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USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card review

Published: December 5, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.8
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

For cardholders with the best credit scores, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card combines decent hassle-free rewards with unusually affordable terms; however, cardholders with lower scores could get slapped with an excessively high interest rate.

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Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$238

APR
12.9-26.9% (variable)

Pros

  • No limit on the amount of cash you can earn
  • No redemption limit
  • Cash doesn’t expire
  • Redeem any time as statement credit or deposit into a USAA checking or savings account

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash for gift cards or merchandise

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, concierge service, car rental insurance, identity theft solutions, extended warranty, price protection, travel assistance, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, special rates for deployment and active duty military, rebate on finance charges during military campaigns

Low Interest Rating:
1.6 rating
1.6 rating
1.6 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 1.5
Rewards: 2.2
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card offers a fairly reasonable APR, but doesn’t offer a 0-percent introductory APR on balance transfers and new purchases.

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Regular APR
12.9-26.9% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
None

Fees

  • No annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 3% cash advance fee

Penalties

  • $35 late payment fee
  • No penalty APR
  • $35 returned payment fee

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, concierge service, car rental insurance, identity theft solutions, extended warranty, price protection, travel assistance, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, special rates for deployment and active duty military, rebate on finance charges during military campaigns

No Annual Fee Rating:
2.7 rating
2.7 rating
2.7 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.2
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card is yet another run-of-the-mill 1.5 percent cash back card; however, for no annual fee, cardholders receive very good travel benefits, including no fee for foreign transactions.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$238

APR
12.9-26.9% (variable)

Pros

  • No limit on the amount of cash you can earn
  • No redemption limit
  • Cash doesn’t expire
  • Redeem any time as statement credit or deposit into a USAA checking or savings account

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash for gift cards or merchandise

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, concierge service, car rental insurance, identity theft solutions, extended warranty, price protection, travel assistance, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, special rates for deployment and active duty military, rebate on finance charges during military campaigns

Rewards Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.0
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card offers a high flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back, but, with no sign-up bonus, there isn’t much to distinguish it from the rabble of cards with similar 1.5 percent rewards rates.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$238

APR
12.9-26.9% (variable)

Pros

  • No limit on the amount of cash you can earn
  • No redemption limit
  • Cash doesn’t expire
  • Redeem any time as statement credit or deposit into a USAA checking or savings account

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash for gift cards or merchandise

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, concierge service, car rental insurance, identity theft solutions, extended warranty, price protection, travel assistance, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, special rates for deployment and active duty military, rebate on finance charges during military campaigns

For some cardholders, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card is a pretty good card: It offers enough cash back on every purchase that cardholders can collect a substantial amount of cash without making much of an effort. And, unlike most competitors, it offers an affordable minimum APR that’s well below average for a rewards card. USAA also offers a number of important, money-saving perks for active duty service members, making it a strong pick for members of the military.

However, cardholders with lower credit scores could run into trouble with this card. Its maximum APR is extraordinarily high for a credit card, making it a risky card if you need to carry a balance. It also doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, so cardholders will have to wait to collect a significant amount of cash.

The same flat rate for every purchase

Like many cash back cards these days, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card caters to cardholders who value simplicity over complicated rewards schemes. Instead of luring customers with a higher rate on certain types of purchases, the USAA Preferred card offers strong a 1.5 percent cash back rate on every purchase. The simpler cash back scheme allows you to use your card without thinking too deeply about where or how you use it. If you have other cards with higher rewards rates on certain purchases, this is also a good card to use in conjunction with those cards for purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus rate.

On the downside, the average amount of cash you can collect in a year isn’t as large as other cards. According to our estimates, cardholders who spend at least $1,325 a month will collect roughly $238 by the end of the year.

Special perks for active duty service members

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card also sets itself apart from other everyday cash back cards by offering exclusive benefits for active duty service members. It offers a special APR of 4 percent for up to 12 months while cardholders are deployed abroad. It also offers new military members a 4 percent APR on any debt he or she acquired before joining the military as well as other military-friendly benefits.

Affordable APR – for some

In addition to its special perks for military service members, one of the most appealing features of the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card is its relatively low APR for cardholders with excellent credit. Applicants with the best credit scores are offered rates as low as 12.9 percent, which is well below average for a cash back card. However, be careful about applying for this card if you have a less-than-perfect score. Cardholders with lower scores could wind up with a much higher rate. The USAA card charges a maximum APR of 26.9 percent, which is extraordinarily high for a rewards card.

Relatively few restrictions

The good news is that if you wind up with a higher than expected APR, you don’t necessarily need to spend heavily to claim a significant amount of cash back. The USAA card doesn’t set an expiration date, and so you can slowly charge just the purchases you can afford to quickly pay off and wait for your earnings to expand. The USAA card doesn’t limit how much you can earn either, and so if you steadily use your card over time, you should be able to collect a considerable amount.

Zero online promotions

You won’t earn much when you first receive your card, though. Unlike most competitors, the USAA Preferred card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus to online applicants, nor does it offer any other carrots, such as an introductory APR or interest-free balance transfer offer, in exchange for signing up.

Why get the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card?

  • You want a low-maintenance cash back card with the same rewards rate for every purchase.
  • You’re a member of the military and qualify for the card’s special rates.
  • You have excellent credit and are looking for a low rate card with solid cash back.

How to use the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature card:

  • To maximize your earnings, use your card for all or most of your purchases.
  • If you’re an active duty service member, take advantage of USAA’s special assistance program for cardholders deployed abroad.
  • To qualify for the card’s special military rate, notify USAA before you go abroad or notify the bank within 12 months of returning home.
  • Check your interest rate before you carry a balance. Avoid paying interest by paying your purchases in full each month.

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