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3 of the best savings accounts from credit unions

Credit unions offer unique benefits for its members. SDI PRODUCTIONS/Getty Images

If you're in the market for a new savings account, it may seem like there are more choices than ever. Between national bank chains, smaller local and regional banks, credit unions and online banking options, there's no shortage of accounts to choose from.

Some people may prefer credit unions because of their reputations for good customer service, low fees and solid interest rates. But in today's rate environment, savings accounts from credit unions may carry lower APYs than high-yield savings from online banks, along with added restrictions required to qualify for those rates.

Below, we've gathered a few of the best savings account options we've found from credit unions — and how you can find the best high-yield account for you today. Before you get started, explore top savings account rates right now.

3 of the best savings accounts from credit unions

Savings accounts from credit unions have a wide range of interest rates. While they are often higher than large, national banks, they may not be as competitive as many online banks. For this list, we've gathered some top-earning savings accounts from credit unions that are NCUA-insured and have membership options that make them available for a broad range of people.

Alliant Credit Union: 3.10% APY

The High Interest Rate Online Savings Account from Alliant earns 3.10% APY. There are no monthly fees (as long as you opt out of paper statements). To earn the high rate, you'll need to maintain a $100 minimum balance, and you must have least $25 as your initial deposit. The account also comes with an ATM card you can use to access your money at ATMs across the country.

There are several ways you can join Alliant Credit Union. You may be eligible if you work for one of the credit union's partner businesses or organizations, are an immediate family of a current member or you live or work in an eligible community near Alliant's Chicago headquarters. Even if you can't qualify under those requirements, you can still join by becoming a member of the Foster Care to Success nonprofit — and Alliant will pay the one-time $5 membership fee.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union: 3.00% APY

PenFed's Premium Online Savings account earns 3.00% APY with no monthly fees and just a $5 deposit required to open. There's no ATM access with the account, but you can make free regular transfers to your savings.

It's easy for savers to qualify for PenFed membership, since all you need to do is open an account. You can apply for membership by applying for your Premium Online Savings account now.

First Tech Federal Credit Union: 4.00% APY

The First Tech Rewards Savings can potentially earn the highest rate on our list, but also comes with the most requirements. To start, you must also open a First Tech Rewards Checking account. The qualified rate also applies only to balances under $25,000.

For the qualified rate of 4.00% APY, you'll need to meet all of the following criteria: 

  • Combined total of at least 20 qualifying transactions (debit card purchases with the Rewards Checking or First Tech credit card purchases) with an total spend of at least $500 per month
  • At least $1,000 transferred to your Rewards Checking account per billing cycle
  • Enroll in electronic statements

There are a few different ways to qualify for First Tech membership: You have a family member who is already in the credit union, you or a family member work for one of First Tech's partner companies (or for the state of Oregon) or you work or live in Lane County, Oregon. Alternatively, you can join by simply joining the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association (which you can do within the credit union's online application).

Explore more of today's top savings accounts and boost your balance now!

How to decide between a credit union and an online bank

There are plenty of benefits to joining a credit union. "Credit unions are good alternatives to traditional banks as many of them are 'member owned,'" says George Kao, CFP, founder of Reach One Teach One Financial. The focus on members means these institutions — often nonprofits — are known for great customer service. They generally also offer discounts, financial education benefits and solid rates on borrowing.   

However, if a great APY is your priority, it's difficult to beat online savings accounts — which have grown only more popular over the past few years. Online banks tend to offer the highest savings rates available today, along with similar no-fee and flexible minimum requirements. For example, here are some top rates from savings accounts with online banks today:

  • CIT Bank: 4.85% APY
  • Bask Bank: 4.75% APY
  • Bread Savings: 4.65% APY
  • Citizens Access: 4.50% APY

If you're already a member of a credit union, you may be able to score a great deal there without worrying about qualification. But before you join one, consider whether a high-yield savings account earning upwards of 4.5% APY could be a better fit for your savings.

Start earning more on your savings today and compare today's top rates here.

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