Best Military Credit Cards

Check out the best military credit card offers from our partners that offer exclusive benefits for military members, veterans, and their families.

Check out the best military credit card offers from our partners that offer exclusive benefits for military members, veterans, and their families.

Summary

CreditCards.com's Best Military Credit Cards of 2018

Updated: October 8, 2018

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card
Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at USAA's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 27.90% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X points for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 27.90% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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USAA® Secured American Express® Card

USAA® Secured American Express® Card
Bad to Fair Credit Recommended (300-670) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at USAA's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$35
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 21.90% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit
  • It's not a debit or prepaid card
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with a security deposit
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$35
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 21.90% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card

USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card
Bad to Fair Credit Recommended (300-670) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at USAA's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$35
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 21.90% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit
  • It's not a debit or prepaid card
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with a security deposit
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$35
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.90% - 21.90% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.


Comparing Military Credit Card Offers

Updated: October 8, 2018

We've looked at some of the cards that can be a good choice for military personnel and veterans and ways service members are protected financially. Here, we look at:

What are military credit cards and how do they work?

Military credit cards are offered by a handful of financial institutions. Typically, military members, their immediate family and sometimes others, such as U.S. government employees, can qualify to carry one of these cards.

The military cards often have superior features, such as no annual fee, and sometimes no fees at all, as in the case of the PenFed Promise Visa® Card. Also, military cards often have low variable APRs as in the case of the PenFed Gold Visa® Card, with an incredible 8.99%-17.99% – even on cash advances, which is unheard of.

Many of the military cards offer sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards for such everyday categories as groceries and gas, as well as for travel.

Even if you opt for a bank that does not specifically serve the military service member, a number of financial institutions offer features to service members as a special thank you, including waived fees and lower rates.

Recap: Military Credit Cards of 2018

Military CardBest For...Annual Fee
USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® CardFlat-rate cash back$0
USAA® Rewards™ American Express® CardRewards points$0
USAA® Secured American Express® CardBuilding credit$35
USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® CardLow APR$35

Main credit card issuers that focus on veterans

There are some banks and credit unions that are tailored to the service member and his or her family. Here, we look at 3 financial institutions that offer credit cards that appeal to those groups of people, including who can join, what kinds of products are available and special features that might be offered:

Navy Federal

Who can join?

Military members, Department of Defense employees and family members might be eligible to join Navy Federal, the largest credit union in the country, including reservists, delayed entry program members, grandparents and parents, and even household members.

What products are offered?

Navy Federal's credit cards often offer low variable interest rates, starting as low as under 8%, and most have no annual fee. There are also business cards with no annual fee with an APR as low as the prime rate plus 5.90%.

Special features

The Navy Federal products offer some excellent features across the board, such as:

  • 24/7 access to stateside member reps
  • No balance transfer or foreign transaction fees
  • Ability to freeze and unfreeze your card
  • Zero liability policy for unauthorized transactions
  • Fraud notifications
  • Access to your FICO® credit score

USAA

Who can join?

To get USAA cards, you must have a USAA membership, which you can get as an active or former military member who was honorably discharged. Family members, cadets and midshipmen can also qualify.

What products are offered?

USAA offers a variety of cards, including cards that allow you to show your support for Wounded Warriors, secured cards and more traditional cards, such as the USAA Rewards American Express Card, which earns you 3X points for dining; 2X points for gas and groceries; and 1X point on every dollar spent. You also get 2,500 points once you make your first purchase.

PenFed

Who can join?

If you serve in the United States military or Uniformed Services, are an employee of the U.S. government, or are related to someone who is, you're part of their field of "golden card membership." There are also dozens of organizations whose members can join PenFed.

If you don't fall into one of those categories, PenFed says you can join a group like National Military Family Association or Voices for America's Troops and qualify that way.

What products are offered?

The PenFed credit cards offer no annual fee, and can also offer a low APR rate. Several offer generous rewards, such as the Pathfinder Rewards American Express, with 3X points on all travel purchases, 4X points on all travel purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members and 25,000 points with a $2,500 spend within the first 3 months.

Special features

There are a number of features that all PenFed cards offer, such as:

  • With Apple, Android, and Samsung pay, you can access your card without having to carry it with you.
  • All PenFed cards offer EMV chips, no liability for unauthorized charges, 24/7 fraud monitoring, and more.
  • You can access your account through the PenFed app, online or by phone.
  • PenFed offers a resource center that can help you get the most out of your card.

