Reviews State Employees’ Credit Union credit card review
State Employees’ Credit Union credit card review

State Employees’ Credit Union credit card review

Published: April 24, 2017
Ratings Policy
Low Interest Rating:
2.2 rating
2.2 rating
2.2 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 2.4
Rewards: 0.0
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

This inexpensive credit union credit card carries the same low rate for every cardholder and charges some of the industry’s all-time lowest fees, but lacks a zero percent introductory offer.

Regular APR
7.75%

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
None

Fees

  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • 0.8-1% foreign transaction fee
  • No cash advance fee

Penalties

  • $5 late-payment fee
  • No penalty APR
  • $5 returned-payment fee

Other Notable Features: Overdraft protection, car rental insurance

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If you live in the Southeast and work as a public employee, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more inexpensive credit card than this bare-bones low interest rate card.

The State Employees’ Credit Union credit card isn’t fancy, so you won’t find luxury rewards or exclusive benefits attached to this plain vanilla card. But if you qualify for membership, you’ll be rewarded with one of the lowest interest rates available, as well as some of the lowest fees.

On the downside, cardholders who are seeking to cut costs on interest payments will be disappointed to find that the card also doesn’t include a zero percent introductory offer. Also, eligibility is limited. To be eligible for a State Employees’ Credit Union credit card, you need to live in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee or Virginia and be a current or retired state of North Carolina employee, public school employee or county department employee or be a member of the North Carolina National Guard. Close family members of current credit union members are also eligible.

The same low rate for every cardholder
The State Employees’ Credit Union card takes the guesswork out of applying for a credit card by charging every cardholder the same low rate. As long as your credit score is high enough to qualify for a new card, you can count on being charged just 7.75 percent per year, which is one of the lowest rates available on any credit card. By contrast, most cards advertise a wide range of APRs, making you guess what rate you’ll be offered after you apply. If your credit is anything short of perfect, you’ll have a hard time finding a comparably priced card. For example, the average low rate card charges a minimum APR of 11.66 percent, according to CreditCards.com data.

Hardly any fees
The State Employees’ Credit Union credit card also charges just the bare minimum of fees, making it a good choice for cardholders who regularly use fee-based services. It doesn’t charge a cash advance or balance transfer fee, so you can consolidate debt from other cards without paying a hefty penalty. It also charges a maximum fee of just 1 percent for foreign transactions. By contrast, most low interest rate cards charge at least 3 percent for foreign transactions. In addition, State Employees’ Credit Union charges just $5 if you miss a payment or if your payment is returned, while other cards charge up to $35 for the same offense. You also won’t be charged a penalty APR if you fall behind on payments, so you don’t have to worry about a sudden rate hike either.

No introductory offer

The biggest detractor to this card is its lack of a zero percent introductory offer. Many low interest cards offer a zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 12 months of membership or longer. Cardholders who plan to transfer or build up a balance on the State Employees’s Credit Union card could find themselves paying hundreds of dollars more in interest than if they had financed the balance at zero percent.

Few cardholder benefits
On the downside, the State Employees’ Credit Union card doesn’t offer any cardholder promotions, so you may be better off choosing a card with a zero percent APR on balance transfers if you plan to consolidate a significant amount of debt. This card also doesn’t come with any rewards, nor does it offer very many cardholder benefits. For example, the State Employees’ Credit Union card offers complimentary car insurance coverage, but it doesn’t offer any other standard credit card perks, such as extended warranty or emergency travel assistance.

Reasons to get it:

  • You qualify for a State Employees’ Credit Union membership and want the least expensive card you can get.
  • You plan to carry a balance and need a safer card with a predictable interest rate.
  • You regularly use fee-based services, such as cash advances, and would benefit from the card’s consumer-friendly fee schedule.

How to use it:

  • Use this card for any purchases you can’t repay in full. However, try to pay off as much as you can afford each month so that your debt stays under control.
  • Do the math before transferring a balance. The SECU credit card doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, which can potentially save you a bundle in fees. However, it also doesn’t offer a zero percent promotion, so you can wind up paying more in interest than you would with a more traditional zero percent balance transfer card.
  • If you don’t have any cards that waive foreign transaction fees, use this card when traveling abroad. The fees that this card charges are among the lowest you can get on a credit card.

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. 

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