UW Credit Union was founded on the University of Wisconsin campus in 1931. Designed to serve the students and faculty of the university, the organization elected to operate as a non-profit cooperative business. The credit union operates under a single principle, that the members' best interests are always the first consideration. UW Credit Union offers a lifetime membership for all University of Wisconsin faculty, students, alumni, staff, and retired faculty or staff. Immediate family members and households of members are also eligible for membership. To serve the community, businesses operating in or residents living within a five-mile radius of a branch are eligible for membership. The credit union offers its members comprehensive banking services that include, checking/savings accounts, mortgages, loans, and credit cards. UW Credit Union offers its members five different credit cards from which to choose.
- Low initial APR and no annual fees or balance transfer fees
- CHIP card technology and fraud protection
- Additional free perks for cardholders
- Rewards and cash rewards cards
- Student and secured cards
Low Initial APR and No Annual Fees or Balance Transfer Fees
Most credit cards offered by credit unions boast a lower initial annual interest rate than those offered by banks. The initial APR for cards offered by UW Credit Union start between 9 and 14.45 percent.
Unlike cards from large banks or credit unions, those offered by UW Credit Union do not include annual fees or balance transfer fees. Many cards offered by competitors charge annual fees of up to $100, especially for student or secured cards, both of which are available from UW Credit Union without annual fees.
CHIP Card Technology and Fraud Protection
Understanding the fraud and security measures included with a credit card is critical. Many credit unions are less transparent than UW Credit Union when disclosing the measures that they use to prevent and protect their members against fraud. UW Credit Union uses the latest CHIP technology standard with all of its cards. Cards offered by the credit union are protected against fraudulent use with zero liability for the cardholder.
Additional Free Perks for Cardholders
Cardholders are given additional perks such as roadside assistance, auto rental insurance protection, and emergency card and cash replacement coverage. Those with the Visa Platinum, VISA Platinum with Rewards, and Visa Platinum with Cash Rewards credit cards receive warranty manager coverage, travel and emergency assistance, and purchase protection for retail purchases.
Rewards and Cash Rewards Cards
UW Credit Union offers cards with rewards, both cash and traditional points for purchase rewards. These cards rewards members for their purchases and the points are earned at a rate of one point per dollar, and can be exchanged for travel, merchandise, etc. The cash rewards card earns cash back of 1 percent. In order to receive either of these cards, members must request them from the credit union; they are not automatically offered as the default card.
Student and Secured Cards
For those looking to build or rebuild their credit, UW Credit Union offers secured and student cards. Students less than 21 years old or with an annual income of $2000 or less require a cosigner to qualify for credit cards with the credit union.
- APRs are sightly higher than similar institutions
- Identity theft protection is limited to $1,000
APRs are Slightly Higher Than Similar Institutions
While UW Credit Union's initial APRs are lower than those offered by many banks, the credit union charges a higher initial interest rate for its cards than many competitive credit unions. Initial APRs at other organizations can be as low as 6 to 8 percent, with those for UW Credit Union being between 9 and 14.45 percent. Nearly every organization charges a higher interest rate for its rewards cards, and UW Credit Union is no different.
Identity Theft Protection is Limited to $1,000
One of the perks offered to its card members is a reimbursement of funds loss in the event of identity theft. It is important to note that this coverage is not the zero percent fraud coverage, rather a reimbursement of postage fees, attorney's bills, etc., that are incurred as a result of having one's identity stolen. This coverage is capped at $1,000 for members of UW Credit Union.
The Bottom Line
Those looking for a lifetime relationship with a trusted financial institution, and who meet the eligibility requirements outlined above, should consider UW Credit Union as a solid option. The credit union has a trusted presence in the community and has a comprehensive portfolio of products. Its credit cards are comparable or better than those offered by other institutions in many ways. Those areas that are different are not considerable, and the institution's benefits greatly outweigh its deficiencies.