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State Department Federal Credit Union EMV Savings Secured Card

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Picture of SDFCU EMV Savings Secured Platinum Visa
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By : Mr Credit Card

The State Department Federal Credit Union Secured is one of the best secured cards available. It's main highlights are

  • No annual fee
  • Low rate
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Chip and Pin
  • No credit check (though they do check chexsystem)

Card Details
Card Details

Here are the key details of this card.

Annual Fee : $0 - Yes, this is great news as most secured credit cards charge a modest annual fee.

APR : 6.99% (variable rate which varies with prime rate). This is a fantastic rate for a secured card. In fact, it is the lowest among those that we have compared. Having said that, according to SDFCU's website, whether you get this rate or not depends on their evaluation of your credit (which is strange because it says explicitly on their website that they do not do any credit checks - more on that later).

Foreign Transaction Fees : None. This is great news for those who plan to use this card abroad.

Chip Technology - This card also come with Chip and Pin technology. This is in contrast to many US issuers who only offer Chip and Signature technology (which is less secure than Pin). In Europe, chip and pin is the standard so this card sets you up perfectly for your overseas use.

No Credit Check : According to their website, there will be no credit checks if you apply for this card. This makes it an ideal card for those with bad credit (since many folks have been turned down for secured credit cards - which will surprise some of you). Having said that consumers have reported that while they do not do a hard pull on your credit report, they do check with the chexsystem. So if you have a problem with Chexsystem, you will probably get denied.
Flexpoint Program - Earn Points
Flexpoint Program - Earn Points

Unlike most secured cards, this one comes with a reward program. It is called Flexpoints. This is how it works. You will earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card.

In addition to regular spending, you can also earn extra points in the following way :

Online Bill Pay - If you use their online Bill Pay system, you will get 5 points each time you use it. I would assume that you would use it once a month to pay your bills. So using it will get you 60 extra points in one calendar year.

Perks Points Mall - This card also has an online shopping mall called the Perks Points Mall. If you log into your account and go to online stores through your account rather than directly through your web browser, you can earn 5 points for every dollar that you spend at their partner stores (and you have to pay with your card off course).

More Points Site - In your account, there is a "More Points Site" that is accessible from the Flexpoints site. This is where there are deals. If you shop through here, you will earn 3 points for every dollar that you spend.

What can you redeem points for? - The points that you earn can be redeemed for merchandises, gift cards, travel and charities.

Who Is Eligible?
Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for this card, you either have to be working for the State Department, or being a member of certain organizations that are affiliated with them. You can check the list here. Alternatively, you could join the American Consumer Council (ACC) for a one-time $15. You will have to fill in ACC during your application when you open an account.

How does this card report to the credit bureaus?
It is reported as secured.

Is there an automatic upgrade path to an unsecured credit card
As far as we know, there is no automatic path to an unsecured card.
Opinion and Verdict
Opinion and Verdict

There a lots of secured credit cards in the market and most a very similar. They tend of have annual fees that range from $19 to $50. Some will report as secured while other report as unsecured.

Even without looking at the terms and conditions of every card out there, it is pretty obvious that this card belongs to the very top tier of market. Firstly, there is no annual fee. Secondly, the rate is very low (even though we recommend that you always pay in full). There is no foreign transaction fees (which is great if you need to use this abroad) and the card comes with Chip and Pin technology. The card can be used with Apple Pay and there is also a reward program.

But perhaps the best feature is that there is no hard pull on your credit (though they do check the Chexsystem).

At this moment, I am going to put this card as my #1 pick in the best and worst secured card list. In my opinion, it beats out (marginally) the Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card because (unlike Navy Federal), you do not need to be a military member to get the card (you just need to join ACC). The fact that they do not do any credit checks gives it a slight edge over all other cards too.

If you are looking at getting a secured card to rebuild or build your credit, then this card should be a very strong candidate.