Hanscom Federal CU Thrive Review: High Interest Starter Account

savebuttonbank(Update: As of 5/11/2014 the rate is back down to 3% APY. This is still much higher than most saving accounts and it should still be worthy of consideration.)

To celebrate their 60th anniversary, Hanscom Federal Credit Union (HFCU) has increased the interest rate on their CU Thrive account to 6.0% APY (5.84% rate). The CU Thrive account is an interesting “starter CD” that rewards consistent saving. The rate is set for 12 months, and during those 12 months you can transfer up to $500 every month from a HFCU checking account. No monthly fees. However, you cannot make any withdrawals during those 12 months, or you will be subject to an early withdrawal penalty of 90 days interest.

This product is not meant for those looking to stash larger $10,000+ balances in a certificate of deposit.

More account details. If you maxed out this account and set aside $500 a month for 12 months, at the end you’d have put in $6,000 and earned about $180 in interest (~$193 if you made every transfer on the 1st of the each month by my quick calculations). The low deposit limits make this account best for people who can benefit from a little extra carrot to start saving, as you can tell yourself that you are getting 5% more or six times the interest rate on other “high yield” savings accounts. NCUA-insured! $6,000 also happens to be just about the same amount as a full Roth IRA contribution. Hint, hint.

At the end of the 12 months, all accrued savings plus earned dividends will be transferred into your primary savings account. Each member can only have one CU Thrive account open at one time, but after one 12-month period ends you can open up another one (assuming it is still offered). Full disclosure (PDF).

Eligibility details. To open a CU Thrive account, you must first open an HFCU checking account. HFCU offers a free checking account with no direct deposit and no minimum balance requirement. To open a checking account, just must be a member. Like most credit unions, membership is open by family, employer, or by membership in a partner organization (which makes it open to nearly everyone). You must also keep $25 in a share account as long as you are a member.

(Update: Right now if you are referred by an existing member, you can get a $30 bonus after being an active member for 90 days, and the referring member gets $30 as well. If you’d like, here is my referral link. The $30 should help offset any membership fees you might pay to be eligible to join.)

Account opening process. This is just the type of thing that I would like to set up for my kids – something with a high enough interest rate that they can “feel” the compounding effect. (Their minimum age is just 7 years old with an adult joint account.) I do wonder if it would actually create a habit of saving.

I started the online application and said I would join the Nashua River Watershed Association for a one-time $35 fee. I had to provide the usual personal information and then answer questions based on my credit report to verify my identity. I don’t know if they actually did a “hard” pull on my credit report (I hope not). You can fund with an online bank transfer but they also gave me the option to fund with credit card up to $2,000. They didn’t mention if this would be considered a cash advance or not. (Update: So far it is showing as a purchase on my American Express card.) Finally, you must print out, sign, and mail in a signature card. You can also open an account in-person. All of their physical branches appear to be located in Massachusetts.

When it comes to paying a one-time fee to join a credit union, I like to see that the credit union has a history of offering member-friendly products. In addition to the free checking, HFCU also has a competitive Home Equity Line of Credit (HELoC) with no application fee, no annual fee, and no closing costs if you keep it open for 24 months.

Comments

  1. Darrell says:

    I’ve had a CU Thrive account with HFCU for the past two years now. The latest 6% is the highest I’ve even seen it by far. (It was 3.5% two years ago, 3% last year, and 3% earlier this year.) I suspect the 6% rate won’t last that long. Too bad I already have a CU Thrive account at 3% and can’t open another one!

    • Aaron B says:

      I’m in the same boat. I’m very tempted to close my current CU Thrive account, forfeit something like $28 of the $38 I’ve made over the past 7 months, and open a new account. That would boost my net interest from ~$94 to $162. But I’m not sure the time it would take and potential for bad feelings would be worth $68.

      • Hi Aaron! We’re thrilled to hear you already have a CU Thrive account. We’d like to also bring to your attention our increase on our Refer-A-Friend promotion. We are offering $30 to you and anyone you refer to become a member and the referrals are unlimited. (Refer 5 people, they join, you get $150 and each successful referral gets their $30.) You can register and start referring here: https://www.hfcu.org/site/refer_fb.html

    • Hi Darrell,

      You are correct. This is a limited time offer and ends this Saturday 5/10/2014. In honor of our 60th Anniversary we wanted to offer a higher rate for mew CU Thrive accounts, but for those who already have one, we also increased the amount members can earn for referring others to join the credit union. You’ll get $30 for every successful referral. Using the current 6% APY promotion is a great conversation starter for referrals.

