Opening an account at a credit union is fairly easy. This page covers the three basic steps required to open a credit union account. For a basic overview of how credit unions work, read our Credit Unions introduction.
Step 1: Playing the Field
In order to join a credit union, you have to be a part of that credit union’s field of membership. That means you have to have some kind of common bond with other members of the credit union. Find one that you’re eligible to join and that you’re comfortable with.
If you need to find a credit union that you’re eligible to join, you can try the National Credit Union Administration’s credit union search.
Step 2: $25 Please
Walk on in and ask for an application. You’ll want to bring your driver’s license or other ID with you.
Most credit unions require that you make a modest deposit in order to become a member. Typically, the required deposit is about $25. Simply deposit cash or a check, and you’re in business. You may have to keep a minimum balance on hand going forward, so find out at this time.
Be aware that your credit union may run a credit check if you’re going to want a checking account or debit card. Make sure your credit files are accurate – I recommend using the US Government’s free credit report program.
They might also check for a history of bad checking habits through a service like ChexSystems, so make sure you don’t have errors there either.
Step 3: Start Using It!
Once you’re a member, you can use all of the services. Credit unions are usually most competitive on:
Step 4 (Optional): Come Back and Tell us About It
Please share your experiences with the rest of us. Tell us what you liked and didn’t like. Why did you choose a credit union in the first place?