Credit card use among military members

Military personnel have a special place in many banks' hearts, with credit cards made available to support our troops both spiritually and financially. While military members have protections in place to protect their personal finance, they still can face vulnerability. Here are common card habits and how military members fare:

Military members in the last 12 months...

  •  28%
  • Applied for a credit card
  •  11%
  • Transferred a card balance to another
  •  11%
  • Missed a card payment
  •  9%
  • Cancelled a card
  •  9%
  • Been rejected for a new card
  •  7%
  • Been late for a card payment
  • NFCC Financial Literacy survey

Exclusive benefits for military members, veterans and their families

While there are protections for interest rates already in place for service members through the Military Lending Act and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, The Points Guy found that many of the major credit card issuers will waive most fees for active duty service members, including annual fees. TPG talked to American Express, Barclays, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase and Citi.

TPG points out that with such benefits as a military member, you could conceivably get a high-annual-fee card like The Platinum Card from American Express with little downside. This would give you access to such rewards as transferring points to airline and hotel partners.

Here, we lay out the special benefits card issuers offer service members and their families. Note that it is worth your while to contact the issuer directly, because while they may not publicly advertise that fees are waived, for example, if you call and ask, you may just get what you are looking for.

American Express

"We are compliant with all regulations associated with the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act," says spokeswoman Heather Norton. "Under these policies, we offer several benefits to military service members and their families, including membership fee reimbursement. We encourage our military service men and women to contact us directly to hear about the specific benefits and fee waivers we have available to them."

Bank of America

"For card accounts that qualify for SCRA, the 6% rate is applied to debts incurred while on active duty as well as credit card debt incurred prior to active duty and all fees are waived," says spokeswoman Betty Riess.

Capital One

Capital One offers an interest rate of no more than 4% on eligible loans both owned and serviced by Capital One. Also, no fees are assessed except for bona-fide insurance.

Chase

"Chase abides by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act," says spokeswoman Alison Lanz. "The SCRA requires an interest rate reduction on credit cards to 6% for Active Duty military members. Chase goes above and beyond this requirement and lowers SCRA eligible military members' effective interest rates to 4% while on active duty and for a year afterward – 2% lower than SCRA requires."

When asked about reports that Chase waives fees for service members, Lanz said it may be done on a case-by-case basis and to contact Chase at 877-469-0110 or collect if calling internationally at 318-340-3308.

Discover

"Discover provides a number of cardmember benefits to servicemembers that go above and beyond those required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act," says spokesman Jeremy Borling. "Many of these additional benefits are aimed at making it easier for servicemembers to access benefits. Discover extends SCRA benefits to an eligible servicemember's spouse or domestic partner. Specific to Discover cardmembers, Discover Card applies SCRA benefits to credit card debts that are incurred even after active duty service begins. In addition, eligible Discover Student Loans customers can defer payments for up to 3 years during periods of qualifying active military service.

"Discover has a dedicated customer service group available to provide assistance and information to servicemembers," says Borling. "Customers can contact this group using a dedicated phone line – 844-DFS-4-MIL – to ask questions or to apply for benefits. Discover accepts oral requests for benefits through this dedicated customer service group."

USAA

USAA drops the interest rate on cards to 4% for products obtained before service, says spokesman Jason Williams, and when you're deployed, the 4% rate kicks in on cards you've obtained since you've joined.

Also, annual fees are waived for the USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card, the USAA® Secured American Express® Card and the USAA® Classic Platinum Visa.

U.S. Bank

"We comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, across all credit cards," says spokesperson Dana Stone.

SCRA membership and financial benefits that come with it

There are 2 primary federal acts that protect military personnel, although, as we've seen, card issuers will frequently go beyond the required rules. Here is what protects you by law:

Legal protections for military members...

Name of ActMilitary Lending ActServicemembers Civil Relief Act
Who is coveredActive-duty military members and their dependentsActive-duty military members and their dependents (indirectly)
When coverage startsAt time of loan originationApplies to existing debt
What it covers
  • Payday loans
  • Vehicle title loans
  • Refund anticipation loans
  • Deposit advance loans
  • Installment loans
  • Unsecured open-end lines of credit
  • Credit cards (as of Oct. 3, 2017)
  • Outstanding credit card debt
  • Mortgage payments
  • Pending trials
  • Terminations of lease
  • Collection activity
How it worksThe MLA limits interest rates and some fees to 36% military annual percentage rate.The SCRA caps interest rate charges, including late fees and other transaction fees, at 6%.

Laura is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura's work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at laura.mohammad@creditcards.com and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.


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