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Federal Navy nRewards Secured Card

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By : Mr Credit Card

This is perhaps one of the best secured cards in the market today because of the following features:

  • No Annual Fee
  • Reward Program
  • Chip and PIN
  • Reports as unsecured
  • Can be upgrade and converted to unsecured card

Card Details
Card Details

Annual Fee : $0 - Yes, you saw this right. This is one of the very rare secured cards that does not charge an annual fee.

APR : $8.99% to 18.99% (this rate is variable which is tied to the prime rate). While they offer a range of potential APR that you could get , the lowest is 8.99% (which is pretty damn good). Having said that, we recommend that you always pay your bills in full regardless.

Foreign Transaction Fee : 0.8% if it is in US Dollars. If it needs to be converted, then it will be 1%. While they do charge a FX fee, 0.8% or 1% is still lower than the typical 3% that many issuers charge.

Minimum Deposit : The minimum deposit is $500. You will be given a credit line that is equal to the amount of deposit that you put up.

Minimum Payment : The minimum payment that a card holder has to pay is the greater of either 2% of balance or $20.

Apple Pay : - Another thing that is very attractive is the fact that this card can is compatible with Apply Pay. As a reminder, to use Apple Pay, you need an iPhone 6 or 6 plus (and models above - the new "s" series) and IOS 8.1.

Chip Technology - With PIN : This card also comes with Chip and Pin technology for more secure transactions. In the US, some retailers are equipped with Chip and Signature readers. But in Europe, Chip and Pin is the standard and more secure.

Reward Program
Reward Program

Unlike most secured credit cards, this one actually has a reward program. You can earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card. Points are good for four years. You can earn unlimited rewards (though for a secured card with a small credit limit, this is not such a big deal).

You can start redeeming points for either gift cards or merchandise once you have earned 1,000 points. The Navy Federal website the following examples.

  • 2,000 points for $10 gift card from Starbucks® or Applebee's®
  • 3,500 points for $25 gift card from Best Buy® or iTunes® Music Store
  • 7,500 points for $75 Gap® gift card or Navy Federal Visa® Awards Card

Based on the redemption ratio above, it appears that you need to redeem from 7,500 points to get a 1% return.

Who Can Get This Card?
Who Can Get This Card?

To get this card, you need to be related to the Military or married to someone related to the military. According to the Navy Federal Website, you are eligible to join the credit union (hence be able to get this card ) if:

  • Active Duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard
  • Army and Air National Guard
  • Delayed Entry Program
  • DoD Officer Candidate/ROTC
  • DoD Reservists
  • Retirees and annuitants
  • DoD Civilian Employees
  • U.S. Government Employees Assigned to DoD Installations
  • DoD Contractors Assigned to U.S. Government Installations
  • DoD Civilian retirees and annuitants

Peer Comparison
Peer Comparison

There are lots of secured credit cards in the market and they are all very similar to each other. Most have annual fees than typically range from $25 to $48. APRs tend to range from 8.99% to 36%. Some report as unsecured while others report as secured. Some automatically converts to an unsecured while others do not.

The Navy Federal stands out from the crowd because it has no annual fee and has a low rate (if you qualify for it). Furthermore, they have a reward program which very few secured cards have. They also have an online shopping mall which allows you to earn even more points.

If we really have to compare this with one card, I guess it would be with USAA's own secured credit card. Like Navy Federal, USAA requires that you are a member of the military and join their membership. Their card comes with a $35 annual fee and has no rewards program. So if we compare these two cards from military credit unions, Navy Federal comes out on top.

Opinion and Verdict
Opinion and Verdict

I'll come straight to the point. The Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card is arguably the best secured credit card available in the market today. It has no annual fee (quite rare) and a reward program (extremely rare for a secured card). I can only think of two downsides to this card. The first is that not everyone can get this card. You have to be a member of the military (based on the definition above) to be able to join the credit union (which will then allow you to apply for this card). Secondly, the minimal deposit is slightly on the high side. Most secured cards require just $250 to $300 as the initial deposit (versus $500 for this card).

If you are able to join the Navy Federal Credit Union, and are looking to rebuild or rebuild your credit, then just get this card. As far as we are concerned, we have put this card #1 on our best and worst secured card list.