Reviewing the Best Credit Unions in San Diego, CA

The power of people helping people is what defines everything that a credit union offers members.

Rather than being customers, as they would be at a bank, when consumers choose to work with a San Diego credit union, they’re referred to as “members,” and as members, they’re also owners. This difference represents a significant shift from what it’s like to bank with other types of financial institutions.

At a credit union, which operates as a not-for-profit, anything earned as a profit is reinvested into the members. That’s how these unique institutions are able to offer such low interest rates on loans, high interest rates on savings, and other premier offerings.

The following is a list of the best San Diego credit unions. Each of these picks for the top San Diego Coast credit unions reflects the strong values upheld by a credit union, the utmost of which is people helping people.

Best Credit Unions in San Diego, California Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 10 Best Credit Unions in San Diego, California

The following list includes credit unions in San Diego, CA, that have long histories in the area and serve diverse groups. These San Diego Coast credit unions also excelled not only at having competitive rates and products, but also advanced technology and superior service.

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 10 Best Credit Unions in San Diego

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the credit union names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that San Diego credit union):

Click here for 2016’s ranking of the Top 11 Best Credit Unions in San Diego, California

Top 10 Best Credit Unions in San Diego, CA | Brief Comparison & Ranking

San Diego Credit Unions

Highlighted Features

Cabrillo Credit UnionDynamic eBranch banking capabilities
California Coast Credit UnionFree financial workshops
Mission Federal Credit UnionWide range of home loan products
Navy Federal Credit UnionExclusive military discounts available to members
North Island Credit UnionAuto Buying Center helps members find the right car for their needs
Point Loma Credit UnionLighthouse Relationship Plans
San Diego County Credit UnionEarn rewards with SDCCU Paybacks & Dining Deals
San Diego Firefighters Federal Credit UnionSeveral credit cards available with low interest rates
San Diego Metropolitan Credit UnionCompetitive rates on solar & energy efficiency loans
USE Credit UnionFree tax preparation with online banking

Table: Top 10 Best Credit Unions in San Diego, California | Above list is sorted alphabetically

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

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Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review—Top Ranking San Diego Credit Unions

Below, please find a detailed review of each credit union on our list of top credit unions in San Diego, CA. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these San Diego credit unions to score so high in our selection ranking.

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Cabrillo Credit Union Review

Cabrillo Credit Union was chartered as Border Federal Credit Union in 1955, and since then has grown to include an abundance of services and products as well as new technology.

This San Diego credit union, created for Border Patrol Agents and their families, is an active part of the San Diego community and has more than $200,000 million in assets.

Cabrillo Credit Union has won many awards over the years and currently maintains more than 20,000 members.

Key Factors That Allowed This Credit Union to Rank as a Top Credit Union in San Diego, CA

The list below highlights some important reasons Cabrillo was selected as one of the best San Diego County credit unions.

Savings Accounts

Members of Cabrillo Credit Union are required to open a savings account for their membership, and these accounts have many benefits. As all-purpose accounts, there are no monthly service fees, and they can be used to save for anything, whether short or long-term.

Users receive 24-hour access to savings account funds via a Cabrillo ATM card, and account holders can take advantage of free, unlimited access to more than 30,000 worldwide ATMs, which are part of the CO-OP network.

Members of this credit union in San Diego, CA also have the option to participate in the Holiday Club Account, which helps members save by automatically transferring a specific amount from their checking account each month.


The eBranch is the online service center of Cabrillo Credit Union, featuring the convenience of visiting a location, wherever you might be in the world. Along with being able to view all of your account information and do basic transactions, eBranch capabilities include:

  • Simple account transfers between Cabrillo and outside accounts
  • Quick-access Bill Payment
  • Account alerts
  • The ability to read or send secure emails to the credit union
  • Options to place a stop payment or view cleared checks
  • Loan applications
  • Full account aggregation so users can see information for all of their Cabrillo accounts in one location

Free Online Bill Payment

Members can save time and money with Free Online Bill Payment, which lets users not only pay their bills online or from their mobile device, but they can also view their bills online with the eBills option, rather than receiving paper statements.

Online Bill Payment options from Cabrillo include:

  • Set up recurring and future payments to pay bills with fixed amounts, such as a house or car payment
  • On-demand bill pay is ideal for those payments where the amount may change
  • Same day payments can be made with expedited options
  • Person-to-person payments are sent securely by email
  • Gift Pay allows members to send a check as a gift through the Cabrillo Online Bill Payment service

Loan Discounts

Cabrillo offers benefits for their members that use the credit union as a resource for their loans. One benefit is a program that lets Cabrillo meet or beat auto loan offers from other financial institutions. If members bring the offer into Cabrillo in writing, the credit union will meet or beat the rate, or give that person $50.

When members do obtain an auto loan through this pick for one of the best San Diego Coast credit unions, they can take advantage of payment flexibility and Skip-A-Payment options.

If you have your paycheck directly deposited to your Cabrillo checking account and pay your loan with an automatic transfer, you may be eligible for a 1.5% discount off loan interest rates.

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California Coast Credit Union Review

Founded under the premise of “people helping people,” California Coast Credit Union was established in 1929, making it the oldest credit union in San Diego.

Founded by educators and employees of Solar Aircraft, this top San Diego credit union includes members from throughout the San Diego Metro as well as Southern Riverside County.

California Coast maintains 24 branches, $2 billion in assets, and has more than 150,000 members. Accessibility is offered through Cal Coast Online, which is a shared branch network including more than 5,000 credit union locations, 2,000 self-serve locations, and more than 30,000 nationwide, surcharge-free ATMs.

