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The ABQ Credit Union Review Series: Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union
Treat your money right.
If you're reading this, I hope it is because you have realized just how many amazing offers credit unions have compared to banks. Sure, they don't have ATMs in every city in the country and maybe they don't have 24/7 phone banks, but they do hire local people to take care of the Duke City and all of its wonderful citizens.
To qualify, most credit unions have a set of criteria they expect you to meet. They can range from Albuquerque residency to sitting on the board of a specific group. But, credit unions also offer incredibly competitive rates and if you're lucky, that extra personal touch to make your financial experience much more pleasant.
In this series, I'll review the qualifying criteria, services offered, special deals for members, rates, locations, online accessibility, and an overall reflection.
To provide the most thorough and up-to-date review possible, I will review each credit union individually before comparing and contrasting them with each other in a later hub.
Please share any experiences you've had with these credit unions below to keep this hub as accurate as possible!
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I am not employed by or affiliated with Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union. Be sure to verify this information with their website or staff before enrolling in any program.
This page serves as a convenient way for the credit union hunter to look at most of what a credit union has to offer without clicking through every page and tab. As a resident of Albuquerque, I am happy to share what I can about what we have to offer to make your transition as smooth as possible.
Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union
SLFCU is a local credit union that prides itself on serving the "high-tech communities of Albuquerque, NM and Livermore, CA." Why? Sandia Labs and other organizations at Kirtland AFB work with many companies and agencies out of Livermore, like Lockheed Martin, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, and, of course, Sandia National Labs.
This is a great initiative to pull in newly transferred residents from Livermore or vice versa. It also means that SLFCU has experience dealing with this sort of crowd and would be a able to understand and help if you do have to transfer.
I believe that SLFCU is a great option for many Albuquerque residents. Let me show you why.
SLFCU has 8 locations in or around Albuquerque, NM and 3 in Livermore, CA.
Please see the map below for a view of the 8 New Mexico locations.
Sandia Lab FCU Locations
Membership eligibility for SLFCU is open to current or retired employees or members of over 200 local companies and organizations. Immediate family and household members are also eligible.
A few of these businesses or organizations include:
- Goodwill Industries of New Mexico
- Heart Hospital of New Mexico
- Aloha RV
- Baskin Robbins
- Eye Associates of New Mexico
- Jinja Bar & Bistro
- Mind Research Network
- Del Norte Baptist Church
- Eldorado High School Cross Country Booster Club
- Menaul School
- Placitas Community Library
- United Way of New Mexico
They even make a special qualifier for members of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History: all museum supporters are eligible for membership in SLFCU.
SLFCU offers 3 different checking account options, one of which is only for young adults. I will discuss that option later in the youth banking section.
The 2 basic adult checking accounts are Money Manager and Quick Cash. Each requires $15 to open and has a free debit card (Mastercard). Account holders may have 2 free accounts, withdraw $400 in a given day, and set up overdraft protection by linking the account with another savings account or credit line.
Money Manager allows 10 free ATM withdrawals per month, whereas Quick Cash allows 20.
As of May 5, 2012, the Quick Cash has 0.15% APY and Money Manager has a 0.15% dividend rate.
Savings Accounts & IRAs
Both the Share Savings Account and IRA Savings Account can be opened with a $5 initial deposit.
Share Certificates and IRA Share Certificates can be opened with a deposit of $1,000 or more with terms of 6-48 months. The Share Certificates also feature 3 options for dividends, which include fixed, variable, and bump rate.
The last savings account option is the Money Market Savings Account. SLFCU requires a $2,500 initial deposit, but this account accrues higher dividends than the other options (according to the balance).
Currently, the Share Savings APY is 0.30% and the DR is also 0.30%.
For children under the age of 10, SLFCU's hosts their Savings Laboratory to offer games, prizes, and incentives to financially prepared little ones.
CU Succeed helps children between 11 and 17 get ready for their financial future in a fun and supportive way.
CU Rocks is the program for 18-25 year olds, who are about to or already are setting out into the real world.
For those 18-25 year olds, SLFCU also offers their Young & Free Checking program. It is very similar to their other options, except they build in a little leniency to help these individuals grow.
Just like the Quick Cash Checking, it only takes $15 to sign up and students can make up to 20 ATM withdrawals per month.
In addition, members also receive 4 Insufficient Funds charges forgiven each year and $10 iTunes credit for new accounts.
They also offer a number of scholarships for high school students that range from $250 to $1,000!
Where do you save your money?
SLFCU offers auto, home, and student loans.
SLFCU has 100% financing available for both new and used automobiles. Loans last between 72-84 months depending on whether the vehicle was new or used and those are non-variable rates that start from 2.15% APR for new autos and 2.30% APR for used.
