2016 RANKING OF THE BEST CHICAGO CREDIT UNIONS

Intro: Uncovering the Facts About Credit Unions in Chicago

Despite the fact that credit unions in Chicago and around the world continue to grow in popularity, as well as increasingly becoming the preferred way for many consumers to manage their money, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what they are and how they operate.

Before selecting a specific credit union in Chicago to become a member of, it’s good to have a broad understanding of credit unions in general.

The first fact that’s critical to understand, in terms of how credit unions in Chicago operate, is that the members own them. You don’t become a typical customer of a credit union, as you would at a bank. Instead, you gain membership to a co-op institution, where profits are shared as benefits to the members, and decisions are also guided by the people who join the credit union.

Top 12 Credit Unions in Chicago Reviews-min

Some people may approach insurance with trepidation, but there’s no need to feel that way. Although the FDIC insures banks, credit unions are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). If the NCUA insures a credit union, this means the members’ deposits are protected as they would be at a standard bank.


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Finally, while there are often eligibility requirements to join a credit union in Chicago or anywhere, they are not as stringent as people may believe. Many credit unions have expanded membership eligibility requirements extensively throughout the years, and you may be eligible to join solely based on the geographic location in which you live or work.

List of the Best Credit Unions in Chicago

This list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the above names to go directly to the detailed review for that credit union).



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Methodology for Selecting Credit Unions in Chicago

How do we select the credit unions included in this comprehensive review and ranking?

We begin by looking at all of the credit unions in Chicago as well as the nearby surrounding areas. We then compare those credit unions to a predetermined set of criteria, where ranking factors include everything from fees to the diversity of available products and services.

Once a list is compiled, it is further narrowed down by reviewing the above criteria, and the final list of the top Chicago credit unions is created.

Click here for a detailed explanation of our methodology: AdvisoryHQ's Methodology for Selecting Top Credit Unions and Banks


Top Credit Unions in Chicago (Statewide)

Credit Union

Location

American Airlines Credit Union

Chicago

Chicago Firefighters Credit Union 

Chicago

Chicago Municipal Employees Credit Union

Chicago

Chicago Patrolmen's Federal Credit Union

Chicago

Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union

Chicago

First Financial Credit Union

Chicago

First Northern Credit Union

Chicago

Maroon Financial Credit Union

Chicago

Planites Credit Union

Chicago

Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union

Chicago

U. S. Employees Credit Union

Chicago

United Credit Union

Chicago

(List is sorted alphabetically)

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Chicago Credit Unions

After carefully considering the best credit unions in Chicago, we created the following list of the top 12. As you continue reading, you’ll find detailed reviews for each of our picks as well as specifics of some of the factors we used in our decision-making process.


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 Chicago Firefighters Credit Union Review


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Chicago Firefighters Credit Union (CFFCU) was first founded as the 2nd Division Credit Union to serve fire department employees in 1937. It was a time when the Great Depression still had an impact on the financial system as well as consumers. While a staff of professionals operates CFFCU, there is still a volunteer board of member-elected directors.

There are currently around 5000 members of CFFCU, and the NCUA insures all member accounts up to at least $250,000. This credit union in Chicago offers a variety of savings and loan products as well as checking accounts and valuable conveniences.

Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This as a Best Credit Union in Chicago

Detailed in the list below are highlights of why Chicago Firefighters Credit Union was selected for inclusion in this ranking.

Dedication to Privacy

CFFCU is extremely dedicated to protecting the privacy and personal information of all members. It never shares personal information, and while it collects non-personal public information from transactions, applications, and consumer reporting agencies, it restricts access to only those employees who require the information in order to deliver products or services.

CFFCU is committed to maintaining stringent protections that are in line with federal regulations to keep all non-public member information completely safe.

This Chicago credit union also provides information to members as to how they can protect themselves against identity theft and fraud.

Express Loan Application

One of the primary areas of service the Chicago Firefighters Credit Union offers are loans. To make lending as fast and seamless for members as possible, there is an Express Application. The Express Application is fast and easy to fill out, and the form is available online.

Loan products available from CFFCU include auto, boat, motorcycle, home equity, and signature loans.

Share Draft Accounts

Share Draft Checking Accounts from CFFCU require only a $25 minimum deposit to open, and there is no minimum balance requirement. These flexible and versatile accounts are ideal for members because a dividend is paid on balances over $500, allowing them to earn money.

There is no monthly fee to use these free accounts, and there are automatic transfer options when members link their savings account to their share draft checking account to cover overdrafts.

A debit card is available to qualified members, and online banking and free bill pay are also options members can take advantage of when they hold these accounts.

Balance Transfers

CFFCU often has valuable promotions happening, and one of those recent promotions regards balance transfers. Members can turn their existing debt into a savings opportunity by using balance transfer offers, which include an APR that may be as low as 2.99% for 12 months.

