You’ve been hunting for a while, and you’re excited that you may have finally found the right credit union in Navy Federal.
The better news? They have multiple card options, depending on what benefits you’re looking for.
Here, we break down the best Navy Federal credit cards based on what you’re looking for, and how to choose one for you.
Things to Know about Navy Federal Cards
First, let’s talk about the credit union.
Navy Federal has been a credit union since 1933. They’ve never strayed from their core mission: being the most preferred and trusted financial institution for military service members and their families, whether they’re active duty, retired, no longer in the military, or even changed employers.
So if you’re in the military and need a credit card that will have your back, Navy Federal is a great choice regardless of your service branch.
Even after choosing your credit union, selecting a credit card is a combination of art and science.
Before you sign on the dotted line and jump down a rabbit hole, here are four steps to cover:
Check Your Credit
First of all, check your credit.
This isn’t just good information to have in your back pocket. Your credit score will tell you what cards you’re eligible for. The better your score, the better chance you have when requesting a card with great perks.
The good news is there are many ways to check your credit score. The three major credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) sell credit scores, but there are many good free options online.
If you have bad credit, don’t worry – you’re not out of options. Check out our post on requesting loans with poor credit and the best cards for bad credit for more information to help you on your way.
Figure out a Type of Card
Once you know your credit score, you can figure out what type of card best suits your needs. This is usually based on what features you are looking for.
For example, if you prefer a card with great cash back options, it doesn’t make much sense to request a Navy Federal card that emphasizes low interest.
It also doesn’t make as much sense to request a card that helps repair your credit if your credit is already pretty good.
There are generally three types of cards:
- Cards that save on interest
- Cards that earn rewards
- Cards that help improve damaged credit
Figuring out what your priorities are will help determine what type of card is best for you. That way, you won’t waste time requesting one that you don’t really need.
Narrow Your Choices
Once you know your priorities, you can start to narrow down your options.
Let’s say you’re in the market for a card with low-interest. Choose one with 0 percent introductory APR and low ongoing interest, especially if you plan to only use it for emergencies.
If, on the other hand, you’re a student without much credit, or looking to boost your score after a major hit, student or secured deposit cards may be a good choice.
With a secured deposit card, you generally make a security deposit of around $200. This money is returned to you either when the account is upgraded or closed in good standing.
Go for the Highest Overall Value
Above all, if you’re choosing between cards, make sure to go for one with the highest overall value.
For example, a secured deposit card may be set apart by factors like:
- whether the credit limit automatically increases
- whether your deposit is placed in an interest-earning CD
On the other hand, a great low-interest card may include features like no late fees or penalty APR.
Questions to Ask
It all comes down to asking the right questions when you request a Navy Federal card. A few good ones include:
- Is a rewards card a good choice?
- Does the card offer additional benefits?
- Will the card help you build credit?
- How much does it cost to open an account?
- What is the balance transfer policy?
- Under what circumstances can the issuer revoke rewards?
- Is there a foreign transaction fee?
- What kind of fraud protection is available?
- What happens if you fall behind on payments?
- How long is the grace period?
- Does the card have an introductory rate?
- What is the credit limit?
- How hard is it to increase the credit limit?
You may have a few more based on the type of card you’re looking for, but these are a good place to start.
Who These Cards Are Great for
Navy Federal is known for giving great benefits to military personnel and their families.
This includes service members in the army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and veterans.
In fact, they have specific offers just for military personnel, including low rates, member specials, and discounts. There are even special offers for cadets and midshipmen.
Plus, once you join, your family can receive these perks too – even if you’re part of the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).
Pros and Cons of the Best Cards
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best cards Navy Federal credit union has to offer.
These vary between cards and depend on what you value most in a card. Keep in mind that every card has strengths and weaknesses – what matters is choosing one that’s right for you.
We’ve broken it into three categories based on the following criteria: the best cash back card, the best restaurant rewards card, and the best low-interest card.
Take a look at all of them, and don’t skim over the cons of the card you think will be your first choice. You never know when you might be surprised.
Best Cash Back Card: cashRewards Credit Card
First, let’s take a look at the best Navy Federal cash back card: the cashRewards credit card.
It’s competitive with other cash back cards, and it works great for anyone looking for easy-to-redeem cash rewards. In fact, it’s one of the most popular cards Navy Federal offers, and for good reason – it’s hard to compete with a 1.5 percent cash back reward on every purchase.