      Heres the link to register and start referring: https://www.hfcu.org/site/refer_fb.html

  2. Hi Jonathan!

    Thanks for the great review. We’re really excited to be able to offer our members this special rate to celebrate our 60th Anniversary. We appreciate you helping to spread the word about our accounts! Have a wonderful day.

    – Hanscom Federal Credit Union

    • Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the unique account.

    • Nice to see Hanscom FCU in this thread. Can you confirm as to whether or not an initial deposit via credit card would be a cash advance or not? Thanks!

      • I welcome HFCU to weigh in as well with their experiences. I would note that usually it is the credit card company that has the final decision whether to code something as a purchase or cash advance, but it can depend on the merchant category that the bank uses to process the payment. My American Express charge is showing up right now as a purchase under temp charges with the category “Business Services – Banking Services”. So far it looks like it will go through as a purchase.

        • Jonathan, did you do the full $2,000? Don’t want to get stuck with the cash advance fee for this…

          • I did $1,9XX on AmEx. First, in my experience AmEx is least likely to classify as cash advance and most banks don’t even let you fund with AmEx. Second, I did $1,9XX on the unlikely chance (superstition?) that round numbers like $2,000 are more likely to trigger a second look by the credit card company.

          • Thanks. Will give it a try.

      • Hi Mike!

        An initial deposit via credit card can be done when opening your account online. That is to open the membership, not the CU Thrive (as stated below). Also, from our expereince it comes in as a POS (point of sale) not a cash advance.

        Hope this helped!

        -Hanscom FCU

  3. Looks like there is a $30 referral bonus to the member and the person who signs up as well:

    http://www.urefer.com/hanscom/register

    If you are a member – can you send me an email referral so that we can both earn that bonus?

  4. Joanna says:

    I want to take advantage of this but I don’t meet any of the eligibility criteria. Any thoughts on loopholes around this?

    • Not a problem, no loopholes needed. Just start the application and state that you want to join HFCU by joining a partner organization. There are about four of them, and the easiest/cheapest one appeared to be the Nashua Watershed one that I linked to in my review for a one-time $35 fee.

  5. Called HFCU – other points of note:

    1. Soft credit pull + chexsystems for the mandatory checking account/share savings account.

    2. After the 12 months is up – the whole amount in the account gets transferred to share savings – you cannot start up another new account with the total accrued amount in the previous account. I.E. You start back at zero.

    3. The initial deposit does not go into the CU Thrive account, but rather the checking – cannot bulk fund the thrive CU account at the beginning etc… which really limits the power of interest (because average amount in the account would be $3,000 or so over 12 months).

    • Thanks for checking. Yes, the average balance would only be about $3000 x 6% = $180 of interest for a maxed out account. Still really good for putting aside $500 a month.

  6. Why is savings account “Prime Shares” checked by default. What are the fees with the Prime share account? I clicked on the link but no information came up wrt that account. Anyone have any info?

    • As noted in the review, as a member you must keep $25 permanently in a Share savings account. If and when you leave the credit union, you can get this $25 back. Lots of credit unions do this, I think PenFed only requires $5 and I’m a member of a local CU with $100 minimum.

      I guess the thinking is that you are buying into your “share” of the credit union and they can use this money to lend out to other members. No fees and the interest rate is currently 0.20% APY.

  7. Joathan, what is your Promotional Code for the $30 referral? I started the process but stopped midway. Now when I click in the referral link it says “You have already accepted the introduction and it is still pending”; but on Pg2 of the App process theer is a box to enter the code

    • Hmm… I don’t see any promo code but if you just finish opening the account with the name and e-mail provided to the referral page, I think you should be good to go.

