What is the Navy Federal Credit Union?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) was created in 1933 and has grown to be one of the largest credit unions in the world. As with other credit unions, NFCU is owned by its members and is a not-for-profit banking institution. It provides financial services to members and former members of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and their families.

The NFCU was started by seven members on January 17, 1933, in response to the Great Depression. Originally named the Navy Department Employees Credit Union, membership was available to employees of the U.S. Navy and naval officers only in the Washington D.C., area. In 1954, membership expanded to all employees of the Navy, and later to those on active duty. At this time, the financial institution changed its name to the Navy Federal Credit Union.

By 1962, the NFCU became one of the largest credit unions in the world. Growing to over three million members by 2011, the NFCU is one of the primary providers of financial services to members of the U.S. military. The Navy Federal Credit Union has branches and ATMs all over the world, typically located on or around U.S. military installations, with its main office located in Virginia.


In 2003, the Navy Federal Credit Union extended its membership to not only employees and active duty members of the Navy and Marine Corps, but also to Navy contractors. In 2008, the NFCU began offering membership to any active duty member or employee of the U.S. Army, Air Force, and all employees of the DoD, including civilians working on military installations. Any family or household member of a person eligible to use the services of the Navy Federal Credit Union is also entitled to open an account. Once an account is opened with NFCU, a person is considered a member for life even if her or she leaves the DoD, as long as an account is kept in good standing.

The NFCU is run by a board of governors that is elected by the members of the credit union. Each member is allowed one vote in each election and is entitled to a portion to the extra funds made by the Navy Federal Credit Union. These funds, which would be considered profit at a traditional bank, are used to fund lower interest rates for members and for branch maintenance; once these necessities are met, any additional profit is distributed to each member through dividends.

The Navy Federal Credit Union offers all of the financial services that most banks provide including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and lines of credit. NFCU also provides home and auto loans to its members at a lower interest rate than most traditional financial institutions. The Navy Federal Credit Union also provides personal loans, financial counseling, and investment options.


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