Meridian Credit Union – Company Review
Meridian Credit Union is currently the 3rd largest credit union in country with an estimated 334,000 members, and their credit cards are some of their most popular financial products. They may be the perfect fit for you too, and if you’re curious about that, you’re in luck – we’ll be quickly covering all of this company’s credit card offerings below.
You May Be Interested In Meridian Credit Cards If
You’re looking for a credit card that meets in the middle in terms of rewards and benefits without making any sacrifices in performance. These are good cards all around and will suit most people just fine if they didn’t already have a specific card profile in mind.
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Meridian’s Credit Card Lineup
Like most providers, Meridian hasn’t limited itself to just one kind of credit card. Their selection falls into three major categories with one outlier that will be covered by itself.
Cash Back Credit Cards
The initial offering in the cash back category is the Meridian Visa Cash Back Card, a humble card that charges no annual fee but also won’t wow anyone with its features. With it, you can receive 0.5% cash back on all purchases and 1% cash back instead if you’re buying groceries, gas or drug store items or paying utility bills. These are items that almost everyone buys and usually spends a good deal of their money on, practically guaranteeing that you will benefit from that 1% rate for most of your spending. That rate isn’t what you’d call high, but it’s decent, and with the inclusion of the mobile device insurance that even this basic card comes with, it’s hard to argue that you’re getting a bad deal.
However, the best is yet to come. The second and arguably most generally appealing of Meridian’s cash back card set is the Meridian Visa Platinum Cash Back Card. For a middle-range card that is open to almost all applicants, this is one is great. Its 1% base cash back rate is nothing to get too excited over, but its 2% bonus rate on the same set of necessities described above is what makes it really shine. As mentioned previously, the fact that these items are such a big part of everyone’s budget effectively makes the bonus rate the standard rate for most people, and 2% is up there with what you would get from premium cards. Add in mobile device insurance that nearly everyone will appreciate and you have a card that ranks at the top of the lower-level cash back card market. The only reason to choose the basic card in this category is if you find the $49 annual fee to be galling, but in truth this charge is more than made up for by what you stand to gain in rewards.
Although it loses some general appeal due to the way in which it is heavily restricted by high application requirements, the crown jewel of this set is the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card. This card gets you a stellar 4% cash back on gas and groceries, and even if the rate drops back down to 2% for the drug store purchases and utility bills that round out the bonus categories and even further down to 1% for the rest of your purchases, that’s still an incredible offer. Chances are good that it will net you hundreds of dollars in cash back rewards without you even realizing it until the year is up, which is exactly what you want from this kind of card. As if that wasn’t enough, though, it also includes up to 48 days of emergency health care coverage while travelling. That’s one of the best overall offers you’ll find anywhere.
Travel Credit Cards
The second major category of credit cards that Meridian offers is travel cards, though this time there are only two potential choices for individual consumers. The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is the most accessible of these two. This card is ostensibly a mis-tier option, but the lack of a card lower than it in the travel category is telling. Obviously, it provides travel reward points (the points system does allow for other redemption possibilities as well), but it does so at the rate of just 1 point per dollar unless you happen to be spending in foreign currency – and if you are, that small rate it only doubled. There are far more impressive cards out there in terms of points yields, and that downside combined with the lack of outstanding benefits (there are virtually no travel benefits included, which is a shame) and the $49 annual fee makes this one a tough sell. It’s a decent enough card that doesn’t fall too far below its competitors, but it’s a markedly lesser option among this strong set.
The superior option that some fortunate clients will be able to get is the Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card, which bumps up the rewards rates to 1.5 points per dollar on normal purchases and 3 points per dollar on foreign currency purchases. It’s only available to Meridian’s most privileged clients, but that actually work in its favour because this demographic is far more likely to be travelling often and using that foreign currency bonus opportunity. This card is also noteworthy for including the travel insurance that was such an obvious omission from the previous one: it provides up to $5,000,000 in emergency health care coverage for travellers under the age of 75 for up to 48 days. This is an excellent benefit that makes this card one of the best around.
