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Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

Contributor

Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

What is the communities opinion on Alliant vs PenFed I'm currently using Penfed's personalized checking account (Access America) I am considering Alliant after a friend stated and I quote Alliant Kicks as*

Message 1 of 18
17 REPLIES 17
Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

You may want to start this discussion in the Personal Finance part of MyFico if you are looking for checking account comparison and general credit union questions. This Smorgasboard does not get much attention.

 

I am a member of both. I joined PenFed over 10 years ago and Alliant just last year. I joined PenFed or their low personal loan rates and I joined Alliant for their high savings rate (well, at least as of last year it was high). 

 

Alliant Pros:

Quick ACH transfers and can be used to pull funds out for free of an account from a bank/credit union that charges a fee to ACH to an outside financial institution. For instance, you want to move $500 from US Bank to a small, local bank but US Bank charges $3 to do so; you could instead use Alliant to pull the $500 from US Bank and once it posts to Alliant, move it to the small bank, no fees. 

0.25% APY on checking (with a monthly direct deposit)

No minimum or fees

1st box of checks free

Higher rate savings (currently 0.75%)

They are usually one of the first financial institutions to raise the savings rates once The Fed raises Prime Rate. 

Large Allpoint ATM network

Is part of the shared branch program with other credit unions

Alliant Negatives:

Frankly, their lending products are ho hum. They do have a 2% rewards Visa card; but their personal and auto loans can be bested by PenFed and other credit unions

No Personal Line of Credit available; not even a Checking Line of Credit.

Generally, if you do not qualify for membership for their normal field of membership (airline employee, resident of Chicgagoland) then you have to join through a donation or other membership. I joined using Freelancers Union-its free but they send tons of junk email.

 

PenFed Pros:

They have a nationwide charter now, so anybody can join without having to qualify through employer, military or other way.

Typically some of the best personal loan rates and very competitive car loan rates

High APY online savings account

Offers Personal Lines of Credit as well as Checking Line of Credit for overdraft

Decent credit card rewards (best seems to be the 2% cash back Power Cash Rewards card-if you have their checking or are military qualified-otherwise its another 1.5% card

For some members, pre-approved credit offers every quarter which are rarely declined and rarely use a HP

Penfed Cons:

They charge checking account fees like the big banks do; for instance, you must either park $500 in checking or have a monthly direct deposit to avoid a monthly fee. This seems very un-credit-union-like. 

Very limited branch network

PenFed is not connected to the Shared Branch network like many other credit unions are. 

You really have to watch PenFed...they change rates on their website all the time. Sometimes the rates are lower on car loans and credit cards for a limited time and then they go up (for new applicants I should mention). So if you are shopping for a low rate with Penfed, jump on the low rate when you see it because it could change.

Anybody can join. Although, frankly anybody can join Alliant too (and a multitude of other credit unions), I sometimes worry that credit unions like PenFed and NFCU are opening themselves up to bad loans and fraud by allowing virtually anybody in. I liked when credit unions were more difficult to join but I do see the need to grow the credit union. This could also be a pro because members who may have not previously been able to join now can and bring a lot of business which benefits everybody. Only time will tell. 

 

Personally, for me...yes, I do like Alliant...but only for savings and possibly checking. For everything else, PenFed does it better. There are lower lending rates and more lending options. 

 

Message 2 of 18
Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed


@BearsCubsOtters wrote:

You may want to start this discussion in the Personal Finance part of MyFico if you are looking for checking account comparison and general credit union questions. This Smorgasboard does not get much attention.

 

I am a member of both. I joined PenFed over 10 years ago and Alliant just last year. I joined PenFed or their low personal loan rates and I joined Alliant for their high savings rate (well, at least as of last year it was high). 

 

Alliant Pros:

Quick ACH transfers and can be used to pull funds out for free of an account from a bank/credit union that charges a fee to ACH to an outside financial institution. For instance, you want to move $500 from US Bank to a small, local bank but US Bank charges $3 to do so; you could instead use Alliant to pull the $500 from US Bank and once it posts to Alliant, move it to the small bank, no fees. 

0.25% APY on checking (with a monthly direct deposit)

No minimum or fees

1st box of checks free

Higher rate savings (currently 0.75%)

They are usually one of the first financial institutions to raise the savings rates once The Fed raises Prime Rate. 

Large Allpoint ATM network

Is part of the shared branch program with other credit unions

Alliant Negatives:

Frankly, their lending products are ho hum. They do have a 2% rewards Visa card; but their personal and auto loans can be bested by PenFed and other credit unions

No Personal Line of Credit available; not even a Checking Line of Credit.

Generally, if you do not qualify for membership for their normal field of membership (airline employee, resident of Chicgagoland) then you have to join through a donation or other membership. I joined using Freelancers Union-its free but they send tons of junk email.

 

PenFed Pros:

They have a nationwide charter now, so anybody can join without having to qualify through employer, military or other way.

