CU Trade Groups Renew Debate Over Bank Access to Military Bases

CUNA, NAFCU and the Defense Credit Union Council have revealed their concerns over banks attempting to gain access to military bases. Learn why.

David Baumann


Apr 27



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David Baumann

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David Baumann

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CUNA, NAFCU and Defense Credit Union Council reveal concerns in preemptive letter.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have not begun consideration of the annual defense authorization bill, but credit union trade groups already are defending their turf on military installations.

“Once again, we anticipate for-profit banks to ask Congress for a handout by seeking a provision in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require DoD to treat them the same as credit unions when it comes to leases,” leaders of the Defense Credit Union Council, CUNA and NAFCU wrote, in a letter to leaders of the two panels this week.


Under federal law, credit unions—but not banks—receive free rent on military bases as long as 95% of the credit union’s members are current or former federal employees.

However, banking trade groups contend that the benefit extended to credit unions is unfair and that financial institutions have been leaving military installations.

What’s in the Letter?

In their letter, the credit union trade groups disputed that notion.

“Historically, defense credit unions have been asked to remain on base to alleviate the high transactional costs coupled with poor service by other financial institutions,” the groups wrote.

And they anticipate banking trade groups renewing their effort this year.

“It is alarming that large banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, who regularly earn billions in profits would be equal to not-for profit credit unions if this provision were to become law,” the letter reads. “Keep in mind, credit unions are owned by their members—the men and women of the military.”

Report Cited

The trade groups contend that a congressionally mandated Department of Defense study found last year that service members have adequate access to financial institutions.

“This report demonstrates that service members and their families are not limited in their options for access to financial services on-base, online and off-base,” the DoD stated.

The report stated further that the DoD has not received any complaints about the lack of financial services on military installations.

“This report also highlights that military personnel and civilians increasingly have the option of obtaining banking services online and/or off-base and are not restricted in their selection of financial institutions with which to conduct business,” the report concluded.

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