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.Compare similar credit cards and find the best option for you.
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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.
- 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.
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
- Contact information
- Proof of employment and income amount
Steps to apply
Once you’ve gathered your info follow these steps:
- Head over to the USAA® Secured American Express® Card landing page.
- Click the “Get Started” button.
- 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.
- Once you log in to your USAA account, you can begin the application process.
- Provide the information requested in the online application and learn whether you qualify for the USAA® Secured American Express® Card.
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.
What are customers saying about the USAA® Secured American Express® Card?
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. And the Better Business Bureau gives USAA an A+. Trustpilot lists some negative reviews about USAA in general, but those are few and far between when you look at the whole picture.
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.