Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card review

Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card review

Published: November 17, 2020
Published: November 17, 2020
Ratings Policy
Credit Building Rating:
4.0 rating
4.0 rating
4.0 / 5
Cost of Membership4.3
Ease of Building Credit3.7
APR4.5
Features4.3

In a Nutshell:

The Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card rolls up savory features like low fees, unlimited flat-rate rewards and credit line upgrade reviews into one secured card for NFCU accountholders.

Average Cost of Membership Per Year ($3,600 annual spend)

$0+$36 in rewards

 

Very Good

Security Deposit Required

$200-$5,000

Average

Initial Credit Limit

$200-$5,000 (equal to your deposit)

Very Good

Access To Higher Credit Line?

  • Account review for higher credit limit at 3 months
  • Account review to graduate to unsecured card at 6 months
Excellent

APR

18.00% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Excellent

Annual Fee

$0 (See rates and fees)

Excellent

Other Rates and Fees

  • Foreign transaction fee: 0%
  • Cash advance APR: 2% above your variable rate
  • Cash advance fee: $0
  • Late payment fee: Up to $20
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $20
  • (See rates and fees)
Excellent

Rewards

1X points on all eligible purchases

Very Good

Other Notable Features: 24/7 access to stateside member representatives, no balance transfer or foreign transaction fees, freeze/unfreeze your cards, $0 liability for unauthorized transactions, fraud notifications, free FICO Score access, account upgrade reviews, cell phone protection, tap to pay, auto rental Collision Damage Waiver, additional Visa or Mastercard benefits

Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Credit Card Review: More Details

Although it’s not the most accessible card for the average person, the Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card is a dream secured credit card if you’re an eligible Navy Federal Credit Union military or family member trying to raising your credit score.

In fact, its rewards rate, low fees, automatic credit line upgrade reviews and benefits are all individually competitive, so finding this combination on one card makes it one of the best cards for military members.

Earning points

One of the Navy Federal Secured credit card key perks is that it’s one of the few secured credit cards to earn rewards, thanks to its special military credit card rates and benefits.

You can earn 1 nRewards point per dollar spent with no rewards cap. It’s no rewards powerhouse by any stretch, but earning unlimited rewards with bad credit or no credit history is a valuable opportunity you won’t find with every issuer.

Redeeming points

There are a surprising number of ways you can redeem your Navy Federal Secured card points for cash back.

You’ll be able to use your nRewards for a direct deposit to your Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) savings account, “Pay with Points” statement credits covering up to three card transactions, merchandise, gift cards/certificates or a prepaid Navy Federal Visa Awards Card equal to your cash rewards balance.

No matter what you choose, the rewards program terms show that your points can only be redeemed in 5,000-point increments for $50 toward your reward option, which makes each point worth 1 cent.

Card rates and fees

For a no annual fee card, the NFCU Secured credit card delivers exceptionally low rates and fees if you’re building credit. The security deposit starts at a standard $200 minimum with a $5,000 maximum deposit. Providing a deposit that high can help you keep a low credit utilization ratio and kick-start your journey toward a higher credit score.

Most importantly, there is no annual fee, so ongoing fees won’t eat into your rewards. No foreign transaction fees mean that you won’t lose up to 3% of each transaction while you’re stationed overseas, plus you won’t be charged balance transfer fees or cash advance fees (2% cash advance APR).

Unfortunately, there isn’t an introductory zero-interest offer, but that’s already uncommon for cards at this credit level. On the bright side, the 18% (variable) APR is well below the average interest rate compared to other cards for bad or limited credit and the nRewards Secured credit card doesn’t pose a penalty APR.

The late fees are also incredibly generous in case you get in a pinch. The late and returned payment fees only go up to $20 (usually up to $40).

Card benefits

Outside its cost-effective rates and fees, the Navy Federal Credit Union secured card carries a healthy platter of valuable perks that you don’t often find with competing secured cards.

