If you’re in the market for a cash back rewards credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee, you may want to see if you’re eligible for the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards card.
Navy Federal, which primarily serves military personnel and their families, offers this cash back credit card to members of the credit union.
This card offers up to 2% cash back on everyday purchases for select members. It carries a $150 welcome bonus. And it has the approval of money expert Clark Howard. Thanks to the card’s low advertised APR interest rate, Clark thinks it could be reasonable to carry a balance on this card if you had to.
In this review, we’ll explore the perks of this card, explain how to apply and compare the card to other popular cash back cards on the market.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card?
- Card Specs and Perks
- How to Become Eligible for the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card
- Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards vs. Citi Double Cash
- Final Thoughts
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its steady cash back rewards and customer-friendly approach to fees.
As you’re making your decision about whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card?
The Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards card is a cash back credit card for current and retired United States Armed Forces personnel, their families and other select members.
It features unlimited cash back rewards of 1.5%-2% on everyday purchases (details on that below), a welcome bonus for new cardholders, no balance transfer fee and an introductory 0% APR period on new purchases. To qualify for this card, you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union.
Navy Federal cashRewards Card: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks:
- Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back: The backbone perk of this card is a 1.5% cash back bonus on all purchases. And there is no rewards limit on this, which makes it an attractive everyday spending option.
- 2% Cash Back Promotion: If you are active military personnel, you may qualify for a boost to your everyday cash back earnings. The card offers 2% cash back to active personnel for their first four years of card membership. After that, the rewards return to the 1.5% rate.
- $150 Welcome Bonus: If you spend at least $2,000 within your first 90 days of card membership, you’ll get a $150 cash back bonus reward. That’s a little less generous than some other offers on the market, but it’s also relatively easy to get.
- Introductory 0% APR Period: For the first six months of card membership, you’ll pay 0% APR on new purchases. Select customers also may be offered a 12-month period for 0% APR on balance transfers. Not all members will qualify for that one, though.
- No Balance Transfer Fee: In addition to the potential 12-month 0% APR period, cardholders also can make those transfers without any fees. That creates a one-year window for a potential fee-free transfer of existing credit card debt. It’s worth noting that the lack of a balance transfer fee extends beyond the promotional APR offer that some members will receive.
- Instant Rewards Without Expiration: You can access and redeem your cash back rewards as soon as you earn them, with no minimum spending amount. You can access the rewards and check your balance in real-time through the Navy Federal website or mobile app. And as long as your account is active, your cash back rewards will never expire.
- Rental Car Protection: If you rent a car with your cashRewards card, you’ll automatically receive Collision Damage Waiver coverage on rentals of 15 days or less. This acts as supplementary insurance to your existing coverage and could help defray costs if your rental is stolen, damaged or needs a tow.
- Cell Phone Protection: If you pay your cell phone bill with your cashRewards card, you can qualify for cell phone protection. This could save you big money if your phone gets lost, broken or stolen.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the Navy Federal card:
- Annual Fee: None
- Balance Transfer Fee: None
- Cash Advance Fee: None as long as you complete the transaction at a Navy Federal-approved ATM. Otherwise, it is $0.50 per cash advance transfer. But keep in mind that the interest rate for cash advances on this card is 2% APR higher than your rate for purchases.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: None
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $20
How to Become Eligible for the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card
If you want to enjoy the perks of this credit card, first you have to join the Navy Federal Credit Union. Even if you’re not an active member of the United States military, you may still be eligible.
Here’s a quick look at who qualifies for membership with the credit union:
- Active members of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force
- Veterans, retirees and annuitants of the above services
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces’ Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
Military Family Members
Navy Federal extends its membership offer to “direct” family members of military personnel, which it defines as:
- Children (adopted and stepchildren included)
- Household members
Department of Defense Personnel
- Department of Defense (DoD) Officer Candidates and Reservists
- DoD civilian employees
- United States Government employees assigned to Department of Defense
- Contractors for the Department of Defense
- Retirees and annuitants
To apply for membership you’ll need to provide a Social Security number, government-issued ID and current home address. If you qualify, you’ll be required to make an initial deposit from an existing bank account to your credit union account. Note that Navy Federal requires $1,500 funds on deposit to avoid a $10 monthly fee on the checking account.
Navy Federal cashRewards vs. Citi Double Cash: Which Is Better?
When it comes to cash back credit cards, Team Clark likes to compare them to the Citi® Double Cash card.
That’s because money expert Clark Howard has deemed the Double Cash to be worthy of his wallet thanks to its straightforward cash back offer on all purchases: as much as 2% (1% when you purchase, 1% when you pay your bill).
Recently, Clark also endorsed Navy Federal’s cashRewards card because of the perks it offers as well as the potential for a low fixed APR on purchases. (Note: APR rates fluctuate based on a number of factors including an assessment of personal creditworthiness. Your rate may vary.)
Here’s how the two cards stack up against each other:
|Card Characteristic||Navy Federal cashRewards||Citi Double Cash|
|Cash Back Reward||1.5% on all purchases (2% promo for active military)||2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay)|
|Welcome Bonus||$150 on $2,000 spending in 90 days||None|
|Balance Transfer Intro Offer||0% APR for 12 months||0% APR for 18 months|
|Balance Transfer Fee||$0||$5 or 3% of amount, whichever is greater|
|Introductory 0% APR Purchase Period||6 months||None|
|Advertised Purchase APR Range||9.65% to 18.00%||13.99% to 23.99%|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||3% of purchase|
Based on this information, it appears the cashRewards card could serve you well. For Navy Federal members who do not qualify for the four-year 2% cash back promotion, the decision may be a little tougher. Citi does offer an additional 0.5% cash back on everyday purchases compared to the standard 1.5% for the cashRewards.
Clark does not recommend carrying balances on rewards credit cards with lousy standard APRs, so he recommends picking the Citi card only if you plan to pay the bill in full each month.
Are you considering adding the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards: Pros and Cons
|1.5% cash back; 2% for active military (for four years)||Must be a credit union member to apply for the card|
|$150 welcome bonus||Credit union membership is limited|
|No annual or balance transfer fees||No rewards program beyond cash back structure|
Bottom Line: If you qualify for membership at Navy Federal, this could be a card worth adding to your wallet. Money expert Clark Howard received the 2% cash back bonus offer, and he believes the card shows promise as an everyday spender.
Do you have experience with the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!