Credit Union in NYC
October 2, 2011 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a fantastic credit union in NYC.

Not much else to say, really. Looking for a credit union with good customer service (and maybe some ATMs here and there) to move my personal accounts to. I live in Brooklyn (greenpoint), Work in Manhattan (near the Holland tunnel), if locations are a consideration.

Thanks for your help.
posted by to sir with millipedes to Work & Money (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
As a CUNY employee I use Education Affiliates FCU. I can use most Duane Reade (Chase), 7-11 and McDonalds ATMs for free. The folks in the Credit Union are very nice (excellent customer service) but the hours of the place kind of suck.
posted by Pineapplicious at 8:35 AM on October 2, 2011

Credit unions are based on membership groups so you need to find one you are eligible to join as well as one conveniently located. Search here by zip code. Further, they can be state-chartered or federally chartered thus governed (and insured or not) by Federal or other bodies. (When it comes to financial institutions, regulation is not exactly a bad thing so you might have a preference for federal or state performance here.) Once you've located some in your target range, check out their websites for their membership group(s) and the kind of services they offer. Membership groups are defined quite broadly these days but even if you don't find a group you are already in, don't overlook the fact that you could still be eligible by virtue of someone in your family being in their membership group and many these days include communities. Join, be a good member -- and spread the word.
posted by Anitanola at 10:55 AM on October 2, 2011

Here's something I wrote to friends, but then thought I might as well share for others in NYC. This is obviously going to be biased towards my own perception/requirements, but I think it's valuable nonetheless.

Some Stuff About Credit Unions
I've researched the credit unions that are some of the largest, and have loose membership requirements. This list is NYC-based. If you work for the government, or for the UN, etc. etc. there are probably other credit unions you could join. There are a bunch of places you can search for here ( and here ( And if you're eligible to be part of a smaller, local credit union, you should probably think about joining that one!

So, really, there are only a few major issues you're probably thinking about in terms of switching from a bank to credit unions: the safety of your money, the convenience of online banking, ATM fees, the availability of branches, and depositing checks.

Insurance: Like banks accounts, which are insured by FDIC up to $250,000, accounts at credit unions are insured by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) up to $250,000. So don't worry.

Online Banking: It seems like the vast majority of Credit Unions already do online banking in some shape or form. I'd say that many of them are very aware of the need for online banking, so they all have the services there; some, like Alliant CU, NASA FCU, or Actors FCU are a little more advanced than others. But all CUs do seem to have similar services.

ATM fees: Most credit unions are part of an ATM network so that you don't get ATM fees. The biggest two networks are Allpoint and Co-op. You can look up where their atms are here:
It's pretty cool because, at least for me, there are way more ATMs within these networks than there are Citibank/Chase/LargeBank ATMs, especially in Brooklyn or up in Harlem, etc. The same probably goes for you. If you have a smartphone, you can install an app that will look up the nearest participating ATM, which is usually less than a few blocks away. All in all, it seems like you'll probably get less ATM fees if you sign up with a credit union than not.

Branches: Some credit unions (such as Alliant and Actors FCU) participate in the CU Service network, which means that you can use other credit union locations to deposit checks/do other services. More info and branches here (

Deposits: Now this is key - if you're not on direct deposit, then the only way you can deposit checks are online, in person, through the mail, or through ATMs. Online deposits are rare, and only certain CUs (like Actors FCU and Alliant) do this. For a longer list of CUs that do online deposits go here or here. In-person deposits can either be done at the CU's branch (or participating branches), or if you're willing to undertake a fee (between 1 or 2%!), sometimes through a check-cashing service. Some CUs offer deposits through mail, also, where you input the amount online and then send your check through the mail. And if the CU has ATMs that take deposits, or is part of a network of ATMS that have deposit-taking ATMs, then you can of course deposit through these machines.

Credit Unions:
Actors FCU
Alliance CU
PAFCU (People's Alliance Federal Credit Union)
Brooklyn Cooperative FCU
LESPFCU (Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union)

Actors FCU
Actors FCU sounds great and amazing, and if you're elegible to join I'd advise you to. They're headquarted in NYC, basically free-fee, they have a lot of ATMs and you can use many branches through their network, and you can deposit checks online, which is most important.

