Alliant Credit Union review: Better than a bank?

Our top pick for the best credit union in the U.S.

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Delilah Gray

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Delilah Gray

Delilah Gray

Insurance Expert

Delilah Gray is a freelance finance reporter at Policygenius. She is also currently the Weekend Editor for SheKnows.

Published November 2, 2021|6 min read

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5.0 / 5

Alliant Credit Union, originally the United Airlines Employees' Credit Union, was founded back in 1935. Since then, Alliant has become a national, online credit union that limits fees as much as possible.

Alliant Credit Union is not a bank, and it shows: the credit union’s philosophy is to "exist solely to serve our members, not stockholders." The not-for-profit financial cooperative holds its members as its highest priority, offering better interest rates and high-yield checking. The 86-year-old institution boasts $14 billion in assets, making it the one of largest credit unions in the United States, but with no physical branch locations, Alliant members will need to be comfortable with getting all their banking done online.

Alliant Credit Union

OVERALL

Out of 5. See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page.

5.0

THE GOOD

    Good interest rates

    No overdraft fees

    Accessible membership

    Tens of thousands of ATMs across the country

    Accounts for teenagers and kids

THE BAD

    No physical branch locations

    No peer-to-peer payments

    Unimpressive CD rates

    Paper statement fee

    Members often express frustration with customer service

THE BOTTOM LINE

Alliant Credit Union scores a 5 out of 5 on our methodology, and we consider it the best credit union we reviewed. Alliant’s accessibility and high-yield accounts, combined with its relatively few fees, make it one of the best in the business. While the lack of physical locations may be a downside for some, Alliant makes up for this with a convenient online banking experience.

Savings APY

See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page for more details.

10.0

Offerings

See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page for more details.

10.0

Mobile App

See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page for more details.

10.0

Fees

See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page for more details.

10.0

Support

See our Methodology section at the bottom of the page for more details.

10.0

The good

Good interest rates

One thing that sets Alliant apart from other banks and credit unions is the fact that you can earn interest in both your checking and savings accounts. To earn interest, you have to have to meet certain requirements, like having at least $100 in your account. No matter the account, whether high-rate savings, high-rate checking, or supplemental savings, you can earn higher-than-average interest rates. The high-rate checking offers 0.25% APY, and both the high-rate savings and supplemental savings accounts offer 0.55% APY.

No overdraft fees

In August 2021, Alliant announced that there will be no overdraft fees moving forward. Of course, overdraft fees are fast becoming a thing of the past, as many online banks, including Discover Bank and Ally Bank, have eliminated them over the last few years.

Easy to become a member

Although Alliant is a credit union, its membership requirements aren’t too strict. If you are employed by one of Alliant’s partners within the U.S., if you are a family member of a current member, or if you live near the headquarters, you can join Alliant. However, if none of this is you, you can become a member of Foster Care to Success (FC2S) and Alliant will pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member’s behalf. 

ATMs everywhere

No matter where you are, chances are that you’ll have access to an Alliant ATM. There are over 80,000 free ATM locations around the country, from grocery stores to even some banks.

Teen and kids accounts

Children aged 12 and younger can open their own high-yield savings account (co-owned with a parent or guardian) with a small deposit of $5, so your children can start saving for big purchases right away. There are no monthly fees if you choose electronic statements, and if the account holds $100, it will earn the same APY as the high-rate savings account. For teens aged 13 to 17 years old, Alliant offers a checking account as well, which earns 0.25% APY, but has some limits with withdrawals.

Alliant Credit Union in the news

The bad

No physical branches

Despite having over 600,000 members across the nation, Alliant has no branch locations. So if you’d prefer a bank you can visit in person, this may not be the right fit. However, if you’re comfortable doing everything mobile, then it may be just the right option.

Doesn’t offer peer-to-peer payments

Peer-to-peer payment options, like Zelle, link to your account and offer a way to conveniently send and receive money from people. However, Alliant doesn’t offer common peer-to-peer payment services.

