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Best of, College Students and Recent Grads, Credit Cards

Best Student Credit Cards July 2019

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Getting a credit card while you’re in college can set you up for financial success, provided you avoid racking up unnecessary charges. If you are over 18 and have a steady income, applying for a card now will kick start your credit history, and you can start building that all-important credit score.

Learning how to choose and use the right student credit card is relatively simple. Make sure you avoid annual fees and go with a bank or credit union you can trust. When you get the card, make sure you use it responsibly and pay the balance in full and on time every month. If you do these things consistently over time, you can leave school with an excellent credit score. And if you want to rent an apartment or buy a car, having a good credit score is very important.

Our Top Pick

Discover it® Student Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Good Grades Reward program: Did you study extra hard this year? If you’ve gotten a 3.0 GPA or higher for an entire school year, Discover will reward you with an extra $20 statement credit. You can get this statement credit for up to five years in a row as long as you’re still a current student when you apply.
  • Free FICO® score: Just like how you have grades for your classes, your FICO® score is your “grade” for your credit. Credit cards have a huge effect on your FICO® score. You can watch how your new credit card affects your score over time with a free FICO® score update on your monthly statement.
  • 5% cash back : You can earn up to 5% cash back at different places that change each quarter, on up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter that you activate. Past categories have included things like Amazon purchases, restaurants, and ground transportation. Even if you don’t buy something in the bonus category, you’ll still earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash back match at end of your first year: In addition to rotating 5% cash back categories, new cardmembers will also get an intro bonus. When your first card anniversary comes around, Discover will automatically match your cash back rewards you earned during your first year.

Cons Cons

  • Remember to sign up for bonus places: Even though this card comes with a great cash back rewards program, it comes with a catch: you’ll need to manually activate the bonus places each quarter. You can do this by calling Discover or logging in to your account online. If you forget, you’ll still earn 1% cash back if you make any purchases in the qualifying categories.
  • Gift certificates only available at certain levels: You can redeem your rewards for many things such as Amazon purchases, a statement credit, or a donation to a charity, to name a few. But, if you’d like to get a gift card instead, you’ll need a cash back balance of at least $20 saved up in your account.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers great perks for college students, such as a rewards program for good grades and a free FICO® score so you can learn about your credit firsthand. Its cash back rewards program is our favorite. No other card for students (that we could find) offers the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back. And with no annual fee, this is our top pick.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best Flat-Rate Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

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on Capital One’s website

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time
Regular Purchase APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 1.25% cash back if you pay on time: Each purchase you make earns a flat-rate 1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time. This makes it handy for people who want as simple a card as possible. And it rewards great behavior.
  • Higher credit lines after on-time payments: If you’re approved for this card, you’ll receive a credit line of at least $300. If you make five on-time payments in a row, you can call Capital One and ask them to increase your credit line.
  • No foreign transaction fee: This is a great card to take overseas, because you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees. Most cards charge an average 3% foreign transaction fee, but Journey allows you to use your card abroad without being charged extra fees.

Cons Cons

  • High APR: This card carries an APR of 26.96% (Variable). That’s almost twice as high as some other student credit cards, such as the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card with a rate as low as 13.40% - 23.40% Variable APR. It’s just one more incentive to pay off your bill in full each month.
Bottom line

Bottom line

We really like this card because it actively rewards you for developing good credit-management behavior by offering a small cash back bonus for on-time payments. In addition, the cash back program is straightforward with no confusing categories to remember or opt into, making this card a good option for students who want a simple, flat-rate card.

Read our full review of the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Best Intro Bonus

Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

The information related to Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
13.40% - 23.40% Variable
Credit required
excellent-credit
Good/Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Interest rates as low as 13.40% - 23.40% Variable APR: Depending on your credit, your interest rate could be between 13.40% - 23.40% Variable APR, but there is no guarantee you’ll receive the lower rate. This is a lower variable APR range than most student cards, and can help if you aren’t able to pay your balance in full one month.
  • Intro Rewards Bonus: 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases
  • Access to credit education: Wells Fargo provides you with all sorts of tools and information to learn about things like credit, budgeting, and expense tracking. While this is a nice feature, it’s not exclusive to Wells Fargo. You can get this information from free tools such as Mint, or even reading books and blogs. But it is pretty handy having it right at your fingertips when logged in to your account.

Cons Cons

  • Need to be a Wells Fargo member to apply online: You can go into any one of the 6,000+ branches and apply for the card. You can also apply online, but you’ll need to be an existing Wells Fargo customer. However, anyone can open a checking account online with a minimum deposit of $25.
  • High bars for some cash back redemption options: There are a lot of redemption options available through Wells Fargo’s own online cash back rewards mall. However, if you’d just like straight cash, you have a few options. You can request a direct deposit into your Wells Fargo checking account, savings account, or Wells Fargo credit card (if applicable) in $25 increments, or request a paper check in $20 increments. That can take a long time to accumulate if you’re not spending much with your card.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card is a relatively simple card with a great intro bonus of 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases In addition, the low variable APR is handy for those who think they’ll be carrying a balance on their credit card from month to month at some point in the future. This is generally something we recommend against, but if you can’t avoid it, the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card is your best bet.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Unlimited rewards. Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points.
  • Flexible rewards redemption. You can redeem your points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees. Plus, this card doesn’t restrict you to a particular airline or chain of hotels.
  • Free FICO score. Keep track of your credit score via online banking or Bank of America’s mobile app.
  • Chance to earn more rewards. Have an active Bank of America checking or savings account? Then this card offers a chance to get a 10% customer points bonus on every purchase. The card is also eligible for the benefits of the Preferred Rewards program, though that program is based on banking and/or investment balances that might be too high for many college students to qualify for.
  • Foreign transaction fee? There is None.

