Credit Union 1 Business Checking Review 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Business Banking.
If you’re looking for an affordable business checking provider, Credit Union 1 (CU1) is an excellent choice. Its three business checking accounts all have low, easy-to-waive monthly service fees and high transaction limits. Additional features, such as merchant services, ATM reimbursements, and linked sweep accounts, help you save on costs.
What We Like
- Waivable monthly fee
- Easy membership requirements
- Free digital banking and online bill payment
- $100 opening deposit requirement
- Low annual percentage yield (APY) on interest-bearing accounts
- Scalable checking accounts
- Sweep accounts
- Access to 30,000-plus Co-op ATMs and 5,000-plus Co-op shared branches
- Free digital banking and online bill payments
- Visa debit card with chip technology
When Credit Union 1 Is a Good Fit
- You want lower monthly service fees: The fee for CU1’s lowest tier account is $10. Additionally, you can waive fees by depositing Merchant Services into your checking account.
- You want nationwide access to in-person banking: To compensate for a lack of branch locations outside Illinois, CU1 participates in the Co-op Shared Branch network, which lets you access CU1’s in-person banking services at over 5,000 Co-op Shared Branch locations across the country.
- You intend to expand your business: CU1’s three-tier business checking system can accommodate the needs of growing businesses as they scale. Though minimum balances and monthly fees increase for higher tiers, CU1 rewards growth by increasing APY and transaction limits.
- Your business makes more than 200 transactions per month: All of CU1’s business checking accounts have higher transaction limits as compared to other credit unions. Its lowest tier lets businesses make up to 200 transactions fee-free. At the highest tier, businesses can make up to 600 transactions fee-free. Its transaction fees, after exceeding the transaction limit, are also relatively affordable.
- You want to earn interest on excess funds: CU1’s business checking accounts come with a feature called a Sweep Account, which is a cash management tool that deposits excess balances automatically―funds that exceed the user’s designated target balance―into a linked CU1 Savings Account. The tool streamlines saving and enhances the business’ income-earning capacity.
CU1 is one of the few financial institutions to offer banking services specifically for legal cannabis vendors. The products it offers to cannabis businesses include deposit accounts, debit cards, cash pickup services, payroll services, free ATM access and ATM funding services, and commercial real estate lending. Signing up for a CU1 account gives cannabis businesses access to free digital banking with mobile deposits, bill pay, and eStatements.
When Credit Union 1 Is Not a Good Fit
- You want to earn interest on your checking deposits: CU1’s lowest tier checking account doesn’t earn interest on balances while the higher tiers only have an APY of 0.01%. A good alternative would be Bluevine, which pays interest at a rate of 2.00% on qualifying balances of $250,000 and under.
- Your business needs lending products: The only lending products CU1 offers are business credit cards and commercial real estate loans. In our list of the best credit unions for small businesses, Self-Help Federal Credit Union is the best for lending products. Its selection includes small business loans, nonprofit loans, SBA 504 loans, and commercial real estate loans.
- You want unlimited fee-free transactions: All CU1 business checking accounts have transaction limits. If you want to bank without transaction limits, it’s best to choose an online-only provider. In our list of the best checking accounts for small businesses, we named First Internet Bank the best full-service online bank.
How Credit Union 1 Stacks Up With Its Competitors
Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
Transaction Limit Before Fees
Minimum Opening Deposit
Business Express Checking
200, then $0.50 per item after the limit
Free Business Checking With Interest
Unlimited free transactions
Business Advantage Fundamentals Banking
200, then $0.45 per item after the limit
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Overview
Business Express Checking
Business Express Plus Checking
Business Express Premium Plus Checking
Required Opening Deposit
Required Balance Minimum
$1,500 to waive monthly fee
$5,000 to waive monthly fee
$25,000 to waive monthly fee
Transaction* Limit Before Fees
200, then 5 cents per item after the limit
350, then 5 cents per item after the limit (waivable)
600, then 5 cents per item after the limit (waivable)
Wire Transfer Fees
$0 for incoming
$30 for outgoing domestic
Outgoing international varies
None at Co-op ATM network and shared branches; $1 per transaction for third-party ATMs** (up to 4 waivers per month)
None at Co-op ATM network and shared branches; $1 per transaction for third-party ATMs** (unlimited waivers)
Overdraft /Courtesy Pay Fee
$32 per overdraft item
Overdraft Transfer from Savings Fee
$5 per transfer
Cash Deposit Limit Before Fees
$5,000 free, then 20 cents per $100 after the limit
$20,000 free, 20 cents per $100 after the limit (waivable)
$50,000 free, then 20 cents per $100 after the limit (waivable)
*Transactions refer to ACH credits, next-day credit originations, debits, debit originations, ACH addenda records, 1-touch inquiries, transfers, withdrawals, domestic and foreign ATM deposits, inquiries, transfers, withdrawals; cash deposited; coin deposited, checks deposited, currency order, currency strap, debit card credit and debit transactions, POS credit and debit transactions, payroll deposit, rolled coin, shared branch deposits, inquiries, transfers, withdrawals, check deposit slips, checks paid, teller assisted transactions.
