Best of

Best Credit Union Credit Cards of 2019

NerdWalletJune 24, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best Credit Union Credit Cards of 2019

Our pick for

Cash back

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's website

on Alliant Credit Union's website

Annual Fee

$0 the first year, then $99

Regular APR

12.49% - 14.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

The standard for flat-rate cash-back cards is 1.5% back on all purchases. The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card seriously ups the ante, offering 3% cash back on all purchases made in the first year and 2.5% after that. Those are truly stellar rates. Additional value can be found in the card's Visa Signature benefits, which include travel accident insurance, rental car coverage and double warranty coverage, among others.

Cons

There's an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $99; so after the first year, you'll have to spend more than $9,900 annually to come out ahead compared with a no-fee 1.5% card and more than $19,800 to do better than a no-fee 2% card. Unlike many competing cards, it offers no sign-up bonus. You’ll also have to be a member of Alliant Credit Union to qualify. (See membership requirements.)
  • Exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card
  • Unlimited Cash Back: 3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after
  • No limit to the cash back awards you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Generous credit line
  • $99 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Works with Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
  • $0 fraud liability guarantee from Visa

Our pick for

Travel rewards

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card

on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's website

on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.99% - 17.99% Variable

Intro APR

0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made now through September 30, 2019

recommended credit score

Pros

This credit card's travel perks and features can help put your travel goals into action. Cardholders earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases and 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you’re part of the PenFed Honors Advantage program, you get a slightly higher rate of 4 points per $1 spent on travel-related purchases. The card's rich welcome offer can defray some of your travel costs. You can earn 25,000 bonus points by spending $2,500 in the first 90 days of account opening. And its two noteworthy perks — a $100 annual air travel credit and a statement credit to cover the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry programs — can provide ongoing value.

Cons

You must be a PenFed credit union member to qualify for this credit card. Everyone is eligible to join, but it will require a few extra steps such as submitting an application and opening a PenFed savings account with a $5 deposit. Those willing to clear these minor hurdles should also consider that the card may not be well equipped to travel abroad even with its many travel-friendly features. American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted globally as are Visa and Mastercard credit cards.
  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points by spending $2,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee now through September 30, 2019. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 12.99%% to 17.99%. APR will vary with the market based on Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. If you take advantage of this balance transfer, you will immediately be charged interest on all purchases made with your credit card unless you pay the entire account balance, including balance transfers, in full each month by the payment due date.
  • Earn 4X Points on travel purchases through the PenFed Honors Advantage program. Earn 3X points on travel purchases for all other card holders
  • Earn 1.5X points on all other purchases unrelated to travel.
  • $100 Annual Air Travel Credit
  • $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck Benefit every 5 years
  • No caps or limits on rewards. No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Chip enabled for added security
  • Variable rate as low as 12.99% APR. Rate and offers current as of July 1, 2019 and are subject to change
  • Federally insured by NCUA.

Our pick for

Balance transfers

Aspire Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards MasterCard Credit Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

10.90% - 18.00% Variable

Intro APR

Purchase: None

recommended credit score

Pros

It's not easy to find a card that both earns rewards and charges no balance transfer fee. The Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard® offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first six months, and then the ongoing APR of 10.90% - 18.00% Variable, and you won't be charged a transfer fee in the first six months. (Afterward, you'll pay $5 or 2% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater.) The card earns 1 point per $1 spent and offers a sign-up bonus: Earn 5,000 Bonus Rewards Points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. As a plus, transferred balances count toward earning the bonus.

Cons

You can find cards with much longer 0% intro APR offers on balance transfers. Membership is required. (See membership requirements.)
  • Generous credit limits.
  • No annual fee.
  • 5,000 Bonus Rewards Points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months – that includes balance transfers!
  • Mastercard Benefits: Extended warranties, price protection, ID theft resolution
  • 0% introductory APR* on balance transfers for the first six months

Our pick for

Low ongoing interest

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa Credit Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

8.50% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

This card offers something truly hard to find: an ongoing APR in the single digits, if you qualify for it. The ongoing APR is 8.50% Variable. If you know you'll carry a balance consistently, that rate represents a lot of potential savings on interest, especially since the card has a $0 annual fee.

Cons

You’ll need excellent credit and membership in the credit union. (See membership requirements.) There's no 0% intro APR period; the low ongoing rate is the selling point.
  • One of the lowest interest rates in the country, as low as Prime + 3.00%
  • Rate is variable, tiered, and is linked to Prime
  • No annual fee
  • Credit line of up to $25,000
  • Free car rental insurance

Our pick for

Bad credit

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card Credit Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.75%, Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

There's no limit on how much you can deposit — and, therefore, on your credit line. With a good payment history, you can eventually get that deposit back and possibly upgrade to a regular DCU credit card within a year. Your payment history —  a key component in your credit score — will be reported to the bureaus that compile credit reports.

Cons

Though there's no maximum deposit, there's a relatively high minimum of $300. Plus, you’ll have to qualify for membership at Digital Federal Credit Union. (See membership requirements.) You can get that deposit back eventually, but you’ll have to part with it for at least a year. 
  • Secured card rates well below the national average
  • Borrow against your DCU savings account
  • No Annual Fee*
  • No Fees or Higher Rates for Cash Advances and Balance Transfers
  • Works with Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, and Samsung Pay
  • Insurance, car rental, travel, and warranty benefits
  • Optional Overdraft Protection On Your DCU Checking
  • Buy online easily and safely with Visa Checkout
  • Embedded EMV chip to protect your card information

Last updated on June 24, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.