Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

USAA® Secured American Express® Card

Please note: This card has been discontinued, and it is not available on our site.

If you want to build your credit, the USAA® Secured American Express® Card can help if you use your card wisely and make on-time payments. It’s not a debit or pre-paid card, but a true credit card, which means it reports to all three credit agencies. It’s issued by USAA Bank – a company that has been helping military members and their families since 1922.

The card is secured by a CD that you open when you sign up. The money that’s in the CD stays there, and even earns interest. The CD acts as the security deposit for your line of credit and sets your credit limit.

Discontinued product

This card has been discontinued, and it is not available on our site. Compare other credit cards or take Finder's credit card quiz to find one that fits your needs.

How to apply for the USAA® Secured American Express® Card

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a credit card.

To apply for the USAA® Secured American Express® Card, you must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen or permanent resident and a member of the military, a veteran who was honorably discharged or an eligible family member of military personnel.

Required documents & information

  • Full name
  • Residential address
  • Marital status
  • Birthdate
  • Contact information
  • Proof of employment and income amount

Steps to apply

Once you’ve gathered your info follow these steps:

  1. Head over to the USAA® Secured American Express® Card landing page.
  2. Click the “Get Started” button.
  3. If you’re already a member of USAA, you’ll then log in to your account. If you’re new to USAA, click the “Get Started Now” link toward the bottom of the page.
    • If you followed the “Get Started Now” link, it’ll take you through some steps to determine if you’re eligible for USAA membership.
    • If you qualify, sign up for a USAA membership and navigate back to the USAA® Secured American Express® Card landing page and click the “Get Started” button.
  4. Once you log in to your USAA account, you can begin the application process.
  5. Provide the information requested in the online application and learn whether you qualify for the USAA® Secured American Express® Card.

The basics

The USAA® Secured American Express® Card can help you build credit if you keep your credit utilization ratio low and consistently make payments before the due date. To qualify for the card you must first be eligible for USAA membership, which requires military affiliation directly or through a spouse or family member.

To get the secured card you must open a 2-year certificate of deposit (CD), which earns a 0.54% variable APY. The annual percentage yield will change periodically throughout the two-year term.

The money deposited into the CD acts as a security deposit and becomes your credit limit. A minimum deposit of $250 is required, with a maximum of up to $5,000.

Expect a 11.90% to 21.90% variable APR, and a $35 annual fee. The card offers special military rates for those on active duty and deployment. It also includes a variety of security, retail and travel benefits that aren’t typical of most secured cards.

The perks

  • Build credit. As you use the card and make consistent on-time payments, you can build creditworthiness.
  • Travel benefits. You won’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees while traveling outside the US.
  • Retail benefits. Your manufacturer’s and US store-brand warranties are extended for up to one year when you make the purchase with your card.
  • Collision damage waiver coverage. You’re covered by a collision damage waiver when you use this card to pay for a rental car. This coverage pays for physical damage to or theft of your rental car.

You’ll also like…

  • Secure. The card includes chip technology for added security. You’re also protected by the Zero Liability Policy, and aren’t responsible for unauthorized purchases.
  • Military rebate. USAA Bank will rebate all finance charges during your qualified military campaign.
  • Military bonuses. During deployment or PCS you have access to a 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months. If you’re on active military duty, you get a special 4% rate on your balance until one year after you complete active duty.

USAA® Secured American Express® Card features

  • APR. You can expect an APR range of 11.90% to 21.90% variable . The rate applies for purchases, cash advances and transfers.
  • Certificate of deposit. Your variable 2-year term CD will earn 0.54% APY. You can make deposits to your CD at any time and the credit limit on the card can increase as you make additional deposits. The balance and deposits are guaranteed to increase over time, and you can keep the money if you don’t default on payments.
  • Payments. To avoid interest charges you can pay your balance in full within 25 days after the close of the monthly billing cycle.
  • Balance transfer fee. A 3% fee up to $200 is applied to all balance transfers and cash advances.
  • Annual fee. You can expect a $35 annual fee.
  • Credit limit. There’s no penalty APR or additional charge for going over the credit limit.
  • Accessible. Your account can be viewed and managed online through the USAA website or mobile app. You can also send a text to access your balance and transaction history.
  • Minimum deposit. For a variable rate 2-year CD, you’re required to make at least a $250 initial deposit.

I got the card! Now what?

  • Avoiding interest. To avoid paying interest on your purchases, pay your entire balance by the due date each month.
  • Avoiding fees. There’s a transaction fee of 3% on cash advances, but this fee is waived when you transfer funds electronically from your USAA credit card to your USAA Bank deposit account.
  • Customer service. You can reach USAA at 800-531-USAA (or 800-531-8722).
  • Graduating to a secured card. The USAA® Secured American Express® Card doesn’t provide a direct path to an unsecured card. Once you use this card to raise your credit score, you can then go on to apply for an unsecured card.

USAA® Secured American Express® Card reviews and complaints

You won’t find many negative online comments about the USAA® Secured American Express® Card, which is fairly unusual in the world of secured credit cards.

As of October 2020, USAA earns an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but it’s not yet accredited with the agency. As of this writing, 92% of its reviews are negative and it has over 1,422 customer complaints. USAA customers report unexpected changes to reward balances and a complicated customer service process.

The company earns a Trustpilot score of 1.4 out of 5 as of October 2020. Many negative reviews cite unsympathetic customer service and difficulty getting fraud claims resolved. Positive reviews say customer service is responsive and the bank’s products have strong features.

Compare other secured cards

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
$49, $99 or $200
26.99% variable
New to credit
A no-annual-fee secured card that separates itself from the pack with a $200 credit limit after making a more affordable than average deposit of $49, $99 or $200.
Cleo Credit Builder card
A card made with your credit score in mind
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Starting at $200
17.39% variable
Apply for this card with no credit check if you're new to credit or have bad credit.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you’re affiliated with the military and are looking for a credit card to help you build your credit, the USAA® Secured American Express® Card could be a helpful solution if you use it responsibly, keep your credit utilization ratio low and make your monthly payments on time. Its rewards and high customer satisfaction make it a solid choice, but be sure to compare it with other credit cards before you make a decision.

Frequently asked questions

Ask an expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use and Privacy and Cookies Policy.
Go to site