Cons Cons

  • Points are not worth as much when redeemed for cash back. When redeemed for a travel credit, each point is worth $0.01. However, if redeemed for cash back, points are only worth $0.006 each. For example, 2,500 points redeemed for travel would be worth $25. The same number of points redeemed for cash back would be worth $15.
Bottom line

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a student card offering travel rewards, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students could be a good option. With an annual fee of $0 and points that can be redeemed for travel with any airline or stays with any hotel line, this card gives you options.

The information related to Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Best Credit Union Card

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

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Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn double Reward Points on every dollar of purchases in the first 60 days after opening your new account, then 1 point per dollar spent.
Regular Purchase APR
16.15% Fixed

Magnify Glass Pros

  • $20 reward for good credit card usage: If you can maintain your account in an “exceptional way” for your first year, you’ll get a bonus $20 reward on your card’s anniversary. All you have to do is not have any late payments, don’t charge over your card’s limit, and use your card for at least six out of twelve months.
  • Up to $500 random winner each quarter: It’s like playing the lottery, except you don’t have to buy a lottery ticket. Each quarter Altra will choose one student cardholder at random and pay back all of their purchases from the previous month, anywhere between $50 to $500.
  • Earn rewards: For the first 60 days after you open your account, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent. After that you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent. You can redeem these points for cash back, merchandise through their online rewards mall, or travel.
  • Redeem points for a lower interest rate: If you’ll need a car in the future, this might be a good credit card to get. You can trade in 5,000 points for a 0.25% reduction, or 10,000 points for a 0.50% reduction on an auto loan through Altra Federal Credit Union. That could end up saving you a ton of cash in the long run.

Cons Cons

  • 1% foreign transaction fee: This is definitely one card to leave at home if you’ll be traveling or studying abroad. Most credit cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, so this is on the low side. Still, it’s not too hard to find a student credit card with no foreign transaction fee, such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back or the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card.
  • Must join Altra Federal Credit Union: Luckily, anyone can join, but it might take a bit of legwork on your part compared to a bank. If you don’t meet certain membership eligibility criteria, you can join the Altra Foundation for $5. Then you’ll need to open a savings account with a minimum $5 deposit that must remain in the account while you have your card open.
Bottom line

Bottom line

If you’re a student who doesn’t mind working with a credit union, Altra provides a card that has several rewards benefits. This card is a good option if you may be taking out an auto loan in the next few years, since you’ll benefit from a reduced interest rate by trading in your rewards points. In addition to earning rewards, using this card responsibly can help you build credit.

Read our full review of the Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

Best Secured Card

Discover it® Secured

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/New

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Cashback program: This card has a feature uncommon to other secure cards — a cashback program. You earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
  • Cashback Match™: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched (new cardmembers only). This is a great added bonus that increases your cash back in Year 1.
  • Automatic monthly reviews after eight months: Discover makes it easy for you to transition to an unsecured card with monthly reviews of your account starting after eight months. Reviews are based on responsible credit management across all of your credit cards and loans.

Cons Cons

  • Security deposit: You need to deposit a minimum of $200 in order to open this card. This will become your credit line, so a $200 deposit gives you a $200 credit line. If you want a higher credit limit, you need to increase your deposit. The security deposit is refundable, meaning you will receive your deposit back if you close the card, as long as your account is in good standing.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Secured is great for students who want to build credit. This card easily transitions you to an unsecured card when the time is right, and you can earn cash back. With proper credit behavior, you’ll soon be on your way to an unsecured card.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Secured

Best for No Credit History

Deserve® EDU Mastercard

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Deserve® EDU Mastercard

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
Regular Purchase APR
20.99% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Fair/Good Credit or No Credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • No credit history required: You can qualify for this card without any credit history, making this a great option for students new to credit. You don’t even need a Social Security number when applying.
  • Reimbursement for Amazon Prime Student*: This card will reimburse you for the cost of a year of Amazon Prime Student (valued at $49). You need to charge your membership to this card to qualify, and you will not be reimbursed for subsequent years’ membership fees.
  • No foreign transaction fee: Whether you travel abroad or study abroad, you can rest easy: There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

Cons Cons

  • Low cash back rate: The rewards program has a subpar 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases. You can do better with some of the other cards mentioned in this post. Though as a student, rewards shouldn’t be your primary focus — instead, build your credit so you can qualify for better non-student cards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students is a great choice for students who are looking to build credit. Deserve markets their cards for those who may have trouble qualifying for credit, and students who fall into this category may more easily qualify for this card than for cards from traditional banks. You can earn cash back, and receive a great promotional offer of a year of Amazon Prime Student for free*.

The information related to Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Also ConsiderAlso Consider

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards for Students

Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards for Students:

This credit card offers a snazzy rewards program: rather than accumulate points, you’ll get a cash rebate instead. All you have to do is make a purchase. At the end of the month, you’ll get a rebate of 3% of gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, and 1% of all other purchases deposited back into your Golden 1 savings account at the end of the month. Anyone who lives or works in California is eligible for credit union membership.

What should I look for in a student credit card?

The most important thing to consider when looking for a student credit card is that it charges no annual fee. You should never have to pay to build your credit score. Fortunately, most student cards don’t charge you an annual fee, but it’s still something to watch out for.

The second most important thing you should keep an eye out for are tools that help you learn about credit or even promote good credit-building habits. For example, some student credit cards will give you a free monthly FICO® score update. You can use this freebie to see in real time how your credit score changes as you build credit history by keeping the card open, or paying down your credit card balance, for example.