Let’s break down where this card excels and where it lags.
The big winner for the cashRewards card is obviously that 1.5 percent cash back reward on every purchase.
Plus, you can’t beat a $0 annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no balance transfer fees.
If you spend $500 within the first 90 days of purchasing the card, you’ll get $100 back.
In case you’re concerned about the lag times between when you get your rewards and when you use them, no worries. The rewards are unlimited, so they never expire.
Of course, this comes with a few caveats.
The rewards aren’t as good as some other comparable cash back cards like the Citi Double Cash Card.
It also doesn’t offer the 0 percent introductory APR that its competitors bring to the table, though it does have a variable APR of 10.9 percent to 18 percent.
There’s also no maximum over limit fee, and the max penalty APR is 18 percent.
Best Restaurant Card: GO REWARDS Credit Card
For the foodies among us, take a closer look at the GO REWARDS credit card.
Let’s put it this way: if you’re a big fine of dining out or you’re a busy professional who just doesn’t have the time to cook, this is the card you’ve been looking for.
It’s not just for food either – the GO REWARDS card offers a tiered reward system for various spending categories like gas, restaurants, and more. So whatever you need rewards for, the GO REWARDS card can help out.
The GO Rewards card is structured to benefit you based on specific kinds of spending. We mentioned the tiered reward system for popular spending categories, which is based on a point structure.
At restaurants, you earn three points for every one dollar spent. For gas, you earn two points for every dollar spent, and for every other spending category, you get one point matched for every dollar spent.
Do the math. If you spend money in these categories often (chances are, you probably do), then the points add up fast.
What’s even better is that the points don’t have to be spent within their specific category. You can use them for redemption options from travel to gift cards and more.
Of course, you can’t use points left and right. This is the big drawback of the card.
You can’t start using points until you’ve accrued at least 1,000 of them. The rewards also expire four years after they’re earned, so if you don’t spend on restaurants or gas frequently, the card may not ultimately be worth it.
Frankly, to get the most out of your rewards, you should be using this card for all of your dining and gas purchases. This will make sure that points accrue quickly enough that you can use them before they expire.
Otherwise, a flat-rate rewards card without an expiration date on said rewards may be a better option (scroll back up to the cash back card).
Best Low-Interest: Union Platinum Credit Card
To be perfectly honest, this card doesn’t look quite as exciting from the outset as the other two. It doesn’t offer any rewards system like the GO REWARDS or the cashRewards card, so you might be tempted to overlook this particular Navy Federal card.
You shouldn’t. You’d be passing up a solid option.
This card shines on a front that’s attractive to many: a low interest rate.
The biggest plus?
This card has the lowest interest rate that Navy Federal has to offer.
In fact, the APR is lower than most cards available on the market with a variable APR between 7.24 percent and 18 percent for balance transfers depending on your credit score. The national average is around 16 percent.
And like the other Navy Federal cards, there are no foreign transaction fees, no balance transfers, and no annual fees. If you want a card that gets the job done without breaking the bank, this one delivers on that promise.
Like everything else, the Union Platinum Credit Card has its drawbacks.
First, be aware that you may not qualify for the lowest APR on this card.
The APR you get is determined based on your credit score. If your credit score is less than perfect, you may be looking at the higher end of the APR spectrum.
Low interest can be attractive if you’re in a rough financial patch, but you may not qualify for the APR you want on this card, which could actually make things worse for you in the long run.
You should also keep in mind that this card doesn’t come with the benefits of the other two cards. There are no cash back rewards and no points system for common spending categories.
In fact, the benefits it offers are pretty basic.
So if you’re in the market for a card that pays you back based on your spending, this one may not be the right choice.
Finding the Right Card for You
Think you’ve found the right Navy Federal card for you?
Let us help you get there.
We were founded with the goal of being the best resource for people who need to solve financial problems and make sense of personal finance. Whether you’re requesting a loan or finding the credit card that’s right for you, we’ve got you covered.
If you have bad credit and need to work on rebuilding your credit score, let us help. Click here to get started on the process of rebuilding your credit history.
Or, if you need to submit a request to our customer service department, let us know. We’d love to help you figure it out and get your finances back on track.