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 high transaction limits and low, easy-to-waive monthly service fees. Additional features, such as merchant services, ATM reimbursements, and linked sweep accounts, help you save on costs.
CU1 only has brick-and-mortar branches in Illinois. However, its participation in Co-op’s Shared Branch network means you can bank in person at Co-op Shared Branch locations.
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 50 cents per item after the limit
Free Business Checking With Interest
Unlimited free transactions
Business Advantage Fundamentals Banking
200, then 45 cents per item after the limit
When Credit Union 1 Is a Good Fit
- You want lower monthly service fees: The fee for CU1’s lowest tier account is just $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 want to earn interest on excess funds: CU1’s business checking accounts provide access to sweep accounts, which are cash management tools that automatically deposit excess balances (funds that exceed the user’s designated target balance) into a linked CU1 Savings Account. The tool streamlines saving and enhances your 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 e-statements.
When Credit Union 1 Is Not a Good Fit
- You want to earn interest on your checking deposits: CU1’s lowest tier checking account does not earn interest on balances, while the higher tiers only have an APY of 0.01%. A good alternative would be Bluevine, which pays qualified accounts interest at a rate of 2.0% on balances worth $250,000 and less. Read our Bluevine business checking review for more details.
- 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, we named Self-Help Federal Credit Union the best credit union for lending products. Its product selection includes small business loans, nonprofit loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans, and commercial real estate loans. Learn more by reading our Self-Help Federal Credit Union business checking review.
- You want access to high-yield savings accounts: CU1’s savings accounts pay an APY rate of 0.01%. If you want access to higher rates, a good alternative would be Live Oak Bank, which offers a savings account with an APY of 4%. For more information, check out our Live Oak Bank business savings review.
See our list of the best small business checking accounts for additional recommendations.
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Overview
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 are a legal United States resident
- You are 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 are a member, you can open a business bank account by contacting the Member Solutions Department or visiting one of CU1’s branch offices.
For a checklist of documents banks typically require during account opening, read our guide on how to open a business bank account.
Credit Union 1 Business Checking Features
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 are 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 automatically links your account to an interest-bearing ASI-insured CU1 Saving Account (Sweep Account). Whenever your checking account balance exceeds your designated target, CU1 will automatically transfer the excess funds into your sweep account. 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 over 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
The app has a rating of 4.3 stars on the App Store and 4.2 stars on Google Play. According to the majority of recent reviews, the app is convenient and easy to use. However, a few customers disliked that the app does not support Zelle. See Credit Union 1 on App Store or Credit Union 1 on Google Play for more information.
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 $0.20 per item while excess cash deposits cost $100 per dollar, but you can waive the fee by depositing funds from merchant services into your account.
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.
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%
- 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 five-, seven-, 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 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 User Reviews
Credit Union 1 business checking reviews are mixed and don’t typically focus on the business checking product. Satisfied customers praised the credit union for providing a reliable online banking experience, competitive, interest rates, and friendly and helpful customer service.
However, several complained of inefficiency. According to negative reviews, CU1 lacks the human resources to respond to customer inquiries on its phone line, plus it is also difficult to reach via email. Clients who were successful at contacting CU1 said that its staff was slow to address concerns.
Here are CU1’s ratings on third-party sites:
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)1: 4.13 based on around 75 reviews
- WalletHub2: 2.6 stars based on about 50 reviews
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.
User review references: