This article is part of a larger series on Business Banking.
For unconventional businesses, especially those that come from underserved communities, opening a business bank account can sometimes be a struggle. The non-profit collective Self-Help strives to meet the needs of the underserved by providing fair and responsible financial services catered to people of color, women, rural residents, and low-wealth families and communities. Membership at the Self-Help Federal Credit Union lets business owners establish comprehensive, interest-earning business checking accounts at an affordable rate. Through it, businesses can also access affordable small business loans.
How Self-Help Federal Credit Union Stacks Up With Its Competitors
$15; can be waived
None at CO-OP networks
$25,000 to waive monthly fee
0.05% or 0.10%
$0 or $15
None at Affinity Plus, MoneyPass, Co-Op, and SUM ATM networks
1.5% for qualified accounts
None at MoneyPass networks
*Self-Help Federal Credit Union and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union are member-NCUA insured.
**Bluevine is a financial technology (fintech) platform backed by and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)-insured through a supporting bank partnership with Coastal Community Bank.
When Is Self-Help Federal Credit Union a Good Fit
- Your business deals with up to 100 transactions per month: Under Self-Help FCU, business owners can make up to 100 free transactions per month. It also provides up to 20 free bill payments, and exceeding the limit raises the bill payment fee to $1.
- Your business is just starting out: Self-Help FCU has zero minimum balance or opening deposit requirements. Its website also provides many business education resources.
- You struggle to secure loans from other institutions: Self-Help FCU aims to provide financial assistance to unconventional borrowers—such as non-profits, churches, social service organizations, and green businesses. Businesses can access Self-Help FCU’s loan options without providing valuable collateral.
- You want to support social justice causes: It invests the revenue it generates directly into its members and partner communities. Deposits under Self-Help FCU are used to support development assistance projects.
When Self-Help Federal Credit Union Is Not a Good Fit
- You want to earn interest on checking deposits: Although Self-Help FCU’s business checking accounts are interest-bearing, their APY of 0.05% pales in comparison to competitor rates. A good alternative would be the fintech solution Bluevine, which offers an APY of 1.5% on qualified business checking accounts.
- You rely on in-person banking but live outside Self-Help FCU’s jurisdiction: It only has physical branches in four states: California, Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin. However, its sister institution, Self-Help Credit Union, has branches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Virginia. Larger banking companies, such as Chase, will have more branches available nationwide.
- You don’t want to pay monthly fees: Self-Help FCU charges a monthly fee of $15 for businesses that don’t meet a minimum balance of $25,000. The credit unions Bethpage and Affinity Plus have account options that require no monthly fees.
If your small business meets one or more of these scenarios, read our guide to the best small business checking accounts for additional recommendations.
Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Checking Overview
Required Opening Deposit
Required Balance Minimum
$15 (can be waived)*
Transaction Limit Before Fees
Wire Transfer Fees
$0 for incoming, $15 for outgoing domestic, and $35 for outgoing international
Free at all Co-op ATMs
*An account holder under a single member number must maintain an average daily balance of $25,000 across all of their existing Self-Help FCU accounts (including checking, savings, and certificates)
Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Checking Requirements
Opening a business banking account requires membership with Self-Help FCU. Individuals who have family or employee associations with Self-Help, are working, living, or attending school in any one of its eligible counties, or are qualified for membership―to determine whether you belong to an eligible county, contact Self-Help FCU. Those ineligible may gain membership to the Center for Community Self-Help by making a one-time $5 donation.
Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Checking Features
Self-Help FCU offers a full range of banking services, including business checking, savings accounts, and loans. Its business checking accounts come with several basic features, such as free debit and ATM cards, interest-earning capacity, and free online and mobile banking.
Free Visa Debit or ATM Card
Opening a business checking account with Self-Help FCU automatically earns account holders their own Visa card. It can be either a debit card or an ATM card.
Interest on Checking Account Balances
All of Self-Help FCU’s business checking accounts earn interest at an APY of 0.05%. Unlike its savings and money market accounts, business checking accounts aren’t required to maintain a specific minimum balance to earn interest.
Free Online & Mobile Banking
Self-Help FCU’s mobile banking app, free for both iOS and Android, comes with a comprehensive set of features. It also contains each user’s transaction history and a directory of available Self-Help FCU ATM and physical branch locations. Via the app, account holders can deposit checks to any of their Self-Help FCU accounts, pay loans, and pay bills. Account holders can also transfer money from their Self-Help FCU accounts to other third-party banks and credit unions.
Other Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Products
Small Business Loans
Self-Help FCU account holders doing business in Illinois and North Carolina can take loans worth $15,000 and up. However, those outside those states can only qualify for business loans worth $500,000 or higher. These small business loans are valid for any project involving expansion, renovation, and building or equipment purchases—and their requirements are flexible.
Self-Help FCU evaluates criteria such as industry experience, creditworthiness, capital, cash flow, collateral, and personal debt-to-income ratio. Existing businesses or nonprofits must also provide a 10%–30% loan down payment and collateral in the form of real estate, vehicles, equipment, and others.
Business Savings & Money Market Accounts
Businesses that need a safe place to park their money can consider Self-Help FCU’s two savings account options. Its business savings account lets customers earn interest at an APY of 0.15% for no monthly service fee nor minimum balance requirement. The minimum deposit is a low $5. Savings account holders also have access to free online banking and e-statements.
Rates are higher in the organization’s Money Market products—accounts that meet Self-Help FCU’s minimum balance requirement of $500 earn dividends at an APY of 0.40%. However, account holders only get six free withdrawals and transfers each month. Additional transfers or withdrawals cost $10 per transaction.
Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Checking Pros & Cons
|Easy membership requirements||Limited branch locations|
|Free online and mobile banking||Low-rated mobile app|
Self-Help FCU offers a great range of banking services at a low cost and with easy membership requirements. Its thorough loan options are one of the reasons Self-Help FCU made our list of the best credit unions for small businesses. And although its branch locations are limited, it compensates by providing free online and mobile banking.
However, it doesn’t offer competitive rates on its interest-bearing business checking accounts. Additionally, reviewers have expressed that its mobile application leaves much to be desired. Users who left comments on the App Store complained that the app is slow and unresponsive and that it crashes constantly. Its outdated user interface makes it difficult to navigate.
Alternatives to Self-Help Federal Credit Union Business Checking
For certain businesses, Self-Help FCU’s low APY, poorly-rated mobile app, and lack of physical branch locations might be dealbreakers. In these scenarios, consider these three options:
- Bluevine: One of Self-Help FCU’s biggest weaknesses is its business checking accounts don’t offer competitive interest rates. The fintech solution Bluevine offers a 1.5% APY on qualifying balances at no monthly fee.
- Affinity Plus: Affinity Plus is our top pick for the best credit unions for small businesses because it offers a wide range of business banking services at an affordable cost. Its mobile application has a high ranking on Google Play, with users praising its pleasing and easy-to-navigate interface.
- Chase: Like Self-Help FCU, Chase charges a monthly fee of $15 for its basic business checking products. Because it’s one of the most established banks in the United States, it has over 4,700 available brick-and-mortar branch locations, which makes it suitable for business owners who prefer in-person banking.
For women, people of color, and low-income families and communities, Self-Help FCU’s mission to provide quality financial services to underserved communities might make the credit union a great banking option. Although its business checking accounts don’t offer competitive rates, it can meet business needs through its extensive range of services, which includes not just checking, but also loans and savings accounts. Easy membership requirements make Self-Help FCU accessible to all types of businesses.