First Imperial Credit Union review: Hispanic American-led institution in California with no monthly fees

First Imperial Credit Union has 4 branches in California.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The bottom line: You may like First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings Account if you live in California and want to work with a Hispanic American-led insitution. It’s a good choice for avoiding monthly service fees, but you can earn a higher savings rate elsewhere.

Overall bank rating

FeatureInsider rating (out of 5)Savings4Checking4Share certificate4Money market account3.75Trustworthiness4Total3.95

Pros and cons

ProsConsHispanic American-led credit unionNo monthly service feesLarge free ATM networkHigh certificate interest ratesOnly available in CaliforniaLow savings interest ratesCompounds interest monthly, not dailyNo free overdraft protection ($3 to sweep money from savings)

Savings

First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings Account

The First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings Account only requires $5 to get started, and there are no monthly service fees. It pays a low interest rate, though – to find options with much higher rates, read our review of the best high-yield savings accounts.

Checking

First Imperial Credit Union Loyalty Checking Account

The First Imperial Credit Union Loyalty Checking Account is a good option if you’re looking for a free account. There are no monthly fees, and you don’t need any money to get started. First Imperial has several other checking accounts to choose from, including one for people who wouldn’t normally qualify to open an account.

Share certificate

First Imperial Credit Union Regular Share Certificate

First Imperial Credit Union has strong First Imperial Credit Union Regular Share Certificate overall. You only need $500 to open an account, and you’ll earn competitive interest rates.

Money market account

First Imperial Credit Union Money Market Account

You may like the First Imperial Credit Union Money Market Account if you have at least $1,000 to open an account. It doesn’t charge monthly fees, and you can earn a competitive rate on higher balances.

How First Imperial Credit Union works

First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings Account is a Hispanic American-led credit union in California. It has four branches in Brawley, El Centro, Calexico, and Imperial. It’s part of the CO-OP ATM network, so you have free access to over 30,000 machines around the US.

Lobby hours vary by location. Each branch is open Monday through Friday, and the El Centro branch is open Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The First Imperial mobile app has 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple store and 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.

The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA. Your deposits are insured for up to $250,000, or $500,000 for joint accounts.

How to join First Imperial Credit Union

First Imperial Credit Union is a credit union, not a bank, so you must meet certain qualifications to join. You’re eligible to become a member if you meet one of the following criteria:

Live, work, or worship in Imperial CountyLive, work, or worship in specific cities in Riverside County, including Banning, Beaumont, Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Thermal, or Thousand PalmsAre an immediately family member of someone who is already a First Imperial member

You also must open a First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings Account with $5.

Is First Imperial Credit Union trustworthy?

First Imperial Credit Union does not have any public scandals.

The Better Business Bureau gives First Imperial an “NR” (No Rating) in trustworthiness because it does not have enough information to grade the credit union yet. You may want to ask friends and family about their experiences with First Imperial or read online customer reviews.

The role of Hispanic American-led institutions

Many Hispanic American banks and credit unions provide services in both English and Spanish. There is a history of racial prejudice in banking and lending, specifically among Hispanic Americans, so working with a Hispanic American institution can help eliminate unfair bias.

Some of these institutions make it possible to open accounts if you are an immigrant or non-US citizen. First Imperial does require a US ID to open an account, but you can see a full list of banks that accept applications from immigrants and noncitizens without SSNs here.

Many of these banks and credit unions are involved in their local communities. First Imperial partners with 18 organizations to donate time and money, including several chambers of commerce and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Imperial Valley.

How First Imperial Credit Union compares

We’ve compared First Imperial Credit Union to two institutions in similar parts of California: Sun Community Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo.

California locations

4 (El Centro, Brawley, Calexico, Imperial)

California locations

9 (Brawley, Calexico, Calipatria, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Palm Desert, Palm Springs)

California locations

986 (see full list here)

Standout feature

No monthly service fees

Standout feature

Flexible share certificates

Standout feature

Savings tools

First Imperial Credit Union Regular Savings AccountSun Community Federal Credit Union Secure Savings AccountWells Fargo Everyday Checking Account

If it’s important to you to use a Hispanic American institution, First Imperial and Sun Community are both good options. However, Wells Fargo doesn’t require a Social Security number to open an account, which makes it a worthwhile choice if you’re an immigrant or non-US citizen.

Still, it’s worth noting that Wells Fargo has several recent public controversies, including a 2019 lawsuit in which the bank paid the city of Philadelphia $10 million in response the city’s claims that the bank engaged in predatory mortgage lending to racial minorities.

You may like First Imperial if you want a bank that doesn’t charge monthly fees, but Sun Community is a good choice for share certificates. You’re able to withdraw up to 50% of your balance without paying an early withdrawal penalty.

Or you might prefer Wells Fargo for its large national presence and savings features. When you use your debit card, Wells Fargo can automatically transfer $1 into savings.

Related Content Module: More Savings Coverage

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