The best military credit cards | finder.com

Compare the best credit cards for military members

Discover the benefits of a travel, gas or cashback card designed for servicemembers.

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A young woman soldier with her sister

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Many credit lenders offer special terms under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to help alleviate some of the financial pressure military service members experience during duty. These benefits include waived fees, lower APRs, and even unique military-specific cards.

Our pick for waived annual fee for military

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Compare credit cards for military servicemen and family

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
1.5% cash back on all purchases
26.96% variable
$39
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
18.99% to 25.99% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases
11.74% to 17.99% variable
$0
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries and 1x points on all other purchases
11.74% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

Best military credit cards

The best card for you depends on your spending habits, lifestyle and needs. We’ve rounded up some of the top credit cards for service members offering top rewards on top of SCRA bonuses.

Best travel card: The Platinum Card® from American Express

If you’re a service member who travels often, this may be a card worth considering. You get to enjoy premium travel perks, access to VIP airport lounges, earn rewards and with the SCRA benefits — you can get your annual fee waived.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or travel booked through American Express.
  • Annual fee waived for active-duty military under the SCRA (usually $550) (see rates & fees).
  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Up to $200 in airline fee and $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credits annually.
  • Up to $200 in Uber credits each year.

Best gas card: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

If you spend a lot of money on gas and at military bases, this may be a card for you. You get to earn one of the highest rewards rates on these purchases, plus you get special deployment, PCS and SCRA interest rates.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • 5% cash back on gas and spending at military bases on up to $3,000 in combined purchases annually, then 1%.
  • 4% fixed APR for 12 months when deployed or in a permanent change of station. If you enter active duty, USAA extends the rate until a year after you complete your duty.

Best cashback card: Citi® Double Cash Card

This is one of the best no-annual-fee credit cards that let you earn a high cashback rate on all purchases. To make things even better — you get many fees waived under SCRA.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • No annual, foreign transaction, late payment or other fees under SCRA.
  • 0% fixed APR for balances carried from before entering active duty and extended until the end active duty.
  • 1% cash back on all purchases — with no limit. Plus, earn an additional 1% back when you pay for those purchases.

How we selected our top cards

We chose our top military cards based on a variety of factors, including special offers available only to military members, waived fees under the SCRA, military-specific APRs, annual fees, foreign transaction fees, signup bonus values, reward or cashback eligibility and other considerations a military member might weigh when choosing a credit card. The cards on our list stood above their competitors in one or several of these areas, earning our nomination.

What’s changed in 2019

Heading into 2019, these cards have kept their positions as top-notch military products.

USAA’s cashback card is potentially lucrative for members of the military, offering unique bonus rewards for spending at military bases. Also, the provider’s special interest rates for servicemembers continues to be a strong differentiator.

Amex’s product is still a military favorite, given its normally high annual fee. If you prefer consistent everyday rewards, however, Citi’s card is a reliable choice.

How to compare military credit cards

With so many top options available to service members, it can be daunting to choose the best for you. As you narrow down your choices, ask yourself:

  • Does my military service require travel? You’ll find cards that offer travel perks like waived foreign transaction fees and even accelerated points on military bases.
  • Do you have a family? Military-focused credit unions often extend membership to family of service members, which can help you grow your credit line and pay off existing debts under SCRA terms.
  • Will you maintain spending? Annual fees, standard APRs and waived fees often revert some time after your retirement from active duty, leading to unexpected and unwanted costs.

Issuers that offer military credit card benefits

IssuerBenefits
American Express
  • Waived fees
  • 6% fixed APR on eligible preservice balances
Bank of America
  • Waived fees
  • 6% fixed APR during active duty and extended 6 months after SCRA-eligible period ends
Barclaycard
  • Waived fees on accounts opened prior to duty
  • 0% fixed APR for preservice balances and new transactions
Capital One
  • Waived fees on accounts opened prior to and during active duty
  • 4% fixed APR during active duty and up to 1 year after
Chase
  • Waived fees on accounts during active duty and 1 year after
  • 4% fixed APR during active duty and 1 year after
Citi
  • Waived fees on accounts opened prior to duty.
  • 0% fixed APR during military service on accounts opened prior to active duty.
U.S. Bank
  • Waived fees on accounts opened prior to active duty.
  • 6% fixed APR on preservice balances during active duty.
Wells Fargo
  • 6% fixed APR on preservice balances during active duty.

What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a law designed to ease the financial burdens of service members and their families during military service. Enacted in 2003, the SCRA has undergone several amendments since. Today, it covers financial issues that include security deposits, rental agreements, mortgage interest rates, life insurance and credit card interest rates.

Under the SCRA, credit card companies are required to provide specific benefits to military members, usually in the form of waived fees and APR rates no higher than 6% on balances accrued prior to active duty. Many credit lenders offer even stronger benefits to honor service members.

Who is eligible for SCRA benefits

SCRA benefits are available to:

  • Active-duty service members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard.
  • Any activated reservists.
  • National Guard members called to active duty.
  • Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
  • Spouses or dependants of active-duty servicemembers.

Tips to maximize SCRA benefits

SCRA benefits are an inherent feature to most credit cards, but you can maximize them. Here’s how:

  • Take advantage of your rewards. A premium credit card with SCRA benefits can provide accelerated rewards in categories like gas or travel without a high annual fee.
  • Transfer your balances. Balance transfers allow you to efficiently pay off your existing debts from other accounts under the more beneficial terms of your SCRA credit card.
  • Extend your benefits to family. Some providers allow spouses or close family to apply for cards with SCRA benefits. Taking advantage of this opportunity can diversify your potential card rewards.

Issuers that design cards for military members

Some credit unions offer cards specifically designed for members of the military. These cards often provide unique benefits tailored to the needs of service members.

USAA

USAA is a credit union that’s open to members of the military and their families. Once you’re a member, you’re eligible for credit cards that offer solid rewards like 3x points at restaurants and 2x points at gas stations and grocery stores.

USAA cards offer a 4% fixed APR, which is lower than the 6% required under the SCRA.

Navy Federal Credit Union

One of the largest credit unions in the country, Navy Federal offers membership to military members, Department of Defense employees, and family members of service members.

Its credit cards offer variable interest rates as low as 8% with no annual fee, though debts incurred on accounts prior to active duty receive the 6% fixed APR required under SCRA. Other benefits include no balance transfer or foreign transaction fees, among more traditional perks like access to FICO credit scores, fraud notifications and zero liability.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Anyone is welcome to join PenFed, but membership is aimed towards those who are members of the United States Armed Forces, US government employees or family members.

The credit union offers credit cards with no annual fee, low APRs and strong rewards, a few offering up to 4x points on select purchases for eligible members. Cards are compatible with Apple Pay and other mobile payment apps, while offering 24/7 fraud monitoring and no liability on unauthorized charges.

Bottom line

No matter your spending habits or financial circumstances, you can often leverage your military service to grow your credit and get your financials in order. Many credit unions tailor strong benefits and rewards for military members, including waiving annual fees and high APRs on strong rewards cards.

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