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Northwest Federal Credit Union

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LAST UPDATED: March 19th, 2021
Northwest Federal Credit Union is a Virginia-based credit union that was founded in 1947. Northwest offers three cards: the Member Rewards MasterCard, the First Card Visa Platinum, and the Visa Platinum. APRs range from 7.49 to 18 percent.

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The Good

  • Rewards
  • No annual fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No cash advance fees
  • Transaction alerts


Northwest Federal Credit Union's Member Rewards card comes with a rewards program that provides customers with one point for every dollar spent. For the first purchase made with the card, 5,000 bonus points are given. Points can be tracked and redeemed online for free airfare, cash back, or merchandise. Airfare rewards come with no booking fees and flexible options.

No Annual Fees

Some credit card providers charge annual or startup fees that can cost cardholders hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, Northwest's credit cards do not do not have any annual or startup fees attached.

No Balance Transfer Fees

Credit card companies, banks, and credit unions often allow card balance transfers from other accounts. This can be beneficial for consumers who want to save money on interest or get out of debt faster, but some companies charge a fee for balance transfers. However, Northwest Federal Credit Union does not charge any fees for this service.

No Cash Advance Fees

When a credit card customer needs cash from a credit card account, this is called a cash advance. Credit card providers sometimes charge a fee for cash advances in the form of a percentage of the amount or a fixed rate, but Northwest Federal does not charge a fee for cash advances.

Transaction Alerts

One way that Northwest Federal Credit Union works to protect its customers from fraud is through transaction alerts. Cardholders can set a limit on their phone for purchases, and when a purchase exceeds the limit, an alert is sent to the phone. This can also be set up to send alerts for certain types of purchases, including international, online, phone, and declined purchases.

The Bad

  • Late payment penalties
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • No free credit scores
  • No introductory APRs

Late Payment Penalties

When payments are made late on credit card accounts, a penalty fee is often incurred. Some companies charge late payment fees as low as $5, but Northwest Federal Credit Union charges a fee of up to $35.

Foreign Transaction Fees

For purchase made internationally with a Northwest Federal Credit Union card, a 1 percent fee is tacked on to the transaction. Those who frequently travel abroad may want to consider other cards better geared towards international travel.

No Free Credit Scores

Several credit card providers have formed partnerships with credit monitoring companies to provide their cardholders with monthly credit scores and reports. This service is beneficial because it allows customers to stay on top of their credit and watch for fraudulent activity that may not have been caught by the company. Unfortunately, Northwest Federal does not offer free credit score tracking.

No Introductory APRs

Oftentimes, credit card providers offer a low introductory APR on new purchases and balance transfers for a certain amount of time. This is often helpful for individuals who wish to make a card balance transfer to pay off debts during an introductory period with a nonexistent or low APR. Sadly, Northwest Federal Credit Union does not offer any introductory promotions.

The Bottom Line

Northwest Federal Credit Union offers a rewards program and transaction alerts. In addition, the company does not charge annual fees, balance transfer fees, or cash advance fees. However, Northwest Federal does charge late payment fees and foreign transaction fees. Further, the credit union does not offer free credit score tracking or introductory APRs.
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Jenn G Charlottesville, VA

My husband and I have been banking here for over 10 years. I just recently lost my wallet and needed new bank cards. 2 of them. Firstly, they wanted to charge me over $12 PER CARD. No they wouldn't group them together for me. So I went with standard- of course it didn't arrive until the very last day, the 10th day. I go to activate my cards and lo and behold the call center can't activate it for me because NW didn't give them a piece of validation information- I had to call the office in the morning. I called in the morning, and called...and called. Come to find out their phones are down. Here we are day 3 now. I call, hallelujah someone answers...and proceeds to have me on the phone for over 20 minutes. This is simple card activation! She says it's done, I go to use it and it's declined. I wrongfully assume maybe it just needed more time and go on about my day. I try to order something online hours later...declined again. I call and am on the phone ANOTHER 30 minutes. She tells me the expiration date is wrong. Fine. Order again ensuring the exp date is correct and shocker...declined again. 3rd time in a day I call and again, another over 30 minute phone call. I need to register my card with MasterCard in order to use it online as another verification. Fine. I go to register it...yeah you guessed it, MasterCard doesn't have the card number in its system. Day 4, I email NW as I'm tired of wasting 30+ minutes on the phone. They call me and leave a message that everything done I just need to call them. I call them and leave a message. They never call me back. I've been told my card is active, but I'll need a code for online shopping. Fine. I go to use it...yea...declined. It's been 15 days since I've been able to use my debit card- 5 of which I've been trying to activate it. In conclusion, RUN AWAY! They can't even get a card activation right.

6 years ago