Member-Driven Service from Credit Unions—San Antonio

Does a traditional bank create images of being out of control regarding your own finances? Are fees continually being raised so that you’re paying exorbitant amounts of money simply to use your checking or savings account?

Perhaps your current bank is part of a large corporation, where instead of decisions being made at the local level, they’re being made in an office around the world.

These are some of the many reasons consumers are moving away from traditional bank corporations, and, instead, are handling their financial business and accounts at San Antonio credit unions.

A credit union certainly isn’t a new idea. In fact, many that still exist today were originally founded in the mid-1900s. What is true, however, is that with modern banks facing tremendous scrutiny, more and more consumers favor the idea of working with local credit unions in San Antonio, and this is happening all throughout the country.

Best Credit Unions in San Antonio, TX Red Award EmblemAward Emblem: Best Credit Unions in San Antonio, TX

While most of the products and services remain the same, credit unions are owned by the members. That means in many instances a board of volunteers, who are also members, makes the decisions.

Additionally, they operate as not-for-profit cooperatives, so everyone shares in the benefits through lower fees, higher interest rates on deposits, and lower interest rates on things like credit cards, mortgages, and personal loans.

The following list highlights some of the key features of the best credit unions in San Antonio, and the ways they are uniquely positioned to create value for not only their members but the whole of the communities they serve.

List of the Best Credit Unions in San Antonio

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

How Does a Credit Union Work?

For customers seeking a financial services company that’s outside of a typical bank, their first question is often how a credit union works.

As mentioned above, a credit union is a co-operative that offers most, if not all, of the same products and services a consumer would find at a bank. These include deposit accounts like checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as personal loans and mortgages. A lot of credit unions in San Antonio, and throughout the country, also offer investment and wealth management services.

Top Credit Unions in San AntonioImage Source: Big Stock

The primary difference between a bank and a credit union isn’t on the consumer side, as far as their offerings, but is instead more about how they operate. Banks are for-profit, which means their earnings are based on things like account fees and how much interest is charged on loans. Banks are also required to pay applicable federal and state taxes, making them much like any other business.

By contrast, credit unions have “members” as opposed to “customers,” and any profit they may earn is then taken and either reinvested into the organization, or members are paid a dividend. Additionally, as a not-for-profit, credit unions aren’t required to pay taxes at the state or federal level, which is another away they keep fees and interest rates low.

How Is Membership Eligibility Determined?

If you’re considering joining a credit union in San Antonio, you may be wondering how the process works, since it is a membership-based cooperative. In the past, credit union membership was based on something such as employment or affiliation with an organization. For example, a San Antonio credit union might have been created to serve the needs of area school system employees or workers at a particular private company.

That is still the way many credit unions are set up, but many have also expanded their membership eligibility requirements to include anyone who lives or works in a certain geographic area, attends school in a particular place, or even worships in a location near the credit union.

There are also an increasing number of credit unions that have no membership limitations so that anyone can join.

What Are Common Myths and Misconceptions about Credit Unions?

While credit unions continue to grow in popularity and hold appeal for consumers, there are still some common myths and misconceptions that people may have about these financial institutions.

The first misconception is that many people believe credit unions still maintain stringent membership eligibility requirements, although this isn’t always the case. Even if you don’t meet requirements for one credit union, it’s a good idea to continue your search within your geographic area. You may even be eligible to join based on the status of one of your family members.

Another is that credit unions aren’t as accessible as banks. While there may be fewer branch locations, most credit unions offer extensive telephone, online, and mobile banking options. They are also typically are part of large ATM networks so that members have access to their cash when they need it, even if they’re not close to an ATM that’s branded for their particular institution.

Finally, consumers may be reluctant to move from their current bank to a credit union because they feel like they’re getting rewards, such as cash back, or the promotions and deals are just too good to pass up. They’re often surprised to discover the deals and rewards programs at credit unions can be just as valuable—they’re just not as widely advertised.

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Methodology for Selecting Top Banks and Credit

What methodology did we use in selecting this list of the best credit unions in San Antonio?

Using publicly available sources, AdvisoryHQ identified a wide range of credit unions in San Antonio that provide services in the metro and the surrounding areas.

We then applied AdvisoryHQ’s “Breakthrough Selection Methodology” to identify the final list of top credit unions that provide services to communities in and around San Antonio.

