Frequently Asked Questions about the merger between Constellation Federal Credit Union (CFCU) and Northwest Federal Credit Union (Northwest Federal). Select a question below to be taken to the response.
Decision to Merge
- Why are we merging with Northwest Federal?
- What alternatives did you evaluate?
- Why is our membership declining so rapidly?
- How did the merger get approved?
- When is the merger effective?
- How did you determine how to distribute the equity among the members?
- Why did you base the dividend formula only on the 2018 savings and loans?
- When and how will I receive my equity payout?
- Is the equity payout taxable?
- Why are the CFCU executives/management receiving such large payments?
- When will I receive my new credit card?
- Why am I receiving a NOW REWARDS Mastercard?
- Will my payment date change?
- Will I need to set up a new automatic credit card payment?
- Will I need to re-enter my card payment information with merchants who have my card on file, such as Netflix, Amazon, etc.?
- Will Northwest have my travel memos placed on the new card?
- If I make a payment on my credit card July 1 to July 14 will it be applied to the new account?
- How do I make payments on my new card after July 1?
- How do I log in to my credit card account?
- How do I view my rewards balance as well as access my rewards account?
- Where should I mail my credit card payments if I want to pay by check?
- If I don't want a Northwest paper statement, how do I sign up for eStatements?
- Will I be able to use my current debit card after the merger?
- When can I start using my new debit card?
- When can I activate and set my debit card PIN?
- Do I need to add my debit card payment information back on file for merchants and bill payments?
- Can I add my card back into Apple Pay?
- How can I control my debit card use?
- Can I keep my PIN?
- How do I use my card overseas?
- Do I need to set up Travel Memos for travel after July 1?
- Can I still access CO-OP ATMs and Shared Branches?
Member Impact & Benefit
- What are the benefits of a merger between CFCU and Northwest Federal?
- What are the benefits to me?
- What do I do now that the merger has been approved?
- Will I need to do anything to transfer my direct deposit?
- Will member service be affected?
- Will my accounts still be insured?
- Will I still be able to use my same checks?
- Will rates of my current products change?
- What if I am already a member at Northwest Federal?
- Will my account number stay the same?
- Will I be issued a new debit card?
- Will I be issued a new credit card?
- How will my Credit Card Purchase Rewards be transferred from CFCU? Will the program continue?
- CFCU pays dividends on a quarterly basis. Will this continue or change?
- Will I receive information about the various products and services available, as well as fees associated with my new Northwest Federal Accounts?
- Will CFCU membership eligibility now be a part of Northwest Federal membership eligibility?
- Will my Online Banking be changing?
- Will I need to set up my Bill Pay accounts again?
- I have a trust account. Will I need to do anything to transfer that over to Northwest Federal?
- Who do I contact with questions about my Constellation gift card?
- How will CFCU ATMs be impacted by the merger?
About Northwest Federal
- Who will lead Northwest Federal?
- Where are Northwest Federal branches located?
- Does Northwest Federal have a shared branch network?
- Does Northwest Federal offer Treasury Notes?
Impact on CFCU
- Will CFCU's name change?
- What happens to the CFCU Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee?
- Will CFCU's phone number and contact information change?
- Will CFCU branches remain open?
- What will happen to CFCU employees?
- What if I have more questions?
Decision to Merge
Why did we pursue a merger with Northwest Federal Credit Union?
The main reason for this merger is to ensure a healthy financial future for our members in light of declining membership and increasing cost of advancing technology. Merging with a much larger credit union will bring expanded services, benefits, and economies of scale.
What alternatives did you evaluate?
