How We Rated The Best Credit Unions in Alaska
Alaska is home to 10 credit unions that in total have assets of $13.9 billion, deposits of $12.5 billion and over 918,000 members. In thinking about the best credit unions in Alaska we focused on assessing the active credit unions according to the following criteria:
- Membership Trends – does the credit union have critical mass of members and has its membership base been growing over the years? Size is an important determinant of scale which is essential in financial services, and especially important for credit unions because they are member-owned (a key difference between credit unions and banks).
- Member Engagement – how much have members deposited at the credit union?
- Accessibility – as we discussed during our March Survey, branch accessibility is very important to credit union customers, much more so than Bank customers. In addition, while branch availability matters so does online banking and mobile application capability.
- Operational Strength – how much net worth has the credit union generated over the years and how does that compare per member to other credit unions nationally?
- Product Offerings – what services does the credit union offer and how much do they cost?
We rated each of the credit unions based on these five criteria to come to our view of the best credit unions in Alaska. Amazingly as of this writing none of the credit unions in Alaska offer Zelle payment options to their members.
4 Best Credit Unions in Alaska
Credit Union 1
Credit Union 1 tops our list of the best credit unions in Alaska. The credit union is open to anyone that lives in the state, is the second largest credit union in the state and ended 2021 with a net worth per member of $1,726 which compares favorably to the state average and national average. The credit union stands out for its accessibility (12 branches across the state and highly well reviewed mobile app) and product offerings. Specifically, Credit Union 1 members can open a checking account with no minimum and no monthly fee; with the Super Saver Checking Account, by maintaining just $200 in the account members can get free cashier’s checks and money orders. The only area where Credit Union 1 is average is in its member engagement as in 2021 members had $13,809 deposited with the credit union on average, which is just slightly above the average for the state.
Northern Skies Credit Union
Northern Skies Credit Union comes in second in our list of the best credit unions in Alaska. This credit union is also open to anyone that works, attends school, worships, or volunteers in the state of Alaska. Northern Skies Credit Union has had the fastest growth in its membership base over the past three years among credit unions in Alaska. The credit union offers checking accounts with ATM benefits and has the lowest fees for cashier services in the state. Where Northern Skies Credit Union could improve is in its accessibility – the credit union currently has only 2 branch locations in the state.
Alaska USA Credit Union (AKUSA)
AKUSA is the largest credit union in Alaska and one of the largest credit unions in the United States with 711,111 members as of December 2021. Despite this scale, AKUSA has grown its membership base over the past 3 years by 7%. The credit union is open to anyone that lives in the state and unlike most of the other credit unions in Alaska, its field of membership expands beyond the state of Alaska. AKUSA scores high points for accessibility given its network of 25 branches across the state. Where AKUSA could improve would be in two areas. First, the credit union’s net worth per member is below the state and national average. Second, AKUSA’s mobile application scores below average (2.5 stars as of this writing) which we found surprising.
ALPS Federal Credit Union
The 4th and final credit union on our list of the best credit unions in Alaska is ALPS Federal Credit Union. This is the smallest of the credit unions on our list with 3,890 members as of the end of 2021. However, ALPS Federal Credit Union has the highest net worth per member on the list at $1,778 and also has the second highest net worth per member in the state. While its membership base is smaller, their engagement is above average with deposits per member over $17,000 which compares to a state-wide average of $12,530. Where ALPS Federal Credit Union could improve is in its accessibility: the credit union has only 2 branches and its field of membership is limited to a handful of areas in the state.
Other Noteworthy Credit Unions In Alaska
While the following credit unions did not make our list of the best credit unions in Alaska they each had some noteworthy strengths we wanted to highlight:
- Spirit of Alaska Credit Union – this credit union has the highest net worth per member in the state at $2,490 and the second highest deposit per member.
- Alaska District Engineers Credit Union – this credit union has the highest deposit per member out of the credit unions in Alaska. It is also the smallest credit union in the state with 581 members as of December 2021. This is in part due to its tight field of membership.
- Matanuska Valley Credit Union – this is the third largest credit union in the state with 51,501 members as of December 2021. Depsite this size, it was also the second fastest growing credit union in the state over the past 3 years.