Best small bank and credit union credit cards of October 2022

Cash back, bonuses and the personal attention and customer service you might not get from large banks. CardRatings editors compare the best small bank and credit union credit cards.
Christina Majaski, CardRatings Contributor
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards. Please note: Any balance transfer savings vary depending upon account usage and payment behavior.

There’s no shortage of big banks out there that hire celebrities to sing the praises of flashy credit cards loaded with perks and features. But what if you prefer banks that are smaller, more personal and less flashy (but still offer cards loaded with perks and features)? In that case, it’s time to look at credit unions and smaller regional banks when you start researching your next credit card.

Here’s the thing: These cards from credit unions and small banks don’t get the same press or buzz that cards from larger issuers do but, in many cases, they offer rewards and perks that are similar or even better. Plus, you get the benefit of more personalized customer service, easier access and, if this is your thing, the knowledge that you’re supporting a small organization rather than a Main Street giant.

TOP CREDIT CARDS OFFERS

Before you wonder too much about whether you can qualify for membership in a credit union, keep in mind that many credit unions these days have fairly low bars for membership. They aren’t all "teachers credit unions" anymore.

CardRatings is committed to reviewing as many credit cards as we possibly can and we’ve turned our sights on credit unions and small banks for this best of list. However, in general, larger banks have the resources to offer the top rewards and features so those are the ones that often make our best credit cards of the year list.

Take a look at our top picks for the best credit union and small bank credit cards.

BEST CASH BACK CREDIT CARDS

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: No annual fee or foreign transaction fee and you earn a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all your purchases with no caps or limits on the amount you can earn. Even better, if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member, you can earn 2% cash back on your purchases. This is a great card for people who don’t like worrying about rotating categories.

The Bonus: Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 with the card in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Use your card to earn a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all your purchases with no caps or limits. PenFed Honors Advantage Members earn 2% total cash back on your purchases.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Earn a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 with the card in your first 90 days.
  • This card awards a flat rate of 1.5% cash back without any caps. Plus, certain PenFed members can earn as much as 2% cash back.

CONS:

  • Although it’s a flat rate, the 1.5% cash back rate is among the lowest rates offered. If you don’t mind dealing with rotating categories, you can earn more with other rewards cards.

Read our full CardName.

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card has no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees or cash advance fees. Earn up to 1.75% cash back on all purchases with no limits.

The Bonus: You can save with a low 1.99% intro APR on purchases for 6 months from account opening, plus you can earn $100 cash back once spending $2,000 within 90 days of opening an account. After that, regular RegAPR APR applies.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 1.75% cash back on all purchases made with the card when you opt for direct deposit at Navy Federal; otherwise, you earn 1.5% cash back on your purchases. You can redeem rewards aas soon as you earn them.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

Other Details: This card also offers cell phone protection if you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card.

PROS:

  • New cardholders can earn $100 cash back after spending $2,000 in purchases with the card within the first 90 days. That's not a bad return for a small-ish spend – plus it's a no-annual-fee card.
  • Earn a flat rate of up to 1.75% cash back on all your purchases as long as you have a direct deposit with Navy Federal. You won’t have to worry about rotating categories or specific purchase categories to earn your rewards.

CONS:

  • Although the flat-rate cash back is a simple rewards rate, it is also not the highest. If you can deal with purchase categories, you can likely earn more with a different rewards credit card.

Read our full CardName.

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card offers a $150 cash back bonus for new cardholders, which is a decent bonus especially for a card with no annual fee. You also earn as much as 3% cash back when you dine out.

The Bonus: Earn $150 cash back after spending $500 with the card in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on dining, 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases with no caps or limits.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

Other Details: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles (then, RegAPR).

PROS:

  • This card offers new cardholders a bonus of $150 cash back, which is not only a nice bonus for a no-annual-fee credit card but also has one of the lowest spending requirements of just $500.
  • You can earn 3% and 2% cash back on dining and grocery stores, which makes this card a good choice for foodies.
  • This card offers a 0% intro APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers (then, RegAPR).

CONS:

  • You can earn 3% when you dine out, but unless you are a frequent diner, you’ll want to take a look at your other spending categories, which will likely only earn 1% cash back.
  • This card also awards 2% cash back on groceries, but if you’re looking for a rewards program for grocery purchases, there are others that award more.

Read our full CardName.

BEST REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card has no annual fee or foreign transaction fees and awards one of the highest rates of 5x points for gas purchases at the pump and on electric vehicle charging stations and 3x points for supermarket; restaurant/dining; and cable, satellite, and other pay television/radio/streaming services purchases.

