Best Credit Cards for Military Service Members
Active-duty military personnel are offered quite a few different credit card benefits that civilians are not privy to. The reason is due to the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In accordance with this act, credit card issuers must waive all service and renewal fees (this includes annual fees), plus interest rates are capped at 6% during active military service.
The benefits that are offered to military families through SCRA often come at a critical time. Serving our country can be a stressful event for a lot of military families. The financial stress can be high because of lower wages and frequent relocations. Having credit card fees waived and low interest rates can save families hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Here are five of our favorite credit cards that go above and beyond the required SCRA benefits for their cardholders.
USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
The USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with this card. USAA goes over and above for active military personnel. They extend the benefits that you receive from SCRA so that you can get 4% APR on existing balances until one year after completing your active duty service. After that it will be a variable 13.40% - 27.40% depending on your credit worthiness. You will also pay no annual fee. To receive this card you must be a member of USAA, which is available to any active military personnel, retired military, and their families.
USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card
The offers new cardholders a 2,500 point signup bonus after making your first purchase. You can earn 3X points per dollar on dining, 2X points for every dollar spent on gas and groceries and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases. Your points can be redeemed for gift cards, cash, travel expenses, or they can be donated to military charities. Like other USAA credit cards this card offers 4% APR on existing balances up to one year after your active military service is over. After that it will be a variable 11.40% - 27.40% depending on your creditworthiness. This card also comes with no annual fee.
Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, is one of the best all around credit cards for travelers, and it’s even more valuable for active military. This card offers a welcome bonus of 75,000 American Express Membership Reward Points after you spend $5,000 within the first six months of having the card. Cardmembers also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 combined purchases in first 6 months of membership). You will then receive 1x point per dollar spent on every purchase and 5X points for flights and eligible hotels booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. Starting Janurary 1, 2021, 5x points earned will be on up to $500,000 in airline and hotel purchases for the calender year. Your Membership Reward Points can be transferred to one of several airlines or hotels. Terms apply.
The additional perks of this card are what makes it so valuable. You will receive a $200 airline fee credit, which can be used for things like baggage fees, change fees, and more. You will also receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Another benefit is the up to $200 in Uber savings each year. Additionally, you can receive Hilton Honors™ gold status. Normally this card charges a very high annual fee, however American Express waives the $550 fee for all active military personnel. Finally, this card comes with no foreign transaction fees, which makes it a great card to use while traveling overseas. Terms apply.
Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card from Citi, a Credit Cards House advertiser, gives its cardholders 2% cash back: 1% cash back on all purchases and then another 1% cash back when you pay your bill. As an active duty military member, Citi will waive any service or renewal fees associated with the card. Active duty military also receive no foreign transaction fees, however it becomes $5 or 3% (whichever is greater) as soon as your active duty ends. The Citi® Double Cash Card always has no annual fee.
The Bottom Line
Before you choose your next credit card, it’s important to understand the benefits that each card will offer anyone that is active military. While these are our top five cards available, it’s important to pick the card that is going to be the most valuable in your situation.
First published , last updated
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.