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: July 2, 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
11.65% - 27.65% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.65% - 27.65% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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USAA® Secured Card American Express® Card

USAA® Secured Card 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
11.65% - 21.65% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit
  • It's not a debit or prepaid card

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$35
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.65% - 21.65% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

USAA® Secured Card Visa Platinum® Card

USAA® Secured Card 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
11.65% - 21.65% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit
  • It's not a debit or prepaid card

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$35
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.65% - 21.65% 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: July 2, 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:

Recap: Military Credit Cards of 2018

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

Main credit card issuers that focus on veterans

There are a few banks and card issuers that offer cards that serve the military community, notably USAA. Here are some cards with competitive features and benefits for you as a military service member:

USAA

USAA offers a variety of cards, including cards that allow you to show your support for Wounded Warriors, secured cards as well as more traditional cards.

For example, the USAA Rewards American Express Card 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.

There's no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and the variable APR starts at 11.65%, although it goes to a whopping 27.65%.

A good credit-builder card from USAA card is the USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum. You can have a credit limit up to $5,000, based on the CD you take out, which allows you to earn variable interest.

There are a number of travel benefits, including no foreign transaction fee and a collision waiver on damage and theft for most rentals. The annual fee is $35.

Finally, as a member of the military, you can get 4% APR on all balances up to 12 months during deployment or permanent change of station (PCS) with this card, as well as a special 4% APR rate on a balance you have when you enter military service, and get 4% on that existing balance until one year after you complete active duty.

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.

PenFed Credit Union

With the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature, you can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and current and former military members or holders of an active PenFed Access America Checking Account who apply for the PenFed HonorsAdvantage membership earn an incredible 2% cash back on all purchases.

There's a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 within the first 90 days of card membership. Also, you can get 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers (then 11.24% - 17.99% variable), with a 3% balance transfer fee.

To get this card, you'll need to be a member of the PenFed Credit Union ‐ you'll need to open an account with a $5 initial deposit, and active and retired military members qualify.

There's no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Navy Federal Credit Union

The Go Rewards Credit Card from Navy Federal Credit Union offers 3X points on restaurants; 2X points on gas; and 1X point on everything else. Although the rewards expire after 4 years, there is no limit, and redemption starts at only 1,000 points.

There's no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Also, there's no fee for ATM cash advances at NFCU branches and ATMs.

The variable APR starts at a low 10.49% and goes to 18%.

To qualify for this card, you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union (membership is available to all serving in the armed forces, the Department of Defense, veterans, and their families).

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.

Creditcards.com lays out the special benefits card issuers give to service members and their families:

  • Capital One caps rates for cards and other eligible loans at 4% – 2 points less than what's required by law, says creditcards.com. Also waived are expedited processing fees for a replacement card, late payment fees, cash advance fees, balance transfer fees, over-limit fees and more. Capital One grants SCRA benefits for new cards and extends benefits for up to a year after a cardholder has left active duty service.
  • USAA celebrates your service with rates capped at 4% for both pre-existing debt and new charges, creditcards.com points out. Military families are eligible when a service member is deployed abroad or when a military family is given a permanent change of station. USAA also gives cardholders up to a year after active duty has ended to request retroactive benefits.
  • American Express waives annual fees on new cards, including cards with high annual fees such as the Gold and Platinum cards. It may also waive other charges.
  • U.S. Bank also waives fees for service members, including annual fees and late fees, creditcards.com notes.
  • Bank of America offers reduced interest rates on military-themed affinity credit cards and all SCRA-eligible cards for up to 6 months after a service member leaves active duty, creditcards.com says.
  • Discover grants SCRA benefits to military spouses or domestic partners, even if the service member isn't listed on the card. It also extends SCRA benefits on new cards, according to creditcards.com.

Creditcards.com also looked at 22 cards early in 2018 that required a connection to the military or another organization to be eligible, and this is what they found:

  • Low interest rates: Military cards can have rock-bottom interest rates. For example, the average minimum interest rate on a military card is just 10.65% – 6 points less than the national average. These rates are for family members and military cardholders who aren't currently on active duty and so don't qualify for SCRA benefits, says creditcards.com.
  • Low maximum interest rates: The average maximum rate is 20.83 percent, but many cards offer a maximum rate of just 17.99 percent, according to creditcards.com. Meanwhile, some offer rates as low as 6.99 percent.
  • Fewer fees: Military cards also carry fewer fees than the typical credit card. For example, nearly half of the military cards surveyed don't charge a penalty APR. None charges foreign transaction fees, and 7 waive credit card balance transfer fees.
  • Good rewards: Rewards are good for cards with such low rates, creditcards.com notes. Among the cards surveyed, 6 offer 1.5% to 2.5% back on every purchase. Two offer 5% back on gas. One offers 5 points back for travel purchases, creditcards.com found.

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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