Posted by William Charles on January 28, 2016
Credit Card Review

Published on January 28th, 2016 | by William Charles

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Nusenda Federal Credit Union: Platinum Cash Rewards Card 5% Cash Back In Rotating Categories

Update: NMEFCU changed their name to Nusenda Credit Union. We’ve also added the 5% categories for 2016.

This is our first post in a new weekly series we’re doing called Weird Wednesdays where we look at unknown or little known credit cards that might be useful. You can view future posts in this series by clicking here.

The Nusenda Federal Credit Union offers a credit card that offers 5% cash back in rotating categories on the first $1,500 in purchases per quarter. The card has no annual fee. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Chase Freedom & Discover it cards also offer the same rewards program. Those cards have been blogged about to death and this is a new opportunity so let’s delve a little further.

Rewards Program

The credit card is called the “Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union” and offers 1% cash back on all purchases that don’t fall within the 5% rotating categories. There is no sign up bonus on this card, but there is a sign up promotion that offers 2% cash back on all purchases for the first 90 days. This isn’t particularly useful as it’s possible to get 2% cash back or more on all of your purchases with other credit cards.

Rotating Categories

The rotating categories have been the same the five three years. I love the fact that you get two quarters of gas and restaurants, especially since there is no longer any credit cards that get 5% cash back on restaurant purchases year round. Grocery store purchases are also pretty easy to make with the amount of grocery stores that sell $500 Visa gift cards.

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2018Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2017Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2016Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2015Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2014Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare

rewards-janmar-2016

nmefcu 5 percent card

Redeeming Your Cash

The Nusenda Federal Credit Union website links to the Score Card Rewards website for Cash Rewards redemption information. But as far as I can tell that website only deals with redeeming points (these points seem to be worth less than 1¢ a piece, which is important as they offer a Platinum Rewards card which earns 3x points in the same categories with the same $1,500 limit that earns these points).

I’m not sure what the minimum amount of cash back you need to earn is because of this or what the redeeming process is like.

Membership Qualification & Applying

Join The Credit Union

Update: Turns out you can join by becoming a member of one of their partner organizations. We discuss doing this in this dedicated post.

To join the Nusenda Federal Credit Union you need to open a savings account with a minimum opening deposit of at least $5. You need to either be:

  • Employed by one of the select employer groups
  • Be a student at one of the participating schools
  • A member of certain associations
  • Live work, worship or attend school in Socorro county, Taos county or Valencia county which are all in New Mexico
  • Have an eligible family member that is already a member
  • Or volunteer at one of the participating organizations/charities

I had a pretty good look at everything and I couldn’t find any organizations, associations or charities that had open membership or that could be joined for cheap. But I might have missed something, if you find something then let me know.

Apply Without Joining

It looks like you might not need to be a member of this credit union before you apply for this card.  Here is what you’ll need to do:

  • Go to the cash rewards cards page
  • Click open a cash rewards card
  • In the middle you will see “apply for a loan online”, fill out your e-mail and password then click start my application
  • Fill out the security questions then click enroll
  • Click “apply for a credit card”
  • Click “Visa Cash Rewards” and then “next”
  • Fill out your information

It does ask you for membership number and how long you’ve been a member for, but this is not compulsory information. I never completed my application, so I am unsure if this will actually work but my gut says that it won’t.

Fees & Other Key Information

  • They seem to pull Experian for this card
  • A lot of the paperwork needs to be printed out, filled out and snail mailed in to be approved for this card
  • Minimum credit limit of $5,000, they might approve for your the Platinum or Platinum Rewards cards if you do not qualify for this credit limit.
  • Card has no balance transfer fees
  • Comes with a number of benefits outlined here
    • Concierge service
    • Price protection
    • Supplemental auto rental insurance
    • Travel & emergency assistance
    • $500,000 in travel accident insurance
    • Warranty Manager Service

Our Verdict

In the end, I decided to not apply for this card. The main reason I decided against it was the fact that there is no sign up bonus, let’s say you value your hard credit pulls at $200 – you’d need to spend $4,000 on this card to recoup that $200.

But if you had $4,000 in purchases you wouldn’t suddenly use cash, you’d use a cash back card that earns at least 2% cash back. That means you need to spend $6,667 to break even which is more than a year maxing out the 5% categories each quarter. Realistically I am not going to max them out every quarter as I already have the Freedom & it cards and I also generally value my hard pulls at more than $200.

