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Citizens Equity First Credit Union Review: Low Fees and a Variety of Account Offerings



Citizens Equity First Credit Union Review: Low Fees and a Variety of Account Offerings

Citizens Equity First Credit Union Review: Low Fees and a Variety of Account Offerings
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GOBankingRates Score

Our opinion: Citizens Equity First Credit Union is a full service credit union offering banking and credit products. Qualified CEFCU members take advantage of the institution’s low monthly fees and wide range of checking and savings accounts.
  • prices
  • Products
  • Customer service
  • Digital experience

How did we calculate this?


  • Wide range of banking products
  • Free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs
  • Limited Monthly Fees
  • Low initial deposits to open accounts


  • APY on savings is not as high as what you would receive from some online banks and credit unions
  • Membership is not available to everyone

About Citizens Equity First Credit Union

Citizens Equity First Credit Union was founded in 1937 and is based in Peoria, Illinois. CEFCU is a full service credit union offering a range of banking products including cheques, savings, certificates and money market accounts.

CEFCU has more than 330,000 members in Illinois counties and California. To qualify as a member, you must meet one of the following requirements::

  • Live or work in certain Illinois counties
  • Live, work, or worship in certain California counties
  • Current or retired employee of Caterpillar Inc. or any of its subsidiaries
  • Current or retired employee of a CEFCU partner company
  • Immediate Family Member of an Eligible CEFCU Member
  • Share of an Eligible CEFCU Member’s household
  • A husband of a CEFCU member who has passed away
  • Current or Retired CEFCU Employee

Bank products

Here’s an overview of some of the best features Citizens Equity First Credit Union offers in its banking products.

Type Best for
Check Standard free checking account
Savings Low minimum deposit and no monthly fees
Money Market Access to debit card and ATM
Certificates Competitive Layered APYs

CEFCU Checking accounts

You only need a minimum deposit of $25 to open a standard CEFCU bank account. It doesn’t have many bells or whistles, but it meets the basic requirements most people have for a checking account.

Customers who want their account to make money can sign up for a Dividend Checking account, which offers an APY of 0.05%. The Dividend Control option requires an opening deposit of $2,500 and at least that much in the account to avoid fees and earn dividends.


  • Minimum opening deposit from $25 for standard check
  • No monthly maintenance costs for standard check
  • No ATM fees in the network; $1 Off-Network ATM Fee


  • Access to nearly 30,000 ATMs
  • Overdraft protection options


  • $6 monthly dividend control fee if the average daily balance falls below $2,500
  • $30 overdraft fee, though they can be avoided with overdraft protection of linked accounts

CEFCU Savings Accounts

Citizens Equity First Credit Union has a base savings account, and from that single account, customers can add up to 35 separate My Usage accounts to save for specific goals. CEFCU also has a Holiday Saver account.


  • Minimum $5 opening deposit for all three account types
  • $1 membership fee required to set up a basic savings account
  • No charges for ATM use in the network
  • 0.08% APY for all savings products


  • No monthly maintenance costs
  • Ability to save for different priorities


  • Better interest rates available from other financial institutions

CEFCU Money Market Account

You need at least $2,500 to open one money market account at CEFCU. The account pays tiered interest rates ranging from 0.10% APY to 0.20% APY.


  • $2,500 minimum opening deposit
  • Comes with bank card
  • Access money at nearly 30,000 ATMs


  • No ATM fees when using a network ATM
  • Insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration
  • Can be used for overdraft protection for checking accounts


  • High minimum opening deposit
  • Minimum $200 for withdrawals to avoid charges
  • Monthly maintenance fee for average daily balances under $2500

CEFCU Certificate Accounts

You need a minimum of $1,000 to open a certificate – the credit union equivalent of a CD account — at CEFCU. The credit union offers a standard certificate, a jumbo certificate and the My Save Certificate.


  • Minimum opening deposit of $1,000 for standard certificate, $100,000 for jumbo certificate and only $5 for My Save certificate
  • Terms from three months to five years for standard and jumbo certificates
  • APYs from 0.15% -0.90% depending on account balance


  • Low opening deposit of $5 for My Save certificate, which earns 0.25% APY
  • Variety of terms
  • Easy to open online


  • $1,000 minimum deposit to open a standard certificate
  • My Save Certificate deposit cannot exceed $1,000

Banking experience

CEFCU offers personal banking options for customers living in restricted areas of Illinois and California. If a branch location isn’t convenient for you, you can take advantage of the credit union’s online banking experience and access to one of nearly 30,000 ATMs.


