Best Credit Cards for Military Members of September 2020

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

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Best Overall

,

Best With No Annual Fee

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 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 Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This is a standout, flexible travel rewards card for anyone, especially if you’re in the military. It already has a low ongoing APR, but 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 servicemembers. Plus, there’s no annual fee, whether you are actively serving or not.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Simple and predictable rewards
    • Rare option (for a no-annual-fee card) to transfer miles to eligible airline and hotel partner programs
    • Flexible redemption options
    • Travel insurance not common with a no-annual-fee card

    Cons

    • Low rewards-earning rate
    • Limited number of travel partners, especially U.S. airlines
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 1.25X miles on all purchases. Earn unlimited miles with no caps.
    • Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
    • Use miles as a statement credit against any airline or hotel booking with no blackout dates. Or, transfer miles to eligible travel loyalty programs.
    • Enjoy an introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months.

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card

Best With a Low APR During Active Duty

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.1
Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card
Current Offer

Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

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 (%) 15.99% - 25.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5X points on eligible priceline.com purchases. 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    When it comes to cutting costs, Barclays, this card's issuer, goes beyond what’s required by the SCRA. If you qualify for SCRA benefits, Barclays will reduce your APR to 0% and waive all fees charged to your account while you’re serving. That’s a stellar cost-saving deal. On an ongoing basis, if you’re also a traveler who can rely on Priceline.com to make all your reservations, this can be a beneficial, go-to card for such expenses. Regardless of your military status, you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on eligible Priceline.com purchases, which can include hotel, airfare, and vacation packages.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Great rewards rate on travel booked through Priceline
    • No annual fee, which is very unusual for a travel card with such a high-earning bonus category
    • Use your points toward Priceline travel and each point is worth 50% more (e.g. 5,000 points are worth $75 instead of $50)

    Cons

    • Weak rewards rate on non-Priceline purchases
    • After the interest-free period, the APR that kicks in on any remaining transferred balance is relatively high
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. That's enough to redeem for a $100 statement credit.
    • Get 10% points back every time you redeem for statement credits toward eligible priceline.com or travel purchases of $25 or more made in the last 120 days.
    • 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. There is a fee for balance transfers.
    • Earn 1X points per $1 in transferred balances in the first 30 days up to a maximum of 5,000 points.

Citi Premier℠

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
2.8
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 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations, 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • 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. Based on our average valuation of Citi ThankYou points, that offer is worth about $690. 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 wave it (along with balance transfer and late fees) if you qualify for SCRA benefits while on active duty. Plus, your interest rate will be capped at 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.
    • Starting on 8/23/20, you will 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.

Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card

Best With a Low Ongoing APR

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.8
Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card
Current Offer

Earn 25,000 bonus points (a $300 value) when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. Offer expires on Aug. 31, 2020.

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

    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. That’s why the card also tops our list of cards with the most additional benefits for active duty service members.

  • 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.

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Best Military Rewards Program

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
3.3
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

    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 $3,000 of gas and military base purchases combined each year is a great earnings rate. On top of that, you earn bonus points 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.
Find Your Credit Card Match We believe it's most important to consider fees, interest rate, and rewards when you choose a credit card for everyday use, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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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:

Best Credit Cards for Military Members
Credit Card​ Category Annual Fee
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Best Overall $0
Priceline Rewards Visa Card 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
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Best With No Annual Fee $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.