There are no balance transfer fees or hidden fees, and it’s easy to pay off the balance after the transfer.

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Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union Review


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For over 86 years, Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union has been serving the needs of members, all while focusing on the credit union motto of “People Helping People.” During this long history, this credit union in Chicago has grown to include more than 4,400 members and assets in excess of $18 million.

This state-chartered credit union has services that include loans, notary service, money orders, and other conveniences. Products include savings and checking accounts as well as savings certificates and money markets.

Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This as a Top Credit Union in Chicago

Cited below are primary reasons the Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union was placed in this ranking and review.

Checking and Savings

When members open a savings account, it’s free with direct deposit, and it also earns interest from the credit union. In addition to checking accounts, this credit union in Chicago features the following savings accounts and products:

  • Regular Savings: This account boasts simplicity and a competitive interest rate. It’s ideal for someone who wants an effortless way to save money and reach their goals.
  • Savings Certificates: These are designed to also offer competitive interest rates, and they’re good if you’re working to build a habit of saving money.
  • Club Accounts: These savings accounts are specifically for individuals who want to save for a certain event.
  • Money Markets: Money markets have competitive yields and no penalties for early withdrawals. Interest compounds daily and is credited monthly.

Student Loans

Along with many other lending products, Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union features student loans, which can be used for tuition or books and other expenses. The minimum amount that can be borrowed for a student loan is $500 while the max is $24,000.

Checks are either made payable to the school or a federal student loan company.

The interest rate is fixed, and this credit union offers $500 spending money from loan proceeds on loans that are under $5,000. $1,500 is offered for loans that are over $5,000.

Visa Gold Credit Cards

Visa Gold Credit Cards are available to qualified members of Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union. These credit cards feature competitive rates based on a member’s past credit history, and maximum credit lines extend up to $20,000. These credit cards feature a 25-day grace period on purchases if the balance is paid by the monthly due date.

In addition, the credit cards feature very low cash advance rates and fees, and users have all of the benefits that come with a Visa credit card, including various fraud and security protection monitoring and services.

Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union Visa Gold Credit Card Review-min

Courtesy Pay

Courtesy Pay is a convenience service offered to members of Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union, which can protect against having a check bounce or an ACH transaction being declined as the result of insufficient funds. This service is automatically available for both types of transactions unless a member opts out. This can be done by contacting the credit union’s member services department.

When Courtesy Pay is used, items are paid even if the account balance doesn’t have enough funds to cover it at the time. Rather than having the items returned as NSF, it’s paid by the credit union.

There is no fee for this protective service unless it’s used, and then there is a small fee for each item.

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Maroon Financial Credit Union Review


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In 1957, administration and faculty from the University of Chicago came together with a shared goal of creating a financial institution that would serve the needs of the university community while delivering reasonable rates and thriftiness. That concept led to the creation of Maroon Financial Credit Union.

Currently, eligibility has expanded to include anyone who’s part of the University of Chicago community. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff of both the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Center can join. This includes affiliated organizations and family members of current members.

Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This as One of the Top Chicago Credit Unions

Elements that went into the decision to include Maroon Financial on this list are below.

Totally Free Checking

Since high fees are one of the primary reasons many consumers opt to become members of a credit union as opposed to being a bank customer, it’s important to highlight free and low-cost options from the names that were included in this ranking.

Maroon Financial offers its members Totally Free Checking Accounts, which are convenient and designed for short-term money storage and usage. This checking account allows users to pay for purchases, get cash, use checks, and pay bills.

The checking account can be accessed in any number of ways, including by debit or ATM card, phone banking or through the Maroon online banking portal.

Student Services

Since Maroon Financial serves the needs of the university community, it has many products, programs, and benefits aimed specifically at students. Any student of the university is eligible to join, and some of the products available to this population include:

  • Private student loans with no origination fees and low variable rates
  • Student Checking with a Visa Debit card
  • Preloaded Visa Gift Cards
  • Financial calculators
  • Free online banking
  • Free financial resources to help students build a foundation for financial success in the future

Online Banking

Online Banking from Maroon Financial provides the tools and accessibility members need from this type of platform. Users can view all of their Maroon accounts in a central location and also have a real-time view of their recent transactions.

BillPay e-Plus is a convenient component of online banking that lets users pay all of their bills without mailing checks, and it takes just a matter of minutes. Users can send payments on the date they choose, unlimited payments can be sent, and users can see their pending and completed transactions.

There is a large list of payees that are already set up in the BillPay system, and you can also customize it with your own payees if they’re not there.

Maroon Financial Credit Union Online Banking Review-min

Membership Switch Kit

When someone decides they’d like to join Maroon Financial, this Chicago credit union strives to make that transition as simple and seamless as possible. It has created a custom Switch Kit, which includes all the necessary forms and documents to make the move to this new credit union.