Since acquiring the Taylor Model Basin (TMB) Credit Union in 2014, we initially looked at acquiring other smaller credit union(s) that would enable Constellation Federal Credit Union (CFCU) to remain as the continuing credit union. Although this approach would enable us to increase our membership at least initially, we would still face the challenge of attracting new members to sustain and grow our membership over time. It would also reduce our capital, making it harder to pursue a voluntary merger in the future, if that was so desired. While the merger with TMB helped us in the short term by increasing our membership from 8,191 to 10,196, we lost approximately 700 members the following year, leaving us in the same situation before the merger. We decided to seek a voluntary merger with a larger credit union, approaching five potential credit unions, including Northwest Federal. Over the past 2-1/2 years, the Board and CFCU executive team performed due diligence in analyzing the four proposals received and invited them to present more information on their mission, values, community service, benefits to members, and opportunities for employees. At the conclusion of our analysis, we determined that Northwest Federal was our top choice because it is a highly successful and rapidly growing credit union with over 70 years of experience serving members similar to CFCU’s. Northwest Federal manages $3.4 billion in assets and serves 270,000 members at 10 branches throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Merging with Northwest Federal will provide our members with many more choices for loan and deposit products, as well as ancillary benefits, such as investment or retirement services. Additionally, Northwest Federal made a commitment to retain 100% of CFCU staff, who will continue to provide high-quality, personalized service. Members will still benefit from the Member Loyalty Program and have access to our current locations as well as Northwest Federal branches. While Northwest Federal is a much larger credit union, it is not so large that our members would get lost in the numbers. For these reasons, Northwest Federal was chosen over the other credit union proposals received. Keep in mind that our strong financial position enabled the board to select a merger partner from a position of strength and the merger was viewed mutually beneficial for both CFCU and Northwest Federal.
Why is our membership declining so rapidly?
We have struggled against a lack of new members and a loss of existing members. In 2009, our former sponsoring agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) moved their campus to Springfield, VA. We were unable to open a branch on site due to a Department of Defense regulation restricting the entire base to having only one credit union – the former Ft. Belvoir Credit Union (currently PenFed Credit Union). Despite NGA’s best efforts to get an exception to that regulation, they were unsuccessful. We tried to accommodate NGA employees by opening a branch in Springfield and providing a free shuttle bus from NGA’s campus to our branch. However, it was not as convenient as walking to a branch within the building where they worked, making CFCU less attractive to new employees, and eventually too costly to keep the branch open. Additionally, many members have either relocated away from the Washington, D.C. region or have passed away over time.
How did the merger get approved?
Following approval to merge from the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), our federal regulator, CFCU members voted on whether or not to give final approval on the merger. Ballots were accepted by mail and in-person at the Annual Member Meeting on March 30, 2019, where the vote was tallied. CFCU members overwhelmingly approved the merger, with 1,859 votes in favor and 111 votes against.
Time Frame of the Merger
When is the merger effective?
The merger became legally binding on March 30, 2019. You will notice little to no change at this time as we begin to enter a data transfer period. The merger will occur on June 30, 2019, which is when all of the processes will be brought together. You will notice the change on your accounts as a Northwest Federal member effective July 1, 2019. We will update our communications as each process transitions to guide you through the process.
How did you determine how to distribute the equity among the members?
The formula is designed to ensure $10 million is distributed to our members equally and fairly. The distribution formula is designed to give dividends based on the member’s contribution to the credit union equity through savings and loans. It is through those savings and loans that the credit union has generated its equity and come to a position of such financial strength, which allowed us to negotiate a merger that is beneficial to both members and employees. While there is no “one size fits all” formula for mergers, it is standard practice to distribute equity based on these factors.
Why did you base the dividend formula only on the 2018 savings and loans?
Our 2018 data included the most up-to-date member listing. Going back to prior years would require us to update inaccurate addresses and filter out closed accounts. Doing so would be time-consuming and costly, cutting into the amount of equity we are able to redistribute as part of the merger agreement.
When and how will I receive my equity payout?
The equity payouts were deposited in one lump sum to your share account on April 2, 2019. You must have an open account to receive the distribution.
Is the equity payout taxable?
Yes, it will be included as dividends earned and show up on your 1099-INT form for 2019.
Why are the CFCU executives/management receiving such large payments?
Managers receive equity payouts based on loan and savings in 2018 using the same formula that is applied to members. In addition, they receive employee benefits that are commonly given when businesses merge. This includes compensation for accrued sick leave, as Northwest Federal does not have separate sick and personal leave, and retention incentives to remain an employee of Northwest Federal for continuity of operations and a seamless transition for CFCU members.
When will I receive my new credit card?
Your new credit card will be mailed on July 1. You will be able to use your current CFCU issued Visa card until July 14, at which time it will be deactivated. You will be able to activate, set your PIN and use your new Northwest Federal NOW REWARDS card on July 1. If your new Northwest Federal NOW REWARDS is activated prior to July 14, your CFCU Visa card will be deactivated.
Why am I receiving a NOW REWARDS Mastercard?
