Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
In truth, the number of people we’d recommend this card to is limited. You’ll need to be associated with the military in some way, and a member of USAA, to apply for this card. You will also need to have a good to excellent credit score. Once over those hurdles, this card might be good for you if you’d like to earn rewards on your spending, but you’re not too serious about playing the rewards card game in order to get the most points possible.
That’s because this card doesn’t offer as high of a rewards earning rate as many other rewards cards, including even other similar cards from USAA. For example, this card offers fewer points than the USAA Rewards American Express Card. However, it is a Visa card, so that may be more useful to you if you’re stationed somewhere where American Express isn’t widely accepted.
Potentially low interest rate
Wide range of rewards options
Unspecified points value
Low rewards earning rate
- Potential low interest rate: You may be able to qualify for an exceptionally low interest rate. And if you run up some debt prior to active duty, you could qualify for an interest rate on that debt as low as 4% by contacting USAA. That’s 2% lower than is required by law.
- Wide range of rewards options: Redeem your points for cash back, merchandise, gift cards, air travel tickets, cruise tickets, or charitable donations—your choice.
- Unspecified points value: USAA doesn’t specify how many points it takes to get any of its rewards. You may qualify for many rewards, or it may take a frustrating amount of points to get anything—there’s no way to know beforehand without signing up for the card.
- Low rewards earning rate: Every purchase will earn at least 1 point per $1 spent, but only gas station purchases and restaurant purchases earn more than that—and only 2 points per $1 spent. That’s less than many of this card’s competitors.
- Membership limitations: Only current or former military members and their spouses and adult children are eligible to apply for this card.
Bonus for New Cardholders
USAA makes it super easy to earn this new cardholder bonus. After your first purchase, you’ll automatically earn 2,500 bonus points. There are no rules about how much you have to spend or when you have to spend it in order to earn these points. Few other rewards cards offer such an easy-to-earn bonus.
Earning Points & Rewards
You won’t have to worry about navigating a complex rewards earning structure with the USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card. Every dollar you spend will earn at least 1 point, and if you spend money at a gas station or a restaurant, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar. There are no expiration dates or points limits to worry about, and if you close the card, you’ll get an additional 90 days to spend any of your remaining points.
Only purchases made at stores that function primarily as gas stations or restaurants will count towards earning more points. That’s because of the way Visa classifies merchants. For example, many gardening stores have cafes located inside, but because it’s classified as a gardening store, you might not earn the extra points for a “dining out” purchase.
Redeeming your points, on the other hand, isn’t so straightforward. The good news is, you get a lot of choices for how to use your points, including:
- Gift cards
- Cruise tickets
- Airplane tickets
- Charity donations
- Cash back (as a statement credit or deposited into your USAA bank account)
You can redeem your points for any of these rewards by logging into your USAA account or by calling USAA’s Rewards Service Center.
You can only redeem your points for cruises by telephone—and not via the website.
The catch here is that you won’t know how many points it takes to buy a particular reward until you log into your USAA account. Thus, your points may be worth a great deal, or they could be mostly useless toward earning the rewards you want. There’s no way to tell in advance, which makes applying for this card a bit of a gamble.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
There really isn’t any way to maximize your rewards with this card beyond using it especially for gas station and restaurant purchases. If you do want to earn the most points possible, consider pairing this with another card that offers higher earnings rates in other areas where you spend a lot of money, such as at grocery stores or on travel purchases. Better yet, consider another rewards card entirely that offers a higher earnings rate and a more transparent rewards program.
With this card you won’t be charged a cash advance fee as long as the funds are deposited into a USAA account. While it’s never wise to carry a balance on a credit card, this feature could help if you need cash in an emergency.
USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card’s Excellent Perks
USAA does offer a few good travel perks with its credit cards that the editors of The Balance consider “excellent.” To qualify for these benefits, you’ll need to have purchased your trip with your USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card.
- Insurance coverage for delayed luggage: If your baggage is delayed, USAA may reimburse you up to $100 per day (three days max) for things like clothing or toiletry purchases.
- Insurance coverage for travel interruptions and cancellations: You may be able to get up to $1,500 back if your trip is canceled or interrupted due to events out of your control such as an illness or a weather delay.
- Travel accident insurance: If you’re seriously injured or die while in transit, you or your loved ones could receive up to $500,000 compensation.
- Extended warranties
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Concierge for booking events, travel, and other services
Year after year USAA earns plaudits in J.D. Power’s Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Since it’s only open to military members, USAA caters to its members’ unique needs with special services like rate reductions when deployed or military-specific financial advice.
USAA also offers a convenient mobile app that allows you to manage your finances from just about any place the military might send you.
USAA doesn’t offer some of the fancier features of other credit card issuers, such as free credit report alerts or Social Security number monitoring. USAA does offer identity theft restoration assistance and insurance to cover up to $1,000 of related expenses. Otherwise, USAA has all of the basic security protocols in place to keep your information and your money safe, including zero liability for fraudulent purchases.
USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card’s Fees
USAA is a relatively fee-friendly card for military personnel and their families. It doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees and even waives the cash advance fee if you have the money deposited into your USAA checking or savings account.