Editorial Review

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 22, 2018

The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card is a travel rewards credit card that gives its owners rewards points nearly every time they use their card for purchases.

Those rewards points can be redeemed for various rewards through Navy Federal’s online shopping portal, which gives you the ability to use your points to purchase travel, gift cards and more.

The fact that the Flagship Rewards card is a travel rewards card puts it in some pretty esteemed company. Many experts, along with HighYa, hail travel rewards cards as the best kind of card there is for consumers because the rewards are usually pretty amazing.

However, not all travel rewards cards are amazing, which is why we need to take an in-depth look at the Flagship Rewards, a look that will include digging into the:

  • Long-term benefits
  • Short-term benefits
  • Fees and Rates
  • Comparison to other travel cards

We’ll work through each of these topics, using accurate information and simple explanations to help you understand whether or not this is the best travel rewards card for your wallet.

Pro tip: Only members of Navy Federal Credit Union can get this card, and to be a part of that credit union, you have to be active or retired military or a dependent of someone who is active or retired.

The Short-Term Benefits of the Navy Federal Flagship Rewards Card

Most travel rewards cards have a short-term benefit or bonus that the credit-card issuer uses to entice you to sign up.

Those short-term rewards include free nights at a hotel or, in the case of airline rewards cards, free miles/points for the airline’s frequent flyer program.

40,000 Bonus Points

Since the Flagship Rewards card isn’t linked to a particular airline or hotel brand, you get generic “points” you can use to buy things through their site.

If you’re able to spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of owning this card, then Navy Federal will give you 40,000 points, no strings attached.

Those points, like any points you rack up while owning the card, won’t expire unless you close your credit card account or Navy Federal catches you doing something fraudulent with your card.

Pro tip: Your 90-day timer starts the day Navy Federal approves you, not the day you get the card in the mail.

How Do You Redeem Your Points?

As we mentioned earlier, Navy Federal allows you to use your points to buy things through their shopping portal.

To get an idea of what kind of redemption options and rates you could get with your rewards points, we called Navy Federal’s customer service line to get the most up-to-date information possible.

A traditional travel rewards card has a set rate of points value. For example, the usual cash value of 100 points is $1. So, if you redeem 40,000 points, you’ll get $400 in cash back.

Other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, will let you transfer your points to airline or hotel frequent flier/loyalty programs.

The rewards you get with your Flagship Rewards card are converted at the traditional rate of $1 per $100 points, with travel purchases requiring a minimum 10,000 points redemption.

So, if you book a flight for less than a hundred dollars, for example, then you can’t use your points. Same goes for taxi fares, public transportation charges, and other travel-related purchases.

Based on these various rules for redemption, we think that the card works best on big travel purchases, or to redeem your rewards for cash you can apply to your statement credit.

Pro tip: You can’t transfer your Flagship Rewards points to travel partners.

Long-Term Benefits of the Navy Federal Flagship Rewards Card

Owning a credit card should be a long-term relationship. There are plenty of blogs out there that will encourage you to get a card, use it for the intro bonus and then cancel the card before the next year’s annual fee kicks in.

Our biggest complaint with this method is that it’s not a sound strategy for building and maintaining good credit scores and habits.

Your credit scores will constantly be in flux because hard credit checks are dropping your score every time you get a new card, and the average age of your credit decreases each time you get a new card.

In lenders’ eyes, this is risky behavior, which means your constant churning of credit cards may raise red flags when you try to apply for a mortgage or a car loan.

How does the Flagship Rewards fit into this? Well, it has two long-term rewards that can benefit you if you choose to use this card beyond the first year: points on purchases and the Visa Signature program.

Points for Purchases

The Navy Federal Flagship Rewards Card gives you 3 points for every dollar you spend on your travel and two points on everything else, not including the following charges/purchases:

  • Balance transfers
  • Cash advances
  • Late fees/Finance charges/reloading cash cards
  • Buying traveler’s checks or gambling credits

These points are automatically deposited to your Navy Federal account and you can check your balance whenever you log into your account.