The last thing you should be considering when picking out a student credit card is the rewards program. I know, I know, it seems counterintuitive. But stick with me — I’ll show you why in the next question.

Why shouldn’t I be concerned about maximizing my rewards while in college?

Rewards cards are nice to have. But if you’re a college student, here’s the truth: you probably won’t spend enough to earn meaningful rewards.

Why? With a good rewards program, you can earn points or cash back. A small percentage of your monthly spending can add up quickly. However, given the tight budget that most college students live on, it will probably take a while to earn meaningful rewards. For example, if you earn 1.25% cash back and spend $300 a month on your card, you would earn $45 of cash back during the year.

College students are very good at making good use of $45. And our favorite card offers a great cash back rewards program. Just don’t expect to earn a lot of cash back, given the tight budget of a college student.

Why should I get a credit card as a college student?

There are a lot of great reasons why you should get a credit card, as long as you can commit to using it responsibly.

The single biggest reason why you should get a credit card as a college student is because you can start establishing a credit history now. When you graduate from college, you will need a good credit score to get an apartment. And your future employer will likely check your credit report. Building a good credit history while still in college will help prepare you for life after graduation.

Getting a credit card while in college can also train you to develop good credit habits now. But you need to be honest with yourself. If you find that you can’t avoid the temptation of maxing out your credit card, you might want to switch to a debit card or cash.

Finally, getting a credit card now can be the motivation you need to start learning about credit. These skills aren’t hard to learn, and they could save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life (when you want a mortgage, for example).

What is the CARD Act and why should I care about it?

Many years ago, credit card companies would market on college campuses. You could get a free beer mug or t-shirt in exchange for a credit card application. And you would be able to qualify for a credit card without having any income. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act was signed into law in May 2009 to change a number of practices.

How did the CARD Act change student credit cards?

The CARD Act made a lot of changes in how credit card issuers do business with students. One of the biggest changes was requiring students to be able to demonstrate an ability to pay. If you are under 21 and do not have sufficient income (a campus job, for example), you would need to get a co-signer.

In addition, colleges must now limit the amount of credit card marketing on campus. The days of free t-shirts and pizzas in exchange for credit card applications are gone. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for a college student to get a credit card. Some highly reputable banks and credit unions still offer student cards. And building a good credit score while still in college is still highly recommended.

How can I protect myself from racking up debt?

When used properly, credit cards are a very convenient method of repayment. However, when not used properly, you can end up deep in credit card debt. It is important to establish a healthy relationship to credit now, with your first credit card.

You should try to ensure that you pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every month. Ideally, you should set up an automatic monthly payment. And to keep yourself on track, take advantage of alerts offered by most credit card companies. You can even get daily text messages reminding you of your balance.

How can I automate my credit card usage?

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. There’s actually a way you can automate your payments so you never even have to bother with the hassle of using a credit card. All it takes is a few minutes of upfront work.

First, you’ll need at least one recurring monthly bill of the same amount, such as Netflix or Spotify. Log in to your account and set up an automatic payment each month using your credit card. Make a note of how much your monthly bill costs.

Next, log in to your bank account. Set up a second automatic payment to go to your credit card each month for the same amount as the bill. If your bank doesn’t offer the option to set up automatic payments, you may also be able to set up your credit card to automatically withdraw the amount of the bill from your bank.

Because you know this bill will be for the same amount each month (barring any price increases), you can literally just leave this running in the background each month on autopilot. You don’t even have to carry your credit card in your wallet if you don’t want to. Then, when you graduate, you’ll automatically have an improved credit score!

What happens to my student credit card when I graduate?

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the finish line. But what about your student credit card? You may choose to hold on to your student card since it might be your oldest credit account and this can play a part in your credit score. If you close your student credit card account, it will reduce your average age of credit accounts and could hurt your credit score. Instead of closing the account, you can ask your student card issuer if there is an option to upgrade your card.

Here is a summary of our favorite cards:

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Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit July 2019

This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

If you’re someone with good credit you should be able to qualify for a variety of credit cards. There are cards if you want to earn cash back, earn travel rewards or complete a balance transfer. MagnifyMoney has reviewed our database of over 2,000 credit cards to find cards you can qualify for with good credit. Here are our favorite cards for people with good credit.

Best cash back credit cards for good credit

Cash back credit cards can be great tools to boost your financial position. They basically make your life just a few percentage points cheaper — who wouldn’t want that?

Watch out for the pitfalls with these rewards cards, though. Don’t talk yourself into spending more because you’ll receive cash back. If you opt for a cash back card that offers you up to 5X more points on certain categories, make sure you understand that you often have to activate the bonus categories and set up reminders for yourself if necessary.

Best flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent, Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • High flat-rate cash back You earn one of the highest flat-rate cash back amounts of any card on the market. This allows you to enjoy high rewards on all your purchases.
  • Simple cash back rewards Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases, as long as you pay the minimum due. No need to deal with changing categories or activation.
  • First late fee waived You won’t have to pay your first late fee. Instead, if you are tardy, use it as a reminder to sign up for autopay

Cons Cons

  • Must pay in full to earn the full reward The only way to enjoy the 2% cash back is to pay your bill in full. This is a great incentive to pay your bill on time so you earn rewards faster.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee This is one card to leave home if you travel abroad a lot — but it’s great as long as you stay within the borders. The foreign transaction fee will negate any cash back you earn from purchases made abroad.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This is one of the highest flat-rate cash back rewards credit cards on the market. It’s a great choice for those who want peace of mind that they’re getting good rewards without fussing with variable rewards categories.

Read our full review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Best 5% cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Up to 5% cash back in rotating categories You will earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter, like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs, and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. All other purchases will earn unlimited 1% cash back automatically.
  • Cash back match your first year  Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. This is a great additional bonus for new cardholders that will significantly increase your cash back.
  • No foreign transaction fee Bring your card with you on your adventures abroad. It won’t cost you anything extra. This is one of the only cash back rewards cards to not charge you for using your card abroad.
  • Free FICO® score Your FICO® score is the most common credit score used by creditors, and getting your official score helps you keep tabs on your good credit. Monitoring your score can also help alert you of any fraudulent activity on your card.

Cons Cons

  • You need to opt in for bonus categories Bonus rewards aren’t automatic; you’ll need to remember to log in and manually activate them each quarter. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
  • $1,500 quarterly cap on 5% cash back rewards After you hit the quarterly cap, purchases in the 5% category will earn 1% cash back.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Cash Back offers great rewards-earning potential with a $0 annual fee, making this card a good way to earn rewards. Just remember to opt in to the quarterly-changing cash back programs.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Cash Back

Also Consider

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Nusenda Credit Union Platinum Rewards

This card is a great choice for forgetful people who want cash back rewards. It’s one of the only cards offering revolving categories each quarter that you don’t have to opt in for; you will get these rewards automatically. This card would also be a great choice for those who want cash back rewards and don’t mind working with a credit union.

Best for big spenders in gas

Commuting can be a huge cost, especially if you live far away from your work and don’t use public transportation. If you spend a lot of money on gas each month, consider getting a cash back rewards card that gives you higher rates of return for these purchases. It’s like having an instant coupon for gas with you all the time.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
11.50% - 18.00% Variable
Credit required
good-credit

Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 5% cash back rewards on gas This is one of the best cash back rewards bonuses we’ve seen on any card. It does not change quarterly like with most cash back rewards — you will always earn cash back rewards at this rate.
  • Fair APR If you need to carry a balance from month to month, rest assured: This card comes with a fair interest rate. Although we recommend paying each statement in full, this card can be a good option if you qualify for the lowest APR.
  • No annual fee All these great rewards come with no annual fee. If you pay off your bill in full each month to avoid interest charges, it’ll essentially be free money.

Cons Cons

  • 1% foreign transaction fee This is a great card to have on hand for road trips, but be aware that if you cross the border, your cash back rewards will be reduced.
  • Credit union membership required You don’t need to be a member to apply for the card; however, if you are approved, you’ll need to open and fund a savings account with a minimum of $5.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers great value for big spenders in gas. If you frequent the pump, this card can earn you a nice cash back rate. This card offers other great features such as no annual fee and a fair interest rate. If you don’t mind working with a credit union, this card can benefit your needs.

Best for big spenders at supermarkets

Groceries can be one of your biggest budget-busters, especially if you have a large family, a specialized diet, or live in certain parts of the country. The good news is there are certain credit cards that offer great rewards for grocery purchases at supermarkets. Here’s our top pick for a credit card to maximize your cash back rewards at supermarkets.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
15.24%-26.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 12 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 12 months
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions & 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Intro 0% for 12 months (after, 15.24%-26.24% Variable APR) This can come in handy if you make a purchase and can’t pay it off immediately.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets You’ll earn a whopping 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases — the highest level of cash back rewards we’ve heard of. Sadly, you’ll only earn this much on the first $6,000 worth of purchases each year. Remaining purchases will still earn 1% cash back.
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit. There’s no limit to the amount of cash back rewards you can earn at U.S. gas stations and on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, and buses. That means you can enjoy the higher cash back rate all year long.

Cons Cons

  • $95 annual fee This card charges an annual fee, but it will still be worth the fee if you spend at least $1,583 at supermarkets  or $3,166 in gas each year.
  • Foreign transaction fee  at 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. If you use your card outside of the country, it’ll cost you unless you’re buying gas or groceries — then you’ll either be breaking even or earning 3.3% cash back rewards on groceries. It’s best to leave this card at home if you travel abroad.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers a fantastic cash back rewards program for grocery spenders. By using this card for grocery purchases, you will see the most rewards. Although it carries a $95 annual fee, this card will easily pay for itself with big spenders in groceries.

Best travel rewards credit card for good credit

Travel can seem like a pipe dream to a lot of people. Even if you do have the cash, it still stings to see that much hard-won money leaving your bank account. But with a travel rewards credit card, you can have a sort of de facto savings account specifically for travel. And with a sign-on bonus like the one for our top pick, you can be jet-setting somewhere fun and interesting as soon as a few months from now.

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Rewards are worth more when redeemed for travel You will receive 25% more value on points that are redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This raises the effective rate of rewards to 1.25 and 2.5 points.
  • Higher rewards for dining and travel You’ll earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. This is great for travelers and foodies.
  • 1:1 point transfer to frequent flyer programs You can transfer points to partner frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great way to accumulate points faster at your favorite airline.
  • Travel protections This card comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver and more. These features add a layer of protection when traveling abroad.

Cons Cons

  • Points are worth slightly less when transferred to partners You’ll miss out on 25% more value if you transfer points to travel partners like airlines and hotels. The points will still transfer on a 1-to-1 basis, but they won’t be worth as much as using the Chase Rewards portal.
  • Annual fee There is a $95, which is typical of travel rewards cards. However, if you spend enough on this card, you will come out ahead.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card is the gold standard for travel junkies. The Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal helps you maximize your rewards even further and get you closer to covering the cost of a flight or hotel stay using rewards. If you’re a frequent traveler, this card will earn you a great rate.

