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Alliant Credit Union Savings Account Review

Ashlyn Brooks

August 31, 2021

Thanks to the digital age, credit union membership is open to the masses. Alliant Credit Union has certainly grown beyond its “hometown-only” existence, earning one of the top spots in our lineup of the Best Savings Accounts of 2021. That’s thanks to the Alliant High-Rate Savings Account's competitive 0.55% interest rate, vibrant app, and solid website, with some great goal-setting features to boot.

Top Takeaways for 2021

After spending seven months testing 19 high-yield accounts for our inaugural roundup of the best savings accounts, here are our top findings for our Alliant High-Rate Savings Account review:

  1. Alliant, one of the largest national credit unions, offers a healthy 0.55% annual percentage yield, or APY, on its high-yield savings account.

  2. Membership is far less restrictive than at many credit unions. If you don’t qualify for membership based on Alliant’s main criteria, such as working near the credit union’s Chicago HQ, you can get in the door by joining Alliant’s partner charity for $5 — and Alliant pays that fee on your behalf.

  3. Alliant lets you apportion your savings according to your goals by allowing you to open up to 19 supplemental savings accounts.

Overall Summary

Alliant logo

Feature Alliant High-Rate Savings Account
Overall
APY
Fees
User experience
Features and tools
Additional banking services


Pros:

  • Account access via 80,000+ ATMs
  • Open up to 19 supplemental savings accounts to track multiple goals
  • 24/7 customer service, even on holidays

Cons:

  • $100 account minimum required to earn interest
  • Credit union membership required (although it’s easy to qualify)
  • $5 minimum account balance needed to keep your account open
  • No physical branches

User experience

Alliant scored a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars in our User Experience category for its speedy sign-up, rapid fund availability, and ATM card attached specifically to the savings account (which is pretty rare among the high-yield accounts we reviewed). It does require comfort with online banking; unlike some credit unions, Alliant does not have shared branching.

Account setup: We were ecstatic to find that setting up an Alliant account was a completely online process — no phone calls required. For context, of the 19 bank accounts we opened for testing, the number of sign-up steps ranged from five to 20. Alliant landed on the good side of the spectrum with only seven steps to successful signup.

A minor pitfall came with having to enter our external bank account information, which had to be done manually. Some banks (in our opinion, the best ones) use a third-party verification tool — Plaid, for example — to streamline this process and eliminate the need for manual entry and test deposits. Alliant has not yet hopped on this progress train.

Like many credit unions, Alliant has eligibility requirements to gain membership, but it’s much easier to qualify here than at most others. You’re in if you:

  1. Work at (or are retired from) a participating company

  2. Are related to an Alliant member

  3. Are a member of an Alliant-related organization/association

  4. Live or work in one of the Illinois communities near Alliant's headquarters

Don't worry if you don't fit the bill on any of these — we didn't. You can also qualify for an Alliant Credit Union membership by becoming a member of Alliant’s partner charity, Foster Care to Success. Alliant pays the $5 membership fee on the account holder's behalf.

Deposit/withdrawal options: Accessing the money in your Alliant savings account is easy. Your options for depositing and withdrawing funds:

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfer
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Call and request a check, or request via your online banking portal
  • Wire transfer
  • ATM access with Alliant Savings ATM debit card at more than 80,000 locations nationwide

Customer support: Alliant’s support options were refreshing, including 24/7 phone support (rare nowadays, with only about a third of banks we researched offering extended customer service access).

  • 24/7 phone support (including holidays) at 800-328-1935
  • Twitter support (@AlliantCU)
  • Email support

Deposit and transaction limits: Alliant’s parameters on daily deposit and withdrawal limits raised no red flags. Note that, as at other banks, withdrawals from a savings account are limited by federal regulation to six per month, though banks were permitted to relax that rule during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Alliant High-Rate Savings Account daily withdrawal/deposit limits
ATM withdrawal limit (daily) $1,000
Mobile deposit limit (daily) $50,000
ATM deposit limit (daily) $20,000

Fees

At Alliant, there is no monthly fee if you opt for e-statements. Of the 19 banks we analyzed during our high-yield savings account research, only one charged a monthly fee (Citibank’s Citi Accelerate Savings' $4.50 account maintenance fee). However, even if a bank has no monthly maintenance fee, savers should keep an eye out for other costs that could be incurred. Even a minor fee can have a corrosive effect on the interest you earn. For example, one $5 fee immediately wipes out two months’ worth of the interest you’d earn on a $5,000 balance at a 0.60% APY.

Here’s a summary of Alliant's fees on its high-yield savings account:


Alliant High-Rate Savings Account account fees
Monthly maintenance fee N/A
Outgoing wire transfer $25
Incoming wire transfer fee Free
Official check fee $5
Paper statement request fee $1
Inactivity fee $10
Dormant account fee $10
Outgoing foreign wire transfer $50
Outgoing domestic wire transfer $25


In order to avoid the inactivity fee, you must log into your account at least once per year. Dormant account fees can be avoided by performing an action within your account (deposit, withdrawal, transfer, and so on) at least every three years.

Features and tools

Alliant came so close to earning five stars for its offerings in this category, but Comenity and Ally outshined it with tools like saving trend reports and round-up features. What Alliant has going for it is its app, debit card and credit score feature — more on these below.

