7 Best Banks and Credit Unions for the Military 2023

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Military service comes with its own challenges, such as long hours, frequent travel, and overseas expenses. Members of the armed forces should look for a bank that offers free access to online banking from anywhere, low or no-fee transfers, competitive interest rates on savings accounts, and dedicated programs for helping clients navigate military life. Many banks that offer services to active duty military members also extend them to veterans and military families.

Here are our picks for the best banks and credit unions for the military in 2022-2023:

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Navy Federal Credit Union is Money’s Choice for Best Bank for the Military. For $5 you can open a savings account and join the world’s largest credit union. Navy Federal’s flagship checking account pays between 0.35% and 0.45% interest, depending on your balance, which is higher than many national banks. Members are also entitled to exclusive discounts on rental cars, home and auto insurance, and more.

Navy Federal Credit Union Highlights

  • 0.25% APY on Basic Savings Account
  • $0 opening balance when checking out
  • 30,000 ATMs in the US and Canada, plus access to 1.7 million VISA Plus ATM systems worldwide
  • $120 in out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed annually
  • Only about 350 branches worldwide, mostly located near military bases
  • $10 monthly service fee for balances under $1,500

Top Awards: US Bank

US Bank offers a wide range of perks and benefits for military personnel, earning it our pick for the best military rewards bank. Military personnel who open a US Bank Smartly Checking account are automatically upgraded to the bank’s Smart Rewards Plus level. It comes with free cashiers checks and money orders, 50% savings on personal checks and safe deposit boxes, discounts on mortgage closing costs and more.

US Bank Highlights

  • $0 monthly fee for military
  • $25 opening balance
  • Discounts on products, services and loans
  • Small number of branches (about 2,000)
  • No out-of-network ATM fees refunded

Person inserting a debit card into an ATM

Best for High Yields: Pentagon Federal Credit Union

The Pentagon Federal (PenFed) Credit Union Premium Online Savings Account pays 1.70% interest, making the credit union our top pick for high returns. This rate is not as high as some online-only banks, but it is still eight times higher than the national average. Customers who open an Access America checking account can earn up to 0.35% on their money, depending on their balance. Membership costs $5 and military affiliation is not required to join.

Highlights of PenFed Credit Union

  • 1.70% APY on savings account, up to 0.35% on check
  • $25 opening balance in checking account
  • Large network of ATMs (more than 85,000)
  • Earn rewards with the Power Cash Visa card
  • No ATM card available with Online Savings Account
  • Recurring direct deposit of at least $500 required or minimum daily balance required to earn interest on checking account

Best National Bank: Chase

Chase is our pick for the best large national bank for the military. Customers enjoy free electronic transfers and they do not pay foreign exchange fees on international ATM transactions or debit card purchases. The bank is also waiving its $25 monthly service fee for military and veterans.

Hunting Highlights

  • $0 monthly service fee
  • No exchange fees for international ATM or debit card purchases
  • Free counter checks, money orders and bank checks
  • Monthly fee waived on two additional checking accounts or one savings account
  • No reimbursement of ATM operator fees
  • 0.01% APY paid is very low
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Best sign-up bonus: PNC

PNC Bank is our pick for the best bank for sign-up bonuses. New customers who open a virtual wallet with Performance Spend can get a $200 bonus, and opening a PNC credit card makes military members eligible for a $100 bonus after meeting a minimum spend requirement. Opening a new VA mortgage with PNC comes with a $300 bonus, and military bank customers are also eligible for reduced direct deposit requirements to waive their monthly checking account fees.

PNC Highlights

  • Earn cash bonuses when you open new accounts
  • $25 opening balance, $0 if opened online
  • Up to $5 in ATM fees from other banks are refunded per statement cycle
  • 0.01% to 0.04% APY is low

Best for military benefits: USAA Federal Savings Bank

USAA members are entitled to a long list of exclusive benefits, including discounts on travel, home services, car maintenance, shopping, health, and entertainment. They also save money with participating companies like ADT Home Security, FTD, and Hertz. Members who do business with USAA can access more than 60,000 ATMs nationwide and they have access to professional assistance while deployed. They even have the option of receiving their military pay a day earlier.

USAA Federal Savings Bank Highlights

  • $25 opening balance
  • $0 monthly service fee
  • First 10 non-USAA ATM withdrawals are free per monthly statement, and up to $15 cashback in non-USAA countries
  • Compatible with digital wallets and third-party payment apps

Client with pen and paper writing app in bank office

Best Deployment Perks: Federal Credit Union Security Service

Security Service Federal Credit Union offers unique benefits to military personnel serving overseas. Members have access to loans with a low fixed annual interest rate of 3.99% to meet financial needs related to the deployment process, as well as a program that will reduce insurance costs to store a car or organize the shipment of the car abroad. There is also an exclusive customer service line for military personnel.

Federal Credit Union Security Service Highlights

  • Up to 0.79% APY paid to a current account protected by food
  • $6 monthly service fee
  • Opening balance $5 on savings account, $0 on checking account
  • Requires a minimum daily account balance of $50,000 to waive service fees
  • No reimbursement of out-of-network ATM fees
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How we chose the best banks of 2022-2023

To determine our list of the best banks for 2022-2023, Money staff rated 50 of the largest retail banks and credit unions, ranked by assets, and 15 of the most popular online banks. We then compared opening balance requirements, interest paid, fees, and features to determine our top picks. You can read our complete methodology here.

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Leslie M. Gill