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Best credit union secured credit cards

Our top three picks with low APRs and minimal fees.

The biggest advantages of credit union secured credit cards are low interest rates and minimal fees. While their bank-issued counterparts often have high APRs around 25%, the best credit union products cut those rates in half.

We compared secured cards from top credit unions, giving them more weight for minimal fees and low interest rates. Most of the institutions we evaluated offer eligibility to applicants through membership in affiliated organizations that everyone can apply for.

What’s changed in 2022?

Our list held steady for 2022. That’s because our top contenders from last year already offered no annual, balance transfer, foreign transaction and cash advance fees. And when big banks are charging around 25% APR normally, it’s a great deal to get an APR at half that rate.

What are the best credit union secured cards?

There are many credit union secured cards on the market. To help you narrow your search, we highly recommend the following products as a starting point. If you’re not eligible for normal membership with these issuers, you can still qualify by joining an affiliated organization that’s open to everyone.

Best for low fees:

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card shines with no annual fee and a low APR on all balances. While some other secured credit cards share the same features, DCU's product has an extra differentiator: no balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees. Perhaps the only downside is this card has a relatively high $500 minimum deposit.

How to join DCU if you don’t normally qualify

There are a variety of organizations you can join as you apply for your DCU card, after which you’ll qualify for DCU membership. As of this writing, the lowest-priced option is a Reach Out for Schools membership, which starts at $10.

Pro tip

DCU’s secured product has no balance transfer or cash advance fees. Still, it’s generally a good idea to avoid balance transfers and cash advances. That’s because these transactions don’t have grace periods, meaning your balances will attract interest right away. As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid interest while you’re building credit.

Best for low guaranteed APR:

Affinity Secured Visa® Credit Card

The Affinity Secured Visa® Credit Card offers a low 12.1% variable APR on all balances, as well as a reasonable minimum deposit of $250. You can join the credit union with a small $5 donation to an eligible organization.

How to join Affinity Federal Credit Union if you don’t normally qualify

Make a $5 donation to Connecticut Jump$tart or the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education (NJCFE) as you apply for your credit card.

Best for rewards:

First Technology Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured MasterCard®

This product has a $500 minimum deposit, which is relatively high. However, it offers 1x points on all purchases, which is uncommon among secured cards. If you decide to get this card for its points, be sure to pay off your balance in full each month so interest doesn't erase the value of your rewards.

How to join First Tech FCU if you don’t normally qualify

The most inexpensive path to membership is joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8. You can do this as you apply for your credit card.

How do I choose the best credit union secured credit card?

  • Do you want to avoid an annual fee?
    The variety of choices you have means you can lead toward paying no annual fee for your card.
  • Do you qualify for membership in a credit union?
    Many credit unions have narrow membership requirements. However, it might be worth opening a card with a credit union that you can easily qualify for — for example, if your family member is already a member. Some credit unions open membership to everyone who joins their affiliated organizations for a fee.
  • Which deposit do you want to put down?
    Credit union secured cards often have slightly higher minimum deposits than secured cards from major banks. However, you can find cards with minimum deposits of $200 to $250, which is standard.Some credit union secured cards have high maximum deposits. Certain credit unions may not even cap your potential deposit, though this is subject to change based on their discretion.
  • What interest rate are you looking for?
    Especially if you’re rebuilding credit, it’s wise to avoid interest at all times. However, you may carry a balance during certain months and accrue some interest. At those times, it’s helpful to have a low APR.
  • Is it important to you to avoid certain fees?
    Some credit union secured cards have no balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees. But this might not be relevant if you never incur these fees in the first place. Consider avoiding balance transfers and cash advances, as they typically don’t come with grace periods.
  • Are you looking for rewards?
    Most secured cards don’t offer rewards. However, select products do, including credit union secured cards. Keep in mind that secured-card rewards usually come out to a 1% rate, which isn’t spectacular. You may be better off waiting until your credit score is high enough for you to get an unsecured rewards card.

Secured credit cards for credit unions

You can learn more about specific credit union secured cards by reading our reviews. Here are a few to get started with:

Do I really need a credit union secured credit card?

While credit union secured credit cards can be smart picks, you don’t always have to jump through the hoops to get them. Consider these factors before applying for a card:

  • Do you plan on paying your balance in full each month?
    If so, it won’t matter if you get a lower APR from a credit union secured card, as you won’t be charged interest anyway. Paying your balance in full each billing cycle is a good habit to start while you’re building credit.
  • Are you comfortable with getting a credit card from a bank?
    If so, there are several excellent bank-issued secured cards. If you’d rather not be a customer of a bank, then you have a clear reason for getting a secured card from a credit union.
  • Do you think you’ll have trouble getting approved for a bank-issued secured card?
    Credit unions often give more lenient approval requirements to their members. However, approval is never guaranteed, so carefully consider your finances and credit score before applying.

    Compare credit union secured credit cards

    1 - 5 of 7
    Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
    PCB Secured Visa®
    Starting at $200
    18.9% fixed
    Choose your initial deposit amount and credit limit from $200 to $1000. Rates & fees
    DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
    Starting at $500
    13.75% variable
    A great way to establish or improve your credit history.
    SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
    Starting at $250
    14.24% variable
    nRewards® Secured Credit Card
    Starting at $200
    18% variable
    Earn 1x points on all purchases while building credit.
    First Technology Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured MasterCard®
    First Technology Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured MasterCard®
    Starting at $500
    10.5% to 18% variable

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How to apply for a credit union secured credit card

    1. Go to the credit card landing page and click Apply now.
    2. If necessary, select the secured card as the product you want to apply for.
    3. Complete the application with details such as your name, Social Security number, date of birth, contact information and annual income.
    4. Select how you wish to qualify for credit union membership. If you don’t qualify through normal methods, see if you can join through an affiliated organization. Some credit unions let you join their affiliated organizations as you apply for their credit cards.
    5. Review your application and submit it.

    Does First Tech FCU have better rewards than SDFCU’s card?

    The State Department Federal Credit Union offers a secured card with 1x points on all purchases. However, there are few redemption options for under 6,000 points. That means you may need to spend thousands of dollars on your card to earn enough points — a high bar.

    On the other hand, First Tech FCU’s secured card offers a variety of gift cards starting at 2,631 points. You’ll earn these with $2,631 of spending on your credit card.

    Can I find a lower APR in a credit union secured card?

    The answer is yes. The Nuvision Visa® Share Secured Card, for example, offers an APR on all balances as low as 10.9% fixed. However, you’ll likely need stronger-than-average credit to get this rate. If you don’t have it, your APR could be as high as 17.9% fixed.

    Our recommendation: Instead of rolling the dice and hoping for a rock-bottom APR, focus on paying off your card balance in full each month. An excellent habit to start while building credit, it will ensure you won’t pay interest as long as your card has a grace period.

    Bottom line

    Though they’re often overshadowed by bank-issued products, credit union secured credit cards can be excellent options for building credit. They tend to offer lower fees and more attractive interest rates.

    There are plenty of top-notch options. Compare several secured cards, and take your time to find the perfect one.

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