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Best credit cards for military veterans

Take advantage of waived fees and big rewards from military credit unions.

Military credit unions issue some of the best credit cards on the market, typically with fewer fees and better rewards than many bank-issued cards. We compared rewards, fees, intro APR periods and more across every major player in this space to bring you this list of top contenders: the five best credit cards for veterans in 2021.

What are the best credit cards for military veterans?

Best credit card for military veterans who frequently travel by air
PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
Up to 4x
Points
50,000
Points welcome offer
This is a rare travel credit card that lets you earn one of the highest rewards rates on travel purchases without paying a high annual fee. On top of that, there's a generous welcome offer worth around $500 when you meet the spending requirements, plus an annual $100 air travel credit.

Use the air credit to cover baggage fees, lounge access, flight changes and more. This perk alone is enough to offset the card's annual fee.

  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points once you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership. This is worth around $500.
  • Reward points. Earn 3x points on all travel purchases — 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member. All other purchases earn 1.5x points.
  • Annual travel credit. Get $100 travel credit each year to cover baggage fees, lounge access, flight changes, pet-kennel fees, phone reservations and in-flight food and beverage purchases.
Annual Fee $95
Purchase APR 14.99% to 17.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 17.99% variable)
Welcome offer 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value $500 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 3x points on travel or 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member and 1.5x points on all other purchases

Best credit card for military veterans who want to rebuild their credit
nRewards® Secured Credit Card

nRewards® Secured Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-579)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1x
Points
n/a
Welcome offer
If you had financial difficulties in the past and you're trying to rebuild your credit, this card should be at the top of your list. It comes with low-interest rates, no cash advance fees, no balance transfer fees and you get to earn rewards on your purchases, which is rare with secured credit cards.

On top of that, you won't pay an annual fee for the card. Of course, there are other secured cards with no annual fee, but most of them charge up to $49 annually.

  • Build credit. The card reports to all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and the NFCU will review your credit card account every six months. With responsible credit card use, you can build your credit in no time.
  • Reward points. Earn 1x points on all purchases. This is rare among this type of card.
  • No fees. Save money without paying an annual fee, balance transfer fees, cash advance fee or foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 18% variable
Balance transfer APR 18% variable
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 1x points on all purchases

Best credit card for military veterans who are often on the road
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card logo
Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5x
Points
$150
Points welcome offer
This card lets you earn 5 points for every dollar spent on gas purchases when you pay at the pump. This comes at around 4.5% back in reward value and it has no limits on the amount of points you can earn. Similar gas cards limit your rewards rate.

There's also 3x points on groceries, a decent welcome offer and a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers. And you get all this without paying an annual fee.

  • Reward points. Earn 5x points when you pay at the pump, 3x points at supermarkets and 1x points on everything else you buy.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $150 in statement credit once you spend $1,500 in your first 90 days of card membership.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers. Get 0% intro APR period on balance transfers you make until a rolling deadline. A variable APR of to 17.99% applies thereafter.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 13.49% to 17.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 17.99% variable)
Welcome offer 15,000 Bonus Points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries and 1x points on all other purchases

Best credit card for military veterans who want to earn rewards on everyday purchases
Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card

Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card logo
Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3x
Points
25,000
Points welcome offer
The Navy Federal More Rewards American Express® Card lets you earn 3 points per dollar spent on purchases at restaurants and food delivery, supermarkets, gas and transit. Combined with a $0 annual fee, this makes the card one of the most rewarding a military veteran can get.

On top of that, the card waives a host of fees, including balance transfer fees, cash advance fees and foreign transaction fees.

  • Rewards. Earn 3x points on purchases made at restaurants and food delivery, supermarkets, gas and transit. All other purchases earn 1x points. It's rare to find a card that earns this many points in several categories without restrictions.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 25,000 bonus points worth $250 when you spend $3,000 in your first three months when you open your account. This is one of the highest offers you can get with a no-annual-fee credit card.
  • No fees. You won't pay an annual fee, balance transfer fee, cash advance fee and foreign transaction fee. Most rewards cards never waive balance transfer and cash advance fees.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 11.15% to 18% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 6 months (then 11.15% to 18% variable)
Welcome offer 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value $250 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 3x points at supermarkets and gas stations, 3x at restaurants and 1x on all other purchases

Best credit card for military veterans who want to a simple rewards card
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card logo
Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
$100
Welcome offer
With 2% cash back on all purchases — for PenFed Honors Advantage Members — the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card rivals even the best credit cards in the cashback space. Those who aren't Advantage members earn 1.5% back, which is on par with similar cards.

On top of this, you get to earn a decent signup bonus — a perk that no other 2% cashback card offers — and a long 0% intro APR period on balance transfers.

  • Cash back. Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, or 2% back if you're a PenFed Honors Advantage member. This is in line with similar cashback cards.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days when you open your account. Other cards that offer 1.5%
  • Intro APR on balance transfers. Use 12 months of 0% intro APR period on balance transfers. After the intro APR period ends, your rate reverts to 17.99% variable.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 14.99% to 17.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 17.99% variable)
Welcome offer $100 after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases

How to choose the best cards for veterans

Finding the right card may seem daunting, but to choose the best card for your situation, consider the following:

  • Do you need to rebuild your credit? Fighting through financial difficulties is made easy with a military secured credit card. These are often better options than the standard, bank-issued cards, because of the lower interest rates and fewer fees.
  • Where do you spend most of your money? PenFed offers arguably the best no-annual-fee travel credit card if that’s what you need. Otherwise, check out their other cards if you’re looking for rewards on gas, groceries or flat rewards on all purchases. Other unions, such as the USAA and NFCU, offer similar cards.
  • Are you juggling debt? If the answer is yes, consider a card that offers a 0% balance transfer APR, like the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature Card. Keep in mind that introductory APR periods typically last no longer than 12 months, after which the interest rate will revert to the card’s standard rate.
  • Do you travel often? Besides earning rewards points for air travel and paying at the pump, some cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee: which means there’s one less thing for you to worry about when you make purchases abroad.

Do I really need a credit card for veterans?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. But as a veteran, you have access to military credit unions whose cards often have lower interest rates than bank-issued credit cards.

If this is something you value, then a military credit card is definitely an option. But if you always pay your balance before it’s due, you can safely go for any credit card you want, regardless of which institution issues the card.

Can my card provider raise my interest rate because of my veteran status?

When transitioning from active-duty to veteran status, it’s possible your card provider will raise your interest rates to where they’re at for civilians – even if you’ve diligently kept up with your credit card payments. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) caps credit card interest rates at 6% for active-duty U.S. military members. Unfortunately, this interest cap isn’t extended to veterans.

Some providers may extend benefits for active duty credit cards for up to six months after service members are discharged, but those transitioning from active duty should anticipate a change in rates.

If you’re transitioning to veteran status, review your accounts for any perks or rate reductions that may change during the process. Compare your options across multiple providers to find the card that works best for you moving forward.

Bottom line

Veterans get to access most military credit union credit cards, which are often a better choice over their bank-issued cards. Their non-profit nature means credit union cards come with lower interest rates and fewer fees, while maintaining a similar — or even better — rewards structure than their bank-issued counterparts.

But if you don’t think any of these cards are right for you, you can always compare other credit cards until you find the one that fits your wallet best.

Frequently asked questions

Do other credit unions offer credit cards to military veterans?
Yes, and the eligibility criteria to join the union may vary.

Do bank-issued credit cards waive fees for military veterans?
Ask to have your annual fee removed. And low-interest rates and fees are often waived for active duty.

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