Unimpressive CD rates

Compared to other credit unions, Alliant’s certificate of deposits (CDs), called Alliant certificates, aren’t exactly the best on the market. Their certificates have maturity rates from 1 to 5 years, with the highest APY being 0.65% for 60 months. To get an Alliant certificate, you need both a savings account with Alliant and a minimum deposit of $1,000.

$1 per month paper statement fee

As an online bank, Alliant prefers its users to do as much of their banking online as possible. As such, the credit union charges $1 to receive paper statements. Whether it be a regular account or an account for kids or teens, the account holder will be charged $1 per month if they go paper.

Customer service is a big question mark

Alliant’s reviews are a bit of a mixed bag online, with users often commenting across review sites to complain about the credit union’s customer service capacity. While these angry posts can’t be independently verified, they are a common sight on any page that offers consumer-generated reviews, such as Wallethub.

Reputation

The Better Business Bureau gives Alliant their highest rating, meaning that Alliant is likely to have respond well to customer complaints. However, Alliant’s user reviews on the BBB’s site are comparatively poor, suggesting that, to many, Alliant’s customer service looks better on paper than in practice. Similarly, the credit union earns a low score on Trustpilot, with many users complaining about slow or nonresponsive customer service. [1]

Alliant does score high marks for its mobile banking app in the Android app store, but the credit union earns a more modest score for the iOS version of its app. 

Still, at 0.55%, Alliant’s savings account interest rates are some of the most competitive in the country, and for this reason, many customers continue to recommend Alliant on social media. With a 20% increase in membership since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that customers are hearing more positive things about Alliant than negative. [2]

Methodology

To compare Alliant Credit Union with other options and determine the best banks and credit unions of 2021, we collected quantitative data on more than 50 major U.S. financial institutions. Specifically, we looked at savings account APYs, product offerings, fees, mobile app satisfaction, and customer support. We rated each aspect on a scale from 1 to 5, then averaged the five scores into a single rating. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each scoring matrix.

Savings account APY

We rated the highest APY that each bank or credit union offers on a savings account (excluding accounts or rates with a minimum balance requirement greater than $1,000).

Rating

Best Savings APY

1

Less than 0.1%

2

0.10%-0.19%

3

0.20%-0.29%

4

0.30%-0.39%

5

0.40%+

Offerings

We counted how many product lines each institution offers, since many people enjoy the convenience of keeping multiple accounts at the same bank. We included deposit accounts (checking, savings, money market, certificates of deposit), credit cards, loans (personal, student, auto, home equity), mortgages and mortgage refinancing, retirement accounts, and investment accounts as distinct qualifying offerings.

Rating

Offerings

1

1 offering

2

2 offerings

3

3 offerings

4

4 offerings

5

5+ offerings

Mobile app satisfaction

Since mobile apps are increasingly becoming the primary way people manage their bank accounts, we consulted the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study. For any banks or credit unions that weren’t included in the study, we used mobile app customer ratings from the Google Play store.

Rating

J.D. Power Score

App Store Score

1

Less than 840

Less than 3.0

2

840-849

3.0-3.4

3

850-859

3.5-3.9

4

860-869

4.0-4.4

5

870+

4.5+

Fees

We consulted every bank’s fee schedule and terms and conditions to search for any of the following: monthly maintenance fee, overdraft fee, insufficient funds fee, debit card replacement fee, account closure fee, and stop payment order fee.

Rating

Qualifying Fees

1

4+ fees

2

3 fees

3

2 fees

4

1 fee

5

0 fees

Customer support

Since different people prefer different support options at different times, we counted how many customer support channels each bank offers, including telephone, email, online chat, mobile app, online forums, online learning center, and physical branches.

Rating

Support Channels

1

1 option

2

2 options

3

3 options

4

4 options

5

5+ options