Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
The Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card is a great choice for military families with good credit who travel frequently. The rewards rate of 3 points per $1 spent on travel expenses is impressive for a card with such a reasonable annual fee, and you’ll have flexibility in how you use your points, whether it be for more travel, cash, or other options.
Plus, if you carry a balance on another card month to month, Navy Federal makes it very attractive to move it over to this card. Not only is there a decent promotional rate of 1.99% for 12 months, but the ongoing APR on this card may very well be lower than the one on your current card, and you won’t pay a balance transfer fee. It’s pretty unusual to waive the balance transfer fee, and the chance to cut down on finance charges makes this card stand out even more.
Just keep in mind you must be affiliated with the military or Department of Defense to join the Navy Federal Credit Union and apply for the card.
Big rewards on travel purchases
Low ongoing APR
Fee reimbursement for expedited airport clearance programs
Must have ties to the military or Defense Department
No bonus for new cardholders
- Big rewards on travel purchases: Earning 3 points per $1 of travel purchases is very competitive, especially relative to the annual fee. Even the baseline rewards rate of 2 points per $1 is as good or better than similar travel cards offered to both military and non-military.
- Minimal fees: Not only is the annual fee lower than other rewards cards with triple travel points, but this card doesn’t charge anything for balance transfers or foreign transactions and has a modest late fee.
- Low ongoing APR: If you have to carry a balance from month to month, this credit card is a keeper even after the introductory interest rate period expires. The most creditworthy customers may get an ongoing variable APR as low as 11.49%, if they qualify, and the highest rate is still below average at 18%.
- Fee reimbursement for expedited airport clearance programs: When you use your card to pay the application fee on either the Global Entry or TSA Precheck programs, you’ll be reimbursed for the fee (up to $100, once every four years). Some cards with similar or higher annual fees don’t have this perk.
- Must have ties to the military or Defense Department: You won’t be able to get this card without being a member of the Navy Federal Credit Union, and membership requires you or someone in your family or household to have served in the U.S. armed forces or National Guard or to work for the Department of Defense.
- No bonus for new cardholders: Navy Federal previously offered a 50,000-point bonus to new cardholders who met a minimum spending requirement, but the credit union has replaced that incentive with a 1.99% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers. If you don’t carry a balance on your card month to month, you would have been better off with the bonus. For instance, 50,000 points are worth $500 in airfare—a roundtrip ticket to many domestic destinations.
Earning Rewards and Points
With the Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card, you’ll earn 3 points for every $1 you spend on travel purchases and 2 points for every $1 on everything else. There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn and they don’t expire as long as your account is open.
These rewards rates are quite competitive and put this card squarely in the mix with flexible travel cards offered by some of the biggest U.S. issuers, including Chase and Capital One.
There may be times when travel purchases only earn 2 points per $1. These include when the merchant code isn’t categorized for travel, when the merchant uses a mobile or wireless card reader, and when the purchase is made with an electronic wallet or through a third-party like PayPal.
You can redeem your points by logging into your online account or by calling the toll-free redemption center number. There are a number of ways to use them, including for cash back or to book airfare and hotel stays. You can:
- Purchase tickets for major airline carriers. For example, since points are worth a penny each, 50,000 points would get you $500 in airfare. (Redemptions start at 100 points.)
- Book stays at more than 325,000 hotels (must be booked through the card’s rewards service center.)
- Redeem between 5,000 and 150,000 points for a cash deposit of $50 to $1,500, made directly into your Navy Federal savings account.
- Get a statement credit for up to three transactions that have posted to your account in the past 90 days using the Pay with Points feature. (Transactions must total at least $50.)
- Redeem 4,900 points to get a statement credit for the $49 annual fee.
Other redemption options include:
- Gift cards
- Car rentals
- Vacation packages
- Event tickets
- Tours and attractions
Each point is worth the standard 1 cent for airfare and cash-back/statement credit options. (The rewards program documents online don’t specify values for the other options.)
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Maximize your rewards by using the Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card not just for travel, but for all your purchases. Most credit cards only pay 1 point per $1 for any spending beyond the bonus categories; this one pays double that.
In order for your rewards to offset the $49 annual fee, you need to charge $2,450 to your card each year (or spend $1,634 on travel expenses). Considering Americans anticipated spending an average of $2,037 in 2019 just for summer vacation, that should be relatively easy.
If you don’t travel much, you may want to consider instead the Navy Federal More Rewards American Express Card, which pays triple points on everyday expenses including gas and groceries and doesn’t charge an annual fee. (The base rate on that card is just 1 point per $1, however.)
Keep in mind, too, that there’s no foreign transaction fee on international purchases, making this card the optimal choice for purchases you make when deployed overseas or traveling internationally. And make sure to apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, since your application fee will be reimbursed. It’s always a plus to get through airport checkpoints more quickly and smoothly.
Travel credit cards tend to have a bunch of perks, but there are some The Balance editors have determined to have exceptional value. These are the ones on this card that make the cut:
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Choose one program to enroll in and you’ll receive one statement credit every four years after the application fee posts to your account. You’ll receive a $100 credit for Global Entry or a $85 credit for TSA Precheck six to eight weeks after you make the purchase.
- Insurance coverage for lost luggage: If your checked or carry-on luggage is lost or stolen while traveling on a trip paid for with your card, you’re covered for up to $3,000.
- Travel accident insurance: You and your dependents are covered for bodily injury if there’s an accident while you’re traveling during a trip paid for with the card. The benefit is as much as $250,000.
- Cellphone coverage: Pay your cellphone bill with your credit card and you can ditch insurance coverage from your cellphone service provider. If your phone is damaged or stolen, you’re covered for up to $250 each occurrence and $500 per year, with a $50 deductible.
Cellphone coverage doesn’t include phones that are lost, that mysteriously disappear, or are stolen from luggage not hand-carried.
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Roadside assistance hotline
Navy Federal Credit Union got top marks in J.D. Power’s 2019 Regional Credit Card Satisfaction Study, scoring “among the best” in every category, including overall satisfaction, interaction, credit card terms, communication, benefits & service, rewards, and key moments. However, J.D. Power doesn’t officially rank the credit union because it isn’t rank-eligible.
The Navy Federal mobile app allows you to manage all the accounts you have with the credit union or apply to be a member and get an account. Besides paying your bill and reporting a missing card, you can view your account activity, see your rewards balance and even redeem cash rewards.
What’s more, cardholders get 24/7 access to U.S.-based customer service representatives online, over the phone, or at a branch. This feature is beneficial for service members who are deployed overseas. You’ll also get free access to your FICO score, the score most used by lenders.
In addition to industry-standard security features like fraud monitoring, you can freeze and unfreeze your card instantly with the mobile app to protect against unauthorized use if you’ve misplaced your card.
Navy Federal generally stands out for its very reasonable fees, and this card is no exception. You will pay a $49 annual fee, but you’ll have the unusual advantage of not being charged a balance transfer fee. There is also no foreign transaction fee on the card, and it has a relatively low late fee and penalty rate. ATM cash advances at a Navy Federal ATM do not carry a fee, but even cash advances from out-of-network ATMs carry a low fee of 50 cents to $1.