Best airline credit cards for good credit

One of the biggest travel expenses is airfare. Even if you don’t have specific goals to travel regularly, surprises like cross-country family emergencies or get-togethers can take a big bite out of your budget.

Before signing up for an airline-specific card, it’s helpful to know what airline options you have near you. Different airlines tend to congregate more in different parts of the country; you won’t see any Alaska Airlines planes if you live in Maine, for example.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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The information related to Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee
$69
Rewards Rate
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Flexible points redemption options You can use your points to book hotel stays and car rentals and to buy gift cards or merchandise.
  • 3,000 bonus points every year You’ll get a bonus 3,000 points tacked onto your account each year on your card’s anniversary. This is a great added bonus that makes this card exceptional.
  • Travel protections This card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and more. These features add a layer of protection when traveling abroad.

Cons Cons

  • $69 annual fee Many travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year — but not this one. Otherwise, the $69 annual fee is typical and the rewards you earn should outweigh the fee.
  • Foreign transaction fee at 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars It’s ironic that a travel card would charge you for purchases made abroad. If you can, leave this one at home if you travel outside of the country. Also consider other airline cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
Bottom line

Bottom line

We recommend this card for people who frequently fly on Southwest Airlines and want to earn a higher rewards rate on those purchases. This card will allow you to earn more points on Southwest flights that will allow you to maximize your rewards. If you don’t fly Southwest and often fly abroad, this card isn’t for you.

Best for United frequent flyers

UnitedSM Explorer Card

The information related to UnitedSM Explorer Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

UnitedSM Explorer Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Priority boarding Snag your seat before everyone else and avoid the rush to get on the plane.
  • Free checked bag You and one companion traveling on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free.
  • Hotel Benefits This card comes with luxury hotel and resort collection privileges including room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Travel protections This card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and more. These features add peace of mind when traveling.

Cons Cons

  • Annual fee of $0 intro for first year, then $95 Many travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year — including this one. After that first year, the fee kicks in. However, the fee amount is typical and the rewards you earn can outweigh the fee.
  • Limited Star Alliance partners You can only use your points to book travel on United Airlines or their partners in the Star Alliance, including such airlines as Lufthansa and Air China. This is a negative if you don’t travel on any of these airlines.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers a good rewards program for United Airlines flyers. You will enjoy more miles on United purchases and will also get nice perks that make flying less stressful. We recommend this card if you’re a frequent United Airlines traveler.

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 26.24%* (Variable)
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Cheaper mile redemptions You’ll pay up to 7,500 fewer miles to fly to certain destinations with American Airlines. This can help you maximize your miles.
  • 10% bonus points each year You’ll get a 10% bonus on all miles you’ve redeemed for flights at the end of each year. This is a great added bonus that will increase your miles earned.
  • First checked bag free You won’t have to leave the things you really want to bring at home in order to save money. First checked bag is free
    on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
  • Discount on in-flight purchases You can save money when dining on American Airlines flights. Receive a 25% savings on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.
  • Travel protections This card comes with lost baggage protection, travel and emergency assistance, worldwide travel accident insurance, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation and trip protection, and more. These features allow you to save money from taking out additional insurances when traveling. However, Citi announced in June 2019 they’d be discontinuing a variety of travel perks on select cards, effective Sept. 22, 2019.
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount You can earn this discount by spending $20,000 or more on purchases using this card during your card membership year.

Cons Cons

  • Limited “oneworld” partner airlines You can only book travel on American Airlines or their partner airlines in the “oneworld alliance.” Other member airlines include British Airways and Qantas, for example.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers solid perks and ways to maximize your mile earnings. It’s an important card in any traveler’s wallet and can be a great benefit to frequent American Airlines flyers. Take advantage of the cheaper miles redemption to maximize your miles.

The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards Rate
2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free checked bag Save money and hassle by bringing all the stuff you need with you on your travels in a free checked bag.
  • Priority boarding Be the first on the plane so you don’t have to worry about luggage space or a long line.
  • No foreign transaction fee This card does not charge a fee for purchases made abroad. That means you can fly outside of the U.S. and not be charged additional fees like most other cards.
  • Discounts on Delta purchases You will enjoy several discounts when flying Delta. Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets. Also, you and two traveling companions can enjoy snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi access, satellite TV, newspapers and magazines, personalized flight assistance, private restrooms and more at Delta Sky Club® for a reduced fee of $29 per person.
  • Travel Protections This card comes with Global Assist Hotline, car rental loss and damage insurance, and more. These features are a great way to have an added layer of safety when traveling.

Cons Cons

  • Limited SkyTeam partner airlines You can also use your Delta miles to book travel within the SkyTeam Alliance, a relatively limited network with other members like Air France and Aeroméxico.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers great benefits for those who fly Delta. You will enjoy a wide selection of perks from lounge access to in-flight savings that make traveling more comfortable and cheaper. We recommend this card for frequent Delta flyers who want added discounts when they travel.

Best luxury credit card for good credit

Even though traveling is fun, it can still be a stressful experience. Between fighting throngs of crowds and cramming into airline seats, it can be enough to drive even the most ardent travel-lover insane sometimes.

