Wealth and Wants

Navy Federal Credit Union’s exciting card refresh

An update to a card that already had generous bonus categories has made it even more rewarding


The newly refreshed Navy Federal More Rewards American Express card will offer 3 points per dollar at restaurants and on transit in addition to its existing 3X categories. It’s the highest return I’ve seen on everyday spending with no annual fee.

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Navy Federal Credit Union is announcing a significant refresh of its Navy Federal More Rewards American Express card today.

The card will offer 3 points per dollar at restaurants and on transit in addition to its existing 3X categories (supermarkets and gas stations). All other spending will continue to earn 1 point per dollar. The changes take effect next month.

The 30,000-point welcome bonus remains in effect. It’s worth $300 and requires new cardholders to spend $3,000 within the first 90 days. This card offers the highest return I’ve seen on everyday spending with no annual fee, and its welcome bonus ties the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card for the most generous cash payout among no annual fee cards.

Navy Federal’s rewards points are very flexible. They’re worth 1 cent apiece whether you redeem for cash back, gift cards or travel. I’d opt for cash back because it’s the simplest option, although you can request a gift card or book travel through the credit union’s online portal if you desire.

See related:  Discover has launched cash back categories for Q4 2019

How to use it

If you want to keep things really simple, you could use the More Rewards card for all of your spending and still earn a solid return. The baseline for a good flat-rate cash back card is 2 percent (particularly with no annual fee).

The More Rewards card gives 3 percent on many transportation and food expenses, and these are Americans’ top spending categories after housing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s not usually feasible to earn credit card rewards on your rent or mortgage payments, so I could see a lot of households doing quite well with their credit card strategy by using the More Rewards card regularly.

It’s entirely possible you could put all of your credit card spending on this one card and come out with a total return greater than 2 percent because it’s weighted in favor of high spending areas.

It’s easier to join Navy Federal Credit Union than most people think. Navy Federal says about 150 million U.S. citizens are eligible for membership. That includes all Department of Defense and Coast Guard active duty, veterans, civilian and contractor personnel and their families. Eligible family members include grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and additional household members.

See related:  Americans’ favorite credit card feature is 3 percent cash back on all purchases, poll shows

Other benefits

The introductory offer also includes 0 percent interest for 12 months on new purchases (it used to be 1.99 percent for six months). This can be advantageous for those looking to spread out new purchases. For example, military families tend to move around a lot, so I can see the benefit of deferring payments on the many expenses associated with relocating to a new home.

You need to be careful to pay them off before the clock runs out, however. This card’s normal, non-promotional interest rate ranges from 11.90 to 18 percent. Like other credit unions, these rates are lower than we typically see on bank and store cards, but they’re still high.

The More Rewards card does not charge annual, foreign transaction, balance transfer or cash advance fees.

There are some ancillary benefits, too. They include:

  • Up to 25 percent off car rentals, plus car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
  • Roadside assistance
  • Discounts and additional rewards from over 900 retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy and Macy’s
  • Travel and entertainment deals, including presale tickets for shows, sports and concerts
  • Special savings and freebies via the American Express Global Dining Program

In summary, cash back is Americans’ favorite credit card reward by a wide margin, and the revamped Navy Federal More Rewards American Express card is a strong contender in that popular market.

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Published: August 9, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 21st, 2019
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