California Coast Credit Union - san diego credit union

Image Source: Top Credit Unions in San Diego

Key Factors Considered When Ranking This Credit Union as a Top Credit Union in San Diego

The list below highlights reasons California Coast was selected as a top credit union in San Diego.

Cal Coast Loyalty Rewards

One of the signature offerings from this leader among credit unions in San Diego, CA, is their Cal Coast Loyalty Rewards program. Every member is automatically enrolled in this free program, and it allows them to earn points for the accounts and services they’re already using, including checking accounts, loans and direct deposit.

Each month, members are rewarded points based on their activity. They can then redeem those points for rewards whenever they choose.

Some of the possible rewards include a credit toward monthly fees on checking accounts, credits for out-of-network ATM usage, or mortgage processing fee credits.

Free Checking

As a top San Diego credit union, Cal Coast offers many checking account options, including a free checking account.

Free Checking offers users abundant benefits with a minimum deposit of only $25. Along with no monthly maintenance fees, the Free Checking option includes the following advantages:

  • Free access to 30,000 CO-OP ATMs around the country
  • Unlimited check writing
  • Overdraft protection is available
  • Courtesy pay and debit card courtesy pay are available
  • Free branch transactions
  • Free online and mobile bill pay
  • Free eStatements
  • Free Cal Coast Online
  • Free mobile banking, mobile deposit, bill pay and send money features

Financial Workshops

Available to members of this leading credit union in San Diego are many financial workshops. They’re hosted by team members of the credit union as well as outside partners, and they’re free.

These workshops are designed to help members take the guesswork out of finances, budgeting and planning, regardless of their goals.

One of the recent workshops includes “Paying for College” presented by Sallie Mae, although workshops cover a wide spectrum of personal finance topics.

Retirement Planning and Investments

This credit union in San Diego offers an array of financial services, including retirement planning and investment services, where members can work with qualified financial advisors at a personal level.

The experienced financial advisors are located at Cal Coast branch locations, and some of the areas they work in include:

  • Strategies to maximize retirement earnings
  • Tax-deferred investments
  • Mutual funds
  • Traditional and Roth IRAs
  • Annuities
  • Rollover strategies
  • Life insurance
  • Education funding
  • Retirement analysis and funding

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Mission Federal Credit Union Review

Mission Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative with a mission of earning trust, investing in the success of members, and caring for the community. Mission Fed opened in 1961 and since that time has grown to offer everything from checking and savings accounts to insurance and investment services.

Branches of this San Diego federal credit union are found throughout the county, including in Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Encinitas, Oceanside, and other areas in the San Diego Metro.

Key Factors That Enabled This Credit Union to Rank as a Top Credit Union in San Diego

Detailed below are key reasons Mission Federal was selected among the picks for the best credit union in San Diego.

Home Loans

As a top San Diego credit union, Mission Federal offers many home loan and refinancing options for homebuyers, all with the importance of matching members with the right loan at the forefront of services.

When members come to Mission Federal for their home loan needs, they receive the highest level of personalized service, as well as the following benefits:

  • Applications are fast, easy, and can be completed online
  • After applying, members can receive an answer in a matter of minutes
  • Competitive rates are offered including fixed options and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Also available are refinance and cash out loans
  • There are low down payment options
  • First-time homebuyer programs

Many members also find the home loan options from Mission Fed advantageous because they can avoid the high fees from other institutions, and any fees that are charged are done in a transparent way.

Platinum Debit Card

Members of this federal credit union in San Diego can take advantage of the Platinum Debit Card when they sign up for a checking account. This MasterCard carries no monthly usage fee, as well as many security and protection features.

Members can store and use their Mission Fed Debit Card on Apple Pay and Samsung Pay to make secure, easy payments at participating merchants, and all purchases can be tracked online with Mission Fed online banking.

With the Platinum Card, San Diego credit union members can also earn special discounts and purchase protections, as well as having access to MasterCard ID Theft Alerts.

Mission Rewards

A signature offering from this contender for the best credit union in San Diego is their Mission Rewards program. With Mission Rewards, which is a credit card program, there is no annual fee and points add up quickly.

You can add the program to a Mission Fed Platinum or eligible Classic Credit Card, and some of the reward options include cash back, gift cards, airline tickets, hotel stays, local sports and theater tickets, and more.

Participants can also support a local school by donating their Mission Rewards points.

Overdraft Options

This credit union in San Diego, California understands that emergencies and unexpected situations do occur, and sometimes members might not have enough money in their checking account to cover certain charges.

With Mission Debit Card Privilege, the credit union may authorize PIN and signature-based debit card purchases, even if there are insufficient funds. There are no enrollment fees, and no fees are charged unless a member uses the service and the transaction results in a negative balance that’s more than $10.

With the Mission Courtesy Pay services, members are extended funds if they maintain an account in good standing. When funds aren’t available, the service may pay checks and Automated Clearing House (ACH) items.

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

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Conclusion—Top 10 Credit Unions in San Diego

Building a stable financial future is highly dependent on the resources you have at your disposal. That’s one of the reasons so many consumers opt to become members of a local San Diego credit union.

The members own the credit unions, and they offer rewards instead of using profits in other ways. These rewards include everything from low interest rates on loans to high dividends on savings accounts.

The above list represents some of the best credit unions in San Diego. Each San Diego credit union has a long history in the area spanning many decades. These picks for the top credit unions in San Diego, CA, also reflect, along with longevity and reputation, a real dedication to their members.

Each of the names on this ranking of the best credit unions in San Diego also signifies excellent products, customer service, and the advanced technology and customer service today’s modern consumer has come to expect in any financial institution.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

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