Military service comes with its own challenges, like long hours, frequent travel and overseas spending. Members of the armed forces should look for a bank that offers free access to online banking from anywhere, low-fee or no-fee transfers, competitive interest rates on savings accounts and dedicated programs to help customers navigate life in the military. Many banks that offer services to active duty service members also extend them to veterans and military families.
Here are our picks for the best banks and credit unions for military members of 2022-2023:
- Navy Federal Credit Union: Best overall
- U.S. Bank: Best rewards
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Best for high yields
- Chase: Best national bank
- PNC: Best sign-up bonus
- USAA Federal Savings Bank: Best for military-only perks
- Security Service Federal Credit Union: Best deployment benefits
*Rates and APYs are subject to change. All information provided here is accurate as of May 19, 2023.
Best overall: Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union is Money’s pick for the best bank for members of the military. For $5, you can open a savings account and join the largest credit union in the world. Navy Federal’s Flagship Checking account pays interest, depending on your balance, which is higher than many national banks. Members are also eligible for 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 on checking
- 30,000 ATMs in the United States and Canada, plus access to 1.7 million VISA Plus ATM systems around the world
- $120 in out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed annually
- Only about 350 branches worldwide, located primarily near military bases
- $10 monthly service fee for balances under $1,500
Best rewards: U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank offers a broad range of benefits and perks for military personnel, earning it our pick for the best military rewards bank. Military members who open a U.S. Bank Smartly Checking account are automatically upgraded to the bank’s Smart Rewards Plus tier. That comes with free cashier’s checks and money orders, savings of 50% on personal checks and safe deposit boxes, discounts on mortgage closing costs and more.
U.S. Bank highlights
- $0 monthly fee for military members
- $25 opening balance
- Discounts on products, services and loans
- Small number of branches (about 2,000)
- No out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed
Best for high yields: Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Pentagon Federal (PenFed) Credit Union’s Premium Online Savings account pays interest, making the credit union our best choice for high yields. That rate isn’t quite as high as some online-only banks, but it’s still eight times the national average. Customers who open an Access America Checking account can earn on their money, depending on their balance. Membership costs $5, and military affiliation is not required to join.
PenFed Credit Union highlights
- 1.70% APY on savings account, up to 0.35% on checking
- $25 opening balance on checking account
- Large ATM network (over 85,000)
- Earns rewards with Power Cash Visa card
- No ATM card available with Online Savings Account
- Recurring direct deposit of at least $500 required or a 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 military members. Customers get fee-free wire transfers and they don’t pay foreign exchange fees on international ATM transactions or debit card purchases. The bank also waives its $25 monthly service fee for service members and veterans.
- $0 monthly service fee
- No foreign exchange fee for international ATM or debit card purchases
- Free counter checks, money orders and cashiers checks
- Monthly fees waived on two additional checking accounts or one savings account
- No ATM operator fee reimbursement
- 0.01% APY paid is very low
Best sign-up bonus: PNC
PNC Bank is our pick for the best bank for sign-up bonuses. New clients 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 banking customers are also eligible for reduced direct deposit requirements to waive their monthly checking account fee.
- Earn cash bonuses when you open new accounts
- $25 opening balance, $0 if opened online
- Up to $5 in other bank ATM fees are reimbursed per statement cycle
- 0.01% to 0.04% APY is low
Best for military-only perks: USAA Federal Savings Bank
USAA members are eligible for a long list of exclusive perks, including discounts on travel, home services, car care, shopping, health and entertainment. They also save money with participating businesses like ADT Home Security, FTD and Hertz. Members who bank with USAA can access more than 60,000 ATMs nationwide, and they have access to professional help during deployment. They even get the option to receive their military pay a day early.
USAA Federal Savings Bank highlights
- $25 opening balance
- $0 monthly service fee
- The first 10 non-USAA ATM withdrawals are free per monthly statement, and up to $15 refund in non-USAA
- Compatible with digital wallets and third-party payment apps
- 0.01 APY is very low
Best deployment benefits: Security Service Federal Credit Union
Security Service Federal Credit Union offers unique benefits for military members serving overseas. Members have access to loans with a low fixed APR to help with financial needs related to the deployment process as well as a program that will reduce insurance costs for storing a car or arranging to ship the car overseas. There’s also an exclusive customer service line for military personnel.
Security Service Federal Credit Union highlights
- Up to 0.79% APY paid on Power Protected Checking Account
- $6 monthly service fee
- $5 opening balance on savings account, $0 on checking account
- Requires a minimum daily account balance of $50,000 to waive service fee
- No out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements
How we chose the Best Banks of 2022-2023
To determine our list of Best Banks for 2022-2023, Money staff evaluated 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 full methodology here.