The Best Credit Cards for Military Members in 2019

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Credit cards are useful tools for current and retired members of the U.S. military, especially because some credit card companies offer rewards and benefits specifically for service members. For those on active duty, some card issuers offer more than what’s legally required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), such as fewer fees and super-low interest rates on existing card balances.

Based on current card offers and information from card issuers, we found these to be the best cards for military members.

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Rating Among Military Members Cards
4.8
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash 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 (%) 16.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

This card is perfect for military members seeking an easy, low-cost rewards card. It wins the Best Overall category as well as the Best No-Annual-Fee category, partly because you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. What’s more, Capital One limits the APRs of qualified active-duty service members to 4% for existing balances, an extra 2% cut on top of SCRA requirements. Cardholders who qualify for SCRA benefits also won’t be charged late payment or balance transfer fees. Plus, since Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, this is a good card to use while deployed internationally.

Best With a Low Ongoing APR

Navy Federal GO REWARDS®

Our Rating Among Military Members Cards
4.7
Navy Federal GO REWARDS®
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 (%) 10.99% - 18% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3X points at restaurants, 2X points on gas, and 1X point on everything else.
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 a solid combination of APRs as low 10.99% (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 promotional 0% balance transfer and purchase deals. That’s why the card also tops our list of cards with the most additional benefits for active duty service members.

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our Rating Among Military Members Cards
4.7
Chase Sapphire Preferred® 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 (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $95.00
Rewards Earning Rate 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

If you can charge $4,000 on this flexible travel rewards card within the first three months of having it, you’ll earn a 60,000-point bonus worth up to $750 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Based on our points-valuation data, the bonus could be worth even more if you transfer points to United Airlines and redeem them for flights that way. This is an excellent offer compared to similar rewards cards that also charge a $95 annual fee. We love this card for its strong point values and the option to transfer points to partner travel rewards programs, too.

Best With a Low APR During Active Duty

Citi Rewards+℠

Our Rating Among Military Members Cards
4.6
Citi Rewards+℠
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 No Annual Fee
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%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Why We Chose This Card

Citi goes above and beyond SCRA requirements and drops the APR of existing balances for qualified cardholders down to 0%, which is outstanding. To be eligible for the 0% rate, you must have opened your Citi account prior to active military service. Just keep in mind that while you're not on active duty, any balance you have on your card will accrue interest based on the regular APR. This is already the best Citi card overall—good rewards for everyday and small purchases, competitive introductory APR offers, and no annual fee—and now we highly recommend it for servicemembers, too.

Best Military Rewards Program

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Our Rating Among Military Members Cards
2.6
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 (%) 13.9% - 27.9% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
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 each year is a great earnings rate. On top of that, you earn bonus points on groceries, too. As an added benefit, there’s no annual fee, and if you qualify for SCRA benefits, USAA will cap interest earned 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.
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    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.
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How 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 to 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 to 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

At The Balance, we're committed to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.

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.