Requirements: you have to be part of a series of acting/writing/production based organizations. More here:
Fees: free checking, no minimum balance, free atm, etc. (
Branch Locations: Several across the city; they also participate in the CU Service Center network.
ATMs: Actors FCU actually owns 265 atms in NYC, and participates in the CO-OP network. Free, $0.75 per non-participating ATM transaction.

Alliant CU
Alliant seems great. They have great reviews, high interest rates, branches all over the country, part of two ATM networks, you can deposit your checks online/through the mail, no fees (other than a one-time membership fee). The only downside is that they're not local, but as a credit union they're still a not-for-profit cooperative. I'm tempted to join this. 

Requirements: If you donate $10 to a non-profit organization called 'Foster Care to Success', you're eligible to join. Effectively, that's a one-time membership fee.
Fees: no minimum monthly balance, no monthly fees, free atm card, free checks, etc. More here:
Branch locations: many across the US, but the closest is NJ. Alliant also participates in the CU Service network, so you can use branches of other participating CUs.
ATMs: They're part of BOTH the Alliant and Co-op networks. Atm transactions are free and unlimited within these networks.

PAFCU (People's Alliance Federal Credit Union)
PAFCU sounds good if you're in Brooklyn -- the only downsides are that it isn't absolutely clear if they're part of the CO-OP network, but a quick phone call would probably clarify that.

Requirements: You need to live/work within "Brooklyn, New York which lies within Community Planning Districts #3, #8, or #9."
Fees: Standard checking account: No minimum balance, No monthly fee, free debit/atm card, 
Branches: locations in Fort Greene (
ATM Fees: It seems that PAFCU is part of the CO-OP network because there's a co-op logo on the bottom of their website, but they don't mention it anywhere on the site..
Municipal Credit Union
MCU sounds great, and has a LOT of branches in NYC for a credit union, so if you can join it sounds like a pretty good deal.

Requirements: you have to work for the city in some way, but it also says that "An employee of a private college located in the City of New York" can join, which may apply if you've worked for a school once. Who knows? More here:
Fees: Checking is free, no monthly fees, no monthly balance. More here:
Branch locations: bunches.
ATMS: They're part of the Co-op networks.

NASA! This sounds great - you can deposit your checks online or with your smartphone, online banking, free services, etc. etc. No local branches, but hey, NASA.

Requirements: You have to sign up (for free) to join the American Consumer Council. In other words, anyone can join.
Fees: no monthly fee, no minimum deposit checking, one fee waived per year, 
Branch locations
ATMs: They're part of the CO-OP networks and of the CU Service networks. 

Brooklyn Cooperative FCU
They seem new and interested, but they also have a minimum balance requirement. Otherwise seems great, part of the Allpoint ATM network, which has more ATMs than CO-OP.

Requirements: "you should have some connection to Bushwick or to Bedford-Stuyvesant" -- you need to live there, or work there, etc.
Fees: Checking account: $3 monthly fee unless you have a $100 balance, Savings account: free with a $5 minimum balance.
Branch Locations: two places in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy (
ATMs: they're part of the Allpoint network. 4 free atm transactions per month, $1 afterwards

LESPFCU (Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union)
They seem greatly organized, but their fees are a little steep, unless you're willing to keep more than $75 in your accounts at all times, in which case there's just an annual fee of $5. But they're located both in the LES and in Harlem, and have many ATMs.

Requirements: If you live/work/volunteer/etc in the LES or in Central Harlem, or if you earn lass than $38,000, or more: (
Fees: You need a savings account to create a checking account. For the savings account, there's a $5 new account fee and a $25 minimum deposit, and if you have less than $75 in your account there's a monthly fee of $3. There's also an annual fee of $5. The checking account is free, no minimum balance, free ATM. More here:
Branch Locations: Harlem and Alphabet City (
ATMs: There are many LESPFCU atms within the LES, and they're also part of the CO-OP network. 8 free atm transactions per month, $1 afterwards

There are a lot more, especially in the city, such as Bethex, EAFCU, DCU (Digital Federal Credit Union), etc. etc. But if you can belong to a small local one, you probably know about it already, and you should go with that.
posted by suedehead at 1:38 AM on November 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

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