  • Credit line upgrades – The Navy Federal Secured credit card reviews your account automatically for responsible credit behavior. After three months, you could qualify for additional credit beyond your deposit. You can also graduate to the unsecured Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card after a review at six months.
  • Cellphone protection – By paying your cellphone bill with your card, your phone is insured for up to $250 per claim in case it’s stolen or damaged (max of two claims per 12-month period, subject to $50 deductible).
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver – When you decline the agency’s rental car insurance and you pay with your card, your rented vehicle can be covered for damage, vandalism, theft and reasonable towing and loss of use charges.
  • Visa benefits and discounts – As a Visa card, your nRewards Secured is eligible for a variety of other travel and shopping discounts, including bonus cash back with the Navy Federal Member Deals program.

How does the Navy Federal Secured credit card compare to other secured cards?

All of these valuable features make the NFCU nRewards card a competitive option, but it isn’t accessible for most people looking for a secured card, since you need to be a current or former military member or qualifying family member to apply. Here are a few alternate cards to consider:

Discover it® Secured review

Discover it® Secured

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® review

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card review

U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card

Rewards rate

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Rewards rate

  • N/A
Rewards rate

  • N/A
First-year bonus

  • All cash back earned by the end of the first 12 months will be matched
First-year bonus

  • N/A
First-year bonus

  • N/A
Annual fee and/or security deposit

  • $0 annual fee
  • $200 to $2,500 security deposit (matches credit limit)
Annual fee and/or security deposit

  • $0 annual fee
  • $49-$200 (depending on creditworthiness) ($200-$1,000 initial credit limit, depending on your deposit)
Annual fee and/or security deposit

  • $0 annual fee
  • $300-$5,000 (matches credit limit)
Other things to know

  • 22.99% APR (variable)
  • Automatic monthly reviews to “graduate” to an unsecured card starting at eight months with responsible credit use
  • No penalty APR, no late fee on your first late payment, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fees
Other things to know

  • 26.99% APR (variable)
  • Automatic reviews to “graduate” to an unsecured card or higher credit line starting at six months with responsible credit use
  • No penalty APR, up to $40 late fee and no foreign transaction fees
Other things to know

  • 18.99% APR (variable)
  • No penalty APR, up to $40 late fee, no overlimit fee and 2% foreign transaction fee in USD (3% in a foreign currency)

Discover it® Secured

Although the rates and fees aren’t as appealing as the NFCU secured card’s, the Discover it Secured card won’t charge foreign transaction fees if you make purchases while stationed overseas, and its rewards and first-year cash back match offer are hard to beat.

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Capital One’s secured card doesn’t offer rewards, but it’s a solid option if you need to provide a smaller security deposit. Plus, the six-month unsecured card graduation review is comparable to the Navy Federal nRewards’ six-month upgrade review.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card

The U.S. Bank secured card does charge foreign transaction fees, but its lower interest rate and $5,000 max credit limit could make it easier to keep a low credit utilization ratio and build credit if you know you’ll need to occasionally carry a balance.

Who should get the Navy Federal Secured credit card?

  • Qualifying current or prior military personnel and their family members that are rebuilding credit or need a starter card.
  • Military spouses establishing or reinforcing their individual credit.
  • Younger military members –or those new to credit – who want to build credit and earn rewards while changing stations.

How to use the Navy Federal Secured credit card:

  • Use the card for all eligible purchases to earn nRewards points, then punctually and consistently pay it off to build credit.
  • Follow the seven steps to improve your credit score and use the free FICO score check benefit to monitor your progress and upgrade to an unsecured card after six months.
  • Pay for your cellphone bill and any rental vehicles with the card to protect them against loss or damage.
  • Use it while stationed abroad to dodge foreign transaction fees.

Is the Navy Federal Secured credit card worth it?

If you’re trying to build your credit and you qualify for a savings account with Navy Federal Credit Union, the Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card is one of the best secured cards available. The rewards rate isn’t mind-blowing, but the diverse cash back redemption options, low fees and benefits make this card a valuable credit-building opportunity.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.