Update 8/01/09: The savings account and CD rates have fallen. Please check the credit union's website for the latest rates. Other than the rates, the rest of this post is still applicable. Refer to the bottom of the post for the savings account rate history.
Alliant Credit Union has held steady into April with a yield of 4.35% APY on its High-Yield Savings Account. According to the disclosure page and my conversation with the CSR, this should hold for all of April. As you can see from my last weekly rate summary, it's the best savings account rate in the nation. Here's a summary of its features based on their website and info from the CSR:
- paid monthly on average daily balances of $100 or more
- $5 minimum balance
- no maximum balance limit
- Surcharge-free ATMs at CO-OP Network and Alliance One ATMs (see disclosure)
- Online free bank-to-bank ACH transfer service is available
- ACH transfers are limited to $10,000 daily in/out
- No ACH limit on receiving over $10,000 if initiated at another bank
- No limit on the number of ACH links to other banks
The savings account with the same rate is also available as an IRA (Traditional, Roth and SEP), a Coverdell ESA, a Trust Account and a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) custodial account. The Health Savings Account even has a higher rate (currently 5.15% APY for a minimum balance of $100). This might be one of the best HSAs in the country. Some of its features include free HSA checks, free Visa HSA debit card and no fees. Refer to this FW thread for a good overview of HSAs.
Update 4/03/08: I asked my contact at Alliant if she could provide more details about their ACH transfer policies. Below is what I received:
In an effort to reduce the risk of potential fraud against Alliant Credit Union or another financial institution account, we do impose limits on Alliant-initiated ACH transfers in the following amounts:
- For initial funding of a newly opened membership without a certificate, the limit is $1,000 (Update 10/08/09: This has been increased to $10,000)
- For initial funding of a newly opened with a certificate, the limit is $11,000 (of which $10,000 can be used to fund the certificate and $1,000 to fund another share/account under the membership)
- Once the membership has been established, the member may subsequently request Alliant-initiated ACH transfers to/from other financial institutions via Skybranch up to $10,000 per day. The process is free of charge. As the process involves batch processing through the Federal Reserve ACH, it can take 2-3 banking days to complete (Update 10/08/09: Alliant has variable maximum limits that are based on the following criteria: Length of membership, Loans, Average Daily balance and if the member is in good standing.)
- A one-time trial-deposit verification process is necessary before full ACH transfers (up to the daily maximum) will be allowed. No paper forms are required. As the verification process also involves batch processing through the Federal Reserve ACH, it can also take 2-3 banking days to complete
- At present, Alliant Credit Union only offers this Alliant-initiated ACH transfer process to/from other financial institution accounts via Skybranch
- Members may initiate ACH transfers through other financial institutions in any amount up to the policy limit of that financial institution. We encourage members to inquire with the other financial institution on any fees they might impose for initiating an ACH request.
- Regulation D does restrict the number of electronic and phone transactions from a Savings share to no more than 6 per month (certain other transactions are included & excluded)
- Members interested in moving larger amounts and/or expediting the process might also consider initiating a wire transfer with their other financial institution. Wire transfers can often be completed the same day and without dollar amount limitations). We encourage members to inquire with the other financial institution on any fees they might impose for initiating wire transfers. Any member interested in wiring funds to their Alliant Credit Union account must carefully follow all inbound wire transfer instructions found on our home page (alliantcreditunion.com) to ensure proper execution of the process
- We are constantly looking at ways to improve access and member convenience, while appropriately managing risk. As such, we are currently reviewing our ACH limits and options, and may consider increases and enhancements later this year.
Unlike the savings, the CSR said that CD rates are subject to change at any time. They still have some of the best CD rates as of April 1, 2008:
- 4.40% APY for 12 to 17 months for $25K minimum deposit
- 4.15% APY for 18 to 24 months for $25K minimum deposit
- Rates 40 basis points lower for a $1K minimum deposit
Alliant's Certificate FAQ page is fairly thorough. Some things to note:
- Dividends earned on a Certificate are not available for withdrawal until maturity.
- You may have both joint owners and/or beneficiaries on your Alliant Certificate
- 10 day grace period at maturity
- Early withdrawal penalties include: 90 days of interest for terms of 12 to 17 months, 120 days of interest for terms of 18 to 23 months and 180 days of interest for a 24 month term.
- CDs available as a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA and Coverdell ESA
The best deals are the terms from 12 to 17 months. There's not much reason to choose the 18-month CD. With the 17-month CD, you get a yield 25 basis points higher and a shorter early withdrawal penalty.
An important point not mentioned on the website is that you cannot open the CD online and fund it with an ACH deposit over $10,000. If you don't live near a branch, there are a few options you can use. One way is to first transfer the money into your Alliant savings account. You can do this using the ACH or wire transfer service of another bank. You can also FedEx a check if you want overnight delivery service. Make sure to send to their street address since private delivery companies cannot deliver to PO Boxes. Routing number and overnight service address are listed at Alliant's contact page.
Membership is open to local and national PTA members. There's a $25 membership fee for the National PTA, and it appears to be open to all. You can find your local PTA here. Membership in your local PTA may be a lower cost option. Please see the credit union's members eligibility page for more details. Note, MyPoint membership is NOT a qualification for membership. Credit union membership requires a minimum deposit of $5 into the savings account.
Some readers have been concerned with yearly membership fees of an association. Here's what Alliant emailed me in January:
Once an applicant qualifies for Alliant membership, they can remain a member regardless of the continued status of the original qualifying relationship. Once a member becomes a member, they are always a member. However, accounts can be closed voluntarily by the member or by Alliant as a result of it not being in good standing.
This is generally true with all credit unions.
Update 4/25/08: Some readers reported being told that Mileage Plus membership can qualify you for credit union membership. I'm afraid Mileage Plus members do not qualify. I asked my management contact at Alliant Credit Union, and here's the reply I received:
being a member of Mileage Plus does not qualify for membership. Only Mileage Plus employees and their family members are eligible through this relationship.
Reports About Joining, Opening CDs and Customer Service
Several readers have reported problems with Alliant's online membership application. Many had better luck filling out the paper application and mailing it in. One reader mentioned that he sent the paper application and check by overnight mail, and they opened the CD the next day.
One other note regarding membership, several readers have reported a hard credit inquiry by Equifax.
Alliant's customer service has impressed many readers. Reports indicate they answer their phones promptly and provide helpful information. They have 24/7 live phone assistance.
Credit Union Overview
Branches are located in Chicago, Des Plaines, and Elk Grove Township, Illinois. There are also branches in Colorado, California and Virginia. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 67955). It's a large credit union with $4.9 billion in assets and 211,631 members. Alliant Credit Union still has a rating of 3 out of 5 stars (performing) at Bankrate based on 12/31/07 data.
Past Alliant Credit Union Posts and Other Resources
To review my previous posts on Alliant and read past comments, please refer to my Alliant Credit Union page. Also, this FW thread includes has some additional details.
Savings Account Rate History:
- 01/01/11: 1.15% APY
- 09/01/10: 1.35% APY
- 04/01/10: 1.50% APY
- 07/01/09: 2.00% APY
- 06/01/09: 2.25% APY
- 05/01/09: 2.50% APY
- 04/01/09: 2.75% APY
- 02/01/09: 3.00% APY
- 01/01/09: 3.25% APY
- 12/01/08: 3.50% APY
- 07/01/08: 3.75% APY
- 05/01/08: 4.00% APY
- 02/01/08: 4.35% APY
- 01/01/08: 4.85% APY
- 01/01/07: 4.85% APY
- 07/01/06: 4.65% APY
- 01/01/06: 3.80% APY