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LAST UPDATED: March 19th, 2021
SECU was founded in 1951 and has grown to have over 230,000 members since that time. The credit union is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, and membership is available for those who live in, work in, or attend school in the state of Maryland, and their relatives. SECU attributes its longevity to its members and the organization's sound financial planning and investments.Members enjoy a full-service financial service institution and can receive banking, savings, loans, credit cards, college or retirement planning, as well as insurance products from the credit union.SECU is highly involved in community service and support in Maryland.

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The Good

  • Several cards available for members with varying credit ratings
  • Permanent 5.99 percent fixed rate for balance transfers
  • Rewards cards available for members who are students
  • Fraud safeguards and EMV chip for all cards issued by SECU

Several Cards Available for Members with Varying Credit Ratings

SECU offers its members the choice of nine credit cards, similar to many large traditional banks. Of these cards, there are choices available for those wanting rewards for their purchases, those needing to build or rebuild credit, and those wanting a low interest rate for their purchases. Unusual is the addition of a secured card to its portfolio. These cards are funded by the member's own money that is placed into a reserve account. This allows for better control over finances while building or rebuilding credit. For those with higher credit scores and who want an elite card, the credit union offers a Signature card with higher rewards and no annual fee.

Permanent 5.99 Percent Fixed Rate for Balance Transfers

Members wanting to transfer cards with a high interest rate to another card to save money and pay off their debt more quickly will be able to do so with SECU's permanent 5.99 percent balance transfer interest rate. Unlike many institutions that have special promotional low balance transfer rates that increase after a few months, SECU members receive a guarantee of 5.99 percent on their balance transfers for life.

Rewards Cards Available for Members who are Students

Most financial institutions only offer their rewards cards for those with higher credit scores. SECU offers choices of rewards cards for those looking to build or rebuild their credit as well as those with an established credit history. Also unlike many credit unions, SECU offers both a cash back reward card as well as a card that collects points to be used for travel and merchandise. For those electing to use the rewards card, points do not expire and can be saved for a larger purchase.

Fraud Safeguards and EMV Chip for all Cards Issued by SECU

All of the credit cards that are offered by SECU are completely protected from fraudulent use and include EMV Chip technology. Users have added peace of mind against fraud. Several credit unions do not disclose their fraud protection practices.

The Bad

  • Higher initial APRs than those offered by many similar institutions
  • No access to limited credit monitoring/FICO® score

Higher Initial APRs Than Those Offered by Many Similar Institutions

Many similar institutions offer initial APRs for their non-reward credit cards around 8 percent. SECU 's interest rates are slightly higher, with the lowest starting rate being 9.49 percent. Most rewards credit cards hold higher interest rates, starting at about 9 percent for many credit unions. SECU's rewards cards start at 11.49 percent for the points card and 11.99 percent for the cash back card. While these rates are competitive with those offered the larger, more traditional banks, they are not so with many credit unions nationwide.

No Access to Limited Credit Monitoring/FICO® Score

Many large banks offer their customers limited credit monitoring or access to their FICO® Score as an added perk. Most credit unions do not offer this to their customers, and while usually not enough to discourage one from joining a credit union to take advantage of its benefits, it is a void in the institution's available offers.

The Bottom Line

SECU offers its members peace of mind in their accounts, in that the credit union has been operating for over 60 years. Those who are eligible for membership will be able to manage all of their current and future financial planning with the institution, meaning that as their needs change, SECU has tools to assist them. SECU offers several credit cards with attractive features, such as cash back, rewards, low interest rate, student, and secured cards. There is even a credit card for those who currently attend or are an alumnus of Towson University. None of the credit cards offered by SECU have annual fees, making them even more cost effective for its members. Those looking for an alternative to cards offered at larger banks and who are eligible for membership, should consider SECU.
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