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Published: Oct 11, 2023 7 min read
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Armed Forces members face many challenges and have to make sacrifices during their service. Time spent away from family, long hours and potentially dangerous assignments are all part of the military. Being able to manage their finances shouldn’t be an additional burden. We analyzed the accounts specifically designed for military members to find the accounts that offer the best rates, terms and perks for those who put their lives on the line when the country needs it.

Here are our picks for best banks and credit unions for military members 2023-2024:

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Navy Federal’s variety of interest-paying accounts, low fees and enormous worldwide ATM access make it our pick for the best overall financial institution for military members.

You can earn between 0.01% and 0.45% APY when you open one of Navy Fed’s checking accounts and 0.25% APY with the Basic Savings Account. If you want to stash money in an account that earns a higher interest rate, share certificates (certificates of deposit) pay between 0.40% and 5.3%, depending on which one you choose.

Pros
  • 30,000 ATMs nationwide, 1.7 million worldwide
  • Up to $240 in ATM fee rebates per year
  • High APYs
  • Low fees
Cons
  • Limited number of branches nationwide

Penfed is our choice as best for high yields because of the higher-than-usual interest rates paid on its savings and checking accounts.

Open a Premium Online Savings account with just $5 and earn 3% APY on all balances with no monthly service fees. The Access America Checking pays between 0.15% and 0.35%, depending on the balance but provides several additional benefits. These include access to over 85,000 ATMs nationwide, no out-of-network ATM fees and the chance to earn 2% cash back on all purchases when you also get a Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card.

Pros
  • High APYs
  • Low monthly fees that can be easily waived
  • 85,000-ATM network
  • Can earn cash back
Cons
  • Limited number of branches
  • Overdraft and insufficient funds fees are higher than some competitors

The free services provided to members of Security Service Federal Credit Union when they open a Power Protected Checking account makes SSFCU our choice for having the best perks.

You can earn between 0.5% and 1% APY, depending on the account balance. You’ll also get some sweet member benefits, including free mobile phone protection, zero co-pay telehealth services, free wire transfers, up to $1 million in identity theft expense reimbursement and discounts at stores as well as on fuel and air travel. There’s no minimum opening balance requirement, but the account does have a $9 monthly service fee.

Pros
  • Free perks
  • Low opening balance
  • Good APY
Cons
  • Monthly service fee can't be waived

Although U.S. Bank’s Bank Smartly Checking account isn’t a dedicated account for military members, it does provide rewards for those who serve. Members of the armed forces who open this account are automatically enrolled in the Bank Smartly Smart Rewards Plus tier, making this account our choice for best rewards.

Free cashier’s checks, money orders and stop payments are part of the free services included. Account holders also get the first four non-U.S. Bank ATM fees without paying a fee, a mortgage loan closing cost credit of 0.25% (up to $1,000), a 10% interest rate lift on a standard savings account and 100 free trades per year with a self-directed brokerage account.

Pros
  • Low opening $25 balance
  • Low monthly $6.95 fee that can be waived
  • Free services
Cons
  • 4,000+ ATM network is small compared to others
  • Limited service area

Chase is our choice as the best national bank for military members because of its large footprint throughout the country and the many benefits it provides.

The Premier Plus Checking account with Chase Military Advantage has a $0 opening balance and a waived $25 monthly service fee. The first four non-Chase ATM transactions in each statement period are free and account holders won’t pay for counter checks, money orders or cashier’s checks. Other military benefits include waiving monthly service fees on two lower-tier checking accounts and one savings account. Sign up for direct deposit and get the following perks: No Chase fee at non-Chase ATMs or on incoming or outgoing wire transfers, and no foreign exchange rate adjustments fee.

Pros
  • Easy to open
  • Waived service fee
  • Free perks
  • Additional benefits with direct deposit
Cons
  • Low APY paid (0.01%)

USAA Bank is our top pick for best sign-up bonus. Military members opening their first Classic Checking account can get a $100 sign-up bonus when making a direct deposit of their qualifying military pay within the first 180 days of opening the account.

There are other perks to banking with USAA. The account can be opened with $25 and has no monthly fee. You can also get paid two days early, get a zero-liability debit card and have access to over 100,000 ATMs. Up to $10 in non-USAA ATM fees are refunded per statement cycle, too.

Pros
  • Sign-up bonus
  • 100,000-ATM network
  • Early pay
Cons
  • Low 0.01% APY
  • High $1,000 balance to earn interest
  • Easy to open

Capital One is our choice for best deployment benefits because account fees are waived, and the bank offers the lowest rates on loans and credit cards under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

There isn’t a specific military account at Capital One, but members of the armed forces who open an account there will have any account fees waived. They’ll also have the interest rate on credit cards, lines of credit, auto loans and home equity loans capped at 4% while the account holder is on active duty, the lowest rate provided by all the financial institutions we considered.

Pros
  • Waived account fees
  • Low caps on interest rates on credit cards and loans
  • Accounts are easy to open and pay high APYs
  • 70,000-ATM network
Cons
  • Limited number of branches
  • No dedicated account for service members

How we chose the Best Banks of 2023-2024

To determine our list of Best Banks for 2023-2024, Money staff evaluated 273 of the largest retail banks, credit unions, regional and state banks, ranked by assets, and 20 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 full methodology here.

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