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SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was founded in 1934 by a group of 125 educational employees and was established as Orange County Teachers Credit Union. They serve the educational community in Southern California. SchoolsFirst is currently composed of almost 800,000 members, accessible through 50 branches and has reported just over $14 billion in assets putting it amongst the top 10 largest credit unions in the USA.

Members are reserved to those currently or having served the educational system of California and its counties. SchoolsFirst offers an extremely wide range of day-to-day banking products as well as other products and services including, checking & savings accounts, home loans, insurance, investment programs and credit cards.

Mission: “Keeping our Commitments”
SchoolsFirst likes to view themselves as a beacon of hope for members and their families. School employees and the educational community deserve their active support.

  • No or Low Fees
  • 28,000 Network of ATMs
  • Once a member always a member
  • Exclusive School Employee products
  • Limited membership
  • Low dividends rates
  • Website is dated and difficult to maneuver

Banking with SchoolsFirst

SchoolsFirst have developed a unique set of products and services specifically designed with the employees and the school system in mind. From no-interest loans for teachers to purchase supplies for their classroom, to a higher-dividend savings account to prepare for summer time, there is truly an account for just about everyone. So long as you meet their members requirements.


Checking Account

Savings Accounts


Other Products

Credit Cards


SchoolsFirst was designed to serve the educational community in the state of California. Anyone who meets the below requirements can join and begin banking. Applications can be completed in-branch or via the website or by mail for minors.

Employees, Retired Employees of:

  • Public elementary and secondary schools
  • County Superintendents of Schools
  • Private elementary and secondary schools listed in the California Department of Education School Directory
  • Community colleges
  • Authorized colleges and universities
  • Authorized education foundations
  • Members of the Board of Trustees of eligible schools
  • Employees who have retired from an eligible school and are receiving a pension or annuity from that entity’s retirement program (such as CalSTRS or CalPERS)

Immediate family members of existing SchoolsFirst FCU Members, which includes:

  • Spouse or Domestic partner
  • Mother & Father
  • Brother(s) & Sister(s)
  • Son(s) & Daughter(s)
  • Grandparent(s)
  • Grandchild(ren)


Checking Accounts

There are two types of checking accounts offered at SchoolsFirst Credit Union:

Free Checking: account designed for those known to keep low balances and frequent bill payments

  • $25 opening deposit – waived for active school employees
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Unlimited checks


Investment Checking: this account is for those looking to earn dividends on their account balances and consistently maintain a balance of at least $1,000 between their shares

  • Earns tiered dividends based on the account balance
Minimum BalanceDividend Rate
$0 – $24,999

$25,000 – $99,999





  • Earns Members Rewards points from every transaction
  • Unlimited checks
  • 6 Free non-SchoolsFirst ATM Withdrawal
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • $3 Monthly fee but can be waived under the following:

– have a direct deposit of at least $1 and a daily minimum of $1,000

– have a combined shares balance of $2,500

are 62 years old or more

Savings Accounts

At SFCU there are several options when it comes to savings accounts. All with unique features suited for your individual saving needs.

Share Savings: each member is required to have this account as a part of their membership. It is a basic savings account with standard features.

  • $5 initial deposit
  • This account gives you ‘one vote’
  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited deposits and withdrawals
  • Earns low rate dividends of 0.10%

Liquid Advantage Money Market: this Money Market account earns dividends while allowing you access to your funds.

  • Minimum required opening deposit is $2,000
  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited deposits, transfers and withdrawals
  • Earns tiered dividends
  • Up to 6 checks, retransfers or other types of transfers (wires) per month
Minimum BalanceDividend Rate

College Saver: this account is actually a 12-month certificate designed to help members under 18 prepare for college with a fixed rate and low opening deposit requirements.

  • $200 initial deposit
  • Earns 2.18% dividend rate
  • Unlimited deposits
  • Renews every 12 months until members comes of age
  • Can be used in conjunction with SFCU 529 Plan and Coverdell Savings Account

My Club Share Account: custom designed account that lets members choose the term that best fits their savings goals.

  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum deposit required
  • Choose from 6 to 18-month term
  • Earns 0.50% dividend rate

Junior Varsity/Varsity Club: designed for young members under the age of 18 begin to practice savings habits.

  • Junior VC is for kids between 0 and 12
  • The Varsity Club account is for kids aged 13 to 17
  • Both require a $5 initial deposit
  • Earns dividends at 0.10%
  • Option of 12-month College Saver certificate with low minimum and the ability to make additional deposits at any time
  • ATM withdrawal daily limit of $40 between 13-15 years old and $100 for 16-17 years old
  • Free checking account is offered at 16 years old with a $25 minimum deposit

Share Certificates: this certificate earns higher dividends rates than the other accounts but vary by term and amount.