The good news is you can avoid all of that with a luxury credit card. These credit cards will give you an across-the-board better travel experience, from the moment you arrive at the airport until you make it back home. Here is our top pick for a luxury credit card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Regular Purchase APR
-
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free access to over 1,200 airport lounges Get away from the crowds in premium airport lounges all over the globe. This is a great feature that will allow you time to decompress before or after flights.
  • $200 toward airline fees and incidental purchases each year Amex will refund you up to $200 per year on purchases from a qualifying airline you select ahead of time. This includes things like meals, checked bag fees, and more.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck : Amex will refund you every four years for TSA Precheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100) fees. If you were thinking of using these services, it’s a great idea to take advantage of this rebate and enjoy a quicker check-in when flying.
  • Great rewards program Earn a fantastic rewards rate of 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. It’s more than double what many other travel cards offer.

Cons Cons

  • High $550 annual fee Luxury doesn’t come cheap. If you spend a lot on travel, though, this card can still pay for itself. Make sure this card is right for your needs.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card is a stand-out favorite for globetrotting jet-setters who prefer a bit of comfort while traveling. Watch out for the $550 annual fee, though. If you spend a lot on travel each year, however, this card might actually save you money and will allow you to travel in luxury.

Best 0% APR credit cards for good credit

If you really need to buy something moderately expensive but don’t have the cash for it yet, 0% APR purchase cards can be a great way to go. They’re basically like free short-term loans. These cards are similar to 0% balance transfer cards, but not all of them also offer you the ability to make new purchases with the free promo rates.

It’s recommended to only use these cards to buy things that you absolutely need rather than a new big-screen TV. For example, I used a 0% APR card to purchase the very computer I’m typing this on. I didn’t have $800 to spend at the time, but within a couple of months I had made enough money to pay it off in full — without having to pay a penny of interest. These cards offer great opportunities to better your life, without the extra cost — if you can pay off the card before the promo period is over.

21 months, 0% intro APR, 5% BT fee

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable)
Duration
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Intro 0%* for 12 months on Purchases*Enjoy a free pass from any interest charges for nearly two years in a row — that’s one of the longest 0% APR intro periods in the business. The intro period also applies to balance transfers. After, 16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable) APR.
  • No late fees Citi offers one of the most unique perks in the credit card world — no late fees. Of course, it isn’t a free pass; you still need to pay your bill on time or risk a huge credit score drop from the negative mark on your credit report.
  • Choose your bill due date To make it as easy as possible on your finances, you can choose your own due date. Get paid in the middle of the month? No problem. Prefer to pay it right away? Pay it at the beginning of the month.

Cons Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee If you’ll be traveling abroad, leave this card at home — otherwise it’ll end up making your trip 3% more expensive.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This is one of the longest 0% APR intro periods in the credit card market and offers a fantastic opportunity for those who need to finance a large purchase — as long as you pay it off before the period expires. Use this card as a means to rid yourself of high interest charges while you pay off your bills.

Read our full review of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

The information related to Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Learn more

You don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify for the best financial products. You’ll still get access to virtually all of the things an 850 credit score would unlock as long as you have a credit score of at least 760.

Good credit scores don’t happen by accident. Whether you deliberately aimed for your score or not, you have good financial management skills. However, this isn’t enough to guarantee your approval for a large number of financial products.

It’s actually possible to have a good credit score yet still be a high financial risk. For example, your credit score doesn’t take your salary into account. You could have a perfect credit score yet be unemployed with no income, in some cases.

When you apply for financial products, banks will look at your entire situation beyond just your credit score. Each bank will have their own approval criteria, and you might not pass one of them even if you have a good credit score.

Take heart, however; in general, you will be approved for most good financial products and services if you have a good credit score. But if the bank is very picky or something uncommon has happened to you (such as a recent job loss), it’s not surprising to be rejected.

Potential creditors don’t like to see a string of recent credit inquiries on your report because it might be a sign that you’re going on an out-of-control credit binge. Your score will be docked a few points per credit inquiry. This is a relatively small cut compared to more major transgressions like late payments and foreclosures, however.

When you have a poor credit score (600-648), you need every point you can get. The difference between a poor and a fair credit score is just 48 points; you need to do everything you can to gain those points and move up into the next bracket. Having a hard credit pull on your credit report will set you back even longer.

If you’ve got good credit, though, you don’t need to worry as much. You have 150 points between 700 and the maximum score of 850. That’s plenty of room to pay for small dings on your credit. You can have a hard inquiry on your credit report and still have a good credit score, unless you’re starting with a borderline good score of 700-705.

You’ve worked hard getting your score to this point, now how do you keep it there? Luckily, it’s not hard; basically, continue doing the good things you’re already doing.

Paying all of your statements on time and in full is one of the best things you can do to maintain your high credit score. A single late payment on your mortgage could set you back 60 points or more, downgrading you from good credit to average. Make sure all of your debt accounts are set up on autopay to avoid this potentially costly error.

Credit utilization (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is also one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. The less available credit you’re using, the better. In general, a credit utilization ratio of 10% or less will boost your score the most. This means that you’ll have a credit card balance of $1,000 or less for each $10,000 of credit you have available to you.

A few minor factors will also boost your credit score, but not as much as having a good payment history and a low credit utilization ratio. Keep credit inquiries to a minimum. In order to avoid a slew of inquiries that will be reflected in your credit score, make sure companies use soft pulls if you need to shop around for the best interest rates.

Also consider keeping your oldest credit cards open and closing any newer ones you’re not using. This will increase your average credit age. In general, an average credit age of five years or more is considered best and will boost your credit score.

You don’t want to be juggling around a ton of cards you’re not using. Closing old cards sounds like a good idea until you consider one factor: It may ding your credit score.

Creditors like to see that you can effectively handle credit accounts over long periods of time. That’s why average credit age is one factor included in credit scoring models.