Motorcycles, ATVs, boats can be financed for up to 120 months. RVs go up to 180 months for used and 240 months for new. Those rates are adjustable.
Through October 2012, SLFCU offers the exemption of closing costs to all eligible new home buyers with the option to lock in rates for 3-5 years.
For home loans, there are 3 different options:
- Owner Occupied
- Investment Properties
- Home Equity Loans & CreditLines
For Owner Occupied properties, there are 6 types of mortgages available. The APRs currently range from 4.28-4.31%.
For Investment Properties, there are 4 types of mortgages available, including second mortgages and lines of credit for non-owner occupied properties.
For Home Equity Loans and CreditLines, SLFCU offers Owner Occupied Second SmartValue Mortgages and Home Equity CreditLines.
SLFCU's student loan options range from $2,000-30,000 per school year and rates are determined by a variety of factors including GPA. As they note, "Good grades could get you a better rate!"
They also offer a 30-day refund if you are able to source funding for your education within 30 days of the loan's disbursement. Loan holders can pay the interest or $25 a month while in school or they may defer payments until 6 months after graduation. There are also discounts for paying a certain amount back and more.
SLFCU has 3 varieties of credit cards: Rebate, Value, and Student.
Rebate cards reward card holders with a year-end cash rebate between 0.50-0.75% cash rebate depending on the type of card held.
Credit lines range from $500-5,000 and cards are either MasterCard or Visa.
The current APR is 11.0%.
These cards reward balance-carrying members with an APR of 9.25%. The credit lines still range from $500-5,000 and the cards are still MasterCard or Visa, but the APR rate drops rather significantly.
This is the best of both worlds for current students: they pair a low-interest rate with cash rewards at the end of the year of 0.50%.
The credit line ranges from $500-2,000 and the card is carried by Visa.
All of these credit cards have no annual fee, a 25-day grace period on purchases, automatic, electronic billing, no penalty rates, and no charge for balance transfers.
Investments & Insurance
SLFCU connect members with financial professionals for assistance with 401(k)s, IRAs, retirement planning, education funding, and more.
They also provide members with many useful services, like flat-fees for unlimited trading, prepackaged folios, and more.
SLFCU offers a variety of insurances including, life, auto, homeowners, and AD&D, through CMFG Life Insurance Company.
Trust & Estate Planning:
All of these services are managed through MEMBERS Trust Company.
Smart Business Budgets
SLFCU seems very interested in helping businesses succeed.
They offer two online banking options for businesses, one which is free for monthly use and another that requires $35 per month.
Loans and Credit:
For businesses, SLFCU offers fixed-rate term loans, variable rate CreditLines, and a Business Platinum Visa Credit Card ($10/year).
For business checking, there are 3 options for small, medium, and large companies:
- Access Business
All require a minimum deposit of $100 to open. Monthly fees range from $5-11, which can be waived depending on the average monthly balance ($1,000-5,000).
Again, there are 3 account options here as well:
- Share Savings Accounts ($5 initial deposit)
- Money Market Savings ($2,500 initial deposit)
- Share Certificates ($1,000 initial deposit)
In addition to all of these programs, SLFCU supports local businesses by offering a long list of special resources including third-party payroll processing, online check imaging, and access to a handful of economic development programs.
Financial Education and Resources
Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union offers a wide range of classes, seminars, and resources for all members regardless of where they are in the life. They truly want to assist their members prepare the next phase in their lives.
In addition to a very thorough website, SLFCU also implements CU@Home, the online transaction service for members.
SLFCU does a lot to keep its members very happy.
- Great banking services for youth (especially the Young & Free Checking Account)
- Reasonable APRs for credit cards
- Cash rewards for checking accounts
- Good community involvement
- Long list of businesses and groups that determine membership eligibility
- Good financial support for loans, mortgages, and lines of credit
- Access to investment, business assistance, and insurance
- Student loans for members
Membership Special Offers
For members of SLFCU, the list of special offers is somewhat short and include discounts for Tram tickets, Dell computers, some realty and tax services, and a few more.
As you can see, SLFCU has many great features, services, and resources for its members. What about the things that aren't so great, though?
- The locations do seem to be pretty spread apart and for some parts of the community, it could be a bit of drive to the nearest branch.
- No at-home deposits. Unlike some of my favorite financial institutions, SLFCU does not offer online check deposits via digital photo or scan.
- All accounts require a minimum deposit.
I have to say that SLFCU appears to be a very well organized credit union that takes their members' needs to heart. The programs and rates they offer are extremely competitive and I think that this is the sort of financial institution you could stick with for a long time.
They are also strong financial supporters of the community, which is a great key to long-term member happiness and success.
If eligible for membership at SLFCU, I recommend you review their website and contact a representative today.
For complete details, please refer to Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union's website.
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