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Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card Review

At a Glance
navy-federal credit union flagship rewards card
4.2 / 5
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Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: 2 points per $1 spent 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: $49 (waived in the first year)
  • Credit Needed: 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.

The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card is a versatile credit card with a $49 annual fee after the first year and a rewards program that pays 2 points per $1 spent on every purchase, every day. There are no caps or restrictions on earning potential.

Think of this card as a mashup of a cash back rewards credit card, a travel rewards credit card, and a general-purpose rewards card. Earned points can be redeemed for a wide variety of valuable items, including cash, gift cards, travel, merchandise, and more.

This card does come with one big caveat: it’s not available to members of the general public. You can’t qualify unless you’re a current (active duty) member of the military, honorably discharged or retired from the military, a civilian Department of Defense employee, or closely related (spouse or immediate family) to anyone who meets these qualifications. So, if you haven’t joined the military and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon, you may want to look for another rewards credit card.

If you do meet the NFCU Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Credit Card’s qualification criteria, you’re in for a treat, because this is arguably NFCU’s most generous credit card. Beyond the rewards program, it has a solid introductory balance transfer promotion, a relatively low ongoing APR, and a nice lineup of fringe benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from this premium card.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $3,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 30,000 bonus points. That’s worth up to $300 when redeemed toward travel items, such as hotels and airfare.

Earning Rewards

The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases. Points never expire, and there are no restrictions or caps on how many you can earn.

Redeeming Rewards

Points are redeemable for cash back deposits into an NFCU account, award travel booked through NFCU’s proprietary portal, general merchandise, gift cards, and other items. Points are worth up to $0.01 at redemption, but general merchandise redemptions may be worth less. Travel redemptions generally offer the best value. The minimum redemption threshold is 1,000 points (up to $10 value).

Important Fees

There is a $49 annual fee, waived in the first year. However, there is no foreign transaction fee or balance transfer fee. Most cash advances are free as well, though there is a $0.50 per advance at domestic non-NFCU ATMs and a $1 advance at international non-NFCU ATMs. Late and returned payments cost up to $20.

Visa Signature Benefits

This card has a nice lineup of Visa Signature benefits, including:

  • Extended warranties on items with existing manufacturers’ warranties of 12 months or less
  • Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to the card
  • Complimentary travel accident insurance (a bare-bones form of travel insurance)
  • Emergency assistance for travelers

Visa Merchant Discounts

NFCU Visa Signature Flagship Rewards cardholders enjoy attractive discounts at Visa partner merchants, including popular cultural institutions such as Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, destination attractions such as Madame Tussaud’s, travel vendors such as Gray Line Tours, and outfitters such as Calvin Klein and UGG.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit. If you have any significant issues in your credit history, you may have trouble qualifying.

Advantages

  1. Very Low Fees. NFCU Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Credit Card’s fee schedule is very reasonable. You don’t have to worry about balance transfer fees or foreign transaction fees here, and most cash advances cost nothing. If you avoid taking cash advances at non-NFCU ATMs and pay your bill on time, the only fee you’ll regularly encounter is the $49 annual fee – which you can offset with moderate to heavy spending.
  2. Very Good Rewards Rate. This card earns unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases. There’s no need to worry about rotating rewards categories, which popular cash back cards like Chase Freedom and Discover it build their rewards programs around – nor tiered cash back schemes offered by competitors such as Blue Cash Preferred from American Express (which also has a higher annual fee) and BankAmericard Cash Rewards.
  3. Excellent Sign-up Bonus. This card has a solid sign-up bonus: 30,000 bonus points when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account. That’s worth up to $300 when redeemed for travel – a 10% return on early-account spending.
  4. Nice Visa Signature Benefits. This card has an above-average slate of fringe benefits, including deep discounts at Visa partner merchants, complimentary insurance on rental cars, travel emergency assistance, and extended warranties on valuable items with existing manufacturer warranties. When used properly, you can save hundreds of dollars per year with these perks.

Disadvantages

  1. Annual Fee. After the first year, NFCU Visa Signature Flagship Rewards has a $49 annual fee. If you’re a light spender who doesn’t earn rewards quickly enough to offset this recurring charge, you might lose money on this deal. In that case, look for an annual-fee-free alternative such as NFCU cashRewards Credit Card, which earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  2. Point Earnings Capped at 2 Per $1 Spent. This card has a generous baseline earning rate: 2 points per $1 spent on everything. That’s a return on spending of roughly 2%. However, 2 points per $1 spent is also the hard cap on earnings. There’s no way to earn at a higher rate, no matter how much you spend or what you buy. If you’re looking for a credit card with rotating bonus categories or tiered rewards schemes that push your average earnings higher than 2%, check out Chase Freedom, Discover it, or BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card.
  3. Only Available to Military/DoD and Their Families. If you’re not a current or former member of the military, a civilian Department of Defense employee, or a family member of someone who meets either criteria, you’re not eligible for this card. Obviously, that disqualifies the vast majority of Americans – a loss for those intrigued by NFCU Visa Signature Flagship Rewards’s perks, but a gain for the dozens of other cash back and travel credit cards that cater to the general public.

Final Word

Navy Federal Credit Union’s name is a little misleading: you don’t have to be a current or former Navy sailor to qualify for membership. As long as you have an honorable record of military service, you’ve worked for the Department of Defense, or you’re closely related to someone who can claim either as a point of pride, your membership is assured. It’s the least NFCU can do for people who’ve sacrificed so much for their country.

Then again, though NFCU is accommodating, it’s not exactly an open club. If you don’t have military or DoD ties, you’re out of luck. As an alternative, consider joining State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU), a much more permissive credit union originally created for State Department employees. Thanks to eligibility loopholes, anyone can join SDFCU for a one-time contribution to an approved organization. Contribution minimums start as low as $15, putting SDFCU membership within reach even for those on the tightest of budgets.

Verdict
navy-federal credit union flagship rewards card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card

NFCU Flagship Rewards Credit Card is NFCU’s most generous rewards credit card. Users who spend enough to offset the $49 annual fee with earned rewards (or the sign-up bonus) make out well on the deal. Light-spending cardholders are likely to lose money on the annual fee, and those who spend heavily in specific categories (such as restaurants or grocery stores) are likely better served by rewards cards that prioritize those categories.

The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card‘s key benefits include its very low fees, solid rewards rate (roughly 2% return on spending), strong sign-up bonus, and Visa-backed fringe benefits.

Its major drawbacks include its $49 annual fee after the first year, a lack of bonus categories or tiers that could push the return on spending north of 2%, and the restrictive eligibility requirements. Overall, this is a great general-purpose rewards card for heavy spenders who meet the military or DoD requirements.

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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