The 6 Best Military Member Credit Cards of 2019
Reaping rewards on these credit cards is easier than boot camp
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Current and retired military members have access to lots of credit card perks, like rewards, low-interest rates and no penalty rates for late payments. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) limits the interest rates for military and their families on debts incurred before active duty. This limit applies to all credit cards, not just military credit cards, as long as you notify the creditors of your active duty status in writing. In addition to the benefits granted by the SCRA, military members can benefit from credit cards issued by a military-affiliated credit union like USAA, PedFed or Navy Federal Credit Union. These are the best credit cards for military and their family.
Applying for a military credit card requires you to join the credit union that issues the credit card. You can generally join one of these if you are an active or retired member of the military. You may also be able to join and get a credit card if you’re the spouse or immediate family member of someone in the military.
To help you decipher which credit card is right for you, we put together a short list of the best military credit cards to sign up for today, so you can start reaping the benefits immediately.
The United States Automobile Association or USAA is an FDIC-insured financial institution that provides a variety of financial services for service members. The USAA Cash Back Rewards Plus American Express pays 5% cash back on the first $3,000 you spend on gas and purchases you make on military bases. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on the first $3,000 you spend on supermarket purchases each year and an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else, including gas and grocery purchases over the annual limit.
In addition to cash back rewards, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express comes with a few other perks such as collision damage waiver coverage for rental cars, extended warranty and zero fraud liability.
Important Pricing: There’s no annual fee. The variable APR for purchases, balance transfers or cash advances is between 14.15 and 28.15 percent based on your creditworthiness. There’s no penalty APR, no foreign transaction fee and the balance transfer and cash advance fee is up to three percent.
The low-interest rate on the USAA Rate Advantage Platinum Visa makes it a good choice for carrying a balance long-term. If you qualify, your interest rate will be as low as 9.15 percent. Of course, you’ll need to have excellent credit to qualify for the lowest interest rate. Otherwise, your interest rate could be as high as 26.15 percent. A higher interest rate would make this a bad credit card for carrying a balance since you’d pay higher finance charges on the balance.
The cash advance fee is waived if you transfer the funds to a USAA account, though you’ll still be subject to the higher cash advance APR if you choose.
Important Pricing: There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and no penalty APR.
If you need to transfer a balance, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card is an excellent option. It comes with a zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months on transfers made between May 1, 2018, and September 30, 2018. Balance transfers are charged a three percent balance transfer fee.
The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card pays a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Ongoing, you’ll earn you earn five points per dollars on gas purchases; three points per dollars on groceries, including grocery purchases made at military commissaries; and one point per dollar on all your other purchases.
Important Pricing: There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. The regular APR for purchases and cash advances is from 11.99 to 17.99 percent based on your creditworthiness. The penalty APR is 17.99 percent.
The Navy Federal Cash Rewards Visa pays a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all the purchases you make the credit card. There are no reward tiers so you don’t have to worry about spending more in certain categories to maximize the rewards you earn. Just swipe and earn. Members of any military branch are eligible to join the Navy Federal Cash Credit Union, not just members of the Navy.
It’s typically not a good idea take out a cash advance on credit cards because the interest rate and fees make it more expensive. The Navy Federal Cash Rewards Visa doesn’t charge a cash advance fee if you use a Navy Federal ATM to take out the advance. That reduces the cost if you absolutely must take out a cash advance.
Important Pricing: The APR for purchases and balance transfers will be between 11.90 and 18.0 percent depending on your creditworthiness. There’s no annual fee, no balance transfer fee and no foreign transaction fee.
You’ll earn three points for every dollar you spend at restaurants, two points on gas purchases and one point for every dollar you spend on everything else. You can redeem your points for travel, cash back, merchandise and gift cards. There’s no limit on the amount of points you can earn and you must have at least 1,000 points to redeem. Points expire four years from the month you earned them.
Another perk that comes with the Navy Federal Go Rewards credit card: cell phone insurance. You can insure up to three phones when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your credit card.
Important Pricing: There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The APR is 11.24 to 18.0 percent depending on your creditworthiness.
The PenFed Promise Visa Card is a rare credit card that doesn’t charge any fees at all - no annual fee, and no fees for balance transfers, cash advances, foreign transactions, late payments, over limit balances or returned payment. There’s also no penalty APR and no minimum interest charge.
While there’s no ongoing rewards program on your regular purchases, the PenFed Promise Visa Card does have a signup bonus. Earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of having your credit card.
Important Pricing: Enjoy a promotional balance transfer rate of 4.99 percent for 12 months on transfers made between May 1, 2018, and September 30, 2018. After that, the regular APR of 11.99 to 17.99 percent applies.