Typically some of the best personal loan rates and very competitive car loan rates

High APY online savings account

Offers Personal Lines of Credit as well as Checking Line of Credit for overdraft

Decent credit card rewards (best seems to be the 2% cash back Power Cash Rewards card-if you have their checking or are military qualified-otherwise its another 1.5% card

For some members, pre-approved credit offers every quarter which are rarely declined and rarely use a HP

Penfed Cons:

They charge checking account fees like the big banks do; for instance, you must either park $500 in checking or have a monthly direct deposit to avoid a monthly fee. This seems very un-credit-union-like. 

Very limited branch network

PenFed is not connected to the Shared Branch network like many other credit unions are. 

You really have to watch PenFed...they change rates on their website all the time. Sometimes the rates are lower on car loans and credit cards for a limited time and then they go up (for new applicants I should mention). So if you are shopping for a low rate with Penfed, jump on the low rate when you see it because it could change.

Anybody can join. Although, frankly anybody can join Alliant too (and a multitude of other credit unions), I sometimes worry that credit unions like PenFed and NFCU are opening themselves up to bad loans and fraud by allowing virtually anybody in. I liked when credit unions were more difficult to join but I do see the need to grow the credit union. This could also be a pro because members who may have not previously been able to join now can and bring a lot of business which benefits everybody. Only time will tell. 

 

Personally, for me...yes, I do like Alliant...but only for savings and possibly checking. For everything else, PenFed does it better. There are lower lending rates and more lending options. 

 


Thank you for taking the time to reply what valuable information I would have never known that! I'll go with PenFed and just keep a membership with Alliant just in case! I'm still coming off of a 10k discover approval when almost a year ago I thought First premier and Credit one were massive limits at like 400$ I wish I listened sooner goal is to buy a house in two years so I'm trying to get my foot in the door with some of the best credit unions who may be good for a mortgage,Auto loan, Checking line of credit and decent line up of savings and cds also one that is not prone to 2008 style bank collapse! I was a Wells Fargo guy for many years and learning they are not so great compared! Again I thank you for taking the time to give me a heads up and some information!

Message 3 of 18
Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed


@BearsCubsOtters wrote:

You may want to start this discussion in the Personal Finance part of MyFico if you are looking for checking account comparison and general credit union questions. This Smorgasboard does not get much attention.

 

I am a member of both. I joined PenFed over 10 years ago and Alliant just last year. I joined PenFed or their low personal loan rates and I joined Alliant for their high savings rate (well, at least as of last year it was high). 

 

Alliant Pros:

Quick ACH transfers and can be used to pull funds out for free of an account from a bank/credit union that charges a fee to ACH to an outside financial institution. For instance, you want to move $500 from US Bank to a small, local bank but US Bank charges $3 to do so; you could instead use Alliant to pull the $500 from US Bank and once it posts to Alliant, move it to the small bank, no fees. 

0.25% APY on checking (with a monthly direct deposit)

No minimum or fees

1st box of checks free

Higher rate savings (currently 0.75%)

They are usually one of the first financial institutions to raise the savings rates once The Fed raises Prime Rate. 

Large Allpoint ATM network

Is part of the shared branch program with other credit unions

Alliant Negatives:

Frankly, their lending products are ho hum. They do have a 2% rewards Visa card; but their personal and auto loans can be bested by PenFed and other credit unions

No Personal Line of Credit available; not even a Checking Line of Credit.

Generally, if you do not qualify for membership for their normal field of membership (airline employee, resident of Chicgagoland) then you have to join through a donation or other membership. I joined using Freelancers Union-its free but they send tons of junk email.

 

PenFed Pros:

They have a nationwide charter now, so anybody can join without having to qualify through employer, military or other way.

Typically some of the best personal loan rates and very competitive car loan rates

High APY online savings account

Offers Personal Lines of Credit as well as Checking Line of Credit for overdraft

Decent credit card rewards (best seems to be the 2% cash back Power Cash Rewards card-if you have their checking or are military qualified-otherwise its another 1.5% card

For some members, pre-approved credit offers every quarter which are rarely declined and rarely use a HP

Penfed Cons:

They charge checking account fees like the big banks do; for instance, you must either park $500 in checking or have a monthly direct deposit to avoid a monthly fee. This seems very un-credit-union-like. 

Very limited branch network

PenFed is not connected to the Shared Branch network like many other credit unions are. 

You really have to watch PenFed...they change rates on their website all the time. Sometimes the rates are lower on car loans and credit cards for a limited time and then they go up (for new applicants I should mention). So if you are shopping for a low rate with Penfed, jump on the low rate when you see it because it could change.

