Best Credit Cards for Military Members of January 2020

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

Disclosure: We are committed to recommending the best products for our readers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this never affects our reviews or recommendations.

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
4.7
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit 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 (%) 13.49% - 23.49% 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.

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card

Best With a Low APR During Active Duty

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
4.4
Priceline Rewards™ Visa® 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 (%) 17.49% - 27.49% 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.

Citi Premier℠

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Military Member Cards
4.1
Citi Premier℠
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 (%) 17.49% - 25.49% 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.

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
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
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.15% - 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.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 1.99% for 12 Months
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 11.15% (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, as well as 12-month introductory APR offers of 1.99% for balance transfers and new purchases. That’s why the card also tops our list of cards with the most additional benefits for active duty service members.

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 (%) 13.4% - 27.4% 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%.

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.
My Credit Score is
POOR EXCELLENT
{{ groupWeights[item].display }}
A LITTLE A LOT
{{ filterMessage }}
Your Results

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. 

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.