Due to the rewards structure of your former credit card program, Northwest Federal wanted to be able to provide you with a program that would continue your ability to earn rewards. With NOW REWARDS you will earn points at a higher rate – 1 point for every $0.80 you spend vs. 1 point for every $1 you spend. Not only will you earn more rewards, but you will be able to redeem your points at your discretion for cash back into your account or through a statement credit, travel and experiences, merchandise or even make a donation to a charity. In addition to rewards, you will also have access to premier benefits including rental car collision coverage, trip cancellation, airport concierge service, ID theft protection, price protection and more! Click here for more details.
Will my payment date change?
No, your payment date will stay the same.
Will I need to set up a new automatic credit card payment?
Will I need to re-enter my card payment information with merchants who have my card on file, such as Netflix, Amazon, etc.?
Yes, please update your payment information on file with your new card information.
Will Northwest have my travel memos placed on the new card?
Your travel memos up to July 13th will stay in place on your CFCU credit card. If you will be using your new NOW REWARDS credit card for travel on or after July 1, please add your travel memo by calling Northwest Federal Credit Union at 844-709-8900 or add your travel memo online through the MyCardInfo site, your new online credit card platform accessible through online banking.
If I make a payment on my credit card July 1 to July 14 will it be applied to the new account?
Yes, all payments made on your old credit card will be applied to your new credit card with the date that the payments were made. However, the payment will not show in your account history or balance until two business days later.
How do I make payments on my new card after July 1?
How do I log in to my credit card account?
Your credit card account will appear in Online Banking when you activate your card on or after July 1. In Online Banking, you can view your balance and your transactions. You can also manage your account by clicking on “Credit Cards” in the top tool bar, then click on your card number. This will take you to MyCardInfo where you can view your rate, check your balance and transactions, view your eStatements, complete balance transfers, set travel memos, enroll in fraud/transaction alerts, and more. Watch this video to learn more about Online Banking and text/transaction alerts.
How do I view my rewards balance as well as access my rewards account?
You can view your credit card rewards by logging into Online Banking, click on your credit card number under "Accounts Summary" then click on this icon to go to the NOW REWARDS site. You do not need a login or to re-enter password as you are validated once you log into Online Banking.
Where should I mail my credit card payments if I want to pay by check?
You can mail your credit card payments to:
Northwest Federal Credit Union
PO Box 37035
Boone, IA 50037
If I don’t want a Northwest paper statement, how do I sign up for eStatements?
You can sign up for credit card eStatements by going to MyCardInfo site from your a href="https://ebanking.nwfcu.org/2126/SignIn.aspx?_ga=2.68841430.614562677.1560516433-1992595939.1556824457">Online Banking account, and clicking on eStatements under “Quick Links” on the right side of the web page.
Will I be able to use my current debit card after the merger?
We would like you to activate your new debit card by July 1. To give as much time as possible to receive your new debit card, we are mailing your new card on June 10 and enabling you to activate your card and set your PIN. If you are traveling without access to your new Northwest Federal debit card, please call 844-709-8900 for assistance.
When can I start using my new debit card?
Though you can activate and set your PIN as soon as you receive your card, you cannot use your debit card for purchases until July 1. Any attempted transactions prior to July 1 will be declined.
When can I activate and set my debit card PIN?
You can activate and select your PIN as soon as you receive your card; however, you cannot use your debit card until July 1.
Do I need to add my debit card payment information back on file for merchants and bill payments?
Yes, please add your new Northwest Federal debit card payment information to merchants who store your card information on file, such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple, etc. Please also update any bill payments made with your debit card that will occur after July 1.
Can I add my card back into Apple Pay?
You can add your Northwest debit card to your Apple Pay digital wallet by tapping on the wallet app and following the prompts. Once we receive your request to add your Northwest Federal debit card, we will enable your digital card within 48 hours.
How can I control my debit card use?
CardNav is our card control app that enables you to control how, when and where your debit card is used. Visit our debit card page to learn more about CardNav and the benefits of your new debit card.
Can I keep my PIN?
Yes, you can select any customized PIN that you wish to use. You will just need to enter your preferred PIN during card activation.
How do I use my card overseas?
You are able to use your card anywhere Mastercard® and Cirrus® or STAR® are accepted. If you are using your card at a foreign point of sale terminal requiring a PIN or a foreign ATM, just add 2 leading zeros to your PIN to comply with Europe’s 6-digit PIN requirement.
