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Should I Use PenFed Credit Union Checking or Another Credit Union?
Old 02-28-2014, 09:24 AM   #1
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Should I Use PenFed Credit Union Checking or Another Credit Union?

I currently do my banking with Bank of America and I don't have to pay many fees because I have my paycheck direct deposited into their checking account.

I am preparing for early retirement and when I enter that phase, I clearly won't have a regular paycheck, so I thought that I should switch my checking to a credit union.

I am a member of two credit unions. I am a member of PenFed and I have my mortgage and an equity loan through them. I am also a member of a state goverment employee credit union based on my government employment years ago.

If I switch to a credit union, which do you think is a better choice? They both sound similar- no monthly fees, no per check fee, no fee for account assistance, billpay. The only differences I can see is that PenFed will give me access to some ATMs where I can deposit a check if necessary, instead of having to mail it in. The government credit union offers a small amount of interest on its checking accounts and you can have 6 ATM transactions a month with no fee and then after that it is $1. I don't plan on using the brick and mortar branch for either, but if I had to, the government credit union would be closer.

So which one do I go with?
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:29 AM   #2
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Good idea to distance yourself from any mega-bank who will always be looking for a way to charge you some sort of service fee. As to which CU, I'd go with the one I felt offered the most convenience - sounds like that might be PenFed.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:33 AM   #3
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I have accounts at both, but my Bank Of America account has no fees and has been permanently waived due to my length of service with them. I always thought I needed direct deposit to stay fee free, so I called them to inquire what fees might be associated with my account when I retired last year. That is how I found out my fees were on permanent waiver.

It's probably worth a call to see what your account status is. Let them know you are retiring and won't have direct deposit anymore, and that you are probably going to move your account if there are any fees associated with maintaining it.

I don't care for Bank of America much, but you can't beat the convenience of a bank or ATM on virtually every corner.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:40 AM   #4
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Good idea to distance yourself from any mega-bank who will always be looking for a way to charge you some sort of service fee. As to which CU, I'd go with the one I felt offered the most convenience - sounds like that might be PenFed.
Even though I have a Penfed account(s), Chase gave me a fee-free Premier account for my SS check deposit and checking we use for local spending. I got that account since I am a Veteran. Nice of them.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:46 AM   #5
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Even though I have a Penfed account(s), Chase gave me a fee-free Premier account for my SS check deposit and checking we use for local spending. I got that account since I am a Veteran. Nice of them.
Yes it was.

Maybe all the bad publicity big banks have endured the past few years have them reconsidering how they do business. My past experience with BofA wasn't a good one and I've been a strong proponent of doing business with credit unions rather than banks - with the exception of USAA, which is a bank with a focus on their customers similar to that of a credit union.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:47 AM   #6
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With my bank, my monthly ACH transfers from my mutual fund count as "direct deposits" when it comes to fee reduction.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:06 AM   #7
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We use Pentagon FCU exclusively (but have remote access to several other CUs & Banks which we use very little). We have found Pentagon to be the best even without access to one of their Offices as we are about 300 miles from one. We deposit checks which we get very seldom via a Computer/Scanner which is convenient. All retirement payments go there via direct deposit and all bills get paid by them - our financial life is virtually a "hands off" process.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:18 AM   #8
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I have never used pen fed for checking, but I have used them for CDs, a car loan, a couple mortgages and a credit card. Probably would be a fine provider of checking accounts. If you are so inclined, I will put in a plug for Schwab checking. Easily the best service I have ever gotten for banking, free, and they eat the ATM charges for any ATM.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:45 AM   #9
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I use a credit union that is a member of the CO-OP atm system. I can get cash from most 7-11 stores without any fees. They also have on-line check deposit. I find them very convenient and I don't pay any fees. The credit union is in California and I live in Virginia. If need be, I can go to any credit union service center (usually a local CU) and transfer money between my various credit unions or withdraw cash.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:13 AM   #10
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I have never used pen fed for checking, but I have used them for CDs, a car loan, a couple mortgages and a credit card. Probably would be a fine provider of checking accounts.
FWIW, yes they are. I've had one with PenFed for over 30 years.
I also have one with USAA, and another with Chase. All are free, and no problems with any of them, ever.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:19 AM   #11
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If I were you I might use a third credit union start here to look around.
aSmarterChoice.org :: Find a credit union
Of course I love my brick and mortar local credit union. They have a bunch of branches around where I live.
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