Best Credit Unions in Los Angeles to Open up a Checking Account

Are you considering closing your checking account from your big bank? If you are tired of big banks charging you money just for banking with them and tired of their ridiculously high fees and minimums, make the switch now. Credit Unions are different than the traditional big banks because they are dedicated to their members (you) and since they are a not-for-profit, their primary objective isn’t to make as much money as possible but to serve in their member’s best interest. Credit Unions are not FDIC insured like big banks, but your money is still protected. Credit unions are insured to at least $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration. Credit unions are known for their top-notch customer service and their dedication to their members. If you are looking to switch to a local credit union in Los Angeles, consider looking into the following credit unions below. I have excluded the credit unions that have an exclusive membership eligibility to join.

  1. Los Angeles Federal Credit Union

The Los Angeles Federal Credit Union has 5 branches in Los Angeles and offers a variety of services such as checking accounts, savings accounts, business services, online banking, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages and more. What I love about this credit union is that they have a free checking account as long as you open a savings account with them. Their savings account has a $10 minimum opening deposit and you must maintain a $50 balance after 6 months to avoid any fees. This is totally doable unlike the $1,500 minimum a lot of big banks have. Many reviewers on Wallet Hub and Yelp raved about their excellent customer service. This is so important because when it comes to your money, you want people to be helpful.

  1. Southland Credit Union

Southland Credit Union has 7 branch locations in Los Angeles. My mother was underbanked and when doing my research, I found that this bank was perfect for her needs. The customer service is excellent! When walking in the branch location, we are always seen in less than 5 minutes. This never really happens in the big bank locations where there is usually a line. A customer service representative attentively answered all of my mother’s questions and concerns (in Spanish). One cool feature they have is a free coin machine! You can either deposit the funds in your account or you can take the cash, all with out being charged a fee like Coinstar. What ultimately drew us in was the free checking account. The checking account is free when you opt in to estatements and you must open a savings account with a minimum of $25. They have credit cards that have significantly lower APR rates than the big banks and their loan rates are much more competitive than the big banks.

Some of the cons are that their branch locations close early on Saturday’s (1pm) and they are closed Sundays. The wait times on the phones can be a bit long at times, but this is not frequent.

Overall, the banking experience at this institution has been great! The big banks or even an online bank would not have been suitable for my mom. This met all of her needs and having a local branch was essential.

  1. Unify Financial Credit Union

Unify Financial Credit Union has 8 branch locations in Los Angeles and has many other locations nationwide. What I like about this credit union is that it has a free checking account! All you need to do is open the account with a $25 minimum, which gives you a lot less things you have to check off to not get charged a monthly fee compared to other banks. One con they do have is that you must have a bank account at another institution in order to open one with them in the first place.

There other checking accounts, eChecking and Premier Checking, are accounts where you earn dividends, but you must meet their minimum 8 transaction amount and their $1,000 minimum. If the requirements are not met, they can charge you a fee. That I don’t like. Make sure that if you are opting in to these accounts you meet the minimum amount on a monthly basis and it is also convenient for you to meet it. Otherwise, I would stick with the free checking account.

Final Thoughts

Everyone’s experience at a credit union will vary and that is why it is important to choose a credit union that is right for you and your specific needs. A credit union is the perfect place for you if you would like to build a relationship with where you bank. Please be sure that their customer service representatives explain to you what eligibility you need in order to be charged zero fees. It is important to know this pertinent information at any institution you bank with whether it is a big bank, online bank, or a credit union. Do not make the mistake of being underbanked. This will cost you money in the long run and your money will not be protected. Your money is personal. Where you bank should make your everyday banking experience seamless and should be virtually cost free.  So, consider ditching those big banks and say goodbye to those ridiculous fees and switch to a local credit union.

No Soy Coda

Karen Carranza is a personal finance content creator and enthusiast. She is a first generation Mexican American determined to build generational wealth and spread financial literacy through her blog, workshops, and Instagram page.

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