Do I need to set up Travel Memos for travel after July 1?
Yes, please call Northwest Federal at 844-709-8900 to set up travel memos for any travel occurring after July 1.
Can I still access CO-OP ATMs and Shared Branches?
Yes, your Northwest debit card will provide you with access to 30,000+ free ATMs nationwide. Click on this ATM locator for your nearest free ATM.
Member Impact & Benefit
What are the benefits of a merger between CFCU and Northwest Federal?
- Greater operating efficiency
- Added convenience with more branches
- Advanced information security
- Great rates on savings and loan products
- Expanded services, including free financial counseling, investment services, life cycle products from youth to retirement, a full-service call center, and more
What are the benefits to me?
The Member Loyalty Program will be continued by Northwest Federal to recognize years of dedicated credit union membership. You will benefit from additional loan products and deposit products to help maximize your savings. You will also have access to a free financial fitness program, which provides interactive courses, and you can chat live online with Financial Coaches. In addition, there is a bonus dividend payout to members based on deposit and loan relationships in 2018.
What do I do now that the merger has been approved by CFCU members?
Initially, nothing will change. You should continue to access your account and conduct business with CFCU as you do today. We are now in a data transfer period as we begin to move CFCU account data to Northwest Federal. During this transition period, we will continue to operate under the name Constellation Federal Credit Union. We will keep you informed of specific details as they become available and will help you through the transition of your account services. Our intention is to make this transition as seamless as possible for you.
Will I need to do anything to transfer my direct deposit?
No, Northwest Federal will assume the CFCU routing transit number. However, any new direct deposits you set up post-merger should be done using the Northwest Federal routing transit number.
Will member service be affected?
Yes, in a positive manner. With the combined force of both credit unions we will be able to provide you with even better service. Combining the credit unions allows a better variety of products, services, technology, and member support.
Will my accounts still be insured?
Yes. Your savings will be federally insured to at least $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government agency and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.
Will I still be able to use my same checks?
Yes, Northwest Federal will assume CFCU’s routing transit number, so if you still have CFCU checks you will be able to continue using them. You will need to order checks under the Northwest Federal brand and routing number when you place a reorder.
Will rates of my current products change?
Rates will not change on fixed-rate loans and share certificates.
What if I am already a member at Northwest Federal?
Your CFCU account will be merged and you will have two Northwest Federal accounts.
Note: If combining your accounts deposit exceeds the National Credit Union Administration’s maximum insurance limit of $250,000, they will be insured for a grace period of six months following your account transfer to Northwest Federal. You may want to speak with a Northwest Federal member service representative before the end of the grace period for the best way to title your deposit accounts and maximize your insurance protection. You can enter your account balances into this free Share Insurance Estimator to find out what is insured and what portion of your accounts (if any) exceeds coverage limits under the NCUA's share insurance rules.
Will my account number stay the same?
Yes, your CFCU account number has transferred to Northwest Federal. However, a small number of account numbers have been identified as account numbers that will need to be changed. This will be addressed individually.
Will I be issued a new debit card?
Yes, CFCU members will receive new Northwest Federal Debit Cards with detailed activation instructions.
Will I be issued a new credit card?
Yes, CFCU members will receive a new Northwest Federal NOW REWARDS Mastercard® with detailed activation instructions. Your balance at the time of transfer will be protected at your current rate. Additional credit card information will be sent to you by mail.
How will my Credit Card Rewards be transferred from CFCU? Will the program continue?
Members currently enrolled in the CFCU Credit Card Rewards program will be moved into the Northwest Federal NOW REWARDS Mastercard® program. The rewards program will differ from the CFCU program and Northwest Federal will provide more details as to how that program works.
CFCU pays dividends on a quarterly basis. Will this continue or change?
This will change. Your dividends will be paid monthly after the July 1, 2019 merger date.
Will I receive information about the various products and services available, as well as fees associated with my new Northwest Federal accounts?
Yes, you will receive detailed account information in the mail the first week of May.
Will CFCU membership eligibility now be a part of Northwest Federal membership eligibility?
Yes, on July 1, 2019, any member who is eligible for membership with CFCU will be eligible for membership with Northwest Federal.
Will my Online Banking be changing?