Mobile app/website: Many credit unions are still in the Stone Age of site design, but we found Alliant’s setup surprisingly modern (like Jetsons versus Flintstones modern). Alliant nailed it on everything from the color scheme to app functionality.

For example, Alliant’s app lets you make a mobile check deposit, pay bills and make transfers. As basic as this may sound, some banks (hello, Chime) make you sign up for direct deposit before you gain access to these functions.

Savings tools

  • Free quarterly credit score: While not exactly a savings tool, access to your credit score is definitely a helpful financial tool. Your credit score is a statement of your financial standing in the eyes of banks and other financial institutions. By providing it for free, Alliant is showing its direct interest in the well-being of its members. (Major plus.)
  • Calculators: Alliant offers four calculators from the home screen, all geared toward calculating different funds over specific amounts of time to reach a particular end goal. These include "Becoming a millionaire," "Income generated by a savings plan," "How long until my savings reach my goal?" and “How much should I save to reach my goal?"
  • Debit card: This earned Alliant an extra point in our scoring. Only five banks out of the 19 surveyed offered a debit card tied directly to the high-yield savings account. It gives users immediate access to Alliant’s 80,000-plus nationwide network of ATMs — convenient, because otherwise you’re limited to making ACH transfers with an outside account or paying to have the institution cut you a paper check.
  • Additional savings accounts: Instead of having to pool your money in a single account and mentally note what amounts apply to what savings goals, Alliant allows users to open up to 19 supplemental savings accounts and name each after distinct savings goals. (Sallie Mae SmartyPig's high-yield savings account has a similar feature.) What this also means is the federal regulation of six withdrawals per month is multiplied by how many savings accounts you have. That’s up to a grand total of 120 withdrawals per month if you have 20 accounts and want to count excessive ATM withdrawals towards your daily cardio.

Educational content: During our analysis, we wanted to reward banks that took the initiative to educate their readers in addition to offering financial products. Alliant’s Money Mentor blog features more than 100 pieces of original content (and that’s only going as far as page 17 of its results). They include a variety of topics such as fraud prevention, credit and loans, to name a few. It’s clear that thought went into the material, in contrast to banks that slap up a few articles and call it a “blog.”

Banking services

The primary function of a high-yield savings account is to hold your cash so it can rake in some interest until you need to spend it. Unless your primary bank offers competitive interest rates, you may end up managing multiple accounts at multiple financial institutions to maximize what you earn. Since that hassle doesn’t appeal to everyone, we looked at what other services the savings account providers offered.

For customers interested in consolidating their banking business, Alliant can provide almost all of the banking services you need:


Alliant Credit Union banking services
Checking account Yes
High-yield savings account Yes
Money market account No
CDs Yes
Auto loans Yes
Credit cards Yes
Retirement savings accounts (IRAs) Yes


Final thoughts

Alliant Credit Union’s 0.55% interest rate may not be the highest available. (See our Best Savings Accounts of 2021 review to compare.) And its $100 minimum requirement to start earning interest knocked it down a peg on our scoresheet. But if you’re looking to bank at a community-owned, not-for-profit financial institution, Alliant is a solid choice.

With its inclusive membership requirements and easy sign-up, plus the ability to set up multiple high-yield accounts to track individual goals, Alliant competes with any big-name bank out there. What you can’t measure in dollars and cents is the feel-good factor — the sense of belonging to a cause-supporting group, since once you join you’re not just a standard customer, but a “member.”

About Alliant Credit Union

Alliant is one of the largest credit unions in the U.S. The Chicago-based not-for-profit institution was established in October 1935 by a group of United Airlines employees. It currently serves more than 600,000 members with more than $14 billion in assets.

2021 Savings Account Review Methodology

Our mission at investor.com is simple: provide thorough and unbiased reviews of financial services products and providers.

For investor.com's annual Best Savings Accounts Review published in August 2021, we collected a total of 532 data points over seven months to score and rank high-yield savings accounts. We assessed 19 banks across 70 variables spanning five core categories, including APY (annual percentage yield), monthly fees, user experience, account features and banking services.

All 19 institutions passed our initial screening criteria of having FDIC (for banks) or NCUA (for credit unions) insurance, online accessibility, and an interest rate above the 0.06% national average for savings accounts. To test quality and usability, we opened, funded and used each bank’s high-yield savings account for a minimum of three statement cycles. We performed basic account functions (deposits, withdrawals, transfers) on both the desktop and app versions (where applicable), scoured all fine print and disclosures, and had some lengthy phone calls with bank service reps.

FAQs

How do I access my money at Alliant?

Accessibility is unlikely to be an issue at Alliant, given the many options for depositing and withdrawing funds:

  • ACH transfer
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Call and request a check (or request one from your online banking portal)
  • Wire transfer
  • ATM access with a savings debit card at over 80,000 locations nationwide

How do I reach Alliant Credit Union’s customer service?

Alliant’s support options are refreshingly plentiful, particularly the 24/7 phone support — something of a rarity nowadays.

  • 24/7 phone support at 800-328-1935
  • Twitter support (@AlliantCU)
  • Email support

About the author:

Ashlyn Brooks is a financial writer and former civil engineer. She's on a mission to show others how to save and spend smarter through purposeful money habits. Her work has been featured on Her Money.com, MoneyGeek, and Top 10.com.

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