Founded in 1933, the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) was created to assist members of the U.S. military and their families. The credit union has over 5 million members and $7 billion in reserves. To be eligible for one of the credit cards NFCU offers, you must be a member of the NFCU, which is open to active duty and retired military members, Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees, DoD civilian retirees, contractors who work on U.S. government installations, and immediate family members of NFCU members. You can check your eligibility for membership at the NFCU website.

The Good

APR Range

Navy Federal may have the lowest APRs on the market. Their variable APRs range from 8.24% – 18.0%. Their low point at 8% is less than the lowest we reviewed which was 10% and their high point is lower than most companies we reviewed at 24.24%. For those who qualify, these rates are very impressive.

Annual fee range

Annual fees for Navy Federal’s cards are equally as impressive as their APRs. All of their cards have zero annual fees except their Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards card with an annual fee of $49 per year. When compared against the majority of companies we reviewed, we found that most companies offered cards with annual fees (that were much higher than $49) with only a few companies having cards without annual fees. A small handful of companies offer all of their cards without annual fees or have most cards without annual fees except for one. This puts Navy Federal in the 1% of companies with the best annual fee offers in the industry.

Customer support

Navy Federal’s Customer support doesn’t disappoint. Their phone hours for member and account services are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The same goes for their toll-free number for lost or stolen credit cards. They also have a Live Chat feature that lets customers get their questions answered in real-time by clicking on the chat icon on the side of the website screen. Additionally, Navy Federal offers their customer support through their social media pages, where current or potential customers can also get their questions answered in real time. We found that most credit card companies offer 24/7 customer phone service but most don’t have a live chat feature or social media availability.

Late Payment

Making a late payment on Navy Federal cards will cost up to $20 in penalty fees. Once again, Navy Federal surpasses the competition. They are only one of two companies we reviewed who adhere to the Credit Card Act of 2010’s stipulation for companies to charge late fees of up to $25. The concept for this is to protect consumers from paying more in late fees than the actual balance or minimum payment. Navy Federal seems to understand this and offer fees that make sense and are in the best interest of their customers. Navy Federal’s late fees are extremely low when compared with most companies we reviewed, which hold typical late fees of up to $37.

Foreign Transaction Fees

We were very impressed to find that Navy Federal does not charge foreign transaction fees for any of their cards. This is almost unheard of for credit cards. Almost all of the companies we reviewed offered a standard 3% on transactions made with their card outside of the U.S. in other currencies. This makes Navy Federal ideal choice for you if you travel a lot and need a card for international transactions. A small number of companies offer no transaction fees on some or most of their cards, but to offer no foreign transaction fees for every single one of their card. Navy Federal is at the head of the pack in this area.

Cards Offered

Here is the list of credit cards Navy Federal offers:

  • cashRewards
  • GO REWARDS®
  • Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards
  • nRewards®
  • Platinum
  • Rewards® Secured Credit Card
Options for Rewards

When it comes to rewards options, Navy Federal offers many benefits. These are the ones we liked the most:

  • Member Mall® -Navy Federal’s online store where you can cash in your rewards points. When you shop on Member Mail, you multiply your rewards beyond what you’d earn if you made the same purchases directly from a store. You also get up to 15 points or up to 15% cash back per dollar spent, exclusive special offers, a featured Deal of the Week and free shipping from select retailers.
  • The GO REWARDS® card gives customers 20,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. Ongoing purchases earn 3 points at restaurants, 2 points on gas and 1 point on everything else.
  • The nRewards Secured card offers 1 point for each dollar spent, which is generous for a secured credit card. Most companies don’t offer rewards points for their secured or “starter” cards.
  • The Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card offers 2 points per net dollar spent with rewards that never expire of reach a limit. You can also use your rewards points to pay for travel booked on your favorite travel sites by contacting Navy Federal to redeem your rewards and post the credit for your airfare or cruise back to your account. Points can even be redeemed after you get back from your trip.

All of Navy Federal’s cards have a Navy Federal Zero Liability policy. This means that you are not financially liable if your card is lost or stolen and someone makes fraudulent purchases. If your card is lost or stolen, or you suspect you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, you can call Navy Federal immediately on their 24-hour service line and they will put a hold on your account. If you plan to travel internationally or domestically, you can add travel notifications as an added safeguard conveniently from their Navy Federal mobile app. This allows you to use your Navy Federal credit cards while traveling without being false flagged by Navy Federal for unusual account activity. This is unique as a security feature, as we have not yet found this to be offered by another company to date.

Another security feature offered to all credit card customers is Chip Technology— All of Navy Federal’s new cards have an embedded encrypted microchip that provides additional protection from fraud and unauthorized use that safeguards your personal information during the transaction process.

When compared to other companies offering credit cards, we found that Navy Federal offers a more complete well-rounded security package.

Unique Features

One unique feature (besides the APR, annual and foreign transaction fees already mentioned) is that none of Navy Federal’s credit cards charge balance transfer fees. Most companies we found either charged a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6-15 months or charged a variable rate on par with their ongoing APR rates. Navy Federal does not charge balance fees at any time.

Building Credit/Student Cards

Customers needing to build or rebuild their credit can apply for Navy Federal’s nRewards® Secured Credit Card. Although Navy Federal surpasses several competitors who fail to offer a secured credit card of any kind, they don’t offer student cards for college students, which some credit card companies do offer.

Regarding the nRewards® Secured card benefits, their APR range of 9.24% – 18.0% is possible the lowest on the market for secured (and even unsecured) credit cards. Typically, we found that secured cards offered by other companies held slightly higher APRs than their regular, unsecured credit cards. Also worth mentioning is nRewards’ offering rewards points for purchases, which is abnormal for most companies’ secured card offers.

The Bad

The only downside to Navy Federal is that their credit cards are only available to members of the Navy Federal Credit Union. This means you are active duty and retired members of the military, DoD employees, and/or their family members. This is great for NFCU members and those who qualify under these circumstances, but non-military civilians won’t be able to benefit from all Navy Federal’s credit card advantages and benefits.

The Bottom Line

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) offers a wide range of credit card choices depending on whether you want a cash or rewards program, prefer a lower APR and no rewards, or want to build a positive credit history with a secured credit card.

Here’s the caveat: these credit cards are only available to members of the NFCU, who are usually active duty and retired members of the military, DoD employees, and their family members. Most consumers will not be eligible for these credit cards. Visit the NFCU website to determine if you are eligible.

All of the credit cards offered by Navy Federal have no annual fee except for the Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards card, which has higher rewards points. Even the nRewards® Secured Credit Card has no annual fees and has a lower APR range compared to most unsecured cards on the market.

The APRs on NFCU’s credit cards range from well below the national average APR reported by CreditCards.com to well above it, so you will want to determine what APR you will receive before deciding whether to accept a credit card from NFCU. With its variety of credit cards and benefits available, we recommend considering one of NFCU’s credit cards if you qualify and are offered a competitive APR.

Are there any inaccuracies in this review? We take our accuracy very seriously and would love your feedback. Give feedback here.

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