There are just three steps required to complete the process. The first is opening a membership account with Maroon Financial, which can be done online or in-person. Then, all the forms that are part of the switch kit are completed and sent to the appropriate location.

Finally, new members can close their old accounts after making sure all transactions have cleared.

The Switch Kit documents include a Direct Deposit Change Request, an Authorization Agreement for Direct Deposit, Authorization for Canceling Automatic Payments, Authorization for Transferring Automatic Payments, Authorization for Automatic Payment, and Account Closing Request.

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Planites Credit Union Review


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Planites Credit Union (PCU) has a history spanning back more than 61 years, and in 2015, PCU had more than $3.3 million in new loans and nearly $31 million in assets. PCU is considered well-capitalized by the National Credit Union Administration. The goal of PCU is to provide every member with knowledgeable, friendly, and personal service.

Membership at PCU is open to employees of HCSC, FDL, Hallmark, Dental Network, and other affiliates of HCSC. Family members of employees of these organizations are also eligible for membership at this Chicago credit union.

Key Factors Considered When Ranking This as One of the Top Chicago Credit Unions

Represented below are criteria used in the selection of Planites as one of the best credit unions in Chicago.

Empowerment Program

The Empowerment Program is an exclusive offering from Planites, which is designed to help members who either need to establish, improve or entirely rebuild their credit. This program is multi-faceted and takes on several different areas of approach in the quest of helping members cultivate and maintain a better financial record.

There is a set of tools that are integrated into these programs, which include the Share Savings Account, a checking account, a Share Secured Loan, and a Visa credit card.

Also available to members is the Auto Advantage program. This lets members finance older vehicles, with terms up to 72 months, with higher loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios. This allows users to obtain financing for a vehicle, even if they might not have been able to qualify for a traditional loan.

Surcharge-Free ATM Network

To make sure it’s convenient, accessible, and inexpensive to bank with Planites Credit Union, it offers surcharge ATM access. Planites is partners with three of the world’s largest surcharge-free ATM networks, which are Co-Op, Star, and Allpoint.

Members can go online and find the closest surcharge-free ATM in their area. Many credit unions might be members of one of these networks, but it’s particularly appealing for members that PCU is part of three.

Co-Op ATMs are typically in convenience stores, gas stations, and credit unions. Allpoint ATMs can be found in many retailers, convenience stores, gas stations, and eateries. Star ATMs are at credit unions and banks.

Remote Deposit

Remote Deposit is a tool that lets members of this Chicago credit union deposit checks from anywhere using their smartphone or iPad. This is available through the PCU mobile app, and it’s automatically enabled.

When members are in good standing with PCU, they have a deposit limit of $3,000 and a daily limit of $3,000, with a rolling 30-day limit of $6,000. Users simply need to endorse their check, log into their mobile banking app, select the account where they want to make a deposit, enter the amount, and take pictures of the front and back.

This saves members time and energy because they can make deposits anytime, anywhere, without visiting a PCU branch.

Planites Credit Union Remote Deposit Review-min

Loans and Credit Cards

In an effort to ensure services meet the needs of a broad base of members, Planites features many different loan and credit products.

These include the following:

  • Personal loans available from PCU are short-term and can be used to make purchases or for debt consolidation, tuition or any number of other purposes. Terms up to 36 months are available.
  • New and used vehicle loans include 100% financing, flexible terms, fast pre-approval options, and Payroll Deduction for convenient payment.
  • Auto refinancing is a good way to transfer an existing auto loan to Planites.
  • Visa credit cards are offered with no annual fee and a fixed interest rate. This rate is the same whether the card is being used for purchases, balance transfers or cash advances.
  • Share Secured Visa Credit Card is a good way for PCU members to rebuild their credit or establish a credit history.

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To browse exclusive reviews of all top rated credit unions in Chicago, please click on any of the links below


Conclusion – Top 12 Best Credit Unions in Chicago

Chicago is a vibrant city with a long history as a melting pot in terms of cultures. It’s also a city where labor unions have maintained a strong presence. These factors are still represented in many of the city’s top credit unions, most of which were originally founded and chartered to cater to the needs of particular employee groups and public servants.

Working with a credit union in Chicago allows consumers to stop being defined by their bank, whether that’s in terms of high interest rates on loans, low rates on deposits or high monthly fees. Instead, banking with one of the best credit unions in Chicago lets consumers set the standard for what they want and need in a financial institution.

Each of the names on this list of Chicago credit unions excels at providing diversity in products and services, along with convenience. The names on this list of credit unions in Chicago are not just top financial institutions but are really part of the distinctive history and future of this city.


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Cheers,               

AdvisoryHQ Team


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