San Diego County Credit Union

San Diego County Credit Union

San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) is the city and county of San Diego's largest financial institution with local ownership and control. The original charter for the credit union was granted in 1938 to service county employees. The credit union's clientele was greatly expanded in the 1970s to allow any resident of San Diego the opportunity to join. Current residential membership requirements include all residents of San Diego, Riverside, or Orange Counties. Those who work in these areas are also eligible to join. For those living and working outside of these counties, membership is available via membership in the Financial Fitness Association. The credit union is a not-for-profit entity, and currently serves over 320,000 members, offering financial products to meet their needs.

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#75 3.2 -- Current

The Good

  • Several cards available for members with varying credit ratings
  • Promotional offers often available
  • Free online banking with FICO® credit score

Several Cards Available for Members with Varying Credit Ratings

San Diego County Credit Union offers its members several credit cards from which to choose. Unlike many of its competitors, SDCCU offers a choice of a secured card for those needing to build or rebuild their credit. The credit limit for the SDCCU Secured Visa Classic is variable and secured by a portion of the shares that the member has in their account at the credit union, or 120 percent of the approved credit limit.

Other cards are available from SDCCU that give its members points on purchases to be redeemed for rewards, such as travel, gift cards, merchandise, etc. Unlike many of its competitors that charge a higher initial APR for rewards cards, SDCCU starts the APR for each of its unsecured cards at 9.99 percent. The SDCCU Share Secured Visa Classic is not a rewards card and the APR is 15 percent.  

Promotional Offers Often Available

The credit union often offers its members promotional discounted interest rates on balance transfers, etc. These are often publicized on SDCCU's website or in promotional mailers. Additionally, at varying intervals, SDCCU may offer bonus point earning opportunities on its rewards cards, allowing members to earn additional points.

Free Online Banking with FICO® Credit Score

Unlike many similarly-sized credit unions offering credit cards to its members, San Diego County Credit Union includes online baking with a free FICO® Credit Score for all of its credit cards. This allows members to track changes to their credit score, so that they are better prepared for large purchases, etc. This offer is only available to members with loans or credit card accounts in good standing.

The Bad

  • Higher APR than many similar institutions
  • Annual fees with some cards
  • Undisclosed information about foreign transaction fees

Higher APR than Many Similar Institutions

Generally, credit unions offer their members lower initial APRs than other financial institutions, with those for rewards cards having higher initial APRs. While San Diego County Credit Union offers lower initial APRs than larger institutions, its rates are slightly higher than some comparable institutions. Some institutions offer initial APRs as low as 6 to 7 percent for its cards, while SDCCU's initial rates start between 9.99 percent and 22.99 percent.  

Annual Fees With Some Cards

Most credit cards offered by credit unions do not have annual fees. SDCCU does have annual fees for several of its cards:

  • SDCCU Visa Signature - no annual fee for first year, $89 per year for the second year onward
  • SDCCU Cash Rewards Visa Platinum with Fly Miles Plus - no annual fee for first year, $35 per year after that (fee is waived with a minimum of a total of $6000 for new annual purchases)
  • SDCCU Share Secured Visa Classic - $20 per year annual fee

Undisclosed Information About Foreign Transaction Fees

The credit union does not disclose information about its foreign transaction fees for all of its cards.

The Bottom Line

Those looking for a wide variety of choices in credit cards offered by a credit union will find exactly that with San Diego County Credit Union. The organization has cards that fit many people's financial goals and situations. Unlike many of its competitors, SDCCU includes a secured card in its portfolio for members who need to build or rebuild their credit.

The lack of disclosure of some key fees, such as the foreign transaction fees, for some of its cards is highly unusual. Cardholders are left to find out as they go or actively seek answers to these voids, rather than be given this information directly. As would be expected, BestCompany.com strongly advocates absolute transparency for companies, especially those offering financial products. Consumers should be very careful about working with companies that are consistent in providing full disclosure of fees whenever possible. While SDCCU lacks transparency about its foreign transaction fees, the organization is otherwise very transparent about its fees.

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