**Third-party operator fees may also apply.
Business Visa Debit Card
Available via Deluxe
Business Payment Integrations
Available via Merchant Services
Live chat, secure message, mail, email, and phone (800) 252-6950
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT
Other Products Available
Business savings, credit cards, and commercial real estate lending
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Requirements
To open a business checking account with CU1, you must first become a member. Only applicants who meet the following criteria are allowed to apply for membership:
- You’re a legal United States resident
- You’re at least 18 years old
- You have a Social Security number
- You have a valid, government-issued ID
If you meet the above criteria, there are two ways you can become eligible for membership:
- Speak to a Member Solutions Specialist at (800) 252-6950 or fill out a CU1 online application. The system will determine your eligibility.
- If the above system deems you ineligible for membership, you can make a one-time donation of $5 to the CU1 Educational Development Association.
Finalize your application by paying a one-time $5 membership fee and making a $5 initial account deposit. Once you’re a member, you can open a business bank account by contacting the Member Solutions Department or visiting one of CU1’s branch offices.
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Features
Scalable Checking Accounts
CU1 offers three types of small business checking accounts.
- Business Express Checking charges a monthly fee of $10 and offers 200 fee-free transactions per month. It has an APY of 0.01%.
- Business Express Plus Checking charges a monthly fee of $15 and offers 350 fee-free transactions per month. It has an APY of 0.01%.
- Business Express Plus Premium Checking charges a monthly fee of $50 and offers 600 fee-free transactions per month. It has an APY of 0.01% for balances of 1 cent and above.
The minimum opening deposit for any checking account is $100.
Waivable Monthly Fees
You can waive monthly service fees by maintaining your account’s minimum balance requirement. The minimum balance requirements are:
- Business Express Checking: $1,500
- Business Express Plus Checking: $5,000
- Business Express Premium Plus Checking: $25,000
Another way to waive monthly service fees is to enroll in Merchant Services and deposit accepted payments into your checking account. If you’re a Business Express Plus or Business Express Premium Plus account holder, depositing funds from Merchant Services will also waive fees for excess transactions and cash deposits.
CU1 links your account automatically to an interest-bearing American Share Insurance (ASI)-insured CU1 Saving Account (Sweep Account). Whenever your checking account balance exceeds your designated target, CU1 will transfer the excess funds into your sweep account automatically. If your checking balance falls below target, CU1 will transfer funds from your sweep account back to your checking account. Sweep accounts have an APY of 0.01%.
Credit Union 1 Business Visa® Debit Card
Every business checking account comes with its own Business Visa debit card. Visa’s real-time fraud monitoring and Zero Liability Policy tracks suspicious activity and protects you from unauthorized charges.
You can use your Business Visa Debit Card to access more than 30,000 Co-op ATMs and 5,000 CU1 shared branches. Transactions cost $1 at nonnetwork ATMs. Business Express Checking and Business Express Plus Checking users can waive nonnetwork fees up to four times per statement cycle, whereas Business Express Premium Plus Checking users have unlimited waivers. However, third-party operator fees may still apply.
Free Digital Banking
You can bank digitally for free on Credit Union 1’s website and the mobile app, which is available on both iOS and Android. Through digital banking, you can
- Pay bills
- Deposit checks
- Transfer money
- View electronic statements and documents
- Find CU1 locations
To enhance security, the mobile app comes with a biometric login.
The app has a rating of 4.3 stars on both Google Play and the App Store. Despite positive ratings, many recent reviewers complain of a nonuser-friendly user interface (UI) and poor mobile check deposit functionality.
If your business checking account is in good standing, you can opt-in to Courtesy Pay, which is CU1’s business overdraft coverage service. If you authorize Courtesy Pay, CU1 can choose to cover transactions in the event that your account lacks the funds to pay for them. The Courtesy Pay fee is $32 per overdraft item.
