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The Oregon-based credit union First Tech has a small suite of credit cards that includes the Choice Rewards World Mastercard. A rarity among cards, the Choice Rewards card boasts "triple zero" perks: a $0 annual fee, $0 balance transfer fee and a 0% annual percentage rate period. However, because a credit union issues the Choice Rewards card, potential cardholders must meet specific eligibility requirements to get the Choice Rewards card.
If you already belong to the First Tech credit union and could use some breathing room on interest, getting the Choice Rewards card feels like an easy, sensible choice. Everyone else will need to decide if the effort required to join the credit union is worth the benefits of the Choice Rewards card.
Here are five things to know about the First Tech Choice Rewards World Mastercard.
» MORE: Best credit union credit cards
Though the names sound similar, don't confuse this card with the Choice Privileges® Mastercard®, which is affiliated with Choice Hotels and earns hotel redemption points.
1. Membership is required
Only First Tech Credit Union members are eligible to apply for the Choice Rewards credit card. Nevertheless, there are many points of entry into this credit union. You can become a member if:
A family or household member is already a First Tech member.
You or a family member work for one of First Tech's partners. The list is quite extensive and represents a range of industries.
You work for the state of Oregon.
You work or live in Lane County, Oregon.
You belong to California's Computer History Museum, which costs as little as $15 a year.
You belong to the Financial Fitness Association. Membership costs $8 a year.
The ability to gain First Tech membership by joining the Financial Fitness Association will be especially useful for those who live outside of Oregon, where the First Tech Credit Union is headquartered. Credit union members must typically live or work near one of the union's branches. Still, by joining the Financial Fitness Association, you can bypass that requirement for a few bucks a year.
2. It's light on fees
One of the highlights of the Choice Rewards card is the absence of fees common in other credit cards. In addition to its $0 annual fee, the card also does away with:
The Choice Rewards card does charge up to a $25 fee for late and returned payments, but other cards usually charge as much as $40.
When you open a First Tech Rewards Checking account, you'll get a $10 streaming subscription rebate and an extra 0.5% cash back on monthly credit card spending. Earnings from the additional 0.5% are capped at $15.
3. 0% APR period is ideal for balance transfers
As noted above, the Choice Rewards card doesn't assess a fee on balance transfers. Most other cards charge between 3%-5% percent of the balance transfer amount, which could mean hundreds of dollars in fees.
You'll save money on balance transfers to the Choice Rewards card thanks to its 0% APR period. If you complete the balance transfer within 90 days of account opening, you won't pay interest on that debt for 12 billing cycles. A year of no interest charges can certainly accelerate the debt payoff process.
Be aware that you may lose the 0% APR promotion if you make a late payment before the 12 billing cycles have passed. In addition, your interest rate would increase to the current balance transfer APR of 13%-18% (as of May 2023).
Cardholders can transfer any type of loan to the Choice Rewards credit card; however, loans moved from existing First Tech Credit Union accounts do not qualify for the 0% APR period.
The Choice Rewards credit card has a minimum credit limit of $10,000 and a maximum of $35,000.
4. It earns double points in popular spending categories
The Choice Rewards card earns 2 points per $1 spent on several everyday categories:
All other spending earns 1 point per $1 spent. There's no cap on the points you can earn, and points never expire.
Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash, so 1,000 points equal $10 in cash back. In addition to cash back, rewards points may be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards and experiences. Minimum redemption amounts vary depending on the redemption type; cardholders must have at least 2,500 points to redeem for cash.
The Choice Rewards Mastercard has a robust list of categories that qualify for bonus points, but read the fine print so you're familiar with what earns double points and what doesn't. For example, food delivery services won't count as dining and warehouse clubs like Costco aren't classified as grocery stores.
5. It has a sweet sign-up bonus
New Choice Rewards cardholders will earn 20,000 points by spending at least $3,000 within the first 60 days of account opening. That's equal to $200. That bonus is competitive with those offered by top-shelf credit cards such as Citi Custom Cash® Card and Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. However, the spending threshold to earn the bonus on the Choice Rewards card is a bit higher than other cards, which can be as low as $500.