Credit unions are financial institutions owned and governed by their members. Credit Unions are designed and managed with the principle of helping every member by offering credits and various forms of financial services at a very competitive rate.
With credit unions, all members share the profit and have a say in the decision-making process. It is safe to say a credit union is an inclusive organization with the interest of its member at heart.
Credit unions are designed primarily to serve their members rather than for profit. However, they are different from charity organizations as they do not depend on donations to run their business. They provide a range of financial products and services similar to banks; however, their differences are apparent.
While shareholders manage banks and the primary aim is generating profits via products and services, credit unions focus on providing benefits to all their members. With credit unions, you can be sure of getting profits as a member in the form of more competitive products and services.
Getting a Credit Union Credit Card
To get a credit union credit card in Canada, you will need to become a credit union member. A credit union card usually attracts a small fee depending on the credit union, and you are required to pay this fee monthly or yearly.
Note that you will be required to open an account before or during your credit card application process.
Below are some of the factors to consider when applying for a credit union card:
- Membership requirements
Generally, you must be a credit union member before you can apply for a credit card. However, in some cases, you can request membership when you apply for a card.
Note that you will still have to apply separately and wait for your membership to be approved before you can apply for and receive your credit union card.
- Annual fees
Almost all credit union cards have a low annual fee compared to a traditional bank.
- Additional fees
Some additional fees may apply to your credit union cards, just like banks. These fees might apply to a range of credit card transactions and services.
Generally, the most prominent fee are international transaction charges, late payment fees, and cash advances fees. It is advisable to carefully read through the product information for details on the fees that may apply.
- Standard interest rates
Every credit union card usually has its lower standard purchase rates. This rate is lower than what the bank will offer you. Also, some credit union cards use the same interest rate for both purchases and cash advances instead of having a separate and higher cash advance rate.
- Promotional interest rates
Since credit union cards are prominent for their low ongoing interest rates, their promotional rates are usually more conventional.
- Balance transfers
This feature is unavailable with some credit union cards; they do not offer balance transfers. Most cards that provide this service might not offer a 0% interest rate during the introductory period.
- Interest-free windows
Once you pay up your balance in full by the statement due date monthly, you could get up to a certain number of interest-free days for each period statement period.
Credit unions offer lesser rewards credit cards than banks. However, a few credit union cards offer points for purchases made on the account.
- Complimentary perks
Generally, only gold and platinum credit union cards offer complimentary perks. These benefits include travel insurance or concierge services.
Note that credit unions have a more limited branch network than traditional banks. Thus, it is advisable to apply for a credit card from a union with an existing branch network.
Like banks, credit unions offer Mastercard and Visa credit cards. Both cards provide secure payment systems for holders. Users get protection against fraudulent electronic transactions with both cards.
5 Best Credit Union Credit Card in Canada
Below are our top five best credit union cards. These cards range from low-interest rates, balance transfer, travel rewards, cashback, and fee avoidance.
1. Alliant Cashback Visa Signature
The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card is the go-to credit card for members of credit unions. This credit card offers holders a profitable reward rate on all purchases. Card users get an above-average rewards rate anywhere they shop.
This card comes with an annual fee of CA$99, waived for the first year. It is suitable for people with moderate to high monthly expenses as they’ll earn enough cash back to compensate for the annual fee. You must be an Alliant Credit Union member to qualify for this card.
Features of Alliant Credit Union Card
- No foreign transaction fees
- 2.5% cashback on all purchases
- APR as low as 11.99% to 14.99% variable
- Up to CA$250,000 travel accident coverage
- Rental car collision coverage
- 24-hour roadside assistance.
- Purchase protection – first 90 days, with a maximum of $500 per claim and CA$50,000 per cardholder
- Personal identity protection – CA$5,000 in reimbursement
Pros of Alliant Credit Union Card
- High rewards rate
- No foreign transaction fee
Cons of Alliant Credit Union Card
- Lack of a sign-up bonus.
- Annual fees
- Rewards expire
2. Enviro Gold Visa Card
It is a low-rate reward credit card offered by the Vancity credit union. With this card, you earn rewards on almost all purchases.
