Military checking accounts are a type of checking account many banks or credit unions will offer for members of the United States Armed Forces. These checking accounts offer additional benefits, which can keep more money in the service members wallet each month.
Additionally, these checking accounts typically offer more flexibility for the account holder and their family. Not all banks offer military checking accounts, but we’ve reviewed the market and created a list of our favorite military checking accounts.
How Do Military Checking Accounts Work?
Before diving into our favorite military checking accounts, let’s take a step back and review how a military checking account works.
A military checking account functions like a regular checking account you set up at a bank. The account holder(s) will receive a debit card, money can be deposited into the account, and a checkbook will be issued. In short, the main difference between a military checking account and a regular checking account is the additional perks and benefits a bank may provide.
What Makes a Good Military Checking Account?
When considering a good military checking account, the following factors must be considered:
Wherever you choose to set up your checking account, make sure the bank is convenient to you and your lifestyle. If you like mobile banking, make sure the bank has a strong, user friendly, mobile platform. If you prefer to conduct your banking matters in person, it would likely be best to choose a bank that’s near your home.
Costs or Fees
Fees cannot be overlooked. Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees, minimum account balance fees, and overdraft fees. This can quickly add up to be $20+ per month, so be sure to have a full understanding of the bank’s fee structure before setting up a checking account.
Earning interest on the money you keep in your checking account can add up. Although the interest on a checking account will never be enough to use as a secondary source of income, earning more pocket money throughout the year never hurts! After all, it’s risk free!
Best Military Checking Accounts
Military checking accounts are becoming increasingly more popular, but they are all not created equal. Each bank may offer a slightly different option. Here’s our favorite choices.
Penfed Checking Account
PenFed Credit Union offers a checking account for members of the United States Military, and employees of the Department of Defense. This checking account is the Pentagon’s Federal Credit Union and is well known and respected.
A checking account through PenFed is a great option for anyone in the United States Military, or an employee of the Department of Defense (DOD). There are a long list of added perks this checking account provides, which we’ll cover below.
- PenFed offers a wide range of banking options. From mortgages, to personal loans and saving accounts. If you have a checking account through PenFed, you can reduce your interest rate on money you borrow from the Credit Union.
- The interest rate is 0.35% APY on balances between $20,000 – $50,000.
- There are over 85,000 fee-free ATMs throughout the country
- There are mobile, online and in person banking services
- There are only 45 retail locations in 13 states throughout the country. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to easily access a branch.
- The monthly fee is only waived if requirements are met.
Pricing or Fees
The monthly fee is $10, but that can be avoided. If you directly deposit $500 or more per month, or maintain a daily balance of at least $500, that fee is completely waived.
All in all, a checking account through PenFed receives a 4 star rating.
USAA Rewards Checking Account
USAA is a military centered financial services company. Initially founded in 1922, USAA has grown to a member community of 13 million people!
USAA’s Rewards Checking Account is a fantastic option for those who want to have a cost effective checking account and earn money on each debit card transaction.
Using the Rewards Checking Account at USAA has the following benefits:
- No monthly service fee
- Access to more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs
- Early direct deposit for active military individuals
- Cash back on all debit card transactions
With just about 20 physical locations, visiting a local branch can be quite the challenge. You must be comfortable with online or mobile banking if you want a seamless banking experience.
Pricing or Fees
USAA is a very cost effective bank. There are no monthly maintenance fees. There is a non-sufficient funds fee of $29.
All in all, the Rewards Checking Account option USAA provides receives a 4 star rating.
Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union is a global credit union with it’s headquarters located in Virgina. This credit union is the largest natural member credit union, in terms of asset size and member base, in the entire United States.
The Free Active Duty Checking Account is a fantastic option for active duty service members.
Banking with Navy Federal has a long list of benefits. In particular, this account has:
- No monthly service fees for qualify military direct deposit
- Free personalized checks
- ATM fee reimbursements up to $240 per year
- A 0.05% APY and a 0.05% dividend
- Early access to military pay with their direct deposit option
It’s hard to find a downside with Navy Federal Credit Union. Being picky, they only have 343 locations. There are plenty of retail banks with more locations, but that often comes at a price. Many of these 343 locations are strategically located near military bases, so Active Duty members rarely have a challenge getting to the bank if needed.
Pricing or Fees
Navy Federal Credit Union is cost friendly for active duty military members. There are no minimum balance fees or monthly service fees. An overdraft fee is present.
All in all, the Free Active Duty Checking account option receives a 4.5 star rating.
The US Bancorp, also known as US Bank, offers a variety of banking options that military members and family members can benefit from.
If you’re looking for a full service bank that doesn’t have high fees, this may be a great option for you!
The military checking account has the following benefits:
- Their benefits extend beyond the checking account. You’ll receive discounts on closing costs on a mortgage if you decide to finance your home through this bank.
- US Bank has one of the largest ATM networks in America
- They offer branch and online/mobile banking options
- No monthly maintenance fees
- No minimum balance fees
Similar to Navy Federal Credit Union, you’ll really have to search for a downside with the military checking account option from US Bank. The lower interest rate the bank offers will be the largest drawback.
Pricing or Fees
Minimum account balance fees, and maintenance fees are waived. You will pay for wire transfers and overdraft fees.
All in all, US Bank receives a 4 star rating.
Although Chase Bank doesn’t scream military banking like some of the other options on the list, they offer a fantastic military banking option and experience.
The Military Personal Checking Account Chase Bank offers is a great option for active duty military members. With locations all throughout the country, and globe, you’ll likely live near a Chase Bank.
- A free 3” x 5” safe deposit box, and a 20% discount on larger boxes if needed
- No monthly service fee
- No fees for counter checks, cashiers checks, or money orders
- Locations in over 100 countries
- No fees at non-chase ATMs
- No fees for incoming or outgoing wire transfers
It’s hard to look past the benefits here. Chase Bank has over 4000 locations and waives just about every fee imaginable for active duty military members. Understandably, one would still pay an overdraft fee, but that can be avoided.
Pricing or Fees
Chase Bank Military Personal Checking Account is one of, if not the most, cost effective checking account option out there for military members. It’s great to see a public, non-government owned entity is providing so much support for our active duty members!
All in all, this account receives a 5 star rating!
Serving Your Financials
There are many checking account options for members of the United States Military. These checking accounts typically come with lower fees or additional benefits, which help keep more money in our veterans account each month! Having the right checking account is a great first step, but managing and investing your money is the next step you need to take.
Working with a professional financial advisor is a great way to establish a budget, identify best spending habits, and invest any additional money. These investments compound overtime and can amount to a nice nest egg in the future. Financial advisors can help you set up college saving accounts for your children, diversify your income stream, and help you reach your financial goals.