Best Credit Cards for Military Members of June 2021

Our Top Picks, Whether You’re Active Duty, Retired or Family

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If you’re on active duty, retired from the military, or a family member of someone who serves, you’re looking for the best credit cards for military members. Some 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. 

Here’s what our research showed to be the best cards for military members.

Best Credit Cards for Military Members of June 2021

Best Overall, Best With No Annual Fee : Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card


Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
4.8
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This is a standout, easy-to-use cash-back card for anyone, and especially if you’re in the military. It offers unlimited 1.5% cash-back on all purchases and a nice new-cardholder bonus that’s in line with what other similar cards are offering right now. Plus, if you’re on active duty and qualify for SCRA benefits, Capital One will lower your APR to no more than 4%, which is 2% lower than what’s required by law. Capital One will also waive any balance transfer or late fees charged to your account while serving, which is generous compared to what other major issuers do for service members. Plus, there’s no annual fee, whether you are actively serving or not.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Solid cash-back rate on every dollar you spend

  • Simple, no-fuss cash back is easy to earn and redeem

  • Competitive welcome bonus

Cons
  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

Highlights:
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Every purchase earns 1.5% cash back, and the total cash back you can earn is unlimited.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Read the full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review

Best With a Low APR During Active Duty : Citi Rewards+℠


Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
4.7
Citi Rewards+℠
Current Offer

Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.49% - 23.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and 1X points on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

When it comes to cutting costs, Citi goes beyond what’s required by the SCRA, which makes this card our top pick if you want to save on interest costs while on active military duty. If you qualify for SCRA benefits, Citi will reduce your APR to 0% and waive all fees charged to your account while you’re serving, which is awesome (and not typical). We also love this card for its unusual rewards scheme. You’ll get 2 points per $1 spent on gas and groceries (up to $6,000 in purchases each year), and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. And then this card rounds up the rewards earned on each purchase to the nearest 10 point-increment. Competitive 0% APR deals and no annual fee make this card a well-rounded offer for any service member.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Automatic point-earning boost on all purchases

  • Competitive introductory 0% APR offers

  • For the first 100,000 points you redeem, you’ll get 10% of them back

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • Points-earning rate is low without extra rewards features

  • Lots of rewards program rules to learn

Highlights:
  • The only card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.
  • 2X at Supermarkets & Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and 1 point per $1 spent thereafter.
  • 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points you redeem per year.
  • Shop with Points at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com or redeem for other great rewards.

Read the full Citi Rewards+℠ Credit Card review

Best Sign-Up Bonus : Citi Premier®


Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
4.2
Citi Premier®
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airlines, and hotels. Earn an annual hotel savings benefit.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

There’s a substantial 60,000-point bonus offer if you can spend $4,000 within three months of opening an account for this card. Based on our average valuation of Citi ThankYou points, that offer is worth about $726. This can be a rewarding card long term, too, as it offers extra points on travel, restaurant, and entertainment purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee, but Citi will waive it (along with balance transfer and late fees) if you qualify for SCRA benefits while on active duty. Plus, your interest rate will be 0% during active service.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Generous rewards rate on airfare, hotel stays, and gas

  • Many ways to redeem rewards, plus the option to transfer points to participating frequent flyer programs

Cons
  • No interest-free promotions for new cardholders

  • Very few airline transfer partners are based in the U.S.

Highlights:
  • See where 60,000 points can take you after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Redeemable for $600 in gift cards at thankyou.com.
  • Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booked through thankyou.com. Benefit will be available to you once per calendar year.
  • Easy points transfer to certain airline loyalty programs, including TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

Read the full Citi Premier® Credit Card review

Best With a Low Ongoing APR : Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card


Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.9
Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card
Current Offer

Earn 10,000 bonus points (a $100 value) when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. Expires on June 30, 2021.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 9.65% - 18% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 3 points per dollar at gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants and commuting expenses. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card keeps interest costs in check even outside the SCRA-required 6% APR cap on existing balances during active duty. It offers an APR as low as 9.65% (based on your credit); no annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees; and the convenient option to apply for SCRA benefits online. Members of its Senior Enlisted Reward Program may get an even lower APR, too.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Accessible to consumers with average credit scores, unlike similar rewards cards

  • Rewards rates on routine expenses—including transportation—are unusually good for a card catering to average credit

  • Very fee friendly, with no balance transfer or cash advance fee and a low ongoing APR

Cons
  • Must be affiliated with the military or Department of Defense to apply

Highlights:
  • No annual fee.
  • No balance transfer fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • No cash advance fee.