Also, it comes with a welcome bonus and annual rewards. There is no personal and household income requirement; however, you must be a member of the Vancity credit union.
Features of Enviro Gold Visa Card
- 19.50% interest rate
- CA$99 annual fee
- Earn 1 point per CA$1 spending on eligible purchases (1% rewards rate)
- Get 2,500 bonus points after your first purchase ($25 value)
- Get 3,500 bonus points on your card’s anniversary ($35 value)
- Car rental collision/loss damage insurance
- CA$50,000 Travel accident insurance
- Extra card fee – CA$0
- Earn 2 points per CA$1 spent on eligible purchases
- CA$1,000 Delayed Bag insurance
- 90 days purchase protection,
- One year extended warranty insurance
- Purchase rate – 11.25%
- Price protection
- Cash Advance – 11.25%
- CA$1,000 stolen or lost baggage insurance
- Balance transfer – 11.25%
Pros of Enviro Gold Visa Card
- Comprehensive reward rates
Cons of Enviro Gold Visa Card
- Extra card fee
- Annual fee
3. Servus WorldElite MasterCard
The Servus WorldElite MasterCard offers comprehensive benefits on purchases and travels with a highly competitive reward program.
Features of Servus WorldElite MasterCard
- Annual fee of CA$150
- Purchase rate: 19.99%
- Servus Circle Rewards – 2 points for every CA$1 spent on eligible purchases
- Unlimited Circle Rewards earning potential
- Supplemental card fee of CA$40
- Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, including two complimentary lounge visits per year
- Mastercard Travel Rewards
- Boingo Wi-Fi
- Mastercard Priceless Cities
- Trip Interruption Insurance
- Zero-Liability Protection
- On-Demand and Subscription Services
- Price Protection Service
- Car Rental Collision Waiver Insurance
- Concierge service
- Identity Theft Assistance Service
- Purchase Assurance and Extended Warranty
- Travel Emergency Medical Insurance
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Car Rental Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance1
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
- Car Rental Personal Effects Insurance
- Travel Assistance Services – Lost travel documents, lost luggage, emergency cash transfer
Pros of Servus WorldElite MasterCard
- Sign-up bonus
Cons of Servus WorldElite MasterCard
- Supplementary card fee
4. Meridian Visa Cashback Card
The Meridian Visa Cashback Card offers cashback earning by simply making everyday purchases. It is a no-annual-fee card with a lot of rewards, benefits, and exceptional service.
Features of Meridian Visa Cashback Card
- Earn 1% cashback on gas, grocery, and pharmacy store purchases and utility bill payments
- Annual purchase interest rate – 19.50%
- Earn 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases
- Annual cash advance interest rate – 21.99%
- Redeem at any time for cashback or merchandise
- Free additional cards
Pros of Meridian Visa Cashback Card
- No annual fee
- No charges for extra cards
5. Innovation Credit Union Centra Visa Gold Card
Innovation Credit Union offers their credit card via Collabria, their credit card partner. Their visa card programs allow you to save more while earning.
With the Centra Visa Gold card, you can collect valuable reward points on everyday purchases.
Features of Centra Visa Gold Card
- Annual Fee – CA$50.00
- Purchase interest rate – 11.99% Fixed
- Zero Liability Fraud Protection
- Earn Reward Points
- Mobile Device Insurance
- Emergency Card Replacement Services
- 3D security
- CA$1 for everyday purchase
- Purchase Protection & Extended Warrant
- Address verification services
- Visa payWave
- Lost/Stolen Card Reporting
- Emergency Cash Advance
- Mobile device insurance
Pros of Centra Visa Gold Card
- Cash reward in the form of statement credits
- Gift cards
Cons of Centra Visa Gold Card
- No sign-up bonus
Credit union credit cards could be an excellent way to get a credit card if your credit score isn’t great or you’re just tired of paying high fees and interest rates.
Although credit union cards have their perks, you might not easily find one suitable for your financial needs.
It is advisable to do plenty of research and contact your credit union customer rep for more information. Once you pick a card that looks promising, ensure to read up on the card’s terms and conditions before appending your signature.