The first bank, and subsequent credit card, I got was while in College. Its a small Credit Union that I only bank with now through Shared Branches. It works for me though and my credit score is impeccable. The Credit Card has no benefits at all, and I don't use it. Haven't used my Credit Card in about 3 years now.

However, I'm considering trying for either a Navy Federal Credit Union credit card or a PenFed credit card for the benefits. Pay on credit card for added security, pay it off in full that month (the few times I ever used my credit card, this is what I did so there's no temptation here), and get the card benefits.

If I do this though, is it advised to slowly transition my Checking and Savings over as well? If so then I probably won't do it as neither PenFed or Navy Federal are members of CO-OP Shared Branch. Navy Fed has one or two locations "near" me, while PenFed isn't even in my state.

  • Out of curiousity why don't you use your credit cards? If you don't use them often (once in 3 years) how will the new card benefit you?
    – n00b
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 20:26
  • I don't use it because I have no reason to. If I got a card that gave me essentially a 1%-5% discount on a particular type of purchase then I would use it specifically, and only, for those types of purchases. A say 2% savings on Gas that I have to buy either way is still a 2% savings. My current card has no benefits of any kind, so why would I use it? I got the card when I started college for emergencies not for every day shopping. You know, what a credit card was originally intended for!
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 20:36

3 Answers 3



There's no inherent reason to link the place that you bank with any other financial service.

There may occasionally be benefits; for instance you can sometime get lower rates on mortgages or loans by having a a checking account with an institution. Or perhaps it'll be easier for you to make a same-day payment on a credit account.

There could be some negatives as well. If you fall behind on a loan account, the bank may take money from your savings/checking account to satisfy your debt.

Choose a bank or CU that's convenient to you. Choose a credit card from whatever bank or CU provides you with the best benefits. If that credit card is coming from a CU that requires a savings account for membership, open a minimum balance savings account and apply for the product you're interested in. If your credit is as good as you claim, they'll be happy to offer you the credit card regardless of whether you do your day-to-day banking with them.

  • When you say "offer the credit card regardless of whether you do..." does that mean I'm in a position to negotiate the terms and not just accept what their website says?
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 16:52
  • I doubt you're in a position to negotiate. What I mean is that they don't care whether you actually -use- the checking or savings account. You just need to open it up and maintain a minimum balance. You don't have to write checks on it, or deposit additional funds to it.
    – Todd
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 17:25
  • Okay on the actually use or not use. Why would you doubt I'm in a position to negotiate? What do you need to negotiate? Or is the only for celebrities, politicians and CEOs?
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 17:34
  • @Ryan What 'terms' are you looking to negotiate?
    – Noah
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 17:47
  • I'm just looking for the best possible card for my needs. Namely cash back on groceries and gas. No annual fees. Since my credit score is so good I'm at a point where I want to look for other ways to boost my income a bit. This should be one of them. PenFed Defender has a term of being retired military so that would be a term to negotiate. Otherwise their Cashback Card isn't awful though would only benefit gas purchases but it has a $25 annual fee I'd want to have them waive.
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 18:05

I don't have an account with either of those CUs, but I do have membership at 2 different CUs.

If they accept credit card payments online via transfer from another institution, there's no reason to move your money, unless there are other benefits (higher interest rates). All the CUs would likely require is membership ($5 deposit minimum?).

If you were to get a card through Chase or Capital One, you wouldn't be expected to open a checking/savings account with them and transition over to those accounts.


As has been stated, you don't need to actively bank with a credit union to apply for one of their credit cards. That said, one benefit to having account activity, and significant capital with a CU, is to increase the likelihood of having a larger credit line granted to you, when you do apply. If you are going to use the card sparingly however, then this is a non issue.

That said, if you really want to maximize card benefits, then you want to look for cards with large sign up bonuses (e.g. Chase Sapphire, or Ink Bold if you have a business) and sign up exclusively for those bonuses. These cards offer rewards in excessive value of $1000 in travel services (hotels/plane tickets), or $500 cash back if you prefer straight cash back redemptions. If you prefer to keep it really simple, you can sign up for a cash back card, like the Amex Fidelity, which offers 2% cash back everywhere, with no annual fee (albeit the cash back is through their investment account, which you don't actually have to 'invest' with).

Personally, I have the Penfed card, and use it exclusively for gas (5% cash back). I also have a Charles Schwab bank account, which I keep funded exclusively for ATM withdrawals (free ATM usage, worldwide, 100% fee reimbursement). I use the accounts exclusively for the benefit they provide me, and no more and have never had an issue. I also have 3 dozen other credit cards which I signed up for exclusively for the sign up bonus, but that's outside the scope of this question. I only mention it because you seem to believe it is difficult to get approved for a new credit line. If your credit is good however, you won't have a problem.

For a small idea, of how to maximize credit card bonus categories, I would advise you read this. As mentioned in the article, its possible to get rewards almost everywhere you shop. In short, anytime you use cash, you are missing out on a multitude of benefits a credit card offers you (e.g. see the benefits of a visa signature card) in addition to points/cash back.

  • I'm torn because your first paragraph addresses the question well. Your other 3 are unrelated and really off target for anything I've asked. Thanks for offering your personal tips and tricks but they're not in scope for a question about whether I need to actually do my banking with the CU I have the card with.
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 23:20

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