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

The Top Credit Unions in San Antonio

Credit UnionLocation
Air Force Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio
Firstmark Credit UnionSan Antonio
Generations Community Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio
H-E-B Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio
River City Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio
SACU (San Antonio Federal Credit Union)San Antonio
Security Service Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio
Synergy Federal Credit UnionSan Antonio

(List is sorted alphabetically)

Detailed Review—Top Ranking Credit Unions in San Antonio

After carefully considering San Antonio credit unions, we created the following list of the top 8. 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.

Air Force Federal Credit Union Review

Air Force Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1952 by Airmen volunteers, and since that time, the focus has been on serving the unique needs of the military and their family members.

Currently, Air Force FCU has more than 40,000 members and more than $370 million in assets. The vision of Air Force FCU is defined as “Your One Financial Partner,” and their mission is to be the financial institution that understands and meets the needs of members, wherever they are.

Key Factors That Allowed This Credit Union to Rank as One of the Best Credit Unions in San Antonio

Factors that led to the ranking of Airforce FCU as one of the best credit unions in San Antonio are listed below.

Credit Card Rewards

As a leading credit union in San Antonio, Air Force FCU offers many perks and benefits to members, one of which is a credit card rewards program. The rewards program lets users earn points simply by using their credit card, and they can then be redeemed in a broad range of categories, which include: Personal, Electronics, Audio, Home Audio, Stereo Systems, Recreation, and Outdoor Living.

The rewards program is available in conjunction with the use of the Air Force FCU Platinum Visa card, offering convenience, protection and security, and no annual fees. There’s also an online application for this card.

Another aspect of the rewards program is the option to work with CU Rewards personal vacation planners, who can help cardholders and program participants put together a customized trip almost anywhere in the world.

Youth Accounts

This pick for a best credit union in San Antonio offers the availability of several youth accounts, each of which is designed to help young people of varying ages learn how to be financially responsible.

Youth accounts include:

  • Coindexter Kid’s Accounts: This account is designed for members who are 12 years and younger, and it can be opened with as little as $5. It also includes free quarterly newsletters and birthday cards, as well as a free membership to the Coindexter Club, which is a fun, educational way to teach kids how to save, spend, manage, and invest their money.
  • JetSpace Teen Account: This account is for teenagers to help them learn money basics, including how to effectively manage a checking account. It includes features like a free Visa debit card, no monthly fees, and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Student Reloadable Cards: These cards are ideal for teenagers and college students, and they offer the convenience of having a debit card without actually being linked to a checking account, eliminating the risk of overdrafts.

Student Loans  

Airforce FCU does offer private student loans under the Smart Option Student Loan program by Sallie Mae. This is designed as a way to help students eliminate payment gaps between the amount of federal loans they receive and the actual cost of their education.

The loans include a competitive fixed interest rate, although low variable interest rate options are also available through Air Force FCU. There is the option to borrow up to 100% of school certified education costs, multiple repayment options are available, and there are borrower benefits, including rewards and interest rate reductions.


ClickSWITCH is an exclusive offering from Air Force FCU that makes it fast and straightforward for new members to move their account information. It’s an online portal that speeds up the process of moving recurring payments from your old bank or financial institution to your new Air Force FCU account.

You can change financial institutions without completing multiple forms or contacting payees for automatic payment information. You can also notify the people you pay using auto-debits so they can update your billing information, and you can transfer direct deposits to your new account. This feature also lets users close their old external accounts.

Generations Community Federal Credit Union Review

Founded in 1940 to serve the needs of the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Fire Department, and the San Antonio Police Department, Generations Community Federal Credit Union has moved toward innovation and forward-thinking products and services, but the brand promise remains the same: to put the needs of members first, so they can find what’s right for them.

Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Bexar County. Those people who are relatives of current members can also join Generations.

Key Factors Leading Us to Rank This Credit Union as a Top San Antonio Credit Union

When reviewing top picks for credit unions in San Antonio, the following are reasons Generations was included on this list of the best.

Cash Back

This leading credit union in San Antonio offers cash back options for credit cardholders Regardless of the card a member selects and qualifies for, there is no annual fee, there are account management tools and resources available, and there is a range of complimentary card benefits.

The Generations Earned Rewards card includes cash back on every purchase made, and rewards automatically accumulate and are deposited into the account you select each quarter. There are no caps or limits on the amount of cash that can be earned.

Shared Branching

Members of Generations have access to banking and business at more than 5,000 credit union locations through the implementation of a shared branch network. This means that most transactions a member might need to complete can be done at participating co-op shared branch locations.