Based on our research of the average spending habits of American households ($2K on travel, $23K on everything else), we believe this rewards structure can earn you about $560 in rewards per year which is, compared to other credit cards, a substantial rewards amount for one year of spending.

In your first year of owning this card, we believe you can earn more than $1,000 in spending rewards and the 40,000-point sign-up bonus.

$100 Reimbursement for PreCheck or Global Entry

The Flagship Rewards provides its users with up to a $100 reimbursement for the application fee you’ll get if you apply for PreCheck or Global Entry, two programs that allow you to get expedited security check in at the airport.

This benefit used to be something exclusive to luxury credit cards like the Sapphire Reserve but, recently, travel cards with annual fees below $100 have added the perk, too. The Bank of American Premium Rewards is a good example of a card with the PreCheck/Global Entry perk.

The Flagship Rewards Visa Signature Program

Your Flagship Rewards card is part of the Visa Signature program, which is a series of shopping and travel benefits you get whenever you use your card to make your purchases.

One of the more well-known perks of this program and other programs like it is complimentary rental car insurance when you use your Flagship card to purchase the rental.

However, the Visa Signature program isn’t limited to just that perk. Here’s a list of coverages and warranties you can expect:

  • Trip interruption/cancellation insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Extended warranties on certain items

Each one of these programs has their own specific set of limitations and requirements, so read through the benefits guide you’ll get with your Flagship Rewards card.

Without getting too deep into the details, just know that your lost luggage reimbursement only covers up to a certain amount of money per claim. Also, you’ll be covered for trip cancellations if you suffer a severe injury, but, in some cases, pre-existing conditions can disqualify that protection.

The Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card Rates and Fees

One of the things that really stands out about this credit card from Navy Federal is its interest rate, which is significantly lower than all but a few travel rewards cards on the market:

  • APR on purchases: 11.74% to 18%
  • APR on balance transfers: 2% higher than Purchase APR
  • Penalty APR: 18%
  • Annual fee: $0 the first year, $49 after
  • Balance transfer fee: None
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Late fee: Up to $20

What jumps out at us here is the card’s low-end APR. When we say “low-end”, what we mean is that most credit cards have a great, good and bad APR they hand out to their customers based on credit scores.

The better your credit scores, the better your APR will be. So, if you have a credit score of 750 or above, there’s a good chance you can get the 7.74% interest rate.

Comparing the Navy Federal Flagship Rewards to Other Travel Cards

As far as travel rewards cards go, the Flagship Reward’s lowest APR of 7.74% APR is astronomically lower than any other mainstream travel card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, offers a low APR of 17.74%, or a full 10% higher than the Flagship’s lowest APR.

The annual fee is competitive, too. The leading travel rewards cards like the Capital One Venture card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred have annual fees of $95 after their first year, which is more than $45 higher than the Flagship.

Other travel rewards cards have $0 annual fees: the Bank of America Travel Rewards and Discover it Miles are two. While they have a lower annual fee, their yearly rewards don’t come close to matching the Flagship Rewards.

If you use the card to spend $25,000 a year on 2x purchases and $2,000 a year on 1x purchases, the Navy Federal card gives you $560 a year in rewards, whereas the Discover would provide $405 in rewards for the same purchases.

Final Thoughts: Is the Navy Federal Flagship Rewards Card Worth It?

The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship Rewards Card has some good features and some bad ones. We’re going to wrap up this review with a quick list of pros and cons, then concluded with our final thoughts.

What we like about this card is its potential for travel rewards via the 40,000-point sign-up bonus. Also, the yearly rewards are excellent. If you’re the average household and you travel a couple of times a year, you can earn $560 a year, which is better than every single travel rewards card we’ve reviewed.

On top of that, the card has a really competitive annual fee and industry-leading APRs, both of which can save you a lot of money over the course of the year.

We’d say the main drawback of this card is that you have to be a Navy Federal member in order to get the Flagship rewards.

Considering that membership is exclusive to members of the military and their dependents, only a limited number of consumers can get it.

Based on our research, we believe this card is a great fit for someone who makes frequent travel purchases of more than $100 and is a member of Navy Federal Credit Union.

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