How to Beat UNFCU's Fee System

Unlock Savings: How to Beat UNFCU’s Fee System [2024]

When it comes to managing your hard-earned money, understanding the fee structure of the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU) is crucial. Even seemingly small fees, like those for transfers or withdrawals, can accumulate surprisingly quickly, chipping away at your savings before you even realize what’s happening.

If you haven’t signed up already with UNFCU, make you sign up with my link, you will receive USD10. It is one of the best banks for UN staff regardless of where in the world you are based.

Today, we’re going to delve deep into the labyrinth of fees and charges associated with UNFCU. We will dissect the fine print, shining a spotlight on those often-overlooked details that could potentially be costing you more than you think. Whether it’s the fees associated with transferring money out of UNFCU to another bank or charges incurred when taking cash out of the ATM, we’ve got you covered.

This guide will not only help you understand what to watch out for, but also offer strategies and tips on how you can dodge these hidden costs, keeping more of your money in your pocket. Imagine saving hundreds of dollars each year – money that could go towards a family vacation, an emergency fund, or simply giving you more financial breathing room. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Transferring Money Out of UNFCU to Another Bank

Transferring Money Out of UNFCU to Another Bank

Transferring money from UNFCU to another bank is called an “Outgoing wire transfer.” Let’s break down the cost:

  • Sending money within the US in USD? That will cost you USD15.
  • Want to send money outside of the US but still in USD? The cost goes up to USD30.
  • What about sending money outside the US and in a non-USD currency? Expect to pay USD30 plus a 1% foreign transaction fee (at least USD5 and max USD30).

Remember, these prices assume you’re performing the transactions yourself via e-banking. If you ask the UNFCU personnel to do it for you, the fees can be even higher!

But here’s a money-saving tip: if the receiving bank supports Automatic Clearing House (ACH), connect it to UNFCU. ACH transfers are free! See the fees here.

Potential savings: USD 30 per transfer

2. Transferring from the UNFCU Savings Account

You can make up to six monthly transfers from your UNFCU savings account for free. After that, you’ll be hit with an “excessive transaction fee” of USD5 per transfer, capped at USD15 per day.

Transfers between savings and checking accounts, debit card purchases, wire transfers, and bill payments all count towards this limit. To avoid this fee, keep your transfers to under six per month or use a checking account that doesn’t incur any “excessive transaction fee”.

Potential savings: USD 15 per day

3. Taking Cash Out of the ATM

You can enjoy eight free ATM monthly withdrawals in USD using your Visa Debit Card (not Visa Elite!). However, when travelling, if you’re taking cash from a local non-USD bank, add a 1% fee to your budget.

Withdrawing cash while travelling using a Visa Debit Card is safe and secure and often offers better exchange rates than local money changers. Even with the 1% fee, it’s usually a good deal. More on ATM fees here.

4. Receiving Money in UNFCU

The good news is, receiving money at UNFCU is free (“Incoming wire transfer”). But remember, transferring money from your local bank to UNFCU may incur charges. For Swiss-based folks like us, the best way to transfer CHF from your Swiss bank to UNFCU’s Post Finance account is considered a free local transfer. Then, the USD will show up in your UNFCU account after a couple of days. More details are here.

5. UNFCU Credit Cards Fees

The annual fee for the highly recommended “Visa Elite” credit card is USD50. While this might seem steep, it pays for itself with at least 1% cashback and up to 3% for restaurants. Plus, you get five free visits to business-class lounges.

However, be careful about the Credit Card late payment fee of USD10 and interest payments of up to 18% APR. Make sure to pay your entire balance every month! Setting up automatic payments can help ensure you never miss a payment.

Here is how you set it up: Login to your UNFCU account and go to Account Services > Online Forms > Credit Card Payment Option Form. Make sure you select the full payment option.

Automatic payment for credit card setting in UNFCU

Also, avoid cash advances using your credit card; they cost USD 5 or 2% of the advance, whichever is higher. Stick to withdrawing cash using your Visa Debit Card instead. More on card rates and fees here.

Potential savings: USD 10 per month + 18% per year

6. Early Withdrawal of Share Certificates

Withdrawing your share certificates early can lead to penalties. For less than 1-year terms, you lose 90 days of interest. For terms of 1 year or more, the loss shoots up to 180 days’ worth of interest. So think twice before withdrawing early!

7. Bonus – UNFCU Member Loyalty Rebates: A Way to Recoup Fees!

One way to counteract some of these fees is through Member Loyalty Rebates. With a minimum balance of USD2,500 in your account, you automatically qualify for this rebate. No paperwork is needed!

With a USD2,500 balance, you get a rebate of USD10 per month. This rebate increases with your balance:

  • USD50,000 balance? You get a rebate of up to USD25 per month.
  • USD250,000 balance? Your rebate could be up to USD50 per month.

Popular services eligible for Member Loyalty Rebates include ATM withdrawals, wire transfers, excessive transaction fees, express delivery of credit or debit cards, and more. Check the complete list here.

Potential savings: USD 10 per month


In conclusion, small savings might not seem like a lot in the short term, but they can accumulate significantly over time. Just as a stream can carve out a canyon over many years, little savings, when consistently done, can grow into a substantial nest egg. This concept becomes especially powerful when coupled with the magic of compound interest, where your savings earn interest, and then that interest earns interest, and so on.

Never underestimate the power of consistent, small savings. It all adds up a few dollars saved on bank fees here and a small rebate there. Over time, these small savings can make a real difference to your overall financial health, freeing up money for investments, emergencies, or vacations you’ve always dreamed of. So, keep an eye on those small expenses and remember that every dollar saved is a dollar earned. With patience and consistency, small savings today can lead to big rewards tomorrow.

So, keep these fees and tips in mind when using UNFCU. It’s your money – don’t let unnecessary fees eat into your hard-earned savings!

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