Reviews USAA Rewards World MasterCard review
USAA Rewards World MasterCard review

USAA Rewards World MasterCard review

Published: December 2, 2016
Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
2.2 rating
2.2 rating
2.2 / 5
Rewards Value 0.2
Annual Percentage Rate 2.4
Rewards Flexibility 4.2
Features 3.0

In a nutshell:

The USAA Rewards World MasterCard’s mediocre points system is unlikely to thrill veteran rewards cardholders, but its military-exclusive benefits make it a standout card for service members.

Rewards Rate
1:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
2,500 points with first purchase

Annual Fee
None

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$189

APR
9.9-25.9%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • Use points for all or a portion of a purchase
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards, air travel, cruises or donations
  • Cash is credited to your account if a ticket costs less than the rewards value

Cons

  • Travel must be booked through Affinion Loyalty Group (ALG) travel service
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs outside USAA
  • Around 3,000 points are required to redeem; 15,000 points are required to redeem for travel

Other Notable Features: EMV chip, concierge service, low rates and rebates for military members, auto rental insurance, discounted roadside assistance, extended warranty, price protection

This offer is no longer available.

Many credit card issuers offer a limited number of benefits to active duty service members, such as temporary fee waivers and, in some cases, a lower APR than what’s required by the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. However, few card issuers offer nearly as many military-exclusive benefits as USAA. The USAA Rewards World MasterCard isn’t the most lucrative rewards card on the market, but its exclusive, money-saving perks for active duty service members make it a good choice for people with a history in the military and their families.

To qualify for the USAA Rewards World MasterCard, you must be a USAA member or be eligible for membership. Only current and former members of the military and their families currently qualify.

Low starting interest rate 

One of the best things about this credit card is its extra-low interest rate for cardholders with excellent credit. Depending on your credit history, you could qualify for an APR as low as 9.9 percent, which is well below the average rewards card APR. According to CreditCards.com data, the average APR for rewards cards is currently 15.14 percent. Cardholders with damaged credit will need to watch out, though, since the card’s maximum rate runs as high as 25.99 percent. The range of possible APRs on the USAA Rewards World MasterCard is wider than most, making it tough to guess your rate until you apply.

Exclusive benefits for military service members

Active duty service members qualify for an especially low rate, making it a safer choice than other cards. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act caps the APR for all active military members at 6 percent, but USAA beats this by offering rates as low as 4 percent on both new and current debt. Military members who receive a permanent change of station are also offered a 4 percent APR, while cardholders who receive a qualifying campaign medal can get a rebate on any interest incurred during the campaign.

Below-average rewards

The biggest downside to the USAA Rewards World MasterCard is its subpar rewards program. At one point per dollar spent, the rewards rate on the USAA Rewards World MasterCard is disappointing compared to more generous rewards cards programs. Unlike similar cards on the market, the USAA Rewards World MasterCard doesn’t offer bonus points on selected purchases either, making it tough for cardholders to accumulate a substantial number of points quickly. At less than 1 cent per point for some rewards categories, such as gift cards and merchandise, the redemption value for USAA rewards points is also well below average.  Even points redeemed for travel are worth just 1 cent per point, which is significantly less than what many comparable cards offer.

Stingy sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on the USAA Rewards World MasterCard is also relatively small. Cardholders are offered just 2,500 bonus points – worth less than $25 in cash or gift cards – when they first use their card. Many comparable rewards cards, by contrast, typically offer at least five figures in bonus points.

Easy redemption

The good news is that, once you do earn enough points to claim a significant purchase, the redemption process is fairly straightforward. There are no blackout dates when you redeem points for travel, and, if you use points to buy a ticket that’s worth less than the rewards value, the difference will be refunded to your account. Cardholders must book travel through an agent chosen by USAA, though, and they can’t transfer points to an airline’s frequent-flier program.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You’re an active-duty service member or immediate relative and want to take advantage of the military exclusive benefits.
  • You’re already a USAA member and like doing business with USAA bank.
  • You have excellent credit and want both a low-rate credit card as well as some rewards.

How to use it:

  • Save your points for travel or donate them to charity if you want to redeem the maximum amount of value from your points. You will need at least 15,000 points to book an awards flight or 15,150 to book a cruise.
  • Don’t bother redeeming your points for gift cards or merchandise. The rewards value for these types of purchases translates to significantly less than other redemption options, including cash.
  • If you’re an active-duty service member, check with USAA for an updated list of military member benefits.

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. 

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