AgFed – the Agriculture Federal Credit Union based in the DC area – is NCUA insured and has $240 million in assets, about 22,000 members, and 6 branches.
They sell Visa gift cards online for $3.95 that come embossed with your name on them. (These are fulfilled by FIS Global.)
Joining the Credit Union
The credit union is open to:
- People who live, work, volunteer, or go to school in DC
- Employees or members of a bunch of government agencies or organizations with affiliations like the Embassy of Jamaica and the Kennedy Center
- Anyone who pays $20 to join The Friends of CityDance Association
Opening an account generates a soft pull on your Equifax credit report. They require you to open a free savings account with $5 minimum deposit. They also offer a free checking account (there’s a $5 fee after 12 months of billpay inactivity).
I expected that I would be automatically enrolled with CityDance (since I selected that option) during the signup process, but I was not prompted to pay $20, and my card wasn’t charged. I opened the account with the expectation of having to cover this $20 fee, and still expect to.
Funding Your Account
They allow credit card funding of a new account, Historically this posted as a purchase rather than a cash advance at least with some issuers. I reached out and they shared the following:
The initial deposit limit, using a credit card, to fund a checking account online is $1500. This is processed as a purchase, and not as a cash advance.
So far I have funded only a savings account. Just because they process the transaction as a purchase doesn’t mean that any given issuer will code it that way, though most will. They accept only Visa and MasterCard, no American Express, and out of abundance of caution I’d probably avoid Citibank cards. I used my Hyatt Visa, and will know for sure its disposition once the transaction moves out of the pending stage.
You can also fund via another account outside the credit union. Although the simplest and quickest approach, even if a cash advance, might still be a minimum $5 deposit to savings.
AgFed used to sell CDs with funding via credit card years ago and Chase cards posted those as purchases rather than cash advances. Oh those were the days!
Do They Want You to Open Accounts and Buy Gift Cards?
An insider to the credit union writes to me,
The CEO is fine with people joining and buying gift cards, in the hope we’ll get other business…We always want new members, and we often offer special deals–last Labor Day we offered .49% on a 4 year car loan.
Buying Visa Gift Cards Online
They sell Visa gift cards in denominations you select, up to $500, and accept credit cards for payment.
- Each Visa gift card costs $3.95
- They emboss the recipient’s name on the card
- 5-7 day shipping is free
You’ll have to call with each card to set up a PIN number, these aren’t as easy as the Vanilla gift cards where the PIN became whatever the first set of numbers you used.
AgFed also sells Visa debit cards (as opposed to gift cards) online with a limit of $2500 for initial funding but it appears they only accept their own credit cards for purchase of those.
Update: the credit union wants more members who will take advantage of a variety of their services. I’m hearing that though they’re excited to share their offerings – including gift cards – they may not be able to continue to approve folks through the ‘CityDance’ affiliation, that’s the kind of membership link that is suspect to the National Credit Union Administration. So unless you actually qualify to be a member through one of the other mechanisms they may not be able to work with you.
Update 2: the concern about CityDance memberships as a means of joining turns out to be unfounded and the credit union appears to be approving new members. Good news.
Update 3 May 12 7:30pm Eastern: Ok, let’s pause the signups. We’ve already moved the needly on the credit union’s membership base and we want to keep this sustainable.