In A Nutshell:
The best credit cards for military service members includes a cashback rewards card, an excellent card for on-base purchases, a travel card, and more.
Military families have unique financial needs, so selecting the best credit card for military members and their families is essential.
The right card can offer significant benefits, such as no annual fees, low-interest rates, and rewards points.
There are many different cards on the market, so it’s essential to research to find the one that best meets your needs.
The credit card market is incredibly competitive, with providers vying for your business by offering incentives such as cashback, travel points, and more.
But how do you know which card is best for you? And what happens if you’re in the military? When looking for a credit card, the first thing to consider is your credit score.
A credit score rates your credit risk to help creditors determine whether or not to approve your credit application, the terms of the offer, and the interest rates that will apply.
A low credit score can significantly affect your life. Your ability to get a loan approved, rent an apartment, earn clearance for employment, and get a lower insurance rate depends on your credit score.
If you’re on active duty, retired from the military, or a family member of someone who serves, this post is for you. I will help you decide on the best credit cards for military members and more about this later.
Many credit cards offer rewards and benefits specifically for those in the armed forces, and some are just the best picks regardless.
Certain cards offer more than what’s legally required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), including fewer fees and super-low interest rates on existing card balances for those on active duty.
If you’re deciding which card to take on your deployment, don’t just settle for one with good ‘civilian’ perks.
Many credit cards offer good “civilian” bonuses, but a handful also offers outstanding military benefits for active-duty service members.
To save big on fees and interest during your service, here are our lists of best credit cards for military members.
Best Credit Cards For Military Members
When researching the best credit cards for military members, we compared data from expert views on credit cards from CreditKarma, NerdsWallet, U.S.
News, and other reputable finance publications before coming up with this lists. Keep reading below to find the credit card that works best for you and your family:
1. Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express offers excellent travel bonuses — but the biggest perk may be that American Express may waive its hefty $695 annual fee for active-duty military members, according to an American Express representative.
According to the representative, American Express may waive the annual fee for any of its cards for qualifying active-duty military once they’re enrolled and approved for SCRA benefits, which makes this premium card a much less expensive option.
Apart from that, the Platinum Card® from American Express offers many outstanding travel benefits, including:
- A credit of up to $200 per calendar year for baggage fees and other expenses at one qualifying airline
- $15 in Uber credits for the U.S. rides or eats orders every month (plus a bonus of $20 in December)
- Up to $100 credit every four years for Global Entry application fees — or every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck application fees
- No foreign transaction fees
You’ll also earn five Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, and five points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year, then one point per $1.
2. USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card
The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card helps military personnel stationed on an army base maximize their cashback benefits.
The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card offers 5% cashback on your first $3,000 in combined gas and qualifying military base purchases each calendar year.
After spending $3,000, you’ll earn 1% back. Qualifying purchases at military bases include those at commissaries, exchanges, etc.
You’ll also earn 2% cashback on the first $3,000 you spend on supermarket purchases each year (then 1% back). On all other purchases, you’ll get 1% cashback.
3. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
You can maximize your cash rewards with the everyday bonus categories offered by the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Again, if you’re a qualifying active-duty service member, you might not have to worry about balancing your rewards with the card’s regular annual fee.
Any rewards you earn with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can go straight into your pocket.
The card offers:
- 6% cashback at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then 1%)
- 6% cashback on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- 3% cashback at U.S. gas stations and on transit
- 1% cashback on other purchases
You’ll earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months after account opening.
NB: This card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
FAQs About Best Credit Cards For Military
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about credit cards for military members and our best answers to such queries:
How Do Military Credit Cards Work?
Some banks have credit card programs that are better for military members than other cards. The ones we’ve highlighted above have low-interest rates, few fees, and excellent rewards.
Many card issuers extend benefits to active-duty service members beyond what’s required under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
Who Is Eligible For Military Credit Cards?
Anyone with a valid power of attorney for the service member may exercise SCRA rights, and some rights apply to dependents.
SCRA benefits apply during active duty and can be granted retroactively.
Service members must provide creditors with a copy of their military orders and a written notice within 180 days of the end of their military service.
What Are Typical Military Credit Card Interest Rates?
The SCRA limits interest rates to 6% on credit card debts before active-duty service. Some issuers may lower the rate to 4% on pre-service debts, and you will want to take advantage of this benefit if you qualify.
If you need a new card, shop around because regular cards may offer better rewards and perks than cards marketed to service members.
Can Military Spouses Get Credit Card Fees Waived?
If you jointly took out the credit card, your military spouse can benefit from SCRA protections. That includes the waiver of credit card fees.
These are just a small selection of the best credit cards for Veterans and military members and the rewards programs available to smart credit consumers.
You will still need to do your due diligence to make the best financial decisions for you and your family. No one will do a better job of looking out for your money than you!
But when you don’t know where to start, these three best credit cards for military personnel are a great jumping-off point.
Aaron Stark is a financial advisor who helps people save for their future and make sound financial decisions. He’s passionate about helping people achieve their financial goals and believes that everyone should have the opportunity to retire with dignity.