Get Free Checking and Perks at These Top 5 Credit Unions & Banks in Fresno, CA (Plus, which bank to avoid)

Fresno, California is situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco, roughly 300 miles from each one. While it’s not as famous as those two cities, it is a vital economic hub of Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley.

Whether you work in the agriculture industry, which is big in this area, or elsewhere, you’ll want to know the best places to bank in Fresno for free checking and other money-saving perks.

You have some great options among AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking of Top 5 Banks and Credit Unions in Fresno, CA. We’ve chosen them based upon reputation, ease of doing business with them, and of course all have at least one free checking account option.

Red Award Emblem for Best Banks & Credit Unions in Fresno, CA

Award Emblem: Top 7 Best Banks & Credit Unions in Fresno, CA

In this article, we’ll go over the rankings and highlights for each Fresno County credit union or bank and focus on the perks they offer for better (and free) banking. We’ll also let you in on the one Fresno credit union we recommend avoiding.

Let’s get started with the ratings overview, then we’ll answer a frequently asked question related to typical requirements for free checking accounts at banks in Fresno, California and elsewhere around the country.

Top 5 Best Fresno Banks & Credit Unions (& 1 to Avoid) | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Top Rated Credit Unions & Banks in Fresno, CA2018 Ratings
Bank of the West5
Noble Credit Union5
United Security Bank5
Union Bank3
Valley First Credit Union1

 Table: Top 5 Fresno Banks & Credit Unions (& 1 to Avoid) | Above list is sorted by rating

Fresno Banks & Credit Unions FAQ | What are the Typical Requirements for Free Checking?

Nobody likes paying that monthly $10-$25 average service fee for a checking account. Luckily, there are more options these days to get a free checking account, and some even come with interest.

fresno banks

However, you do need to read the fine print when shopping for free checking at a Fresno credit union or bank. Often getting that monthly maintenance fee waived is dependent upon a few factors.

Some common requirements for free checking accounts include:

  • Monthly deposits (some require direct deposit, others don’t)
  • Keeping a minimum balance
  • Opting for an electronic bank statement, rather than paper version
  • Having another account at the same bank, like a loan or savings
  • Being under or over a certain age (youth or senior accounts)

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Credit Unions & Banks in Fresno, CA (& 1 to Avoid)

Below, please find a detailed review of each firm on our list of top Fresno banks & credit unions. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these credit unions and banks in Fresno, California to score so highly in our selection ranking

Click on any of the names below to go directly to the review section for that firm.

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Bank of the West Review

If you like the comfort of keeping your money at a larger regional bank that still has nearby roots, then you’ll want to consider Bank of the West. They’ve been headquartered in San Francisco since 1874 and are affiliated with the European bank BNP Paribas.

Below are the highlights that make Bank of the West stand out on AdvisoryHQ’s 2018 Ranking of the Best Credit Unions and Banks in Fresno, CA.

Benefits & Perks of Bank of the West at a Glance:

  • 8 locations in Fresno, California & surrounding areas
  • Free checking when you deposit any amount each statement period
  • Free perks-filled Premier Checking with minimum $25,000 qualifying account balances
  • BancWest investment services
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ rating

Award-Winning Customer Service

It’s nice to know you’ll be treated right before choosing a new bank or credit union in Fresno, CA, and Bank of the West has the awards to back up that reputation. Recent awards include being named Best Regional Bank in the West by Kiplinger’s Magazine and being awarded Best Client Service by Private Asset Management Magazine.

Rating Summary

Their reputation, awards, and diligence in addressing online complaints scored Bank of the West a 5 in our ranking as one of the top Fresno banks. We noted that they’ve addressed just about every complaint at the BBB about a product or service, which is pretty impressive.

They make it easy to get a free checking account, not requiring a minimum balance for their Any Deposit Checking account. They also allow a deposit of any type to waive the monthly service fee, it doesn’t have to be direct deposit.

Bank of the West is definitely one of the most convenient banks in Fresno to use if you travel often. They have over 600 banking offices across 23 U.S. states, making it easy to pop into a branch in multiple places throughout the country.

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EECU Review

EECU started as Educational Employees Credit Union in 1934. It’s one of the largest credit unions in California and recently acquired So-Val Tel Federal Credit Union. Membership is open to anyone connected to education as a student, employee, or organization member or employees of St. Agnes Hospital or multiple local businesses.