Your username and account history will be transferred into Northwest Federal's Online Banking platform. You will need to download the Northwest Federal app and you will be required to change your password when you login. A small number of usernames have been identified as usernames that need to be changed. This will be addressed individually. For more information on how to access your accounts through Online and Mobile Banking, visit the Northwest Federal Welcome CFCU page.
Will I need to set up my Bill Pay accounts again?
No, your Bill Pay accounts will be moved to Northwest Federal’s Online Banking platform.
I have a trust account. Will I need to do anything to transfer that over to Northwest Federal?
Northwest Federal will send a letter to all trust account holders after July 1. If the trust on file with CFCU does not have the following information, Northwest Federal may request this information from you:
- A new trust application signed by all active trustees,
- A photo ID,
- A copy of trust name page, beneficiary page, and notarized signature page, and/or
- A certification of trust, or a copy of the will for testamentary trusts.
If you have further questions, please call Northwest Federal at 703-709-8900 and ask for the Trust department.
Who do I contact with questions about my Constellation gift card?
Please call 866-496-6183 (the number on the back of your card) with any questions. The gift card call center is open 24/7. You can also access your account by visiting: myprepaidbalance.com.
How will CFCU ATMs be impacted by the merger?
During the 3rd and 4th weeks of June, current CFCU ATMs will be transitioned into Northwest ATMs. As a Constellation member, you can still make withdrawals and deposits with no fee during this time using your CFCU debit card. After July 1, please use your new Northwest Federal debit card at ATM locations. The Carderock ATM will be removed on June 27th, and we are coordinating with the base to schedule a date for installation of the new ATM.
About Northwest Federal
Who will lead Northwest Federal?
Jeff Bentley, President and CEO of Northwest Federal. He has been with Northwest Federal since 2014 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the financial industry. Bobby Josephson, CFCU President and CEO, will serve in a consulting role to Northwest Federal.
Where are Northwest Federal branches located?
Northwest Federal has 7 public branches located in Virginia and Maryland, plus two additional branches opening soon. You will have access to these as well as the current CFCU locations.
- Herndon, VA (Northwest Federal Headquarters)
- Chantilly, VA
- Gainesville, VA
- Leesburg, VA
- Manassas, VA
- Rockville, MD
- Vienna, VA
- Opening soon: Middleburg, VA and Arlington, VA
Does Northwest Federal have a shared branch network?
Yes, Northwest Federal does have a shared branch network. You can search for the locations by visiting their locations page page and selecting the "Shared Branches" tab.
Does Northwest Federal offer Treasury Notes?
Northwest Financial Advisors, a subsidiary of Northwest Federal, does offer Treasury Notes and you do not need to be a member of Northwest Federal to use this service. You may contact them with specific questions.
200 Spring Street, Suite 120
Herndon, VA 20170
Office Hours 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Mon – Fri)
Phone: 703-810-1072 x110 or 1-800-269-2156 (toll-free)
Impact on CFCU
Will CFCU's name change?
Yes, once the transfer of all CFCU data to Northwest Federal is complete, we will begin operating under the name Northwest Federal Credit Union. During the transition period, however, we will continue to operate as Constellation Federal Credit Union. The anticipated date of the official name change is July 1, 2019.
What happens to the CFCU Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee?
As of the official count of the merger votes on March 30, 2019, the CFCU Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee will serve in a limited capacity until June 30, 2019. Northwest Federal welcomes former CFCU Board Vice President Patti Fraser onto the Northwest Federal Board of Directors. Northwest Federal also welcomes former CFCU Board members, Supervisory Committee, and member presence on future Boards of Directors as well as advisory and supervisory committees.
Will CFCU’s phone number and contact information change?
Our CFCU phone numbers and contact information will remain the same until the Operational Merger Effective Date (OMED) of June 30, 2019.
Will CFCU branches remain open?
Yes. CFCU branches will remain open. Beginning July 1, the Reston branch will be open Monday - Friday from 9 am - 5 pm. Hours for our Carderock branch will not change. You can find full hours of operations on our website.
What will happen to CFCU employees?
All CFCU employees will become employees of Northwest Federal and will be provided with career opportunities as part of Northwest Federal’s ongoing business and growth in the Washington Metropolitan region.
What if I have more questions?
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any further questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 1-800-826-3818 x1310 or by email at email@example.com.