If you close out an old card, your average credit age might drop. This would cause a corresponding dip in your score. The effect wouldn’t be huge (not as large as a late payment, for example), but it could be there nonetheless, especially if your average credit age is five years or less (over five years is the optimal average credit age).

That’s why most experts recommend keeping your oldest credit card open. If you want to juggle fewer accounts, close any newer ones that you’re not using. Of course, if your oldest credit card charges an annual fee and you’re not using it, then go ahead and close it anyway. Paying an annual fee for a card you’re not using likely outweighs any benefits from keeping the card open for the sake of boosting your average credit age.

Furthermore, if you close your old credit card before you apply for a new card, it’s possible that your credit score will drop enough that your application will be rejected, especially if you have a borderline good credit score. In this case, it’s better to wait until after you’ve applied and been approved for the new credit card before closing your old card, if you decide to do so.

This article contains links to CompareCards, similar to MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Best of, Earning Interest

The Best Credit Union CD Rates – July 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The top credit union CD rates
Source: iStock

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are a great way to safely store your savings at a financial institution, as they offer a guaranteed rate of return, and CD rates tend to be higher than those on traditional savings accounts. Maybe you’ve even heard that credit union CD rates offer higher returns—but is that really the case?

On average, yes. As of March 2019, the average one-year credit union CD had a 1.40% annual percentage yield (APY), compared to the 1.10% APY average among one-year bank CDs.

Using data from DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree company, we identified the top one-year credit union CD rates, as of July 3, 2019. We then eliminated any credit union with a health rating lower than a B and identified the top offerings in three categories: restricted, no cost, and best banking app. If there was a tie by APY, we went with the product with the lower minimum deposit. Here are the best one-year credit union CD rates.

Best credit union CD rates with restricted memberships or membership fees

Each of these credit unions have restricted membership criteria, but don’t let that scare you away. If you don’t meet their membership criteria, it’s possible to make a small donation to their charity of choice in order to become eligible for membership. Furthermore, these credit union CD rates offer some of the highest-returning share certificates out of any category.

State Department Federal Credit Union– 12 Month Share Certificate, 2.63% APY, min. deposit $500

12 Month Certificate from State Department Federal Credit UnionDon’t worry, you don’t need a security clearance from the federal government to join this credit union—you simply need to sign up with the American Consumer Council and you can begin enjoying the benefits of your new membership.

One of those benefits, should you so choose, includes this 12-Month Share Certificate, which allows you to park your money in an account earning 2.63% APY with a minimum deposit of at least $500. You’ll have to pay 180 days worth of interest if you withdraw your money from the certificate before it matures, but it’s worth noting you can make a partial early withdrawal — and pay the penalty — without closing out the account completely.

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on State Department Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Quorum Federal Credit Union – 12 Month Term Savings CD, 2.60% APY, min. $1,000

12 Month Term Savings CD from Quorum Federal Credit UnionHeadquartered in New York State, Quorum Federal Credit Union offers membership eligibility to anyone who joins the Ameircan Consumer Council. This credit union provides its members with all of the standard banking services you’d expect, including a suite of term savings deposits (CDs). While Quorum’s CD rates are strong across the board, of particular interest is the 2.60% APY earned by the 12 month term CD.

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on Quorum Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Alliant Credit Union – 12-17 Month Share CD, 2.50% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Alliant Credit Union
With a minimum deposit of $1,000, you could earn an APY of 2.50% on a 12-17 month CD. An early withdrawal penalty of 90 days’ worth of interest may be imposed if you withdraw funds prior to the CD’s maturity date.

With a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success, you can easily become a member of Alliant Credit Union. You can also become a member if you are an employee or retiree of certain organizations, related to existing Alliant members, or live or work in qualifying communities.

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on Alliant Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Sun East Federal Credit Union – 12 Month CD, 2.50% APY, min. deposit $500

12 Month CD from Sun East Federal Credit Union

Headquartered in Aston, PA, this credit union offers its services to members nationwide via the internet. Anyone can join this credit union by making a $10 donation to the Sun East Charitable Foundation, allowing them to enjoy one of the most competitive CDs around.

Depositors into this CD can expect an APY of 2.50% should they let the certificate fully mature. Otherwise, they face a penalty of 180 days worth of interest if they withdrawal the funds early.

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on Sun East Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Utah First FCU – 12 month CD, 2.40% APY, min deposit $500

12 Month CD from Utah First Federal Credit Union
The credit union may be called Utah First, but maybe they should change their name to “Saver First” considering the deal on this account! But first, you have to qualify for membership via a $5 annual donation to the Community Volunteers of Utah (assuming you don’t qualify by any other means). Then you can take advantage of the 2.40% APY offered on this CD.

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on Utah First Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Connexus Credit Union – 12 Month CD, 2.50% APY, min deposit $5,000

12 Month Certificate from Connexus Credit Union

This Midwest-based credit union makes it easy for anyone in the country to qualify for membership, requiring only a $5 donation to the Connexus Association (which promotes financial literacy and education). The 12 month term CD (or share certificate, as the credit union calls it) offers a high APY as long as you’re willing to part with at least $5,000 to fund it. Given the high interest rate offered, you may want to put in far more than the minimum.

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on Connexus Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Best CD rates for credit unions with no cost to join

The thing about credit unions is that they’re not usually just open to anyone. You usually need to meet some membership criteria in order to get in and get access to all of their really nice products. These credit unions, however, will let you in for free regardless of your personal details. (Note: Only two credit unions met our criteria for this list.)