This means you can bank even if you’re out of town or not near a Generations branch, and even if you move or change jobs, you may be able to continue banking with Generations.

Some of the things that can be done at co-op member branches include cashing checks and making deposits, making loan payments, making transfers or withdrawals, balance inquiries, cash advances, and purchasing money orders, travelers checks, and official checks.

Smart Deposit

Smart Deposit is a technology-based feature from Generations that lets members deposit checks, anytime and anywhere, using their GFCU mobile app or smartphone.

Users can make deposits quickly without visiting a branch, making banking with GFCU highly accessible. It’s also very secure, so personal information isn’t at risk, and money becomes available quickly. This is just one of the many offerings from this San Antonio credit union that makes it incredibly convenient to bank with them.

eVision Online Trading

For members of this pick for a best credit union in San Antonio that also want to invest, Generations has partnered with eVision to provide tools and services. This online investing platform is ideal for stocks, options, and mutual funds.

Commissions are low, and things like quotes and charts are provided. There are also advanced tools for monitoring and managing portfolios and mutual funds. 

This makes it easy for members to take care of every aspect of their financial picture in a centralized way

Synergy Federal Credit Union Review

Synergy Federal Credit Union opened in 1980 as Valero Federal Credit Union, as part of the Valero Energy Corporation, based in San Antonio. At that time, this credit union in San Antonio had only 4 employees.

Now, Synergy has grown to include a staff of dozens and membership of more than 11,000 people. In 2011, the name was changed from Valero to Synergy Federal Credit Union, but what’s remained consistent is the dedication to serving the needs of members.

Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This Credit Union as a Top Credit Union in San Antonio

Primary reasons Synergy was included on this list of the best credit unions in San Antonio are detailed below.

Credit Cards

There are two primary credit card options available to members of Synergy. The first is MasterCard Platinum. This is the standard offering from this credit union in San Antonio, and the rate and limit are dependent on the credit history and qualifications of the member.

Also available is the MasterCard Platinum Rewards card. It has a competitive APR, and you can earn rewards by making purchases. Those rewards can then be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and cash back. You can also earn extra points if you use vendor links that are part of the program when you shop online.


Synergy offers real estate loan options that include mortgages through a partnership with the South West Business Corporation. When you work with Synergy to obtain a mortgage, you have access to an expert loan representative, and the home approval system features advanced technology, so it’s faster and more seamless.

Mortgage solutions from Synergy FCU include interest-only loans, and all loans feature competitive rates.

Also available are home equity loans, home improvement loans, lending for the purchase of land, construction loans, and home equity lines of credit.

Share Draft Accounts

A share draft account is designed to offer members of Synergy advantages, including no monthly service fee. As well as being free, share draft accounts, which include checking options, carry the following features and benefits that many members find compelling:

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free check orders
  • No fee per check
  • Free debit cards
  • Free direct deposit, online banking, and bill pay
  • Competitive interest
  • Teller24 access
  • Overdraft protection from a savings account or Synergy line of credit

Account holders can opt in to overdraft privilege protection, giving the credit union permission to pay transactions that aren’t covered by available funds.

Mobile Banking

Synergy offers full mobile access to most banking services including the ability to view account balances, transfer money between accounts, and locate nearby ATMs and branches.

The Synergy Mobile Banking app is free, as is the Mobile Texting service. Mobile Texting lets members of this San Antonio credit union receive information including account balances and transactions via text.

Other technology-based solutions from Synergy FCU include online banking and the availability of e-statements, which are available on-demand. These statements are saved for a year so that they can be quickly viewed online, saved to a hard drive or printed.

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

Conclusion—Top 8 Credit Unions in San Antonio

While certainly not a new concept, credit unions are actually revolutionizing the way we bank in many ways. Credit unions are taking the apprehension many people have about the banking system and its pitfalls and turning them into advantages for the way they do business.

Credit unions have been around for decades, but as many San Antonio credit unions expand their membership eligibility criteria, it’s something that’s no longer reserved exclusively for members of certain associations or employees at a particular business.

It’s this increased level of inclusion that’s turning many consumers into advocates for credit unions.

The above list highlights some of the credit unions in San Antonio that take the concepts people love about a member-owned financial coooperative, and exapnd on them even further. These credit unions in San Antonio excel not just at the standards of a credit union, such as low fees. They also go above and beyond in terms of accessibility, technology, and convenience, essentially eliminating any potential downfall of doing business there.

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