3 of the best credit union credit cards

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In a Nutshell

Credit union members have lots of excellent choices for credit union credit cards. Here are three of the best credit union cards to consider if you’re looking for no fees, flexible rewards or one low interest rate.

Marcie Geffner is a personal finance writer and has written for PNC Bank, Key Bank, BMO Bank, J.P. Morgan, Peoples Bank, Union Bank, LoanDepot, LendingTree and American Express. Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.
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This offer is no longer available on our site: Chase Slate®

With thousands of credit unions in the U.S., you might not be sure where to start. Here are three cards you should consider, plus some insights into how to choose a credit union credit card.

To choose the best credit union credit cards, we took a look at some of the biggest credit unions in the U.S. We researched their card offerings, reviewed the benefits and fees of individual cards, and picked three of the best credit union credit cards for you to consider.

One note to keep in mind as you start your search for a credit union credit card that meets your needs: Credit unions typically have rules that determine who can join, and not all credit unions offer credit cards.

At a glance: Top picks for the best credit union credit cards

Best for … Credit union credit card
No annual, transaction or penalty fees PenFed Promise Visa® Card
Easy rewards program Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card (from Navy Federal Credit Union)
Low APR Visa® Credit Card (from State Employees’ Credit Union®)

Best for no fees: PenFed Promise Visa® Card

Who’s it for?

If you hate paying fees, this card from Pentagon Federal Credit Union with zero fees could be for you. The variable annual percentage rate for purchases will range from 11.49% to 17.99% if you carry a balance, but you won’t be nickeled, dimed or dinged with fees with this card.

Why we like it

Two words: No fees. No annual fee. No balance transfer fee. No cash advance fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late-payment fee. No fee for going over your credit limit. No fee for returned payments. Plus there’s no penalty APR, and you’ll get a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.

Watch out for

If you’re looking to do a balance transfer, this card has no balance transfer fee and a 12-month promotional APR of 4.99% for transfers made between May 1, 2018 and September 30, 2018, subject to credit approval.

If you don’t pay off your balance before the promotional rate ends, you’ll pay a variable APR of 11.49% to 17.99% going forward.

You might save more with a card that offers a 0% introductory APR period, like Chase Slate®.

With a $0 intro balance transfer fee for transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening, the Chase Slate® card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases.

After the intro periods are up, the variable APR for balance transfers (as well as purchases) will be 16.74% – 25.49% and you’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5 minimum for any transfers made after the first 60 days of account opening.

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Chase Slate®

From cardholders in the last year

How to use it

This card could be good to have if you live or travel overseas, as it has toll-free customer service phone numbers in Spain, Italy, Germany and the U.K. There’s also a DSN number for military personnel calling from bases outside the U.S.

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card review

Best for easy rewards program: Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card (from Navy Federal Credit Union)

Who’s it for?

Navy Federal Credit Union’s cards are designed for military members, but can be used by other members of the credit union too. This card makes the most sense for military members who want an uncomplicated rewards program.

“Because we’re a military-focused financial institution,” says Aaron Aggerwal, assistant vice president of credit card lending at Navy Federal, “we understand young military families — their daily challenges and their distinct approach to financial planning and decision-making.”

Why we like it

Some rewards programs give you different amounts of points per dollar based on where you use the card. The Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card keeps things simple: Two points per dollar spent on purchases, no matter the category.

The rewards structures for Navy Federal’s various cards help make it easier to redeem rewards, which can be used for travel, merchandise or cash back.

Watch out for

Navy Federal’s other cards have no annual fee. This one waives the annual fee for your first year but will cost $49 per year after that.

On top of that, if any of your Navy Federal cards become delinquent, the lender can tap your Navy Federal deposit accounts to pay your card. (This policy does not apply to your individual retirement account.)

How to use it

If you choose this card, you should try to use it enough to get rewards to offset the $49 annual fee, as long as that makes financial sense for you.

Best for low APR: Visa® Credit Card (from State Employees’ Credit Union®)

Who’s it for?

The 9.75% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers makes the Visa® Credit Card offered by the State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., an attractive card if your credit is so-so and you normally carry a balance. All members of this credit union get this rate.

People who are eligible for State Employees’ Credit Union® membership include employees of the state of North Carolina, members of the North Carolina National Guard and some others — it’s a good idea to check your eligibility before considering this card.

Why we like it

Many cards have tiered levels of APRs. This card is more forgiving, as there’s only one level. Plus there’s no annual fee.

Watch out for

If you have stellar credit, you may be able to get an even lower APR with a different card. Also, the Visa® Credit Card offered by the State Employees’ Credit Union has no balance transfer fee, but the full APR applies immediately to transferred balances. Keep in mind that the APR can change quarterly.

How to use it

The Visa® Credit Card offered by the State Employees’ Credit Union can be a good card for everyday use if you carry a balance and can’t get a lower APR. This card might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a short-term balance transfer opportunity.

Surprising facts about credit union cards

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a credit union credit card, research the cards that different credit unions offer and read their membership criteria carefully. Sometimes, easy ways to join are mentioned in the fine print. Once you’re a member, you can apply for a card you like and check out the other financial services your credit union offers.