Unify Financial Credit Union – 1-Year Share Certificate, 1.75% APY, min. deposit $1,000

UNIFY Financial Credit Union
Unify FCU offers the highest interest rates on CDs (which it calls share certificates) of any credit union with no cost to join. The interest rate on their 12-month CD, for example, is 1.75%, compared to the national average of 1.37% in July. You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $1,000 to open this CD. If you withdraw your money early, however, you’ll face a penalty of 90 days’ worth of interest.

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on UNIFY Financial Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

NASA Federal Credit Union – 1-Year Share Certificate, 1.60% APY, min. deposit $1,000

NASA Federal Credit Union
If the rigid inflexibility of CDs makes you leery, NASA FCU might be your best bet. They have a lot of flexible certificates, such as add-on certificates that let you start with as little as $250, and bump-rate certificates that let you opt for a one-time interest rate increase if rates go up. You can even take out a loan from your certificate should you need the cash before it’s matured. You can join NASA FCU with a complimentary membership to the National Space Society.

If you do need to make an early withdrawal, you will face a penalty of 180 days’ worth of interest.

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on NASA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Best CD rates for credit unions with the best mobile apps

By their very nature, CDs aren’t something that require constant attention, poking, and prodding. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it kind of a deal, so you won’t need any spiffy banking apps to use CDs.

But, if you’d like to switch all of your banking to the same institution that holds your CDs, it might be a wise idea to consider one of these credit unions if you’re a digital junkie. Most credit unions lag behind their bank compatriots in terms of mobile banking apps, but these credit unions offer top-notch mobile apps, according to MagnifyMoney’s 2018 mobile banking app analysis.

Redstone Federal Credit Union – 12 Month MemberPlus Regular Share Certificate, 2.52% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Redstone Federal Credit Union
You can’t just make a simple donation to join to Redstone Federal Credit Union if you fail to meet their membership criteria. You need to be a government employee or contractor, a member of the military, reserve, or National Guard, or affiliated with a number of organizations listed on their website among other options.

However, if you do qualify for membership, you could earn an APY of 2.52% with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Redstone FCU has compounding and non-compounding certificates, which allow you to have the option to withdraw interest earned or not throughout the term of the certificate.

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on Redstone Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Wright-Patt Credit Union – 1-Year Certificate, 2.07% APY, min. deposit $500

Wright-Patt Credit Union
Unlike many credit unions, you can’t just make a simple donation to join Wright-Patt CU if you fail to meet their membership criteria. You need to live in certain areas of Ohio, be associated with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, or be an employee of their select employer group, among other options.

You can earn $10.35 on a 12-month CD with just a relatively small $500 deposit. However, if you’re able to deposit $100,000 or more, you’ll earn an APY of 2.17%, which will return $2,170 in interest. Early withdrawal penalties vary depending on the original term of your CD, however they’ll be anywhere between 5-12 months’ worth of dividends.

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on Wright-Patt Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Eastman Credit Union – 1-Year Investment Certificate, 2.25% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Eastman Credit Union
Eastman Credit Union also has pretty restrictive membership requirements. You’ll have to be an employee (or a family member of an employee) of one of their select employers, or live in certain parts of Tennessee, Texas, or Virginia.

Eastman CU is another one of the rare credit unions that allow you to withdraw your dividends penalty-free before the maturity date, although again, doing so will lower your total returns. Currently, you can earn an interest rate of 2.25% on a 12-month CD with a minimum deposit of $1,000. If you withdraw your money before the CD matures, you’ll owe a penalty fee of anywhere between seven days’ worth of dividend earnings or all of your dividend earnings.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Eastman Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Delta Community Credit Union – 1-Year Certificate, 1.75% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Delta Community Credit Union
There are many ways to join Delta Community CU, such as living in certain parts of Georgia, being a member of one of their select employers, or being a member of one of their partner organizations. Interestingly, citizens of many countries like Argentina, France, and Peru are also eligible to join.

Delta Community CU used to be the lowest-earning credit union on our list, but recently increased the APY on this product from 1.10% to 1.75%. The early withdrawal penalty is 90 days’ worth of interest on a 12-month CD.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Delta Community Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

3 questions to consider before opening a credit union CD

Banks are more likely to call their products certificates of deposit, while credit unions often refer to them as share certificates. Aside from the name, the biggest difference between the two is that credit unions have higher average annual percentage yields (APYs) than traditional banks, as of September 2018. That’s good news: It means more money back in your pocket when the CD matures (i.e., reaches the end of its term and is available for withdrawal).

There really is no difference in safety between depositing money in a CD with a credit union versus a bank, as long as they participate in either the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for credit unions, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for banks.

According to Neal Frankle, a Los Angeles-based Certified Financial Planner with Wealth Pilgrim, deposits of up to $250,000 per financial institution are “backed by the full faith and credit of United States Government, so it’s pretty solid.”

For the most part, choosing a CD at a bank or a credit union boils down to your preference as a consumer: Do you want to be a bank customer or a member of a credit union? Here’s a primer on the differences.

The biggest advantage of credit union CDs over bank CDs is that you can likely earn more interest. But with both products, the longer the CD term, the more interest you will earn. And with a CD laddering strategy, you can have the best of both worlds: frequent access to your money, yet you can still keep it locked away in high-interest, long-term CDs.

Beyond that, the disadvantages of opening a credit union CD are the same as if you’re opening a CD with a bank. You can’t access that money without paying an early withdrawal penalty until the CD matures. While CDs do offer some of the highest rates for any financial product you’re likely to come across at a bank or credit union, they still don’t really earn great interest. If you’re investing for the long-term (like retirement savings), your money is better invested in the riskier (but higher-earning) stock or bond market.

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Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here