SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card Review

Update 11/5/18: According to a reader this card can upgrade to an unsecured card now.

The Savings Secured Visa Platinum card is issued by the State Department Federal Credit Union which requires membership (this can be done for free, more on this later). In this detailed review we will be looking at all of the pros & cons of this card and why it’s one of, if not the best secured credit card on the market. If you’re unfamiliar with how a secured card works, click to read this article first.

sdfcu secured credit card review

Interest Rates


Card Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • EMV chip enabled (signature by default with PIN backup)
  • Rewards program that earns 0.67-0.8% on all purchases

Card Cons

  • Card doesn’t unsecure to a regular credit card
  • Reports as a secured card
APR: 6.99%Annual Fee: None
Introductory APR: Not offeredBalance Transfer Fee: None
Introductory APR Length: Not offeredCash Advance Fee: Free for over the counter, $3 for ATM
Cash Advance APR: 6.99%Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Penalty APR: 6.99%Late Payment Fee: Up to $25 if payment is late
Grace Period: 21 daysOver The Credit Line: None
Minimum Interest Charge: $0.50Returned Payment: Up to $25

Our Review

This card is easily one of the best secured credit cards currently on the market. One of it’s key selling points is the fact that it comes with an EMV chip & PIN capability which means it can be used overseas in countries that are predominantly chip based – other cards do not offer that functionality.

Another upside are the fees, like all good secured cards there are no annual fees or sign up fees. This card has the lowest APR out of those currently on the market, which makes sense when you remember they are really lending you your own money. You’ll also earn interest on the security deposit you put down to fund this card, the rate you earn varies based on which account you select to keep it in.

Because SDFCU don’t do an income or credit check for this card it will also be attractive to those who can’t be approved for a lot of other secured cards which don’t approve people with major derogatory items on file (e.g bankruptcy)

There are some downsides as well though, this card will not graduate to an unsecured card no matter how good your payment history is and how much your credit score improves. This means you’ll need to cancel this card if you want to get your security deposit back, cancelling your card will prevent your average age of accounts from increasing which in turn will negatively impact your credit score. This card also reports as a secured card rather than a regular credit card, this doesn’t affect your FICO score but can be an issue if somebody manually checks your credit report for whatever reason.

Key take aways:

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Card reports as a secured card (this didn’t used to be the case, this was changed sometime in 2013)
  • No hard credit pull to add funds to increase your credit limit
  • Security deposit earns interest
  • No annual or sign up fees
  • Rewards program that earns 1 point per $1 spent
  • Card does not graduate to an unsecured card

Application Information

Like most secured cards, this one doesn’t have strict requirements to be eligible. Infact SDFCU doesn’t do a credit or income check when you apply for this card, meaning even those with bankruptcies and other derogatory items should be approved. There is no hard credit pull to join SDFCU or to apply for this card, a soft pull on your Equifax credit report may be done to verify your identity (they will pull your Experian credit report if you apply for any of their unsecured credit products).

sdfcu secured no income or credit check

You must be a member of SDFCU before you can apply though, if you’re not already a member you have a few different options:

It usually takes them a couple of days to process your application. They’ll sometimes request a scanned copy of your drivers license & social security card. You may also have to complete a signature card.

apply now big

What Credit Limit Will I Receive?

The credit limit you receive on this card will depend on the security deposit you put down when you open the card. There is a minimum credit limit of $250 and no maximum on the credit limit. You will earn interest on the security deposit and this can be either from a regular savings account or certified deposit. You can view the current rates they are offering by clicking here. You should also be able to add funds at any stage to increase your credit limit without a hard pull being performed.

Minimum Credit LimitHighest Reported Credit Limit

Rewards Program

Unlike a lot of other secured cards, this card does have a rewards program. There is no sign up bonus, but this card will earn one FlexPoint per $1 spent. Points can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards, merchandise and even flights. At best you’ll be able to redeem 12,500 points for a $100 gift card (Visa gift cards included) which is a value of 0.8¢ per point. If you don’t have quite that many points you can exchange 7,500 points for a $50 gift card which is a value of ~0.67¢ per point. You can view all the redemption options by clicking here then click “browse my rewards”.

This isn’t the best rewards program a secured card has, that award would go to the Discover it secured version but it’s rare to see a rewards program at all. The main problem with the rewards program that SDFCU offers is that for most people it will be impossible to earn enough points to redeem for their most basic rewards.

Alternatives To This Card

As we’ve mentioned numerous times in this review, this is one of the best secured cards currently available to all consumers. We always recommend looking at your local or employer related credit unions for other deals that might be better, alternatively look at our best of list. The following cards are also preferable to the SDFCU card in certain circumstances.

  • Discover it secured: This card has a better rewards program (up to 5% cash back in the form of statement credit on rotating categories each quarter) and also comes with a free FICO score to help card holders track their progress when rebuilding their credit. Unfortunately it’s not possible to apply directly for this card.
  • Navy Federal nRewards secured card: This is fairly similar to the SDFCU card except that you must be a member of the military (or ex-military or family member) to be able to join. It has a solid rewards program (earns at a rate of 1%) but you also need 7,500 points to begin redeeming. The main upside to this card in comparison to the SDFCU card is the fact that it graduates.
  • Harley Davidson secured card: This card is offered by U.S bank and does graduate to an unsecured card (you must call to request this graduation) which is again the main benefit when compared to SDFCU. The rewards program it offers is really only useful if you purchase Harley Davidson products or have a way of reselling Harley Davidson chrome cash.