Advertiser Disclosure

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Union Credit Cards of 2019

Feb. 1, 2019
NerdWallet's Best Credit Union Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Credit unions are member-owned cooperatives whose mission is to help the communities they serve succeed financially. Profits that a bank might distribute to its shareholders or owners are instead returned to members in the form of better interest rates and fees. As a result, some credit unions offer better credit cards than you might find at a bank, depending on what you’re looking for.

Membership at credit unions is exclusive. You can usually qualify based on where you live, work or worship, or if you have a qualifying relative. If you don’t meet the standard eligibility requirements, some credit unions allow you to join by donating to a partner organization. All of the issuers on NerdWallet’s list of the best credit union cards allow membership by donation.

For cash back: Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Apply Now on Alliant Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee

    Annual Fees

    $0 the first year, then $59

    APR

    • Min APR: 11.99%, Variable
    • Max APR: 14.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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
    • $59 annual fee, waived the first year
    • Works with Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
    • $0 fraud liability guarantee from Visa

Why we like it

The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is a truly generous card, offering a best-in-class rewards rate among flat-rate credit cards, despite its annual fee. Visa Signature perks and no foreign transaction fees also make it a travelworthy companion.

Pros and cons

Pros: The gold standard for flat-rate rewards cards is 1.5% back on all purchases. The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card seriously ups the ante on that, 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 collision coverage and double warranty coverage, among others.

Cons: The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card charges an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $59, and its website notes it’s designed for those putting “$50,000+” a year on their card. Other flat-rate rewards cards offer solid rewards rates without an annual fee, and unlike this card, many of those products also offer sign-up bonuses. You’ll want to make sure you can earn enough rewards with this card to make it worthwhile. You’ll also have to be a member of Alliant Credit Union to qualify for this card. (See membership requirements.)

» MORE: Read our review of the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

For low ongoing interest: Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card

Apply Now on Lake Michigan Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • No rewards
    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • Purchase: 8.25%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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

Why we like it

Balance carriers with excellent credit can skip an annual fee and save big on interest with the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card. There are no bells and whistles; this card is a simple low-maintenance option.

Pros and cons

Pros: The Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card offers a hard-to-find feature: an ongoing APR in the single digits, if you qualify for it. The ongoing APR is 8.25% Variable. If you know you’ll carry a balance consistently, that’s a lot of potential savings on interest, especially since the card has a $0 annual fee.

Cons: You’ll need to meet the excellent credit and membership requirement to qualify for the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card. (See membership requirements.) The Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card doesn’t earn rewards, and it has no sign-up bonus or introductory 0% APR period. A low ongoing interest rate is its only eye-catching incentive, and depending on your creditworthiness, you may not qualify for the lowest rate.

» MORE: Read our review of the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card

For balance transfers: Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Apply Now on Aspire Federal Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • Min APR: 10.90%, Variable
    • Max APR: 18.00%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 18.00%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    5,000 Bonus Rewards Points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

    Intro APR

    • Purchase: None
  • Additional Information
    • 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

Why we like it

The Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard® can buy you some time to dig your way out of debt. It passes the “triple zero” test for balance-transfer cards: a $0 annual fee, no fees for initial balance transfers, and a 0% introductory APR. Terms apply. It also earns rewards.

Pros and cons

Pros: It’s not easy to find a balance transfer card that both earns rewards and charges no balance transfer fee. The Aspire Platinum Rewards Mastercard® offers 0% for 6 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 10.90% - 18.00% Variable, and you won’t be charged a balance 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 also 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, the balance transferred also counts toward earning the bonus.

Cons: You can find cards with much lengthier 0% intro APR offers on balance transfers. Membership is required. (See membership requirements.)

For bad credit: DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Apply Now on Digital Federal Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    850
    Poor - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited / bad credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • No rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.75%, Variable
    • Penalty APR: Up to 18.00%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 13.75%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    N/A

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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

Why we like it

The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card is an excellent credit-building tool. It reports to all three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, companies that gather the information used to calculate your credit scores). It also offers the chance to upgrade to a regular Digital Federal Credit Union credit card if you keep up a good payment history.

Pros and cons

Pros: Your security deposit will have no limit with the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. With a good payment history, you can eventually get that deposit back and possibly upgrade to a regular DCU credit card within a year. You’ll also be on the radar of all three major credit bureaus which record your payment history —  a key component in your credit score.

Cons: Plan on checking off a few boxes before you can qualify for the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. On top of coming up with a steep minimum security deposit of $300, you’ll have to qualify for membership at Digital Federal Credit Union. (See membership requirements.) You can get that deposit back eventually with a good payment history, but you’ll have to part with that amount for at least a year. If you can qualify for membership, the Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card could be another option. It offers rewards and requires a lower $200 minimum security deposit. (See membership requirements.)

» MORE: Read our review of the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

For travel: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Membership required
    • Can't redeem for cash
    • Inconsistent point value

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • Min APR: 11.99%, Variable
    • Max APR: 17.99%, Variable
    • Penalty APR: Up to 17.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.

    Intro APR

    • 0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made now through March 31, 2019
  • Additional Information
    • 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 months now through March 31, 2019. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 11.99% to 17.99%. APR will vary w/the market based on Prime Rate. 3% balance transfer fee per transaction. Subject to credit approval. $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.
    • Rate and offers current as of February 1, 2019 and subject to change.
    • Earn 5 points on gas purchases at the pump. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats do not receive cash back rewards.
    • Earn 3 points on supermarket purchases
    • Earn 1 point on all other purchases
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • No cash advance fee
    • Chip enabled for added security
    • Federally insured by NCUA
    • Variable rate as low As 11.99% APR

Why we like it

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card can help you rack up points toward your next vacation by rewarding everyday purchases, especially if you spend a lot on gas at the pump or on groceries.

Pros and cons

Pros: The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card starts you off with a few decent introductory offers. Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening. On top of that, get a 0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made now through March 31, 2019, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 17.99% Variable. Your everyday purchases are rewarded, too. The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers 5 points per $1 spent on gas, 3 points per $1 spent on groceries and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Cons: Frequent travelers can do better than this card at the same credit union. The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card offers generous travel perks and rewards on flights, transportation and accommodations. It has a $0 annual fee. You’ll have to meet the traditional credit union membership requirement for either card. (See membership requirements.) Travel, gift cards and merchandise are the only redemption options (cash back is not available). You’ll need a minimum of 1,000 points to redeem.

» MORE: Read our review of the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card


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.