Business Credit Cards
The Meridian Visa Business Cash Back Plus Card is Meridian’s starter card on the business side of things. This card is exactly what you’d expect it to be from looking at its title and the other cards similar to it in the segments above: it offers businesses a chance to gain cash back rewards on their purchases. It’s a basic card offering 1% cash back on all purchases that Meridian claims is best suited for businesses with credit needs totalling anywhere between $500 and $100,000. While it’s nothing special, it’s a serviceable card that is free to obtain, comes with some helpful expense management tools that might help newer businesses in particular to get a handle on things, will get the job done for you and even comes with a little mobile device insurance as a side benefit. Overall, most businesses could do a lot worse than this card, assuming they don’t have the clout to qualify for something better.
Then there’s the Meridian Visa Flex Business Cash Back Plus Card, a slightly more unusual option that combines a cash back system with a low-interest approach as well. With it, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all your purchases, but you’ll also pay a low Prime-based interest rate on outstanding balances that could save some businesses hundreds of dollars. That makes it more than worth the $49 annual fee for many. Despite this being an extremely advantageous setup that many consumers would be incredibly happy to have, it makes sense that this combo is only available on a business card. Businesses are more likely than private consumers to be using credit cards to help with cash flow, which means they are also more likely to carry a balance from time to time. Because of this, this card can be great for businesses who know they will struggle to always pay off their monthly bill in full, but who also don’t want to forgo the chance to get a little extra cash from their card.
The very best option here, though, is the Meridian Visa Infinite Business Cash Back Plus Card. This card can get you 1.5% cash back on standard transactions and a full 3% cash back on foreign currency purchases. While this wouldn’t be a very exciting offering for a personal credit card, people who are operating a business often have to make purchases from suppliers based all around the world, so they have more chances to take advantage of this bonus category than most. It also bundles in some extra car rental insurance, some travel insurance and the same mobile device coverage that all these cards have. It’s not the most impressive card you’ll find at this level, but it measures up to the overall standard. You’ll need to be representing a bigger business or have excellent income yourself ($60,000+) in order to get it, but if you can, it’s worth a look.
Meridian Visa US Dollar Card
This is the only credit card Meridian offers that does not fall into one of the three standard categories described above, offering something significantly different that you can’t get from all providers. It’s somewhat similar to a travel credit card in that it is most useful to those who spend a lot of time outside of the country, but it does not offer travel rewards. Instead, it offers the ability to shop in USD without incurring costly foreign transaction fees.
Unlike many other US dollar cards, though, it doesn’t do this just by waiving those fees. It actually keeps track of your balance in USD over the course of the entire month, then asks you to pay back the balance in USD you’ve already had converted and loaded into a Meridian US savings or chequing account. This is not a standard practice and actually asks a lot of you as a consumer, forcing you to manage a separate debit account in a foreign currency just to use this card. If you’re doing that anyway, this card might make more sense for you, and it does offer a fairly good reward system (1 point per dollar spent on anything) when few others attach any rewards at all to this type of card. For most people, though, this one is just an oddity in Meridian’s otherwise very good credit card range.
Although this company’s cards perform well for customers of all levels, they are especially friendly to those on the bottom rungs of the credit ladder. They excel in terms of mixing appealing rewards with good benefits, offering the kinds of insurance and extras on basic cards that you would usually have to upgrade to a mid-tier option or even higher to ever see.
One of the other big things they have going for them independent of any of their credit card specifics is their status as a credit union as opposed to a bank. This means that they are not-for-profit and do not have the burden of being beholden to shareholders. Their equivalent of shareholders is their own association of members, which anyone has the opportunity to be part of. Most credit unions do not have the same level of financial power that you would see in one of the big banks, meaning that they will not necessarily be able to match them in points earnings rates or advantageous corporate partnerships at times. This is to be expected to an extent, though, and Meridian’s offerings are generally more than good enough to stand up to what you’ll find elsewhere. That leaves them with few downsides to choosing their cards, but a distinct ethical advantage to those who are conflicted about giving their business to a big bank.
What We Think
Meridian is a pretty solid credit card provider, if not a standout in any particular area. In a way, that lack of distinction is their niche – their cards are balanced first and foremost, and no matter which of them you choose, you’ll never lose out. On top of that, they are a great credit union option for Ontarians that you can count on to always be motivated to work towards better offerings for you. If you don’t have anything specific in mind when shopping around for your new credit card, their range is a great place to start.