As another form of overdraft protection, CU1 can also choose to transfer money from a linked savings account to cover transactions against insufficient funds. The overdraft protection fee is $5 per transfer.
CU1 offers merchant services through a partnership with the payment processing and business management solution Clover. With it, you can accept a wider range of payment types, including EMV chip cards, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. Additionally, Clover lets you manage inventory, employee schedules, payroll, and more.
As mentioned above, if you deposit funds from Merchant Services, you can waive monthly service fees and fees for excess transactions and cash deposits.
Other Credit Union 1 Business Products
Community Checking is a specialty checking account for nonprofit organizations. It offers 150 fee-free transactions and $5,000 per month. Excess transactions cost 20 cents per item while excess cash deposits cost $100 per dollar, but you can waive the monthly fee by depositing Merchant Services into your account.
Business Credit Cards
CU1 offers Business Visa® Platinum Credit Cards, which are protected under Visa’s Zero Liability Policy. The card has a minimum APR of 7.74% and no annual fee. Through CU1’s partnership with uRewards, you can earn rewards points whenever you use your card for business purchases. Points can be redeemed for gas, groceries, travel opportunities, and more.
Business credit cards let you add authorized users, such as employees and team members. You can customize transaction limits for authorized users to avoid improper spending.
The CU1 business savings account earns interest at a rate of 0.01%. To qualify for interest, you need to maintain a minimum balance of $5.
Business Money Market Account
If you want higher rates on business savings, consider CU1’s Business Money Market Account, which you can open with a minimum deposit of $5,000. The account has a tiered APY system that offers higher interest rates on higher balances.
- $5,000 to $24,999.99: 0.05%
- $25,000 to $59,999.99: 0.10%
- $50,000 to $99,999.99: 0.20%
- $100,000 to $249,999.99: 0.30%
- $250,000 and above: 0.40%
Business Share Certificates
CU1’s most competitive interest rates can be found in its certificates of deposit. APY rates for Business Share Certificates range from 1.50% for six-month terms and 3.00% for 60-month terms. Regardless of term length, the minimum balance requirement to open a business certificate and earn dividends is $1,000.
- Commercial Real Estate Lending: Business owners that want to add real estate assets to their business investment portfolio can consider CU1’s Commercial Real Estate Lending solution, which offers 5, 7, and 10-year fixed loans for all property types.
- Indirect Dealer Program: Businesses in the automotive industry can use CU1’s Indirect Dealer Program to help customers buy vehicles. The program offers auto loan rates with annual percentage rates (APR) as low as 1.99% and terms as long as 84 months. By providing fair financing options for automotive buyers, CU1 helps automotive dealers sell vehicles faster.
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Pros & Cons
|Waivable fees||Cannot open an account online|
|High transaction limits||Low APY|
|Nationwide access to in-person banking||Limited selection of lending products|
One of the main reasons to choose a credit union over a bank is access to lower fees. Not only are CU1’s fees lower than traditional banks, but they’re also easy to waive. CU1 lets you waive monthly service fees by depositing Merchant Services into your checking account. If you have a Business Express Plus Checking or Business Express Premium Plus Checking account, depositing Merchant Services will also waive your excess transaction and cash deposit fees.
Additionally, CU1 customers get nationwide access to in-person banking services through the Co-op Shared Branch network. However, CU1 doesn’t provide the option to open business accounts online—you’re required to visit a CU1 branch or call CU1’s Member Solutions Team.
Alternatives to Credit Union 1 Business Checking
Although Credit Union 1 offers a decent selection of business checking products, it may not meet your business needs. If you want higher interest rates, lower fees, and access to lending products, here are a few other credit unions you can consider.
- Navy Federal Credit Union is best for military members, families, and department of defense personnel. Individuals with strong military ties can access business checking with APY rates from 0.01% to 0.45% at low monthly service fees.
- Bethpage Federal Credit Union is best for earning interest as its Free Business Interest Checking account earns interest at a rate of 0.20% and has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements.
- Self-Help Federal Credit Union is best for access to lending products. Unlike CU1, which only offers commercial real estate (CRE) lending, Self-Help FCU offers a wide selection of lending products, including small business loans, nonprofit loans, SBA 504 loans, and CRE loans.
Though Credit Union 1 lacks loan products and competitive interest rates, it remains a good business banking option thanks to the many useful features included in its tiered business checking accounts. Account holders gain access to high transaction limits, low ATM fees, cash-saving sweep accounts, and free digital and mobile banking—all without facing strict membership requirements. So if you’re looking for a credit union that is both comprehensive and accessible, then CU1 could be the institution for you.