This card might still make sense for some people, but for the moment I’m going to pass. If you do decide to sign up for this card, let us know what the process was like in the comments as well as how you redeem your cash back.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to writing more about unknown/little known credit cards. I need you’re help finding them, so if you find something that looks interesting/a bit different then please contact me.

 

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Barb
Barb

I’ll also say pass since I already have 2 Freedom and 2 IT cards that I max out each quarter. Aside from the fact that I don’t want any HP for now from any of the CRAs.

themanwhocan
themanwhocan

You can join the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance in order to qualify for Nusenda Credit Union membership.

Yes, It looks like they changed their name to Nusenda Credit Union.

Greg N
Greg N

On the Nusenda Facebook page, someone asked about joining and said they couldn’t find any of the companies or organizations that were eligible for membership. In response, Nusenda said, “There’s over 500 ways to qualify for membership, so that is a long, long list. Your friend will be able to become a member with that many ways to join.

Have your friend come in to a branch or he can sign up online (Nusenda.org) and we will find a way to add him as a member-owner.”

Gerald
Gerald

Apparently the name Nusenda is getting a lot of flak. People think it sounds like a coffee sweetener or a prescription drug. http://krqe.com/2015/02/12/credit-unions-new-name-nusenda-gets-feedback-jokes/

Harv
Harv

A national firm was actually paid money to come up with that name, according to this news story. Makes me think of a white powder that gets put into a beverage. Would deliberately avoid pursuing them due to their annoying name, but that’s just me. I thought Verizon was a dopey name when they came out with that too.

Chucks
Chucks

Interesting card in the mix, but I’d have to MS pretty hard to have anything to put on it after my Discover IT/Chase Freedom/Sallie Mae/Citi Forward.

Michael
Michael

This is a tough nut to crack. I’ve been applying every 6 months or so since the original post went up in Jan. 2015. They always have a reason to deny you, thinking very picky standards. The denied credit letters are as vague as they come. I’m not local, but signed up for some organization to apply. I’ve spoke on the phone a few times with CSR to verify information. One wanted to know how I found this card, given they are in NM and I’m in upper Midwest. Other wanted to know what I was going to use this card for (the bonus categories, duh).

Victor Debs
Victor Debs

I’m a member of this CU and I can tell you that their CC application process is a bit of a mess. Also redeeming can get complicated.

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[…] we updated our review of the Nusenda Federal Credit Union card that earns 5% cash back in rotating categories. It’s had the same 5% categories this year and the last two years as […]

Howard
Howard

Don’t waste your time applying — nor the money to join one of the associations to gain membership in the credit union before applying.

(1) If you follow Doctor of Credit, you probably have enough other credit cards that they will deny you — as they just did me — for the stated reason that I have too many other revolving lines of credit (in my case, only credit card accounts). As a data point, the only other time I have had a credit card application turned down is by Chase last year for a Sapphire Preferred because of the then-new 5/24 rule. Thus my experience dovetails with those of Michael and Victor Debs expressed in their comments above.

(2) Having now reread Doc’s post in light of Victor Debs’ comment above about the complexity and difficulty of redeeming points and having briefly reviewed the Nusenda website, which leaves the process and value vague, I suspect that Victor is correct in his assessment that it would be a frustrating and time-consuming process. My guess: not worth the effort, even if you can get approved for the card.

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[…] Nusenda FCU Visa Platinum Cash Rewards […]

Lrdx
Lrdx

They posted the 2017 rewards, it’s the same calendar as for 2016.

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[…] Platinum Cash 5% Rotates each quarter [may not require CU membership] […]

Rob
Rob

Interesting benefit that doesn’t seem to be noted: it does appear that their annual rotating categories are the same for each quarter of each year. So even though it changes from quarter to quarter, it appears to be the same each q1, the same each q1…making the rewards much more predictable. For me, this would be nice, especially since for example gas is in here twice. that means for 6 months you’ll get 5% back on gas. I know the freedom does 5% on gas every now and then, so it’s totally feasible to have 5% on gas for 9 months out of the year

kevin

Just sharing my experience so far. Applying for the CC was easy and approved quickly. The membership, on the other hand, is quite challenging and it’s been months yet I have not received the card. Since I don’t live in New Mexico, they first ask me to make a $10 donation to New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Then they said they could not verify my identity so I need to come in a branch. I asked for an alternative and they told me to become a member at one of their co-op credit union in my state (Massachusetts).

kevin

Update on above. Not worth your time to apply for the credit card due to difficulty applying for membership. They insisted I need to visit a branch for verification so unless you live in their area of service or a current member, you won’t get approved. Still lost my $10.

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