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Gesa Credit Union review: Washington bank with a high-yield checking account

Insider's experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

Gesa Credit Union logo on a blue Personal Finance pattern background.
Gesa Credit Union has free checking and savings accounts.

Overall credit union rating

FeatureInsider rating (out of 5)
Savings4
Checking4.25
Money market account3.5
CD4
Trustworthiness5
Total4.25

Pros and cons

ProsCons
  • Certified as a community development financial institution, so it primarily serves low-income and disadvantaged communities
  • High interest rates on CDs
  • No monthly service fees on any accounts
  • High interest rate on the first $5,000 of your checking account balance if you meet certain requirements each month
  • Access to over 5,500 shared branches through the CO-OP Shared Branch network
  • Gesa branches are only located in Washington (can't open new accounts at shared branches) 
  • To become a member, you must live in Washington, select counties in Idaho, or select counties in Oregon
  • High minimum opening deposit on money market account

SmartPlus Savings Account

You may open the SmartPlus Savings Account to establish membership at Gesa Credit Union. The SmartPlus Savings Account offers a high interest rate on the first $500 of your account if you sign up for online statements and use a valid email address.

The main downside to the account is you'll only earn 0.01% APY on account balances over $500 or if you receive paper statements.

SmartPlus Checking Account

The SmartPlus Checking Account is one of the credit union's strongest products. You may earn 5.00% APY on the first $5,000 in your account and receive unlimited ATM fee refunds if you meet the following requirements each month: 

  • Enroll in online statements and use a valid email address
  • Make a monthly direct deposit of over $200
  • Make 15 debit card transactions

This account also stands out because it offers early direct deposit and lets you round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the change to your savings account.

Share Certificates

Gesa Credit Union could be a great choice if you're looking for a 7-month, 13-month, or 25-month CD. These terms stand out because they pay competitive interest rates higher than the average CD.  You'll also only need Share Certificates to open Share Certificates.

Money Market Account

The Money Market Account might be worthwhile if you'd like to open a money market account that doesn't charge monthly service fees. You'll need a minimum of Money Market Account to open an account and earn interest, though. 

If you prefer a money market account with a lower minimum opening deposit or a higher interest rate, you might want to refer to our best money market account guide.

How Gesa Credit Union works

Gesa Credit Union is a community development financial institution (CDFI) with about 30 branches in Washington. It is also a part of the CO-OP Shared Branch network, which has over 5,500 shared branches throughout the US. 

Members may use over 70,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the CU24 credit union ATM network.

To reach out to the Gesa Credit Union Member Contact Center, call or use live chat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Saturday.

The credit union's mobile app is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Apple store, and 4.4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.

Gesa Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA. You may safely keep up to $250,000 in an individual bank account, or $500,000 in joint bank accounts. 

How to join Gesa Credit Union 

You must be eligible for membership to open an account at Gesa Credit Union. To qualify for membership, you need to meet one of the following requirements: 

  • You or a family member live, work, worship, or attend school in the state of Washington
  • You live in select counties in Idaho (Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, or Shoshone county)
  • You live in select counties in Oregon (Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Multnomah, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wasco, or Washington county)

All members must open a Gesa Credit Union savings account with at least $5.

The role of community development financial institutions

Community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, serve low-income and disadvantaged communities. Banks and credit unions have to undergo certification by the US Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and meet specific requirements to address banking barriers.

Gesa Credit Union has a scholarship program for entering freshmen and current college students. Since 1987, the credit union has awarded over $630,000 in college scholarships.

The credit union has also partnered with 12 high schools in Washington to create a student-run credit union program that teaches high school students about the financial industry.

Gesa Credit Union trustworthiness and BBB ratings

The Better Business Bureau assesses businesses to see how they address customer issues.

Gesa Credit Union received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

A BBB rating won't necessarily be the be-all and end-all. Talk to current customers or read online customer reviews to get a more well-rounded perspective on whether Gesa Credit Union is right for you. 

Gesa Credit Union vs. Kitsap Credit Union

Kitsap Credit Union is another CDFI in Washington. To become a member of Kitsap Credit Union, you or a family member must live, work, go to school, or worship in the state of Washington. 

Both credit unions have solid high-yield checking accounts that do not charge monthly service fees. Your choice between the two might boil down to whether you qualify to earn a competitive interest rate at a particular institution.

At Kitsap Credit Union, you'll be able to earn 3.30% APY on the first $15,000 of your checking account balance if you enroll in online bank statements, make 12 debit card transactions each month, and make at least one ACH transfer, direct deposit, or bill payment per month.

Meanwhile, Gesa Credit Union lets you earn 5.00% APY on the first $5,000 in a SmartPlus Checking Account if you enroll in online statements and use a valid email address, make a monthly direct deposit of over $200, and make 15 debit card transactions per month.

Gesa Credit Union also might be an appealing choice if you are looking for CDs with high interest rates. The credit union's 7-month, 13-month, or 25-month CDs stand out because they pay competitive interest rates higher than the average CD.

Gesa Credit Union vs. HAPO Community Credit Union

Deciding between Gesa Credit Union and HAPO Community Credit Union could ultimately depend on where you live. 

To become a member of Gesa Credit Union, you must live in Washington, select counties in Idaho, or select counties in Oregon. In comparison, HAPO Community Credit Union lets you become a member if you or a family member live or work in the state of Washington or select counties in Oregon (Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia Gillam, Hood River, Morrow, Multnomah, Sherman, Umatilla Wasco, or Washington county).

You also want to consider which types of accounts you'd like to open. Gesa Credit Union has a high-yield checking account, while HAPO Community Credit Union doesn't. 

You might lean more toward HAPO Community Credit Union if you'd like to get a share certificate with a low minimum opening deposit, though.

Frequently asked questions

Is Gesa Credit Union federally insured?

Yes, Gesa Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA. Up to $250,000 is secure in an individual bank account, or $500,000 in joint bank accounts. 

Who can become a Gesa Credit Union member?

To become a member of Gesa Credit Union, you or a family member must live, work, worship, or attend school in the state of Washington. If you live in select counties in Idaho or Oregon, you may also be eligible for membership.

Where is Gesa Credit Union?

Gesa Credit Union has branches in Washington. Gesa Credit Union is also part of the CO-OP Shared Branch Network. At shared branches, you can deposit money, transfer funds between bank accounts, or make a loan payment. You won't be able to open new accounts specific to your credit union at a shared branch, though.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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