Thanks SSSS & hoops777 for the info on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's excellent CD rates. If one is not a current member of the armed forces or a US government employee or a relative of one, here are some of the organizations you can join which will then allow you to join PenFed:
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/
Coast Guard Auxiliary Association http://cgauxa.org/
National Military Family Association http://www.militaryfamily.org/
Voices for America's Troops http://www.voicesfortroops.org/
Continuing membership renewal in one of these is not required to maintain your PenFed membership. More details on Pen Fed membership eligibility here: https://netmember4.penfed.org/NetMember ... ility.aspx
Local credit unions are another alternative. Often they let local community members join, even if the name of the credit union seems to indicate some exclusivity re. membership. Here's a partial list of credit unions across the country with over $500 million in assets: http://www.crnrstone.com/experience/cli ... illion.php
Re. the safety of credit unions vs. banks, I noticed this intriguing point of view at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index ... 943AA1yu40
posted in 2009:
Your money might actually be safer in a credit union than in a bank, though it's a fine point of distinction.
NCUA is an agency of the federal government, just as the FDIC is. NCUA insures your accounts at credit unions to the same limits as FDIC does for banks.
The difference is that credit unions capitalize their insurance fund, and carry this as an asset on their books. That means they have a vested interest in keeping the insurance fund solvent. If one credit union takes unwarranted risks, it affects them all.
Also, credit unions are more tightly regulated than banks. They simply are not allowed to invest in many of the riskier securities that banks are.
My money is in a credit union.
Worked for all types of financial institutions since 1977.