Skip to main content

Can You Get a Credit Card Through a Credit Union?

By: Melissa Thomas, Sr. VP Operations and Payments

Posted on 6/9/2022 1:39:55 PM

Photograph of a couple seated on a couch, with woman holding her credit union credit card in air as they are discussing a joint purchase

Yes, you can get a credit card through a credit union. In fact, many credit unions offer credit cards with more competitive rates and terms than a traditional bank. And like any other type of credit card, one issued from a credit union can also be used to make purchases or cash advances. Read about what to consider as you apply for your card.

Pros vs Cons of getting a credit card from a credit union versus a bank

When you are considering getting a credit card, it is important to compare offers from multiple financial institutions. This way, you can be sure you are getting the best possible deal. And while some banks may offer attractive perks and rewards, remember that credit unions are not-for-profit organizations. This means they may be more likely to work with you if you have financial difficulties. Some of the primary benefits of getting a credit union credit card include:

  • More personal service
  • Lower interest APRs and lower transfer fees
  • Fewer service fees and no annual fees
  • Cross-collateralization

There is really only one potential con: you have to be a member of the credit union to apply. As not-for-profit organizations, credit unions are owned and managed by the members. Decisions are made by members for members, and products are exclusively for members. The good news is it's easy to become a member!

How do the benefits work for a credit card issued through a credit union?

Credit cards issued by a credit union also provide several member perks. For instance, some cards offer a cash back or rewards program on the account. This benefit is usually tiered, meaning the more you spend, the more cash back you earn. For example, you may earn 1% cash back on all purchases, but 2% on gas and grocery store purchases. There can even be higher rates for specific categories like travel or dining.

Another benefit is the lower APR on a credit union credit card. It means you'll owe less in interest charges over time. More of every payment you make will go directly to the bottom line. So when comparing offers, be sure to look at both the introductory and ongoing APRs. The lower interest can provide you major long-term savings, particularly if you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month.

Many credit union credit cards come with travel insurance, extended warranty protection, or even price protection. These can be valuable benefits, particularly if you use your credit card often. You can even access your account information and make payments online, either through the website or mobile app. These are a convenient way to keep track of your spending and ensure that you never miss a payment.

What do I need to know before I apply for a credit card from my credit union?

There are a few things to keep in mind before you apply for any credit card, including one from your credit union. First, consider whether you want a Discover, American Express, Visa or Mastercard. Each has its own set of benefits and rewards. For example, Visa offers Zero Fraud Liability for unauthorized transactions. Community First Credit Union proudly offers Visa credit cards to our members.

It's also important to know your credit score. This number tells the credit union how likely you are to repay a balance or whether you can make timely payments on an account. A higher score means you're a lower-risk borrower, which could lead to a better interest rate and terms on your credit card.

Photograph of two young women checking in at the hotel front desk, using a credit union credit card

What is the difference for a first-time cardholder or experienced cardholder wanting a balance transfer?

First-time cardholders and experienced cardholders can both benefit equally by having a credit card issued from a credit union instead of a bank. First-time cardholders:

  • Learn through experience about the difference between revolving debt and a loan.
  • Can start by making minimum payments then increase your payments with no penalty.
  • Build a strong credit score through a lender who is in your corner and has your best interests in mind, because you are a member.

Experienced cardholders who are tired of paying annual fees to a bank, have a new credit card that:

  • Grows with your needs over time
  • Doesn't penalize you for moving your balance to the credit union

Are you ready to apply for a credit card from the credit union?

We make it easy and convenient. Once you are a member, you can compare the cards we offer, then apply online. Alternatively, you can make an appointment by calling 904.354.8537 then we can get your application started.

Don't miss another article

Stay up to date with the latest financial tips and news. Subscribe to our blog.