To get this card it’s recommended that you have good credit and qualify for membership with USAA. For that, you’ll need to either be a current or former military member (including precomissioned officers), or be an eligible family member of someone who already is a USAA member.
If you meet the membership qualifications and are looking for a simple, flat-rate cash-back rewards card, this is a decent choice, with some caveats. USAA loyalists who want to continue to bank with USAA may appreciate the card’s perks and customer service. And those who are members of the armed services expecting to go on active duty and can take advantage of the low interest rate on balances accumulated prior to service may also get some value.
Otherwise, there are many similar credit cards available that offer better terms but may not have the high-level armed services support that USAA provides.
Cash back at a flat rate
Excellent low APR
Ultra-low interest rate in rare cases
No bonus for new cardholders or introductory interest rate offer
- Cash back at a flat rate: Almost every purchase you make earns 1.5% cash back with no limits, and you can redeem your earnings any time you want in increments of $1.
- Excellent low APR: The card’s best APR is more than 7% lower than the average for cash-back cards, which means customers with excellent credit have a chance at a tremendous rate.
- Ultra-low interest rate in rare cases: You may be able to qualify for a 4% interest rate on balances added to the card before you are assigned to active duty (compared to the 6% APR required by law in those instances). This could be a real plus for reservists and others who know they will eventually be called to active duty.
- Limited membership: You can only get this card if you’ve got a USAA membership, which is limited to members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families.
- No bonus for new cardholders or intro interest rate offer: Many of this card’s competitors come with sign-up bonuses or 0% introductory interest offers. This one does not.
Earning Points and Rewards
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use rewards card, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. Almost every purchase you make will earn 1.5% cash back, with no limits on how much you can earn. You can view your cash-back balance within the Rewards Service Center via the app, your online account, or by telephone.
The card’s rewards rate is about average for cash back cards, many of which offer a 1.5% rate and a welcome bonus between $100 and $150 for spending a certain amount of money in the first three months (which this card does not offer).
It’s easy to redeem your rewards, too. You can cash them in them any time you want by logging into your account. You’ll need to redeem them in $1 increments—so if you have a balance of $17.50, you can only redeem a total of $17. You can choose to have your rewards applied to your credit card account, or you can have them deposited into your USAA checking or savings account.
If your account is delinquent, USAA may redeem your points as a statement credit. If this happens, you still have to make your minimum payment.
How to Get the Most out of This Card
If you’re a USAA loyalist interested in maximizing the amount of cash back you get, you can do well by opening another USAA card that offers higher cash back in particular purchase categories (supermarkets or restaurants, perhaps), and then relying on the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa as a catch-all for other purchases. If you’re not interested in doing that, simply use this card for all of your everyday purchases.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to pay off your balance in full and on time to avoid interest charges, as the interest rate offered on this card will far outweigh the 1.5% cash back you earn.
Make sure to redeem your cash back rewards within 90 days from the day you close the account. Otherwise, you’ll forfeit your rewards.
USAA does offer a few perks that we think are particularly worthy, especially for military members who travel a lot.
- Insurance for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and delayed baggage: If your trip is delayed or canceled for reasons outside of your control, you may qualify for reimbursement of up to $1,500 if you charged the trip cost to your card. Similarly, if your baggage is delayed, you may qualify for a $100 reimbursement for the cost of replacing your essentials.
- Travel accident insurance: If a bad accident happens while you’re in transit on a trip, you could be covered for up to $500,000 if you paid for the trip with your card.
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Extended warranties
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
USAA ranked first among 12 credit card issuers in the 2020 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction study but it isn’t included in the final rankings because of its membership requirements.
USAA offers services and assistance to help out with military-specific money concerns, such as dealing with deployments and PCSing. USAA offers phone support and an app you can use to manage your account on the go, wherever you’re deployed and have internet access.
USAA offers standard security protections for the industry. If your identity is ever stolen, USAA also provides specialists to assist you with resolving the problem. You may qualify for a small amount of compensation (up to $1,000) to help get your life back on track, too.
The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card doesn’t come with any out-of-the-ordinary fees. Its lowest APR is considerably lower than the industry average but its high-end APR is slightly higher than the average for cash-back cards. Military members—especially those stationed overseas—will appreciate that this card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.