Below are the highlights that make EECU Fresno stand out on 2018 Ranking of the Best Fresno Banks and Credit Unions.

Benefits & Perks of EECU at a Glance:

  • 10 locations in Fresno, California & surrounding areas
  • Free checking that pays dividends on balances of $500 or more
  • Free 55+ checking for seniors with free photocopies and notary service
  • Auto loans starting at 2.29% APR
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ rating

Attractive Short-Term Share/IRA Certificate

Looking for a fairly short-term investment that still pays a decent return? Then you’ll want to check out the 18-month Share/IRA certificate offered by EECU Fresno. With just a 1,000 minimum balance you can earn 1.50% APY on your year and a half investment.

Rating Summary

EECU Fresno gets high marks from members for most branches. The downtown branch seems to get the most negative remarks, mainly due to long lines and it taking a while to receive service. However, the other Fresno branches of EECU get praise for friendly and helpful customer service.

Despite the comments regarding wait times at all branches during popular times of day, we felt that EECU Fresno earned the 5 rating we awarded them as one of the best Fresno banks and credit unions that offer “no strings attached” free checking accounts. They’re also a member of the CO-OP shared branches network.

We noted their diligence in responding to BBB complaints to try to solve customer issues. They’re also a great Fresno County credit union to go to for a loan, as they have some very attractive auto and home loan rates. If you’re looking for convenience and easy and free checking, you’ll definitely want to check out EECU Fresno.

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Noble Credit Union Review

Noble Credit Union began as Fresno County Employees Credit Union in 1941. It’s never stopped growing and upgrading since then, and plans to move their downtown branch to a new building in 2018. If you work or volunteer for any one of well over 300 business or municipal agency partners, you can join.

Below are the highlights that make Noble Credit Union stand out on this 2018 Ranking of the Best Banks & Credit Unions in Fresno, CA.

Benefits & Perks of Noble Credit Union at a Glance:

  • 8 locations in Fresno, California & surrounding areas
  • Free checking with no minimum transaction or balance requirements
  • Free interest-earning checking with minimum $250 daily balance
  • Open a share certificate and get a free hotel stay
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ rating

Credit & Debit Cards Rewards

If you like earning rewards points and cash back just from using your debit or credit card, then this is one of the credit unions in Fresno, CA you’ll want to consider. Their free e.Checking account includes a cash back earning debit card. This Fresno credit union also offers the Visa® MyRewards credit card that earns points and starts at just 9.9% APR.

Rating Summary

We rated Noble Credit Union a 5 on our ranking of the best credit unions and banks in Fresno, California. There seems to be a common theme that we noted here as well as at EECU, which was the downtown branches getting more complaints, with the other branches in Fresno, CA getting high praise from customers.

Members note fast and friendly customer service and attentive and helpful loan officers. Noble is a member of the CO-OP shared branches network with access to over 30,000 free ATMs throughout the country.

This credit union in Fresno, CA makes free checking simple without any minimum balance requirements and if you do want to earn a little interest too, offers another level up option.

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United Security Bank Review

If you’re looking for a hometown Fresno County credit union or bank, then United Security Bank will be one you’ll want to see. This is one of the younger banks in Fresno, California, being founded in 1987 and it’s a subsidiary of United Security Bancshares.

Below are the highlights that make United Security Bank stand out on AdvisoryHQ’s 2018 Ranking of the Best Fresno Banks & Credit Unions.

Benefits & Perks of United Security Bank at a Glance:

  • 5 locations and 4 lending offices in Fresno, California & surrounding areas
  • Free checking with e-statement in place of paper statement
  • Free interest-bearing checking with minimum $1,000 daily balance
  • Unsecured personal loans starting at $15,000
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ rating

Tons of Checking Account Choices

If you like having more than one or two checking account choices, then this is one of the banks in Fresno where you’ll feel like you’re at a banking buffet. United Security Bank offers five different checking account types, from a basic “no-frills” checking to their free Now Checking Account with minimum balance and overdraft privilege up to $700.00.

Rating Summary

We rated United Security Bank a 5 on our listing of the best Fresno credit unions and banks. They get high review ratings from customers who say they feel like it’s one of the banks in Fresno, CA where “everybody knows your name.” Employees also rank United Security Bank as a great and friendly place to work.

