USA   |   UK   |   Australia   |   Canada

Credit card issuers' policies for active military service members

Some go beyond what the Servicemembers Act requires

By Steve Holt

Several of the world's largest credit card issuers are stepping up to help ease the burden of debt for active military by offering protections that go significantly beyond the call of duty.

Going above and beyond
Several major U.S. banks extend the protections of the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act even further, including:
  • Bank of America: Provides 6 percent interest rate cap to spouses; eliminates fees during active duty
  • Citi: Lowers the pre-service interest rates to 0 percent APR.
  • JPMorgan Chase: Extends the 6 percent cap to purchases made during active duty; no minimum payment requirement.
  • Wachovia: Eliminates several fees, including late and over-limit fees.

Under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA), lenders must offer several protections beyond what is available for civilians, such as a cap of 6 percent on the interest rates on loans military service men and women incur prior to becoming active. Some others, however, have chosen to do more.

Citi, the world's largest bank holding corporation, eliminates the interest on pre-service debt altogether.

"At Citi, we actually take the service member's APR to 0 percent [on pre-service debt]," says Samuel Wang, vice president of public affairs at Citi.

JPMorgan Chase extends the 6 percent cap to a service member's entire credit card balance, including purchases made while on active duty, and does not enforce its usual minimum payment requirement.

If servicemen and servicewomen "are current in their payments when they enter active duty, they can make no payments while deployed, and when they return, their account is reported as current," says Chase spokeswoman Elaine Franck.

Bank of America gives service members' spouses the same interest rate protections, says company spokeswoman Betty Riess. Under current policy, for example, the credit card rate is set at 5.9 percent for service members and for their spouses. Fees are also compressed, meaning late fees, over-limit fees and monthly fees are not applied to the account during the benefit period.

Wachovia spokeswoman Jennifer Darwin says the bank fully complies with the SCRA's cap and also eliminates several fees for service members, including late and over-limit fees.

The 6 percent interest cap applies to any charges -- including credit card debt, service charges, renewal charges, or fees -- except bona fide insurance. The act specifies that in order to receive the interest rate reduction, a service member must request it in writing and include a copy of his or her military orders.

See related: Understanding how the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act works 

Published: July 25, 2008

Join the discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Three most recent Innovations, features, new products stories:
  • Financial planning options for the 99 percent – Getting financial goals together is not as daunting as it sounds. From DIY plans to going to a professional, financial planning is within reach ...
  • 10 tips for using luxury pawnbrokers – The pawn industry has gone upscale, with 'luxury asset lenders' offering thousands, or even millions, of dollars against your jewelry, art, cars and boats. But know what to watch out for before you use one of these services ...
  • Can self-hypnosis apps help you think your way out of debt? – Proponents say self-hypnosis apps can help you change your financial habits from the comfort of your couch, but skeptics say the only thing getting lighter is your wallet ...

Share This Story

Follow Us!

Credit Card Rate Report

Updated: 04-02-2015

National Average 14.90%
Low Interest 11.62%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Balance Transfer 14.04%
Reward 15.04%
Airline 15.10%
Cash Back 15.26%
Instant Approval 17.93%
Bad Credit 22.48%