Since the Navy Federal cashRewards Credit Card offers a flat 1.5% on everything you buy, it’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t like complicated rewards programs, but would like to earn something from their credit card purchases.
With a lower-than-average APR and few fees, this card may also be a smart choice if you have to carry a balance. Just keep in mind you have to be affiliated with the armed forces or government to apply and will probably need good credit. However, those approved for lower credit limits won’t benefit from all the benefits this card can offer.
Low interest rate and fees
Choose between Mastercard and Visa
Must be or qualify to be a Navy Federal customer
Limited introductory rates
High spend amount for bonus
- Simple rewards: The Navy Federal cashRewards Credit Card offers an unlimited 1.5% back for each dollar you spend, without earning caps or required minimum amounts for redemption. This simple rewards formula means you’ll never have to worry about bonus categories or earning caps, and can redeem your cash back shortly after you earn it.
- Low interest rates and fees: This card has no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, no foreign transaction fee, and minimal cash advance fees. The ongoing variable APR range is also lower than you’ll find with competing cards. You’ll pay lower fees on late and returned payments, and the penalty APR is also lower, with leeway before being stuck with it (60 days past due payment).
- Choose between Visa and Mastercard: You’ll get the opportunity to choose between a Visa or Mastercard. You’ll get a few extra benefits with a World, while heavy Costco shoppers may want to go with Visa. If at some point in the future you want to change networks, you can do that too.
- Must be a Navy Federal customer: If you’re not already a Navy Federal Credit Union member, you’ll have to join to apply for this credit card. To qualify, you must be a military veteran, active duty military, a Department of Defense civilian or government employee, Army or Air National Guard, Delayed Entry program personnel, or a family member of someone who meets one of these requirements. However, Navy Federal’s definition of “family member” is broader than some other military member cards, and includes siblings, grandparents, and household members, among others.
- Limited introductory rates: The introductory 0% rate for new purchases is no longer being offered. However, there is no balance transfer fee and you get an introductory balance transfer rate of 1.99% for 12 months. If you’re looking for a balance transfer card, you may want to weigh this against other options that have a 0% introductory rate, but often charge a 3% fee and see which situation would serve you best.
- High spend required for bonus: To earn the Navy Federal cashReward Credit Card’s bonus for new cardholders, you’ll need to spend four times what several other cards require.
- Benefits vary: If you’re approved for a credit line of more than $5,000, you’ll receive a cashRewards card in either Visa Signature or World Mastercard. These come with good perks—for example, World Mastercard offers ShopRunner and PostMates membership and travel benefits. However, if you’re approved for less than $5,000, you’ll be assigned a regular Visa or Mastercard, with fewer perks. Essentially, there are four different card variations, and you may not be sure which one you’re getting until you have it.
Bonus for New Cardholders
When you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days after opening your account, you could earn a $150 bonus for new cardholders, if you sign up by March 1, 2021.
This bonus amount is competitive, but the spending requirement is on the higher side—around $667 per month. Several cards offer the same $150 bonus or even a larger one for spending as little as $500.
Earning Points & Rewards
This card’s rewards scheme is simple enough for anyone to understand and keep track of. Once you sign up, you’ll earn a flat 1.5% back on everything you buy. The rewards you earn are unlimited and they’ll never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
You can also earn up to 15% in cash back when using your card with the Navy Federal Member Deals site, an online shopping portal.
Your cash-back rewards will show up in your account the same day as the transaction posts. You can redeem them for a statement credit or cash in your Navy Federal bank account whenever you’d like—there’s no minimum. Cardholders manage rewards redemption via the app or online.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Obviously, you’ll get the most value from your rewards if you pay your credit card bill in full each month and avoid interest payments altogether. If you already have balances with other cards you could save by taking advantage of the 1.99% APR for 12 months on balance transfers and no balance transfer fees. You should also spend $3,000 in the first 90 days to get the bonus, if you can afford it.
This card has one benefit that was deemed “excellent” by editors of The Balance, no matter which Visa or Mastercard card you wind up with.
- Cellphone insurance: Qualify for this coverage when you pay the bills on up to three cell phones with your credit card. This coverage is limited to reimbursement for damage or theft (not loss) in amounts depending on whether you get the card on the Mastercard or Visa network. (For Mastercard, it’s $600 per occurrence or $1,000 per year, and for Visa, it’s $250 per claim or $500 per year. Both have a $50 deductible.)
When you apply for this credit card, you may be approved for either a Visa, Visa Signature, Mastercard, or a World Mastercard version. Your cardholder benefits can vary widely depending on the card you’re approved for. Both come with these additional perks:
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Extended warranties
And these features are listed online for the Mastercard version only:
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Lowest advertised price match
- Discount on airport meet and greet services
Navy Federal Credit Union received the highest score of any card issuer national or regional in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, but was not officially ranked due to the exclusivity of the company. The Navy Federal cashRewards Card gives cardholders access to their FICO score for free as well as 24/7 stateside customer service assistance.
Navy Federal Credit Union does have its own mobile app that lets you track your spending, pay your bill, and redeem rewards from your mobile device. And cardholders have 24/7 online or phone access to customer service representatives located in the U.S., which is especially useful for service members who are deployed in varying time zones.
Navy Federal cashRewards credit card security is standard for the industry, including benefits like 0% fraud liability and account monitoring. If your card is lost or stolen, they also let you temporarily freeze and unfreeze your account.
The Navy Federal cashRewards Credit Card stands out for better-than-average fees. There are no foreign transaction nor annual fees, and it has relatively low late and returned-payment fees, and low penalty and cash advance APRs compared to competing cards. The only cash advance fee is an ATM fee (outside of Navy Federal ATMs) of 50 cents to $1, depending on location.