In a Nutshell: Many financial consumers don’t realize that they qualify for a Navy Federal Credit Union membership. However, the credit union is open to all active-duty, veteran, and retired military service personnel — and their families. More than 10 million members count on Navy Federal Credit Union to deliver financial services, including extensive card products, that enable them to grow and succeed. That’s all part of Navy Federal Credit Union’s dedication to working with members — and exceeding their expectations — over the long term.
When seven Navy employees joined forces to start a small credit union near the end of the Great Depression, they focused on helping their peers succeed financially. That mindset and mission helped that small credit union grow into Navy Federal Credit Union, an institution that serves more than 10 million members today.
Navy Federal Credit Union now has nearly 350 domestic and international branches and manages approximately $150 billion in assets. Its members have access to 30,000-plus free ATMs, and the credit union has won accolades from a wide range of military and civilian organizations.
Since its modest start, Navy Federal Credit Union has aimed to live up to its mission of individual advocacy and to the values of service, integrity, and community in everything it does.
Ultimately, it’s not just the services and awards that attest to the success of Navy Federal Credit Union but also that its team works hard to help members achieve more.
“Our members are our focus, and our goal is always to meet their needs and exceed their expectations,” said Head of Credit Card Products Justin Zeidman. “Because every member is different, our products and services, including our credit card products, reflect that.”
Membership is open to active-duty, veteran, and retired military personnel in all service branches — and their families. That adds up to another impressive number associated with Navy Federal Credit Union.
“We estimate that about 150 million people across the U.S. could be eligible for membership,” Zeidman said. “It’s a wide net, for sure. A lot more folks are eligible than they realize.”
Cards for Every Stage of the Credit Journey
Navy Federal Credit Union makes signup easy with a step-by-step digital eligibility form that helps applicants quickly arrive at a decision. Many applications can be completed entirely online.
Because its membership base is so large, the credit union doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all credit card. Instead, Zeidman said he and his team ensure that card products fit many lifestyles and preferences.
“We have products that are designed for every need and are uniquely suited for different types of members,” Zeidman said. “And our cards are designed to support our members as they progress from stage to stage.”
That means that the credit journey can start early, as credit is being built or rebuilt. With the nRewards® Secured card, cardholders can earn rewards while preparing themselves for an unsecured credit line in the future.
“nRewards cardholders earn one point per dollar that they spend,” Zeidman said. “It’s a unique card in the industry in that it’s a secured rewards card with no fee, an interest rate of just 18%, and a minimum deposit of just $200.”
It also includes an automatic upgrade path. In as little as six months, nRewards cardholders in good standing can be considered for Navy Federal Credit Union’s unsecured cashRewards card. The mainstream cashRewards card gives cardholders a consistent 1.5% cash back on all purchases and is available on both the Visa and MasterCard networks.
“When it’s time to upgrade, points earned through the nRewards card are automatically converted into cash back,” Zeidman said. “It’s the simplicity of the cashRewards card that makes it one of the most popular options we offer.”
The Navy Federal Credit Union card portfolio continues from the nRewards and cashRewards cards into a set of more specialized products to help members customize their financial experiences.
The Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card offers 3X cash back on restaurant, grocery, gas, and transit purchases. And its Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards card is a premium value product, offering 2X rewards on all purchases except travel, where rewards bump up to 3X.
“With a lot of travel cards, you’ll find rewards multipliers only on categories like restaurants and travel,” Zeidman said. “Our Flagship card is unique in that it gives 2X points on all purchases.”
Pairing Members with Products Suited to Their Situations
Navy Federal Credit Union simplifies the card selection process through its online prequalification tool. Applicants can use the tool to quickly identify the card that offers the most relevant benefits, including rewards or priority interest rates.
“By providing just a little bit of information, members get a sense of which cards they qualify for without any impact on their credit score,” Zeidman said. “That helps pair every member with the right card, right out of the gate.”
Navy Federal Credit Union offers an extensive collection of financial education tools and resources for tackling topics. They include improving credit, building a budget, and managing credit more effectively. It offers tools to address those challenges in many ways according to different educational styles. Many of its tools are interactive.
One is Mission: Credit Confidence, which is aimed at establishing, rebuilding, and managing credit. Videos and linked resources lead to a free dashboard where users can monitor their credit scores without any impact. They use a score simulator to experiment with credit-building actions, receive score change alerts, and work toward goals.
Another tool is the MakingCents platform, which provides a step-by-step educational flow. MakingCents’ dashboards guide users through specific actions they can take to achieve goals, improve finances, get out of debt, make big purchases, and build savings.
Navy Federal wants its cardholders to get everything they can out of its educational resources — and the card experience.
“Emails go out within the first few months to help members understand the benefits of their cards and how to use them effectively,” Zeidman said. “At every stage, we want to make sure that members are equipped to make the most of their Navy Federal cards.”
Listening to Members and Serving Unique Needs
Navy Federal Credit Union began by focusing on helping people rebuild their financial lives after the Great Depression. Its membership has grown exponentially since then, but the mission remains the same.
Its card products and services aim to give every member, no matter their current financial situation, a path to security and prosperity.
Navy Federal Credit Union offers something for everyone, and Zeidman and the credit card team continually collect feedback about what works and what could work better. The same is true across all other aspects of the credit union’s full-service financial organization.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we heard from members that the TSA PreCheck benefit we were offering with our Flagship card wasn’t as valuable to them when they couldn’t travel,” Zeidman said. “So we added a limited-time Amazon prime benefit. We’re always making changes to ensure we’re meeting our members’ needs and exceeding their expectations.”