The Bonus:  Earn 15,000 points after you spend $1,500 with the card in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 5x points on gas purchases at the pump and on electric vehicle charging stations as well as 3x points at supermarkets, restaurants and on cable, satellite and other pay television/radio/streaming services. Earn 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • New cardholders can earn a 15,000 points after you spend $1,500 with the card in your first 90 days.
  • This card awards 5x points on gas and electric vehicle charging stations, plus 3x points at supermarkets, restaurants and on cable, satellite and other pay television/radio/streaming services, which are among the highest rewards rates for these categories. If your spending primarily falls into these categories, you can rack up points just on your everyday spending.

CONS:

  • To get the most from this rewards program, your spending will need to be on pretty everyday purchases like gas, supermarkets, dining and streaming services. If you're looking for travel rewards, this likely isn't the card for you.
  • You can earn 15,000 points, but the $1,500 spending threshold is pretty high for the amount of the bonus.

Read our full CardName.

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no balance transfer fees and no cash advance fees for cash advances performed at a Navy Federal branch or ATM. You can earn solid points per $1 spent in a couple of everyday categories.

The Bonus: You can earn 15,000 bonus points (a $150 value!) when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening an account.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 3X points at restaurants, 2x points on gas and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else with no limit on the points you can earn. Points also do not expire.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • New cardholders can earn a bonus of 15,000 points after spending $1,000 with the card in the first 90 days.
  • This card awards solid points per $1 spent in a couple of everyday categories, so if your spending is within those categories (restaurants and gas to be specific), there’s a good chance you’ll be able to earn plenty of points.
  • This card doesn't charge many of the fees typical to other credit cards, so you have a lot of room to earn rewards and take advantage of bonuses without having to pay extra.

CONS:

  • You can earn strong points on restaurant and gas purchases, but anything outside of those categories only earns 1x point per $1 spent.
  • There is no low intro APR for purchases, which is inconvenient if you are looking for a way to save money on interest for a new purchase.

BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR FAIR CREDIT

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card is perfect for people with fair credit because it is one of the few available that comes with a rewards program. You can earn 1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery and telecommunication purchases, which include internet, cellphone, cable and satellite TV services and you get access to your Experian credit score so you can monitor your progress.

The Bonus: No bonus with this card.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery and telecommunication purchases, which include internet, cellphone, cable and satellite TV services.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

Other Details: Access to your Experian credit score and credit report online.

PROS:

  • This card is ideal for people with no credit or might be in the process of building credit from a fair credit score range.
  • Earn cash back while you work on improving your credit score. Also, because it is a Visa card, you also get Visa benefits such as access to special shopping discounts.
  • Get free access to your Experian credit report and score.

CONS:

  • The (annual fee) annual fee could end up being high which might be difficult to pay for year after year, especially with so few chances to earn rewards and perks to offset it.
  • There is no sign-up bonus with this card, which would help to cover the annual fee.

Read our full CardName

BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR REBUILDING, BAD OR NO CREDIT

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This is a secured credit card that can help you build or rebuild your credit with a manageable annual fee and low APR.

The Bonus: There is no bonus with this card.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: There is no rewards program.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

Other Details: No minimum credit score or credit history is required to qualify for this card.

PROS:

  • Over time, you can build or rebuild your credit score with this card.
  • The APR is low in comparison to other credit cards that are available for people who have no credit or bad credit.
  • You don’t have to have a minimum credit score or a credit history to qualify for this card.

CONS:

  • The annual fee could get expensive each year, especially with no bonuses or rewards program. Plus, you’ll need at least a $200 security deposit to get started with this card.
  • There aren’t really any benefits or extra perks with this card and you won’t earn any rewards for your purchases. It’s primarily for building or rebuilding your credit.

Read our full CardName.

CardName

discontinued
EditorRating
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This secured credit card is designed for people who are building or rebuilding their credit. Approval is likely so you don’t have to worry much about whether you will qualify. This card also has a lower APR than most secured credit cards.

The Bonus: There is no bonus with this card.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: This card does not have a rewards program.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

Other Details: Approval for this card is likely. The security deposit is also refundable.

PROS:

  • This card reports your activity to all three credit bureaus, which helps you to build or rebuild your credit over time.
  • The APR is lower than the APR you’ll get with most secured credit cards.
  • Approval for this card is likely so if you have bad credit or no credit, you don’t have to worry as much about not qualifying for the card.

CONS:

  • The annual fee could get expensive especially since you also need a security deposit of at least $200 to get started with the card.
  • There are no extra perks or rewards with this card. It’s primarily for building or rebuilding your credit. There are secured credit cards available that also offer minimal rewards.

Read our full CardName.

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

top