Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
Best credit union secured credit cards of 2019
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.
Compare credit union secured credit cards
What's in this guide?
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:
- Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards® Secured Credit Card
- DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
- SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
The 3 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.
- No annual fee.
- 13% variable APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
- No balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees.
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.
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.
- No annual fee.
- 12.1% variable APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
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.
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.
Best for rewards: First Technology Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured MasterCard®
This product has an APR on all balances — relatively low for a secured card but higher than other cards on our list. It also has a $500 minimum deposit, which is relatively high. It does offer 1x points on all purchases, however, 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.
- No annual fee.
- 1x points on all purchases.
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.
Why this card’s rewards are better than the SDFCU’s secured 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.
How we selected our recommended cards
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.
How to compare credit union secured credit cards
- Annual fee.
You’ll find many credit union secured cards that don’t have annual fees, so avoid these costs whenever possible.
- Membership eligibility.
Many credit unions have narrow membership requirements. However, some credit unions open membership to everyone who joins their affiliated organizations for a fee.
- Minimum deposit.
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.
- Maximum deposit.
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.
- Interest rate.
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.
Some credit union secured cards have no balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees. But consider avoiding balance transfers and cash advances, as they typically don’t come with grace periods.
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.
Benefits of credit union secured credit cards
- No annual fees.
Many credit union secured cards don’t have annual fees. However, some will charge fees of $35 or more.
- Fewer balance transfer and cash advance fees.
Some of the top credit union credit cards won’t charge balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees.
- Lower interest rates.
Many bank-issued secured cards have purchase APRs around 25%, which is high. Meanwhile, you can often find much lower APRs with credit union secured cards.
- Higher maximum deposits.
Credit union secured cards often have higher maximum deposits, so you can give yourself a high credit limit if you need it.
Credit unions sometimes offer point-based rewards for their secured cards, which are highly uncommon with bank-issued cards. You can usually redeem these points for options such as gift cards and theme-park tickets.
- Payment reporting to bureaus.
Credit unions typically report your payment history to the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. This helps you build your credit as you consistently make timely payments.
What to watch out for
- Check if you’re eligible for membership.
Credit unions often limit membership only to consumers with certain affiliations — for example, via employer, organization or region. If you don’t qualify for a credit union normally, check if you can join through an alternative method. You may become eligible by joining an affiliated organization that’s open to everyone.
- You may have a higher minimum deposit.
While you’ll find many cards with minimum deposits in the $200 to $250 range, some cards require higher minimums — typically between $300 and $500.
How to apply for a credit union secured credit card
- Go to the credit card landing page and click Apply now.
- If necessary, select the secured card as the product you want to apply for.
- Complete the application with details such as your name, Social Security number, date of birth, contact information and annual income.
- 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.
- Review your application and submit it.
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.
Frequently asked questions
Ask an Expert