SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Credit Card Review

By Christina Majaski. Last updated 4 January 2019. 0 comments

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The State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) is based out of Alexandria, Virginia, with locations across the country. The credit union, which was originally the U.S. Department of State Employees Federal Credit Union, provides over 67,000 global members with a range of financial products from loans to bank accounts and credit cards. Its secured card, the SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum, is rated as one of the best secured cards on the market, not only for the history behind the credit union, but for the features that set it apart from other cards.

If you are just starting out and in the process of building your credit rating, or if you have had credit problems in the past and are working on repairing your credit, the SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Credit Card provides a number of advantages over other secured cards, and is a card that should be seriously considered when choosing from the vast number that are available.

Membership With SDFCU

Although membership is required with SDFCU in order to qualify for the card, there are a couple ways you can become a member. If you are an employee of the Department of State or a number of other organizations such as DeVry University in Virginia, the Motley Fool, or Voice of America, you can become a member of SDFCU. You can also attain membership if you are a family member of an SDFCU member such as spouse, parent, child, or household member living in the same residence. Furthermore, if you become a member of the American Consumer Council, which requires a membership fee of $15 for lifetime membership, you can also qualify for membership with SDFCU. There is an extensive list of qualifying organizations, so it is recommended you check the website if you are not sure.

How This Card Works

When you apply for the card, a security deposit of at least $250 is required. This deposit is held in an interest bearing savings account with SDFCU for the duration of the account, in the event that you should default on your credit card. There are no credit checks or income verification required. When you receive your card, the credit limit is the amount of the deposit. You are then able to use the card just as you would any other credit card, with the payments and account activity being reported as a secured card to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Over time, this can help establish or reestablish a positive credit rating.

Rewards Program

The card includes an opportunity to earn rewards on your purchases. You can earn one Flexpoint for each dollar spent with card, and multiple points with offers from the credit union. For example, you can also earn five points for each bill paid through Bill Pay and five points for each dollar spent on purchases made through the Perks Points Mall, which is an online shopping portal including over 800 retailers.

You can redeem your points for merchandise, gift cards, travel, and charitable donations, with the value of a point being dependent on how you choose to redeem. Just as examples, you can redeem 12,500 points for a gift card worth $100 or 7,500 points for a $50 gift card. Redeeming larger amounts often provide a higher value.

Costs

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. 

The variable APR is based on your credit worthiness and starts as low as 14.24%. 

Pros

No income verification or credit check. Hard credit inquiries which show whenever your credit file is pulled, can decrease your credit rating by as much as five points. There is no credit check required for the card, which means you won't suffer the hard inquiry on your credit report. This is beneficial when trying to raise your credit rating, but also means that even if you've had bankruptcies or other credit problems, you can still qualify for the credit card.

No fees. Secured credit cards are notorious for high extra fees that range from monthly fees to administrative fees to just regular card fees. The SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Credit Card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, which is not only rare for secured cards, but for unsecured cards as well. 

Low APR. It has not only the lowest APR of any secured card but many unsecured cards as well. It is recommended that with any card you pay the balance in full each month in order to avoid paying interest on your purchases, but if you have to carry a balance month to month, it's best to use a card with the lowest APR possible.

Deposit earns interest. Your deposit earns interest while it is being held in a savings account, allowing you to earn a little extra during the life the account. This is not an option that is standard on secured cards. Many hold the deposit and when you close the account, you receive exactly the amount deposited.

Earn rewards. It is also rare for secured cards to earn rewards on purchases. This is a feature often reserved for unsecured cards that require higher credit ratings. Although the rate of rewards is minimal, it is still an opportunity to earn something extra for choosing to use your card for purchases. 

Great for travelers. Foreign transaction fees can be as much as 3% on foreign purchases, which is a significant fee if you travel abroad frequently. There are very few secured cards without this fee. 

Cons

Membership required. You do have to be a member of the credit union to qualify for the card — even before you apply for the card. There are a number of organizations included, but even if you aren't a part of any of the qualifying companies, you can become a lifetime member of the American Consumer Council for a small fee of $15. Even as a last resort, this fee is well under the annual fees charged by other secured cards. If, however, you do not want to become a member of the ACC and do not qualify with the other organizations available, you won't be able to get the card. In this case, you might consider one of the other secured cards available.

The SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Credit Card is one of the best cards available for those who are establishing or reestablishing positive credit ratings. There are very few secured cards available that allow you to fix your credit with a card that has no fees, an opportunity for a low APR, a deposit earning interest account, and a rewards program for earning from your purchases. If you are on the path to recovering or building your credit, the SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Credit Card provides everything you need in a great secured card and rates a great deal higher than its competition.

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