Spectrum Credit Union is a small financial cooperative with just over 100,000 members and less than $4 billion in assets, based primarily in San Francisco and Maryland.
Founded originally as Bechtel Employees Federal Credit Union in 1973, the institution was first intended to serve the banking needs of Bechtel Corporation employees. Becthel Corp is an engineering firm that is one of the largest construction companies in the United States and is the 11th largest privately held company in the country.
Since becoming Spectrum Credit Union, the company made another acquisition in 2012 with the larger Chevron Federal Credit Union. Today, Chevron Federal Credit Union is the parent company to Spectrum.
Spectrum now serves employees of Bechtel, Charles Schwab & Co., residents of San Francisco and Maryland, and more.
Plus, even if you don’t fall within one of their location or employment-based eligibility brackets, you can always join a Spectrum non-profit partner foundation to become a member.
This credit union offers competitive CD and money market rates, making it a strong option for many savers despite a declining interest rate environment.
Spectrum Credit Union CD Rates + Account Details
As with most credit unions, your deposits are federally insured by the NCUA up to $250,000. Spectrum CDs can be opened with just $500, but the APYs scale slightly upward with larger deposit amounts. Below are the current deposit rates and terms available at Spectrum.
Spectrum Credit Union CD Rates
|deposit amount:||$500 – $50k||$100k||$250k|
To put the annual percentage yields listed above in perspective, the current national average for 12 month CDs sits at just 0.26% APY.
Some online banks are still offering 12 month CDs with rates above Spectrum’s, but not by much. In fact, up until April 2020 Spectrum had the most lucrative APY anywhere in the country.
Dividends on these deposit accounts are compounded daily and credited monthly. You can opt to have these deposited back into the certificate, paid out by check, or automatically moved to another deposit account.
If your balance drops below $500, you’ll stop earning interest.
There is a 10 day grace period on these accounts; if you make changes to a CD outside of this window, be prepared to pay for it. The early withdrawal fees for each term are as follows:
- 12 months or less: three months’ interest
- 24 months: six months’ interest
- 36 months: nine months’ interest
- 48 and 60 month: 12 month’s interest
Spectrum Credit Union Money Market Rates + Account Details
Spectrum MarketEdge money market savings accounts offer rates well above the national average just like their deposit products, however, higher APYs can be found with a number of online banks.
Spectrum “MarketEdge” Money Market Rates
|$250 – $249,999.99||1.00%|
There is no minimum balance requirement to meet to avoid fees, but you’ll only earn the above rates on balances of $2,500 or more. If your average daily balance comes in under $2,500, you’ll earn a more modest rate of 0.40% APY which is the same yield as their regular savings account.
There are no monthly maintenance fees and interest is compounded daily and credited monthly. Transactions are limited to no more than six per month.
Other Savings Accounts Offered by Spectrum Credit Union
The $25 Spectrum share that you’ll have to buy to become (and stay) a member of the credit union goes right into a Spectrum Primary Share Savings account. This account comes with an APY of 0.40% and can be added to (above the initial required share deposit). You’ll need to keep your balance above $25 to avoid a $5 monthly low balance fee.
A lucrative youth savings account called MySavings account offers a promotional rate of 7.0% APY on balances up to $1,000. Spectrum members under 21 years of age are eligible for this account, and with a rate like this, it is a fantastic way to get kids excited about savings!
To open this account and earn the 7.0% APY, you’ll need to:
- Have a Social Security number
- Have a valid email address
- Opt into eStatements within 60 days of opening and out of paper statements
Account balances that surpass $1,000 earn the standard APY of 0.40%. Keep your account total above $25 to earn interest, but don’t worry, you won’t be charged any fee for low balances.
Spectrum also offers another savings account type for anyone looking to put away money for specific purposes, called a sub-savings account. When you open a sub-savings account within your primary savings account, you’ll continue earning the same rate but will be able to keep designated funds separate.
There are no monthly maintenance fees for any Spectrum savings accounts. There is, however, a $25 overdraft fee and a $1 fee for out-of-network ATM transactions. Spectrum savings accounts are subject to federal regulation D transaction limits.
About Spectrum Credit Union + Eligibility
There are a number of ways to join Spectrum Credit Union. We’ll go over the easiest ways first. If you don’t find that you’re eligible, don’t worry Spectrum offers many loopholes for membership that allow practically anyone in the US to join. Keep reading to see all of the ways to qualify.
Individuals that qualify include:
- Non-manual Bechtel and affiliate employees
- Charles Schwab & Co. employees who work in, or are paid from, San Francisco
- Spectrum family members or roommates
- U.S. members and employees of Safari Club International or Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Those that live, work, worship, or attend school in qualifying San Francisco neighborhoods (see below, call 510-251-6000 or 800-782-8782 to confirm eligibility)
- Those that live, work, worship, or attend school in Maryland’s Frederick County, Thurmont, Woodsboro, Emmitsburg, or surrounding areas (call to confirm eligibility)
Qualifying San Francisco neighborhoods include:
- Bernal Heights
- Financial District
- Hunters point
- North Beach
- Potrero Hill
- Russian Hill
- South of Market
- Telegraph Hill
- The Mission
- The Panhandle
- Visitacion Valley
- Western Addition
If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you can still join Spectrum by becoming a member of either the Contra Costa County Historical Society (CCCHS) for a $40 annual fee or the Navy League of the United States for (NLUS) for a $55 annual fee. Anyone can join these nonprofit organizations and membership to either will make you eligible for membership with Spectrum Credit Union.
The CCCHS, located in Martinez, California, is devoted to providing historical records and heritage of Contra Costa County to the public. Though many members of this historical society are members of other local historical groups as well, this is not required; and if you so choose, you can become a member without ever setting foot in Contra Costa County. The NLUS dedicates itself to serving members and veterans of the Navy through education and advocacy.
Spectrum Credit Union participates in co-op shared branching with over 5,000 credit union branches. Spectrum members can also access and manage their money at any Chevron branch or through over 85,000 surcharge-free ATMs. There are nine Spectrum branches across California, Texas, Virginia, and Utah and six Chevron branches across California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
At the end of the 2019 fiscal year, Spectrum/Chevron held nearly $3.6 billion in assets, and that figure includes $3 billion in net member loans. There are over 100,000 members across the country.
Although Spectrum Credit Union is rather tiny in size – both by membership and assets held – they still offer some of the best savings rates in the country of any federal credit union.
That said, reports of slow service and occasionally poor customer service can be found on a few review sites online.
Keep in mind, you’ll also have to manage banking without access to in-person branches if you don’t live near one of their very few physical locations.