nRewards Secured

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Rewards paired with no fees make this secured card a stand-out.

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The nRewards Secured card from Navy Federal Credit Union offers this rare combination: It pays credit card rewards to those who are also working on rebuilding their credit. That’s something you’ll find with just a handful of secured credit cards.

Review

If you’re looking for a secured credit card it typically means one of two things:

  • You have a poor credit history and don’t qualify for an unsecured card.
  • You don’t have enough credit history to qualify for an unsecured card.

What sets the nRewards Secured card apart is its lack of fees coupled with its award-earning potential. For every $1 spent, you’ll earn 1 point, worth about 1 cent when you redeem it for merchandise or gift cards through Navy Federal’s portal.

It’s not uncommon to see secured cards that charge an annual fee, a processing fee or sometimes a combination of both. The nRewards card skips these charges. Navy Federal Members can open an account with only a security deposit, starting at a minimum of $500, and using that amount as the line of credit.

Lower fees are an important benefit because any upfront cost you have to pay will instantly reduce your purchasing power and chip away at your credit utilization ratio, which can negatively impact your score.

For example, if you put down $500 to get a secured card from another issuer, but you’re charged a $50 annual fee and a $75 one-time processing fee, you will only have $375 worth of credit left.

The no-fee structure of the nRewards card will give you a better chance of using your credit line responsibly so you can build up a stronger credit profile over time. The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees — another plus, especially for Navy Federal members in the military who are stationed overseas.

Perhaps best of all, this card also has one of the lowest APR rate ranges we’ve seen for a secured card. The variable APR ranges from 9.99% to 18.0%, depending on what you qualify for, meaning you could be charged less interest than on many unsecured cards.

But you need to pay your bill on time or you’ll be subject to a variable penalty APR of 18.0%, which will apply until you make at least six consecutive monthly payments on time, plus a late fee of up to $20.

Keep in mind that only credit union members can apply for this card. Eligibility is restricted to those who serve or have served in the military or are an immediate family member of someone in the military.

If you meet that criteria, the nRewards card is an outstanding choice for a secured credit card.

Who should get this card

Anyone who qualifies for Navy Federal Credit Union and wants a fee-free, low-interest secured card.

Advantages
  • This card has lower-than-average interest rates.
  • Unlike most secured cards, this card pays rewards.
  • There’s no fee to own this card.
Disadvantages
  • Rewards can’t be redeemed for cash.
  • There’s no option to graduate to a secured card.
  • There is a penalty APR with this card.

Fees and APR

  • The variable APR for purchases and balances transfers is 9.99% to 18.0% based on creditworthiness.
  • Minimum security deposit is $500.
  • There are no annual fees, balance transfer fees or foreign transaction fees.
  • A penalty of 18.0% may apply if you miss a payment. You’ll also be charged a $20 late fee.

Extras, perks and using points

Card owners have access to Visa discount coupons.

Rewards expire four years from the month in which they were earned. Earnings can only be redeemed for gift cards or merchandise through the Navy Federal portal.

How this card compares

Discover it® Secured Card
Card Details
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line.
  • You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • New! Receive Free Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 10.99% for 6 months

The Discover it Secured Card packs a powerful punch of attributes not typically seen in secured cards. For starters, you earn cash back with the card—something no other secured card on the market offers. And it will double your cash back at the end of the first year. The bank will also review your account, starting at eight months to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Card
Card Details
  • Credit One Bank automatically monitors every account for credit line increase opportunities each month. We'll let you know as soon as you're eligible for a higher credit line. A fee may apply.
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score. Find the card that's right for you in less than 60 seconds.
  • Eligible purchases will automatically get you 1% cash back, terms apply.
  • This is a fully functional, unsecured credit card—not a debit, prepaid, or secured card. No need to load funds or tie up cash in deposits. There are no out-of-pocket costs to open your account.
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Email and text alerts remind you when your bill is due, your payment posts, or your available credit is running low
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 16.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Credit One Bank Platinum Card offers some rewards, and offers decent APRs for a secured card. A major drawback of the Credit One Bank Platinum Card is that you won’t know the exact terms of your offer until you’ve applied.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Card Details
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 18.39% (Variable)
Annual Fee $35
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The two reasons you may want to apply for the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is if you don’t own a checking account, but still want access to a credit card, or if you’re looking for a secured card with a decent annual percentage rate.

There’s a very narrow band of consumers this applies to, we imagine.

USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card
Card Details
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 10.90%-20.90% (Variable)
Annual Fee $35
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

If you or a loved one will be deployed soon, the USAA Secured Card American Express could prove a real help. Think about applying for this card before you head overseas so you can take advantage of the generous benefit offered active-duty military personnel.

The card has a special low APR for deployed members of the U.S. armed forces — much lower than standard credit card interest rates — and, unlike most other unsecured cards, offers travel and auto protections and extended warranty coverage.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.