Anybody can join. Although, frankly anybody can join Alliant too (and a multitude of other credit unions), I sometimes worry that credit unions like PenFed and NFCU are opening themselves up to bad loans and fraud by allowing virtually anybody in. I liked when credit unions were more difficult to join but I do see the need to grow the credit union. This could also be a pro because members who may have not previously been able to join now can and bring a lot of business which benefits everybody. Only time will tell. 

 

Personally, for me...yes, I do like Alliant...but only for savings and possibly checking. For everything else, PenFed does it better. There are lower lending rates and more lending options. 

 


See my reply below I'm still getting the hang of this forum despite being a member for years I've recently started to actually use the benefits and knowledge shared here! I no stupid me!

Message 4 of 18
Mega Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

I'm not really a fan of Alliant honestly. They're the only CU I had that decided it was more important to slash savings rates than it was to get COVID relief out, they continued to slash rates, they changed their funds availability policy to make it so that they're holding your money longer before they release it to you, they are extremely conservative with credit products, customer service is impossible to reach, and their app isn't all that great. 

With AOD, I have lightning quick ACH in and out for free so I am considering closing my accounts with Alliant. 

 

I am no fan of PenFed either really. $500 direct deposit or daily balance to keep from being charged for their checking account makes them one of the few credit unions that doesn't have a free checking account, if you join them dirty you'll be waiting a long time for prequals, they can be very conservative with people who don't make a lot of money (which flies in the face of the purpose of credit unions to begin with), and customer service is said to be quite lacking. 

I have Alliant, AOD, DCU, Langley, NFCU, Service CU, and SSFCU and would only really recommend AOD, NFCU, and Service CU unless you get DCU for their savings rate ($1K at 6.17%) or SSFCU for their PLOC (rates start at just 6%). 



Message 5 of 18
Regular Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

If you asked me four years ago when I joined if Alliant was all that I would agree. I am in the process of moving away from them as my primary bank. Personally, they feel just like a big bank to me now and really don't offer anything to make me stay. No early deposit of payroll, the savings rates aren't that great anymore and the credit products are meh. I'm not closing my membership there but they have fallen way down my list of memberships as a goto bank. 


Moving away from big banks and building my credit union relationships
Message 6 of 18
New Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

No experience with Alliant. PenFed is a bit tricky to get followthrough from, but they seem decent so far. 

Banking:

US Bank
Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Credit Cards:

American Express Platinum Card (No Preset Spending Limit)
PenFed Gold ($10,000 Credit Limit)
US Bank Platinum ($12,900 Credit Limit)
US Bank Cash+ ($11,700 Credit Limit)

Personal Line of Credit:

US Bank Personal Line Plus ($12,000 Credit Limit)
Message 7 of 18
Regular Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

If you are a chicagoland resident i would highly highly recommend BCU


@petergee wrote:

No experience with Alliant. PenFed is a bit tricky to get followthrough from, but they seem decent so far. 


 


Discover it: 10,700
Amex BCP: 5,000
BCU Cash Rewards: 8,000
23k student loan
Ficos 8's ~790
Inq: EX:3 EQ:1 TU:1
Message 8 of 18
Established Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed

@BearsCubsOtters 

 

-Fantastic write up.  With regards to parking $500 into Penfed, I believe that you must DD the $500/month but there is no requirement to maintain this $500 in the account after the DD.

 

@Aim_High  is well versed with PenFed.

 

Message 9 of 18
Valued Contributor

Re: Alliant Credit Union vs Penfed


@NoMoreE46 wrote:

@BearsCubsOtters 

-Fantastic write up.  With regards to parking $500 into Penfed, I believe that you must DD the $500/month but there is no requirement to maintain this $500 in the account after the DD.

@Aim_High  is well versed with PenFed.


Thanks for the tag, @NoMoreE46.

  

Agreed that @BearsCubsOtters 's write up is outstanding and only possible as longer-term client of both.  Thanks for that!  Smiley Happy

I've read about and considered Alliant also but now am glad I didn't try to set up accounts with them.  PenFed just seems to be a better overall choice based on my own observations as well as the comments above. 

 

Currently as of 09/04/2020, I'm showing Alliant's High-Rate Online Savings account pays 0.65% and PenFed's Premium Online Savings account pays an even-higher 0.80%.  Plus PenFed's Power Cash Rewards is (in my opinion) possibly the best overall flat-rate 2% card out there. 




As of 01/11/21

Total Length of Credit > 35 years; AoOA (Currently open accounts) > 27 years
AAoA > 7 years; AoYA less than 1 year (Aug 2020)
Credit Limits: Total > $573K. Average > $28K. Utilization 1%.
Total Inquiries (TU:3 ~ EQ:4 ~ EX:7); Scorable Inquiries (TU:1 ~ EQ:2 ~ EX:4)
New Accounts: 1/6 months; 4/12 months; 11/24 months (as of 01/11/21)
* Hover cursor over each card to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
** Gardening since 08/15/20. Garden Goal: Gold Spade on 02/15/21
Message 10 of 18
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