ESL Federal Credit Union started from humble beginnings nearly a century ago. ESL Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1920 as Eastman Savings and Loan Association by George Eastman, who was the founder of Eastman Kodak Company. When ESL opened, the goal at that time was to provide ESL employees with a financial institution that served their financial needs—especially by providing mortgages. In 1996, Eastman Savings and Loan changed their charter from a U.S bank to a Federal Credit Union, and thus becoming ESL Federal Credit Union. It is the largest locally owned financial institution in the Greater Rochester area and the largest credit union in New York State. ESL is in the top 1% of national credit unions ranked by assets. ESL has grown significantly and today is an independent, full-service, rock-solid organization with $5.0 billion in assets, 325,000 members worldwide, and more than 680 employees committed to providing a superior banking experience to both individuals and businesses. The company has also appeared on the “Great Place to Work: Best Small and Medium Workplaces” for four years (2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014). Simply put, ESL Federal Credit Union is proud to be one of the largest, most successful, and most progressive credit unions in the country.

Rank Chart
Total Assets
Number of Locations
Our Score
#1
$9.15 Million
80+ Branches
6.7
#2
13.64 Million
35+ Branches
6.5
#3
$1.08 Billion
10+
6.0
#29
esl
$4,988,148,850
20
2.8

 

The Good

At ESL Federal Credit Union, their number one priority is helping members achieve their goals. They are a full-service credit union and offer basic checking and savings accounts, as well as Money Market accounts, Saving Certificates, Auto and Mortgage loans, and Business Accounts. At ESL, they are proud to serve their customers and their unique culture is rooted in within a set of core values that are shared by a common purpose shared by all employees: “To deliver a superior experience to all customers, both internal and external. This commitment is the driving force of all that we do, with four simple yet crucial service expectations guiding the way.” They believe that friendliness should be the norm; you should feel that you can trust them; they take accountability, care about people, initiative, integrity, and teamwork. They want to do their best to get your money to work for you.

One of the perks for banking with ESL is their Owners’ Dividend benefit.  At the start each year, they like to thank members with their exclusive Owners’ Dividend, and it doesn’t stop there. From in-branch, online, and mobile banking conveniences to incredibly helpful services like chat banking, no other local financial institution does all that, all the time, or even offer some of those things. To qualify for the Owners Benefit your account must be in good standing. At the beginning of the year they add the average monthly balance for the year for your checking and savings accounts to the average monthly outstanding balance for the year for your loan accounts, and then they multiply the total by the Dividend Percentage Factor. The result is your ESL Owners’ Dividend for the year. So the bigger your balances, the bigger your dividend will be.

ESL Federal Credit Union has  highly competitive rates for their loans and credit cards. They also give their customers a chance to enjoy free checking with any balance. How many banks offer that kind of happiness? They also offer great investing and money management services with an extensive portfolio of smart solutions for small business and commercial banking.

Some of the benefits of banking with ESL include their special Owners’ Dividend, that can put extra money in your pocket, banking convenience at your command where you can bank in a branch location, by phone, online or with one of their well rated Android Apps or Apple apps, no fees, and they offer dividends for certain accounts. They even offer a chat online option to resolve any questions or problems you might have.

The Bad

ESL Federal Credit Union only offers two kinds of credit cards to their customers. This is a little below the average, most Credit Unions seem to offer at least 3. The two cards they do offer is the ESL Visa Gold and the ESL Visa Secured, one requires a credit score while the other does not. Neither of the cards seems to offer any type of benefit of lower interest rates, or even a way of obtaining any kind of reward for using the card.

Their dividend rates are on the lower to average end compared to many other credit unions nationwide. Their Savings rate is .05%. Most credit unions offer at least a .10% while other offer a .20% on their free savings accounts.  ESL Federal Credit Union doesn’t even offer a rate for their free checking, you must open a Premier Checking account which requires a $1000 average monthly balance and will incur a $6 monthly service charge if the average falls below $1000. The interest rate for the Premier account is only .05% as well.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for higher dividends this is not the bank for you. It looks like ESL Federal Credit Union holds out on dispersing the dividends till the end of the year/beginning of the next year with their Owners Dividend benefit. If you can wait till the beginning of each year to earn your dividends it can pay out big time for you as long as you don’t exceed $3000, but it may not be enough to make up for the small interest rates. If you would like to see your money grow faster within a savings account or a certificate of Deposit it would be wise to look elsewhere.

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