The State Department EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum is the best secured credit card in the market currently with a trifecta of no annual fee, the lowest APR, and a rewards program that easily beats out other competitors. Most people can be eligible for this card with a membership to the American Consumer Council, unless you're already a State Department employee. This may be an extra step for most people, but the benefits are well worth it.
The State Department's secured credit card has some of the lowest costs we've seen: there's no annual fee, and an extremely low APR. Most secured credit cards charge an annual fee for the higher risk of extending credit to cardholders with little or bad credit, but the State Department Federal Credit Union breaks that trend. After you've improved your credit history and applied for a regular credit card, you have the option of keeping this card open at no annual cost - thereby extending the credit history you've established.
The EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum's APR of 6.99% is extremely low among secured credit cards - and even regular credit cards, for that matter. We estimate the average APR among secured cards to be 16%, so you'd be saving more than 50% in interest expense if you carry a card balance on the State Department's secured card vs. the average secured card.
- State Department Secured Credit Card
- Comparisons to Other Credit Cards
|State Department Secured Visa Platinum|
|Late Payment Fee||$25|
|Eligibility||American Consumer Council / State Department affiliation,
and State Department Credit Union account
Another bright feature about the State Department Secured Visa Platinum is its rewards program, which is rare for a secured credit card. The typical secured card does not offer a rewards program at all, but the State Department's card gives you a 1% rewards rate back - that's about the same rate you'd get with the average unsecured rewards credit cards. Through the Flexpoints Rewards Program, you earn one Flexpoint per dollar you spend on the secured card. Once you've accumulated 2,500 points, you can redeem them for a $25 gift card at select merchants.
To apply for this card, you must first have an account at the State Department Federal Credit Union. To be eligible for the account, you must be one of these:
- a member of the American Consumer Council ($15 lifetime membership)
- an employee or contractor of the State Department
- a government employee on a tour of duty in a foreign affairs office
- a member of an organization affiliated with the State Department FCU
The EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum from the State Department Federal Credit Union really takes the cake with its superb features. Here are some other best secured credit cards that you may be considering, and how the State Department card compares against them.
State Department vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
With a rewards program, extremely low APR, and no annual fee, the State Department card is a tough competitor to beat, but the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does offer an interesting alternative. If you're looking for the best overall secured credit card, and don't mind setting aside a security deposit that'll be equal to your credit limit, then the State Department secured card is excellent for you. However, if you'd rather set aside a smaller amount as collateral for a higher credit limit and and higher APR, and forgoing the rewards program, then the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® will work for you.
State Department Secured Credit Card vs. Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card
The nRewards secured card is the only credit card that even comes close - and even then, it's only worthwhile for military members and their families who don't want to go through the extra step of obtaining a membership to the American Consumer Council. The nRewards falls somewhat short with a lower rewards rate of 0.5%, a slightly higher APR of 8.99%, a higher minimum deposit of $500, and stricter eligibility compared to the State Department's secured credit card.
State Department vs. DCU Visa Platinum Secured Card
The State Department Federal Credit Union's secured offering has better terms and features than the DCU Visa card does. Both are no-fee, but DCU's Visa Platinum secured card has a higher APR, minimum deposit requirement, and lacks the 1% rewards program that makes the State Department's card so attractive. Eligibility for the DCU card also depends on membership in various companies and organizations, or a $10 donation to the Reach Out for Children.
Comments and Questions
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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.