Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa Review

Navy Federal nRewards Secured VisaThe Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa is aimed at consumers who want to build or repair their credit.  It has no annual fee and allows cardholders to earn points on purchases – both unexpected perks from a secured card.  This card currently offers no signup bonus to new account holders. The one stipulation is you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union to apply.

To be eligible for membership in NFCU, applicants must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Department of Defense (DOD) Uniformed Personnel
  • S. Coast Guard Personnel
  • Department of Defense Reservists
  • Army and Air National Guard Personnel
  • Delayed Entry Program Personnel
  • Department of Defense Officer Candidate Programs
  • S. Government Employees Assigned to DOD Installations
  • DOD Civilian Employees
  • Family Members

This card is a Visa credit card.

Here is an overview of how the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa works:

  1. Submit your application and make a deposit of at least $500 into a qualifying NFCU savings account. This deposit will be held for the duration of your nRewards account.
  2. Upon approval, you will have access to a line of credit equal to your security deposit.
  3. Every purchase made on the card will earn one point per net $1 spent.
  4. When you close your nRewards account, your initial deposit will be returned to you as long as your account is in good standing and has a zero balance.
  5. If your account is ever in default, your deposit will be used to cover what you owe.

Net purchases are the total amount of new transactions minus any refunds, credits, or other adjustments.

Card members may redeem for rewards when they have a balance of at least 1,000 points. Points may be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, and travel-related certificates.  Here are some sample rewards:

  • 2,000 points- $10 gift card from Starbucks or Applebee’s (0.5% per point)
  • 3,500 points- $25 gift card from Best Buy or iTunes Music Store (0.71% per point)
  • 7,500 points- for $75 gift card from Gap or Navy Federal Visa Awards Card (1% per point)

As the above examples show, the rate of return on rewards is not always a full 1%.  But considering that most secured credit cards offer nothing in the way of rewards programs, this is a better-than-average deal.  The number of points you can earn is not capped but points do expire four years from the date they were awarded.

The Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa offers a variable annual percentage rate of 8.99% to 18% on purchases, balance transfers, and convenience checks.  Your specific APR will be determined at the time of approval and will be based on an evaluation of your credit history.

Card members are charged a 1% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made on the card while traveling outside of the U.S.

The Facts

Below we have broken down the details of the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa to help you determine if it’s a good choice.

The Good:

 A secured card that offers rewards:

For people wanting to establish or rebuild credit, this card offers the opportunity to do so while also earning points on every purchase.  Members earn one point per dollar spent on net purchases made with the card.

Competitive APR:

The annual percentage rate for this card varies between 8.99% and 18%, depending on your creditworthiness at the time of approval.  Even the highest level of 18% is considerably lower than most other secured cards (generally 20% or higher).  Your specific APR applies to purchases, balance transfers, and convenience checks.

Multiple redemption options:

You must have at least 1,000 points accumulated to redeem for rewards.  Points can be used for merchandise, gift cards, and travel-related certificates.

No cap on points:

There is no cap on the amount of points you can earn.

Card reports to credit bureaus:

Unlike pre-paid cards, the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Visa reports to all three major credit bureaus- Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

No annual fee:

There is no annual fee charged for this card- a definite perk considering it’s a secured credit card.

Bad/no credit is ok:

This card specifically targets consumers who want to establish or rebuild their credit so it is relatively easy to qualify.

The Bad:

Rewards rate of return isn’t great:

Depending on how you choose to redeem points, the rate of return can vary from 0.5% to 1%.  But while it may not be a fantastic rate, it is nearly impossible to find another secured credit card which offers any type of rewards program so it’s hard to complain.

Your deposit cannot be accessed while your account is open:

The money you deposit into a PFCU savings account is considered a security deposit and cannot be accessed as long as you have your credit card.  It does earn nominal interest and the entire amount will be returned to you whenever you close your credit card.  (Note: Your account must be in good standing and have a zero balance.  Otherwise the deposit will be used to repay what money is owed.)

No signup bonus:

No signup bonus is offered to new account holders at this time.

The Ugly:

Points expire:

Points expire four years from the date they were awarded.

Limited Eligibility

This card is only available to members of Navy Federal Credit Union.

This secured credit card delivers solid benefits to anyone wanting to establish or rebuild credit.  It has no annual fee, allows card members to earn points on purchases, has a very competitive APR, and reports to the major credit bureaus.  It is certainly worthy of consideration if you meet the eligibility requirements to join NFCU.