Choosing the right bank or credit union

Try as I may, I can’t find any information on how van dwellers can choose the best place to keep their cash. Frankly, I don’t trust banks (having worked in them). But, you clearly need access to your cash on the road. That said, most have limits on how much you can spend daily on your debit card. If you break down and have to pay a mechanic $700 but have a $300 daily limit… you’re out of luck.

Credit Unions would seem the way to go but withdrawing cash from any ATM around the country will incur fees.

Any suggestions or resources would be greatly appreciated!


As I think more about this, again from having worked for a big bank in the past, I’m thinking that the best practice will be to choose a credit union. You’re not a customer at a credit union, you’re considered a part-owner. To combat ATM fees, I’m thinking that the best way around that is to keep a pre-paid Visa card on hand to transfer money onto when needed. That way, ATM fees would be kept to a minimum.



I’ve got bank accounts, but mainly use pre-paid visa cards that I keep a pretty low balance on. That way if they are compromised, they can’t get much. If I have a big bill, I transfer the funds over right before I use it. All my bills are on auto pay.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller

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I am not on the road yet, so maybe this is not as widespread as I believe…that said, many credit unions are part of the Alliance One network and do not charge ATM fees for members of other Alliance One credit unions.


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This is exactly what I’ve decided to do. I’m leaning towards going with a credit union rather than a bank though simply because I just don’t trust them, especially the big names.

Take your cash out as cash back on a purchase on your debit card. There are no fees for you that way. Credit Unions are better I think - less fees too. Find out from your institution who they are in a compact with and there shouldn’t be fees if you use those banks also.

Empower or Chase

I personally use a credit union called Michigan State University credit Union and they are amazing but I know these other banks have systems in place that will help out with the exact concerns you mentioned.

Join a credit union that does “shared branching”, .
Get the co-op app for you phone. Then have at it!

I’ve used shared branching in more states than I can count to get cash, depot money & transfer money from one credit union to another (both my accounts).

You’ll need to deal with the Real ID thing here in the US, that means some way to show the CU you have a real address. With that address hurdle on file the CU can use a different “mailing address”.

As to the repair bill, use your Visa/Debit card like a credit card, they will just take the money from your account like it was a credit card. The rest of the time use your debit card like a debit card…


I just joined this forum in order to ask this question:

I recently tried to join a credit union and was turned down for not having a physical address. (I’ve had a private mailbox for years.) Other than perhaps renting an apartment for a month, how does a vandweller legally open a new account?

Thanks much,

PS If it might be helpful somehow, I already have a CU account elsewhere and just want to diversify.

For anyone who might be interested, I think I found the info in the Code of Federal Regulations at 1020.220(a)(2)(i)(A)(3) – which, apparently, I’m not allowed to link here. :pray: