Choosing the right bank as a military family doesn’t have to be stressful. There are plenty of financial institutions that cater specifically to military families! Patty Moore helped us round up the top 3 banks below. Patty is a blogger who is working to grow herself and her blog, and generally writes about her career, her life as a single parent, and personal finances.
Military families have unique financial challenges. As long as one of the spouses is an active military member, the family finances are more likely to remain in a state of flux. Managing personal finances can be more complicated due to the complexity of the military pay system, frequent relocations and periodic deployments, making it nearly impossible to build a solid financial foundation. The closest thing many military families have to a financial foundation is their relationship with their bank or credit union. A military-focused bank or credit union can be the one constant in their financial lives, which are tested early and often by the uncertainty of a military lifestyle.
What Makes Military Banking Institutions Unique
Financial institutions that cater specifically to military members and their families understand these challenges and have structured their products and services around their unique needs. Most offer a full range of banking, saving and lending products designed with military families in mind. Because most are member-owned, profits are used to reduce lending costs and increase savings returns for their members. They also provide financial counseling and educational resources to help military families make smart financial decisions and get the most out of their savings. More importantly, they are dedicated to the military mission, with the capacity to serve members wherever they are assigned or deployed.
Military members have access to a variety of financial institutions that exist solely to serve their needs. Common among the more popular military banks and credit unions are products and services that aren’t always available at other financial institutions, such as completely free checking and savings accounts, free ATM and ATM fee refunds, remote check deposit through smartphones or scanners, and worldwide accessibility. These are on top of the full range of financial services offered, such as student/auto/personal loans, small business loans, investments and insurance. These financial institutions are often well versed in financial programs available to veterans such as veteran mortgage benefits and veteran small business benefits. Here is a sampling of the products and services available from a few of the top military banks and credit unions.
How Military Families Can Save By Choosing Financial Products Geared Towards Them
USAA Bank is one of the largest member-owned banks in the U.S. The company was originally founded as United Services Automobile Association in 1922 by a small group of Army officers to address the unique challenge of obtaining affordable automobile insurance. It then expanded into life insurance and brokerage services, finally adding banking services in 1980. The bank now serves more than 11 million members comprised of active and retired military personnel and their families. Known for its superior customer service and personalized care, USAA Bank offers free checking and savings with just a $25 minimum deposit. Among its unique services is its advanced direct deposit, which makes funds available for service members on business day ahead of the actual payday. While its savings rates are average at best, USAA makes up for it by offering a complete range of investment and insurance products with reduced fees. Its life insurance products are unique in that they are one of the few policies that do not contain a wartime exclusion. USAA’s loan products are very competitive; among them is a 100 percent LTV home equity loan with no fees or appraisal costs.
Navy Federal Credit Union
If it’s rates you’re looking for, the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has them, starting with an interest-bearing checking account that offers a 0.35 percent yield on minimum daily balances of $1,500. Its CDs and savings accounts offer market-busting rates as well. Its 12-month Share certificate currently pays a 3 percent return and a $5 minimum balance in its savings account will yield you 0.25 percent. On the lending side, members can obtain 100 percent home financing as well as auto loans with APRs as low as 1.79 percent. Free ATM access is not a problem because NFCU is networked with tens of thousands of ATMs from other credit unions across the country. NFCU will also rebate up to $10 of ATM fees per statement period. NFCU currently offers its most creditworthy members a credit card with an APR of just 6.99 percent.
Armed Forces Bank
Armed Forces Bank has been servicing military members and their families as a family-owned business since 1907. Based in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the bank has physical footprint across most of the south and southwest U.S. and provides global access 24/7, seven days a week through its online and mobile banking platforms. It also provides banking access through service Exchanges days and evenings. The bank offers a full range of banking services including checking, savings, and VA loans. Its rates on savings are not the highest, but it does offer a savings booster program called, “Saving Cents,” which rounds up your Visa Debit Card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference to your savings account.
All of the above are excellent banking choices for military families, and chances are, you may already belong to one (or two!). If you have a bank or credit union that you love, feel free to share it with us in the comments below!