  • Terms range from 30 days to 60 months
  • Earn up to 2.65% dividend rate with $100,000 minimum deposit
  • Deposit $500 minimum
  • Dividends are compounded daily
  • 10-day grace period to change the term, balance or make withdrawals without penalty
  • NCUA-Insured

$500 Deposit

TermDividend Rate
30 Day0.50%
03-05 Months1.04%
 06-11 Months1.73%
12-17 Months2.08%
18-23 Months2.32%
24-35 Months2.27%
36-47 Months2.32%
48-59 Months2.37%
60 Months2.47%

Individual Retirement Account

SchoolsFirst Credit Union offers retirement savings options for members as well as exclusive plans for School Employee members. Under these two umbrellas, you can select from a Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA or a SEP IRA, all of which can also be in a certificate form. All IRAs offer tax-advantages or tax-free earnings growth until distribution. Some may even be tax-deductible.

  • TRADITIONAL: taxes on this type of IRA are deferred until you withdraw or distribute the money. Usually used for retirement purposes so you’ll be in a lower tax bracket.
  • ROTH: any withdrawals of funds from this account after the age of 59 ½ aren’t subjected to taxes as long as they have been in this IRA for 5 years. Your income or tax bracket is not taken into consideration here as long as the above criteria is met.
  • SEP IRA: this is an easy plan available to Self-employed members or small business owners. Employer contributions are not required for this IRA.
  • IRA Certificates: Investment IRAs often yields greater returns but they are not federally insured, therefore they are a risk.

Other Products

SchoolsFirst offers a variety of other financial products and packaged services:

  • Exclusive School Employee Accounts: SchoolsFirst offers different types of accounts ranging from savings to loans in order to help School Employees like teachers better manage their money over the school year to ensure they are fully covered during the summer months and retirement. These accounts are designed to help you spread out your pay check over 12 months period, offer low interest loans and bonds for sabbaticals.
  • Auto Loans: provide financing for up to 100% of the purchase price with flexible terms and a 0.75% discount on direct payments. Along with this, SchoolsFirst offers an Auto Buying Program where they negotiate the price for you and also acquire car insurance.
  • Other Loans: SFCU also offers many loan options that cater beyond the standard loans. You can get apply for a home loan and related products such as home equity loans and lines of credit. For school employees, SchoolsFirst has Classroom loans, Computer loans as well as, Uniform loans available.
  • Insurance: their insurance specialists are there to help you get insurance for your car, home, even renters’ insurance. They also provide life insurance and long-term care insurance.

Credit Cards

At SchoolsFirst they offer four types of credit cards affiliated with Mastercard, all offering different perks and features. All four cards are equipped with a chip for extra security, no cash advance fee, no annual fee and no balance transfer fee.

  • Inspire Card
  • Great card for those looking to improve/monitor their credit score
  • 6-month introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Free Credit Reports from SavvyMoney


  • School Employee Card
  • School employee members only
  • 5% cash back on purchases deposited from your Summer Saver account
  • Summer Time interest only payment option
  • Skip December payment without penalty
  • Option to lower interest rate every year by 0.50% when payments are made on time
  • MasterRental Insurance coverage
  • Rewards Card
  • Receive 10,000 bonus rewards points
  • Earn 1.5 points on every $1 spent up to 5X points to be used through Perks Points Mall
  • Unlimited points without expiration
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise
  • Postmates discounts
  • Free shipping with 140 participating retailers
  • 10% discount with Onefinestay
  • Cellphone Protection who pay their phone bill with their Card
  • MasterRental Insurance coverage


  • Share-Secured Card
  • Unlimited Cash back
  • 3% cash back in the first year; 2.5% subsequent years
  • Designed for high spenders
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $99 annual fee, waived for the first year

Banking Features

  • BalanceTrack Checking Management: Offers the tools and program to best manage your financial portfolio. It is a mini course that can be done online via their website and provides you all the information on different methods of banking so that you may choose the best way to manage your funds.
  • Mobile Banking: SFCU offers a mobile app where you can deposit checks, pay bills, transfer money, locate the nearest branch and manage your funds at your convenience.
  • Alerts: You can set up custom alerts and notifications on available balances, suspicious transactions and card activity, payment due dates and more. This can be set up via the app or you can receive alerts via text messages.

About SchoolsFirst Credit Union

Back in 1934, in California, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union opened up during the middle of the Great Depression seeing how many banks had closed at this time. 126 employees gathered and pooled $1,200 to open up their own financial institution. Serving school employees and the educational community in Southern California, SchoolsFirst currently has 800,000 members, is accessible through 50 branches and has reported just over $14 billion in assets.

If you are a school employee, retired school employee, immediate family member of a SchoolsFirst FCU Member, including spouse, domestic partner, mother, father, sibling, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild, you are eligible to join the credit union. They offer wide range of products and services and exclusive accounts for active school employees. These products and services include, checking & savings accounts, home loans, insurance, investments, credit cards and many more.

The Bottom Line

Overall, SchoolsFirst Credit Union isn’t a terrible place to bank if you are a school employee or work in the education field in California. Although their rates aren’t anything to brag about with the exception of their Share Certificate rates, you are still required to hold a large balance in order to bank on the higher dividends. Nonetheless, if you do fit the membership requirement, their exclusive employee accounts designed to help you stretch your funds over the summer period offer quite the set of benefits in the long-run. If you are, however, searching for the best rates on the market, you may have to do a bit more research.