Customer service

CEFCU Customer Service representatives can be reached at 800-542-3328. They are available Monday through Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST; and Saturday from 9am to 4pm CST. you can also send an email or a secure message via the online banking platform.

Digital experience

CEFCU offers online banking, convenient electronic statements and online check ordering. And you can use the credit union’s mobile app to manage your accounts, transfer money, deposit checks, make loans and credit card payments, and pay your bills. The app is available for both Android and iOS users. The app is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.6 at the App Store.

How to open a CEFCU account?

Assuming you meet the membership requirements, CEFCU makes it easy to: open your account online. You should have the following information to hand::

  • A government-issued photo ID
  • Personal information, such as your current, and in some cases previous, home address
  • Citizen service number
  • Routing and account numbers to fund your account

Important information

Customer Service Number: 800-542-3328

Routing Number: 271183701


Citizens Equity First Credit Union is a good option for anyone looking for limited fees and competitive rates. Here’s an overview of some of the costs that customers should be aware of:

Type Amount
Monthly maintenance costs $0 for most accounts
ATM fees $0 for network ATMs; $1 for out-of-network ATMs
Overdraft Fees $30
Domestic transfer $25
International wire transfer $50

CEFCU vs Competitors

When trying to decide whether a specific financial institution will meet your needs, it is a wise idea to compare it with others. Here’s how Citizens Equity First Credit Union compares to some others you might consider.

Bank Best for
CEFCU Wide range of banking products
Alliant Credit Union Generous 0.55% APY on Savings Account
First Northern Credit Union Competitive rates on money market accounts and certificates
Navy Federal Credit Union 24/7 customer service

CEFCU vs Alliant Credit Union

You could earn a generous 0.55% APY with Alliance’s High interest savings account. However, CEFCU offers a wider range of banking products than Alliant.

CEFCU vs First Northern Credit Union

First Northern Credit Union offers competitive rates on its money market accounts and stock certificates. CEFCU charges less for its banking products.

CEFCU vs. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is a great option for military families and has 24-hour customer service. CEFCU has more credit card options that offer a range of travel benefits, such as travel cancellation insurance and access to airport concierge services, making it an option worth considering for frequent travelers.

last take

CEFCU is a good option for anyone looking for a credit union that offers a variety of products to choose from. The credit union charges low fees and provides access to nearly 30,000 ATMs across the country.

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Editor’s Favorite

CEFCU’s well-known mobile banking options make it easy to manage your account without ever entering a branch.

Citizens Equity First Credit Union FAQ

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about CEFCU.

  • Can anyone become a CEFCU member?
    • No, to become a member you must live or work in a limited number of counties in Illinois, or live, work and worship in certain counties in California. You can also join if you are a current or retired employee of certain partner companies or are a qualified relative or relative of a CEFCU member.
  • Is the money in my CEFCU account insured?
    • Yes, CEFCU accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration.
  • How do I reorder checks?
    • You can reorder checks through your online CEFCU account.
  • Does CEFCU offer free money to sign up for an account?
    • Yes, you can enter up to $125. received credit when you open a checking account no later than June 30. The account must be in good standing and you must be eligible to receive the credit. There are many ways to qualify for the full amount, for example through direct deposits or using your CEFCU Debit Mastercard for purchases.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise stated, rates are periodically updated. All other account information is correct as of January 28, 2021.

This content is not provided by Citizens Equity First Credit Union. Any opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations in this article are those of the author only and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citizens Equity First Credit Union.


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About the author

Jamie Johnson is a freelance writer who covers a variety of personal finance topics, including investments, loans and construction loans. In addition to writing for GOBankingWrites, she is currently writing writes for customers like Quicken Loans, Credit Karma and the American Chamber of Commerce.

The post Citizens Equity First Credit Union Review: Low Fees and a Variety of Account Offerings appeared first on Notesradar.