Dear PoPville – Local Banks/Credit Unions


“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you might have any advice on local banks and/or credit unions. I’ve banked with a large multinational bank for years now, and after growing very frustrated with their poor service, I’m considering switching to a local institution. I feel like I’d rather do business with a bank that didn’t bring down the US economy, rip people off, etc.

It seems like a lot of credit unions around DC require employment with the federal government, so trying to find one (or a smaller bank) that isn’t so exclusive is a bit tough. Thanks for any advice you can provide.”

30 Comment

  • I like Eagle Bank for personal banking and they also support small business banking

  • You don’t have to work at the Commerce Department to use their credit union. You just need to either work, live or go to school in DC.

  • A few years ago I jumped ship from Bank of America to EagleBank. They’re based in Bethesda and have a decent amount of locations in DC and the ‘burbs. Good customer service and a no fee checking account sealed the deal.

  • justinbc

    Many allow you to join if you’re also a contractor who works with their agency (that’s how I joined Dept of Labor’s CU). Also, as noted above, you can join many simply by living in DC.

  • Left the worst scum of the universe, Bank of America, several years ago. Haven’t looked back since.

    I’m with Navy Federal, though they’ve basically got DoD-affiliation requirements so I’m not sure if you’d meet them. But as others are saying, there are many ways to join. DGEFU ( will take you simply for living in Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, or Mount Pleasant.

  • Signal Financial has been good for us. We switched for the reasons you cite. Their online presence is not as sophisticated as the big banks and that takes a little getting used to, but if you mean it, and are willing to spend a little time getting things like bill pay, etc., the totally fit the bill. They have a branch by Columbia Heights metro.

  • Good call! Here’s a database focused on community banks: If you type in your address it will bring up a listing of nearby community banks to choose from.

  • Depending on your banking needs (as in, do you really need a branch to visit?), I heartily recommend Ally, who have been really good to me for the past several years, after going through the shitty-national-bank roulette. It’s also nice to get a (little) interest on cash I have in the bank and no fees.

  • I’ve been a Navy Federal member for almost 20 years, and I’ve been extremely happy with them.

    You should check out their membership eligibility requirements:

    It’s surprising how broad they are, including many expanded family connections you may not have considered.

  • TD Bank is a bit bigger, but took no money from TARP and retains its AAA credit rating because it holds very little bad paper. More hours open and locations than any of the smaller banks and way better service than the big boys.

  • Signal is the easiest to join and has branches at Potomac Ave, McPherson Square, and Columbia Heights metros.

    I also have a NARFE account (my old job had an agreement where employees could join, and also members of the National Low Income Housing Coalition could become members, so you can make a donation and join). Their Ultimate Checking has no fees, pays 2% interest if you do enough of the right transactions, and reimburses up to $10 a month in ATM fees, so that’s pretty great. The only downside is they don’t have branches non-feds can easily access. I’ve found them helpful on the phone when I’ve needed to talk to someone and you can make deposits at lots of other ATMs (many credit unions and some 7-11s).

    • I left Bank of America 8 years ago for Signal and never looked back. There are small drawbacks to credit unions like limited “unforeseen” withdrawals (meaning if you are going to withdraw thousands you need to give them a 24hr heads up), but I don’t miss all the fees and the folks at Signal always remember my name. That says alot. And i live overseas and don’t have any problems with the ATMs.

  • I’ve been pretty happy with Charles Schwab. I deposit all of my checks using their app (they post in 24 hrs), and all atm fees are refunded. I also love that when you call, you get an actual human, a nice one….in the United States. You technically have to have a brokerage account with them, but there doesn’t need to be any money in it. I eventually opened a Roth IRA and a savings account too.

  • Another good small local bank is Presidential FSB. They have locations in downtown DC (K Street), Bethesda, Rockville, Ballston, Leesburg, McLean, Reston, Rosslyn & Tysons.

  • I like my bank (Capital One 360; formerly ING Direct), even though it is now part of the Capital One system.

    If you pay most/all of your bills online and don’t need to deposit cash into your account (which isn’t possible at all), it’s a pretty good deal despite it being owned by a big bank.

  • I HIGHLY recommend Industrial Bank. My family has used this bank for well over 50 years. I got my first bank account there, and continue to maintain accounts there. Everyone that I’ve encountered has been professional and helpful. I’m most familiar with the Petworth branch.

  • I like the Bank of Georgtown.

  • I switched to Agriculture Federal Credit Union after banking at SunTrust for several years. They’ve been great to work with and I have no intention of leaving. I never have to go to their office because offer the standards like online banking, mobile remote deposit and because they belong to the Allpoint ATM network, you have access to their ATMs at no charge which are all over the country! You can also do your banking at other credit union branches. I joined because of my employment, however learned that one is eligible for membership just by working, living or attending worship services in the District.

    • I joined Agfed trying to do the good thing and not use a big bank, but after 2 years of terrible service I am back to Chase. I’ve moved around a bit and this have had quite a few banks and it everything with agfed always took much longer and required much more hassle than any other I’ve been with, including the online banking. Additionally, when I had my debit card stolen last year they demanded that I contact all the businesses where stolen money was spent to try to cancel the transactions myself, before they would contact them. After all that it still took over a month to get my money refunded.

  • I can’t speak highly enough of Burke and Herbert. They’re a Virginia bank, but they cover your ATM fees and have a good online banking service, so it’s been no hassle whatsoever dealing with them while living in D.C. They are a very traditional/conservative bank (eschewing fancy “innovative” banking products that got so many banks in trouble not so long ago) while still providing pretty much any service the average person needs. They did a fantastic job with our mortgage and were very patient with us as first-time buyers – and the fact that they underwrite in-house allowed them to process the paperwork a bit faster than some bigger shops, which I think made our offer more competitive because we were able to close a bit faster than most. Love, love, love them.

  • I’ve used National Capital Bank for a while now. Customer service is great, but very limited ATM access (they only have 2) and they will fee you when you use others. I’m pretty much dependent on Cash Back. Also, they require minimum balances for no-fee checking. But family owned and very local.

    • I also use National Capitol Bank. The service is amazing. In a short time you get to know just about everybody. It is ranked as one of the best and most secure small banks in America. Granted, if you don’t live on the hill or in AU park it might not be the most convenient.

  • Lafayette Credit Union is pretty good. They have decent online banking services, and they’re part of the ATM network that’s in 7-11 stores nationwide, so you have no-fee ATM service nationwide if you need it. And their branch location on Kenyon St. in Columbia Heights is very convenient.

Comments are closed.