The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Federal Credit Union serves the biomedical industry through affordable loans and banking options that save members time and money. In 1940, the NIH Federal Credit Union was created by the employees of the NIH. They currently have 43,000 members within the states of North Carolina, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and West Virgina.

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The Good

  • Loan rates
  • Technology

NIH Federal Credit Union really thrives in one particular area, loan rates. This gives them a lot of substance because this is something a lot of potential customers look for when searching for credit union. We found that their other benefits don't hold as much weight, but consumers see it as some value.

Loan Rates

NIH Federal Credit Union rises to the top in one particular area, their loan rates, specifically automobile loans and personal/unsecured loans. NIH Federal has by far some of the lowest interest rates we have seen. The auto loans range from 1.49-2.24% when the average for most credit unions is anywhere around 2.75-4.5%. Their personal loans start at 5.99%, and we see most rates start at at least 10%. You are getting a killer deal with NIH Federal Credit Union.


Another great thing about NIH Federal Credit Union is that they offer some of the best convenience factors for their customers. This including a mobile app, mobile check deposits and mobile wallet features. Many other credit unions are moving towards offering all of these options, but some are slower than others. NIH Federal is one to quickly offer these great options to their customers.

Another great feature is that they offer the cards with chips implemented in them. It is also referred to as EMV technology, and the purpose is to help secure transactions. This will hopefully lessen the chances of fraudulent activity.

The Bad

  • Membership
  • Account rates
  • Locations and ATMs
  • Initial deposit

NIH Federal Credit Union has a lot of smaller areas of improvement. Small changes can make big differences, but until they do then potential customers can have a hard time considering NIH Federal as an option with so many holes.


Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to become a member of NIH Federal Credit Union. Most members have to have specific affiliations with NIH, whether they are a direct employee or a family member of one. It is also limited to a handful of states including Maryland, North Carolina, Virgina and a couple more.

Account Rates

Even though NIH Federal Credit Unions excels in loan interest rates, they definitely fall short when it comes to account interest rates. Customers won't see anything in return in their checking account which is almost unheard of! With savings accounts, NIH Federal only offer 0.02% APY on the money in the account. This is one of the lowest we have seen in the industry. A lot of customers hope to see some kind of earning when they decide to open an account with a new credit union. If this is one of your main interest, we highly suggest seeking out another credit union that offers at least triple the rates NIH Federal does.

Locations and ATMs

One major setback to NIH Federal Credit union is that they have a very limited amount of locations and ATMs available to their customers. They only have 8 branches that customers can visit and only 5 ATMs. This equates to almost one to two branches and ATMs per state! This is not good because it does not give customers the easy access to a real person if they have questions on complicated issues. Some people even prefer to visit a branch than talk on the phone. For a federal credit union, we expected there to be more physical locations.

Initial Deposit

In the case that someone is interested in opening a savings account with NIH Federal Credit Union, it requires $25 to start the account. When comparing this to other credit unions in the area, this is quite high. We find that a lot of credit unions will allow people to start accounts with only $1-5. This is another area NIH Federal could improve on.

The Bottom Line

NIH Federal Credit Union has a pretty even amount of negatives and positives to their company. They offer one of the best loan interest rates in the industry, but on the other hand, they offer the lowest return when it comes to interest rates in accounts. We also see really great technology features that people can use for convenience factors, but it also makes things difficult when a credit union only has a handful of branches and ATMs.

NIH Federal Credit Union is not the best credit union, even for those people who are eligible to apply. NIH Federal would only be a good choice if you are interested in an auto loan or personal loan because you will not be able to find rates as low as NIH Federal anywhere else. If you aren't looking into rates for loans you could probably benefit elsewhere.

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