a term between 3 months and 5 years and watch your deposit grow (a little). Dividends are compounded daily and credited monthly. This savings account is going to earn you more than a share savings account, but a money market account might be a better option.
Navy Federal blows other credit unions out of the water with its asset and membership numbers. They hold more than $112 billion in total assets and over $86 billion in member savings and deposits, with just shy of 9 million total members.
Though the credit union is headquartered in Virginia, you don’t have to live anywhere near Virginia to access Navy Federal branches or ATMs. There are 343 branches worldwide, some on military bases and some overseas in 26 international locations. In the U.S., Navy Federal has branches in metro D.C., Virginia, California, and Florida. They do not participate in shared branching, but they are part of a network of over 30,000 co-op ATMs.
To be eligible to join Navy Federal, you must have ties to the Department of Defense, the armed forces, the National Guard, or have a family member that does. Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard active duty and retired members all qualify for membership. This credit union is not open membership and you may not join if you do not meet the above membership criteria.
Navy Federal has come to be known for its commitment to its customers. It receives high marks on the loan side and currently features exceptional APYs on the savings side.
It’s also the largest credit union in the country with far-reaching accessibility.