  8. Alexandria says:

    Jonathan, thanks for sharing! My kids have a CU account that pays 7%, but the cap is $500 on the account. My 10-year-old almost has $500! I will probably open this HFCU account for myself today, but might open another for him once he exceeds $500. I never imagined I would have so many bank accounts to manage for my kids though. But, before we found the 7% account I was thinking of paying them 3% or 5% or whatever. I certainly never had to suffer such low interest rates as a kid, and you do want to make savings motivating. 7% and 6% is pretty motivating. :D

  9. I started application and noticed CU Trhive at 3% not 6% . Did they reduce the interest rates?

    EasyStart Certificate 0.45% 0.45%
    3 Month Certificate 0.45% 0.45%
    6 Month Certificate 0.55% 0.55%
    Premier Certificate 0.85% 0.85%
    12 Month Certificate 0.70% 0.70%
    18 Month Certificate 0.85% 0.85%
    30 Month Certificate 1.09% 1.10%
    60 Month Certificate 1.69% 1.70%
    CU Thrive 2.96% 3.00%

    But here it still says 6% https://www.hfcu.org/cu_thrive.html

    • Hi Arun,

      The 6% CU Thrive is only for a limited time. The promotional rate of 6% ends on May 10th, 2014. After this date, it will go back to the 3% APY. As long as ypu open it before then you WILL get the 6%.

      Hope this helped!

      -HFCU

  10. Alexandria says:

    I am really confused. I applied last night but can not enroll in online access. Customer service said we will get a 4 digit pin in the mail which is our X-Tel password. Which is nothing at all what it says on their website. & I did set up a X-Tel password when I enrolled, which is not a 4-digit number. (The account is in my spouse’s name and he called customer service, but it’s a bit like playing telephone since I filled out the application and am more aware of all the details).

    Just curious if anyone else was able to get online access and what the process was.

  11. Where is the listing of organizations you can join to be eligible? The link on the second page of the “Apply” series of pages goes to a site map.

    I have tried both “Join” link at the top of the homepage and the “Join Online” button under the CU Thrive graphic on the homepage to access the application series of pages and I run into this with both links (same thing – the “organizations” link in the paragraph under the “Membership Organization” opens a site map.

    I emailed Hanscom on the 6th for assistance, but have not heard back.

    Thanks.

  12. It’s working fine for me. Maybe try a different browser? Just click on one of the referral links (mine follows, but others have been posted): http://www.urefer.com/referral/1742/3076386/t/11 and it should take you to the application page. You can join the eligible organization after you sign up if you like, but there’s a drop-down list which shows the eligibility options.

  13. ttfitz says:

    HFCU – glad to see you here answering questions, it’s nice to see the attention. I had the same problem John mentioned earlier – I used Jonathan’s referral link, but had to step away in the middle and my session expired. I got the same error he did, so I just continued my application using the same info. Is there any way to make sure the referral was registered without having to wait 90 days to see if the credit appears on my account?

    Thanks.

    • Hi TTFitz,

      We looked into our system on the back ened and it appears that your referral did go through. Keep in mind it takes up to 90 days for the $30 to be applied and as long as the referral meets all the requirements (18+ etc…) it should. We appologize for the confusion and thank you for bringing the issue to our attention. We will look into making the function a bit more smooth to pick up after stepping away.

      -HFCU

      • HFCU – thanks for checking into that. I guess it wasn’t hard to figure out who I was, huh? ;)

        After faxing in a X-TEL password (even though I did it in the application), I’m now able to access my account online, so everything is good. I even referred my son and he’s signed up, too!

        Thanks, Jonathan, for pointing this one out.

  14. Alexandria says:

    So, I finally got access to my account online. Two questions:

    1 – How do you get a referral link?

    2 – How do you set up ACH transfers from other bank accounts?

    I have a contact at the CU who has been very helpful, but I already e-mailed her 100 times about getting enrolled online. Would like to figure out what I can without bothering her again. :D These seem like fairly simple questions.

  15. Alexandria,

    1 – Look on the right side of the home page, under “Stay Informed”, there’s a link there for setting up the referral.

    2 – After you have logged into your account, on the left you will see “Transactions”, in that is “External Transfer”. Go from there.

    • ttfitz, Is there no fee for ACH pull into HFCU?

      • Sorry, couldn’t tell you. Haven’t actually done that yet – I’m more likely to push from my savings account, to tell the truth, so I may never do that.

        Didn’t see any fees mentioned when I looked at that, though.

  16. Alexandria says:

    I didn’t see anything under external transfers, last I looked. (IT just directed me to online bill pay??) But, maybe that is easier – just to push from savings account. I hadn’t thought that through too much so glad for the other comments. I just want to do whatever is easiest. & also, thanks for the referral info!

    • Yeah, it’s a little confusing – you have to sign up for online bill pay in order to do external transfers. I forgot about that when I responded.

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