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Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card Review

At a Glance
navy federal credit union cashrewards card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn $100 bonus cash when you spent at least $500 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Fees: No balance transfer, foreign transaction, or cash advance fee (except $0.50 to $1.00 per advance at non-NFCU ATMs)
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Credit Needed: Good to excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card is a cash back credit card with no annual fee and a relatively low APR. It earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, just like popular competitors such as Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Unfortunately, unlike those competing cards, Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card isn’t available to the general public. To qualify, you need to be an active duty, honorably discharged, or retired member of the United States Armed Forces; a civilian Department of Defense employee; or an immediate family relation (such as a spouse or child) of a member of those two groups. If you haven’t joined the military and aren’t sure about doing so in the future, you need to look for another cash back credit card.

If you do qualify for NFCU cashRewards Credit Card, you’re in for a treat. In addition to a solid cash back rewards program, this card has a nice sign-up bonus and low fees. It also has a surprisingly robust lineup of fringe benefits, especially for cardholders who qualify for the Visa Signature version.

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from your NFCU cashRewards Credit Card.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $500 in qualifying purchases within the first 3 months your account is open, you get $100 bonus cash. That’s a 20% return on your first $500 spent.

Earning Cash Back Rewards

Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There are no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn, and cash back never expires.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

You can redeem your accumulated cash back in any amount for deposits to your Navy Federal Credit Union checking, savings, or money market account, or for statement credits against your account balance.

Important Fees

This card has no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, or balance transfer fee. Most cash advance methods carry no fee either, though there’s a $0.50 charge per cash advance at domestic non-NFCU ATMs and a $1 charge per cash advance at international non-NFCU ATMs. Late and returned payments cost up to $20.

Visa Signature Benefits

If you have very good or excellent credit and adequate income, you may qualify for a Visa Signature card. Visa Signature products carry credit limits of $5,000 or higher along with an attractive lineup of fringe benefits, including automatic fraud monitoring with real-time notifications and complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to your card.

Visa Merchant Discounts

Your card also comes with some valuable discounts on purchases at Visa partner merchants, including travel vendors such as Gray Line Tours and Madame Tussaud’s, cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and popular apparel vendors such as UGG and Calvin Klein.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Any noteworthy blemishes in your credit history are likely to harm your chances of qualifying.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. NFCU cashRewards Credit Card has no annual fee. If you’re a frugal cardholder who doesn’t spend heavily enough to justify a recurring charge, this is great news.
  2. Nice Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 3 months your account is open, you get $100 cash back. That’s one of the cash back category’s easiest-to-attain sign-up bonuses, and definitely swingable even for frugal cardholders.
  3. Virtually No Additional Fees. This card has very few additional fees. You’re not charged for balance transfers, which makes the introductory balance transfer APR an even better deal than it appears. You’re also not charged for using your card overseas, nor for cash advances at NFCU ATMs or branches. If you pay your bill on time and avoid making cash withdrawals at non-NFCU ATMs, you’ll never pay a dime to keep this card around.
  4. Attractive Cash Back Rewards Rate. This card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no caps or restrictions. Say goodbye to worries about rotating categories (a la Chase Freedom and Discover it) or tiered cash back schemes (a la Blue Cash Preferred from American Express and BankAmericard Cash Rewards).
  5. Excellent Fringe Benefits. This card has a nice lineup of fringe benefits, including complimentary insurance on rental cars and a slew of discounts on purchases with Visa partners. When used judiciously and on items you’d buy anyway, these discounts can save you dozens or hundreds of dollars per year.

Disadvantages

  1. No Introductory APR Promotion. NFCU cashRewards Credit Card has no introductory APR promotion. That’s a big drawback relative to some other no-annual-fee cash back cards, including Chase Freedom Unlimited. Their 0% APR promotions on purchases and balance transfers are great boons for applicants with existing high-interest credit card debt or plans to make big purchases in the near future – DIY home improvement projects, unforgettable honeymoon getaways, or anything else.
  2. No Bonus Cash Back Categories. This card’s 1.5% baseline cash back rate isn’t bad, but there’s no way to boost it either. Some competing cards, such as Citi Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card, earn 2% cash back on all purchases. Others have temporary or permanent bonus categories that boost cash back averages north of 2%. For instance, Chase Freedom and Discover it both have 5% categories that change quarterly.
  3. Not Available to the General Public. This card’s other big catch is its eligibility requirements. If you’re not a current or former member of the Armed Forces, a civilian DoD employee, or an immediate family member of someone in either category, you won’t be approved. Needless to say, this disqualifies most American consumers.

Final Word

Despite its name, Navy Federal Credit Union doesn’t require members to have naval experience. Anyone who’s served in the U.S. military, past or present, qualifies for membership. So do DoD employees and immediate family members of either class. The deal is simple: if you’ve made personal and professional sacrifices to serve your country, you deserve a credit union that works on your behalf.

Unfortunately, most people don’t qualify for NFCU membership. Good thing NFCU isn’t the only credit union for federal and military employees. State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) is also open to folks who put their country first. And, thanks to loopholes that let non-government employees join for one-time fees as low as $15, it’s a great choice for those frozen out by NFCU.

Verdict
navy federal credit union cashrewards card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card

NFCU cashRewards Credit Card is ideal for frugal, fee-averse consumers who value straightforward cash back cards with ample fringe benefits. Thanks to favorable balance transfer terms during the first 12 months and no balance transfer fees at any time, it’s also a solid balance transfer candidate. That said, it’s not for consumers who lack close connections to the Armed Forces or Department of Defense, nor those seeking extremely generous cash back rates.

The Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Credit Card‘s top benefits include its mostly nonexistent fees, its solid cash back rate, its generous sign-up bonus, and its strong lineup of fringe benefits.

Its major drawbacks include the lack of an introductory APR promotion, the hard ceiling on the cash back rewards rate, and the fact that it’s not available to the general public.

Overall, this is a great card for qualifying (mostly military) consumers seeking simple cash back rewards and favorable balance transfer terms.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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