Read the full Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Credit Card review

Best Military Rewards Program : USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card


Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.4
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.9% - 25.9% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

Few cards specifically reward military-related purchases, but this one does. In fact, it’s a top-earning category for this card: 5% cash back on up to $3,000 of gas and military base purchases combined each year is a great earnings rate. On top of that, you earn 2% cash back on groceries. As an added benefit, there’s no annual fee, and if you qualify for SCRA benefits, USAA will cap interest on existing balances at only 4%.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Great rewards rate on gas and military base purchases

  • Low APR for most creditworthy cardholders

  • For cardholders on active duty in the military, APR is 4% (better than mandated)

Cons
  • Must be affiliated with the military to apply

  • Earning caps on higher rewards rates

  • No welcome bonus

Highlights:
  • 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in combined gas station and military base purchases yearly.
  • 2% cash back on your first $3,000 in grocery purchases yearly.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the U.S.

Read the full USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Credit Card review

FAQs

How Do Military Credit Cards Work?

Some banks have credit card programs that are just 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 that go beyond what’s required under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 

What Are SCRA Credit Card Benefits?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that gives military members a number of financial and legal protections while on active duty.  

Under this regulation, credit card companies are required to:

  • Cap APRs at 6% for existing card balances
  • Forgive any interest charges made in excess of 6%
  • Waive select fees and service charges

Many card issuers go above and beyond these minimum requirements and offer active-duty military members extra perks, like even lower APRs, extended low-interest periods, and waived fees. 

The Balance found issuers rarely disclose all military benefit details online. We recommend contacting an issuer directly to learn more about what they can do for your situation.

To access SCRA credit card benefits, service members must apply for relief with each card, which can be done online with most major issuers. If you’re unsure how to start an SCRA application process, call the customer service number listed on the back of your card. 

What Else Should You Look For in a Military Credit Card?

The best military card will serve you well before, during, and after active duty. If you’re in the military and looking for a new card, it’s important to consider the SCRA benefits you may get while on active duty, but don’t forget about all the other valuable card qualities:

Standard APR: SCRA interest rate caps only cover debts that you rack up before you go on active duty, so look at what each card will charge you for carrying a balance each year. Interest rate information has to be listed in each card's terms and conditions, which can usually be found via a link on the card page. Look for small text that says “view rates and fees,” “terms and conditions,” or something similar. 

Sign-up bonus: If you can get a pile of extra points or miles just for being a new cardholder and using your card, give that card offer a second look. Large sign-up bonuses can boost a card’s rewards value if you aren’t a high spender. Or, if your card charges an annual fee, a good sign-up bonus can make up for that cost. 

Rewards: With a rewards card, you’ll earn a set number of rewards points for each dollar spent on card purchases. You may also earn extra points on certain purchases, like airline flights or groceries. Look for a card that fits your typical spending habits. For example, if you travel often when not on active duty, consider an airline card.

Just think about how valuable a card’s rewards are before applying. We’ve done a lot of that research for you in our card reviews, so check them out for more information—click on the “Full Review” button below each credit card in the list above. 

Annual fee: Many rewards cards come with annual fees, which is the cost you pay for your earnings. Sure, many issuers waive annual fees for service members on active duty, but you should still weigh annual fee costs now. Will the card benefits and/or rewards make up for the annual fee after you return? It’s something to keep in mind when choosing a card. 

Customer service: Good customer service resources, like 24/7 online chat, U.S.-based customer service call centers, and user-friendly mobile apps, will make your life easier regardless of your active-duty status. Card issuer customer service will also be crucial for understanding SCRA benefits if/when you apply. 

Here’s another summary of our picks for the best credit cards for members of the military:

Compare The Best Military Member Credit Cards

Credit Card​ Annual Fee
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best Overall
$0
Citi Rewards+
Best With a Low APR During Active Duty
$0
Citi Premier
Best Sign-Up Bonus
$95
Navy Federal More Rewards American Express Card
Best With a Low Ongoing APR
$0
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card
Best Military Rewards Program
$0

How Can You Benefit From Credit Cards While in the Military?

  1. Apply for SCRA benefits: If you’re bound for active duty, don’t pass up an opportunity to save money on credit card costs. Visit your card issuer’s website or call customer service as soon as you know when your active service date is. 
  2. Contact card issuers: Our research found some issuers may offer more perks than what’s readily disclosed online, but you’ll need to call to learn more. 
  3. Make on-time card payments: If you’re super busy or even deployed overseas, make sure card payments are still taken care of so you preserve your payment history and prevent credit score damage. Set up automatic payments to ensure you’re at least making minimum payments on time.
  4. Only charge what you can afford: Don’t rack up massive card balances while overseas. Debt may actually impact your eligibility for security clearances, so don’t risk it. 

Remember, because the SCRA interest rate cap only applies to pre-existing debt, you may still be charged the card’s higher APR while on duty. Pay off your balances every month to avoid paying expensive interest.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial. No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

All credit cards in our database came into play when determining our top picks for military members, but only a few stood out. To curate this list, we asked 11 major credit card issuers what special benefits they offer active-duty military members, like waived fees, additional rewards, or extra low interest rates.

What We Score

We consider low APRs, minimal fees, big sign-up offers, valuable rewards, and minimal fees some of the best card qualities. We believe these features benefit all members of the military—not just those on active duty. Our full methodology includes further detail about how we evaluate credit card attributes.