They offer more checking account options than many other Fresno banks or credit unions, and many waive the monthly service fee with minimal requirements. Their business account options are also equally robust.

While this is one of the banks in Fresno, CA that doesn’t have as many branch options as others, they make up for it with four dedicated lending offices. If you like the freedom to choose a perfect account fit for your life, this is one of the banks and credit unions in Fresno, CA to try out.

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Union Bank Review

If you’re searching for banks in Fresno with a nationwide footprint, then Union Bank may be someone you want to consider. They’re part of a world leading company, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc., that offers financial services in 50 countries around the world.

Below are the highlights that make Union Bank in Fresno stand out on our 2018 Ranking of the Best Fresno Banks and Credit Unions.

Benefits & Perks of Union Bank at a Glance:

  • 12 locations in Fresno, California & surrounding areas
  • Free checking with minimum $250 direct or mobile deposit per statement period
  • Free teen checking (13-17) with no monthly deposit requirements
  • Get $250 cash back when you take out a home equity loan
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ rating

Company Benefits Banking

If you own a business and want to offer banking benefits as a perk to keep great employees, then you’ll be interest in the Company Benefits Banking at Union Bank Fresno. It includes perks like no monthly service fee, welcome bonuses up to $75, and discounts on mortgage loan origination fees.

Rating Summary

We rated Union Bank Fresno a 3 on our 2018 Ranking of the Best Banks & Credit Unions in Fresno, CA. They have a few mixed reviews regarding their customer service at the Fresno branches, however the business customers seem to consistently give them high marks for helpfulness and convenience.

Their free checking options aren’t quite as free of requirements as are other banks and credit unions in Fresno, CA, however they do have fairly easy to meet minimum requirements. They offer some attractive cash back bonus type perks with their loans, and higher tiered checking accounts that can earn you money.

This is another of the Fresno banks that tries to answer all online customer complaints, which is a positive sign they care about customers. If you’re looking for great business banking with employee accounts, then Union Bank Fresno is definitely one to check out.

Related: Signature Bank Reviews | Ranking & Review

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Valley First Credit Union Review

Now for the one Fresno credit union that we think you may want to avoid until they make a few improvements. Valley First Credit Union was not hard to miss with a C rating at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for multiple branches, the lowest we could find listed there for any Fresno credit union.

Below are some of the improvements we feel would help Valley First Credit Union improve their score on a future best Fresno County credit unions and banks ranking.

Add More Fresno Locations

Valley First has one dedicated location in Fresno and one in nearby Clovis, CA. While they are part of the CO-OP network, which provides 5,000+ branches across the U.S., if they added a few more dedicated branches in the city, it could help them better compete with other credit unions and banks in Fresno, CA.

Address BBB Complaints.

If you divide up the branch ratings, the Fresno location has a “Not Rated” at the BBB website. However multiple other California branches get the low “C” rating, which drags down their reputation as a Fresno credit union as well. If they made an effort to address every customer complaint, it could raise their reputation across all branches.

Rating Summary

Valley First Credit Union scored a 1 on AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking of Fresno Banks and Credit Unions since they are one you may wish to avoid for the time being. We do see a lot of potential for raising in the rankings in a fairly short time if they could just address the customer service issues that seem to plague their online reviews on sites like Yelp.

On the plus side, they have easy to qualify for membership requirements which are based upon living, working, worshiping or attending school in one of 10 California counties, including Fresno County.

They have a total of 10 branches throughout California, so just a few more in Fresno itself, would add to the convenience factor of people looking for a new Fresno credit union to bank with.

eecu fresno

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Conclusion – Top 5 Best Credit Unions & Banks in Fresno, CA (for Free Checking & More)

Fresno, California may be a best kept secret as one of the economic hubs in central California. But if you live or work there, you definitely have plenty of great options at Fresno banks and credit unions for free checking accounts, business banking, and more.

We suggest that you definitely take a look at possible requirements for waiving a monthly service fee on a checking account before signing up with a new bank or credit union in Fresno, CA so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.

But with so many free account offerings with little to no strings attached, you should definitely be able to get the most out of your accounts at one of these top Fresno County credit unions or banks.

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Banks & Credit Unions in Fresno, CA