The transition from military to civilian life can be an intimidating process. There are a variety of changes that veterans need to consider, including what that transition means for their finances. Sometimes veterans overlook the changes in their credit card terms that were issued when they were in active service.
For example, many of the benefits that come with the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) are waived renewal fees, no service charges, and a maximum interest rate of 6% on loans taken out prior to enlisting.
When the SCRA benefits expire, this tends to result in higher charges, fees, and interest rates for veterans. With that said, some credit cards are a lot better than others when it comes to serving military veterans.
Interested in learning what those cards are? Continue reading, and we’ll walk you through what you need to know!
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card
All former and active military members who have memberships with USAA, as well as their widowers, widows, un-remarried former spouses, and children qualify for this card. The Cashback Rewards Plus card from USAA offers rewards for every dollar spent with this card.
Rewards include 5% cashback on gas and military base purchases up to $3,000 annually and 2% at supermarkets up to $3,000 annually. Users can also earn an unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
Interest rates for this card are variable. They range from 11.90% to 25.90% APR annually.
Any person on active duty can take advantage of the rates that are set by the SCRA.
There are other benefits to this card, including no foreign transaction fees and no annual fees. Both of those benefits can bring significant savings for veterans who live or travel abroad. Also, rewards can be redeemed at any time, as long as the account is in good standing and is current.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
This credit card is available to all PenFed members. Any person who is a retired or active member of the military is qualified. This credit card also offers no foreign or annual transaction fees.
Users earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases. However, balance transfers, credit card checks, and cash advances are not included. Still, you can increase your reward to 2% cashback on anything that you buy if you become a member of PenFed Honors Advantage.
To become a member, you have to have retired from service or be currently serving. You’re also able to become a member if you have an existing checking account with PenFed or you open one.
At PenFed, you’ll be charged 3% on balance transfers. But you’ll also get a 0% APR (annual percentage rate) for one year following a transfer made until September 30, 2020. The APR on cash advances is 17.99% APR and the APR for purchases begins at 14.99% and can go as high as 17.99% for account holders who have low credit scores.
Users can earn a statement credit of $100 when they spend at least $1,500 within ninety days of opening a Power Cash Rewards Visa account.
Navy Federal Credit Union Go Rewards Card
If you’re a veteran who likes to drive and dine often, you should consider the Go Rewards card from the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU). This card generates several rewards points for a variety of specific purchases.
This program pays three points for every dollar that you spend at restaurants. It also pays two points for every dollar that you spend on gas and one point for every dollar that you spend on all other qualifying transactions. Users can also redeem points for online shopping, gift cards, travel rewards, and other items offered via the Go Rewards program.
You won’t receive charges for balance transfers, foreign transaction fees, or annual fees with a Go Rewards account. You also won’t have to pay any fees when you make cash advances at NFCU ATMs or offices.
Interest rates for this card start at 8.99% APR for members who have good credit. However, people who have low scores can pay as much as 18% APR.
USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card
You will have to be a member of USAA to qualify for this credit card, just like with the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card.
This credit card is a great choice for someone with a high credit score who wants a low interest rate. The rates for this card can go as low as 6.90% APR.
Any person who has fair or good credit may qualify, but it’s important to remember that the rate can be as high as 23.90% APR. Also, balance transfers, cash advances, and purchases are all subject to the same interest rate.
There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees with this credit card. However, that’s where the perks end. This is a basic credit card that can serve many people well, but you won’t get any cashback offers and there are no points to be earned.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express helps you maximize your cash rewards with their everyday bonus categories.
That’s because the annual fee waived for qualifying service members who are approved and enrolled for SCRA benefits. Any rewards that you earn with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American express can go straight to your wallet, with no fees to hold it each year that you qualify.
This card also offers 6% cashback at American supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then drops to 1%). It also provides 6% cashback on select American streaming subscriptions, 3% cashback at American gas stations, and 1% cashback on other qualifying purchases.
Also, after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first ninety days after opening your account, you’ll earn a $300 statement credit. However, it’s worth pointing out that there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card
The Platinum Credit Card from the Navy Federal Credit Union comes with a balance transfer offer you can use to pay down your debt. Another great perk is that the NFCU won’t charge you any balance transfer fees.
This credit card also comes with an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for one year after opening an account. After that, you’ll get charged a regular variable APR on balance transfers of 5.99% to 18%. Just be aware that you will have to request the transfer in the first thirty days of your account opening to qualify for the introductory APR.
There is no annual fee for the card and also no foreign transaction fee. But you will have to be a member of the Navy Federal Credit Union to apply. Membership is open to service members in all branches of the military, both active and retired as well as individual people who are associated with the military or Department of Defense, including family members.
Capital One QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the best credit cards on the military’s market.
First off, this card gives you 1.5% unlimited cashback on any purchase that you make. And if you pay your bill on time for five months in a row, then Capital One will go ahead and increase your credit limit. This is helpful for someone who plans on traveling and needs more credit, especially during active duty.
There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. And the annual fee is waived for members who have served. If you’re an active duty member, your interest rate is capped at 6%.
Another big perk of this credit card is that it extends the benefits of SCRA beyond just members of the military. For example, Capital One will give the same benefits to an active duty member through SCRA to someone who is in the National Guard.
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi Double Cash Card is a fantastic credit card for people who are looking for some serious cashback. That’s because this card works a bit differently than other cashback cards.
First off, you’ll earn 1% cashback when you make purchases. Then, you’ll receive another 1% when you pay your bill in full. Essentially, if you pay your bill in full, you’ll be getting 2% cashback then.
Members of the military also get 0% interest and all service fees on the account are waived. Members also don’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees.
Citi’s Double Cash Card is also great because it offers fair rates on balance transfers.
How to Make the Most of Credit Cards for Military Members
There are several tips that you should know about to take full advantage of your credit card when you’re a member of the military. First off, you should apply for SCRA benefits.
The SCRA caps the interest rate that eligible active-duty service members can be charged in terms of their credit card debt that was built up before they started their service. This cap is set at 6%.
There is an exception worth knowing, however. A creditor can ask a court to determine whether your ability to pay a higher interest rate isn’t “materially affected” by your military service.
If you aren’t affected by this exception, then you should only have to pay 6% interest on credit card debt that you already had before you began your military service.
You also want to consider your needs.
If you are a frequent traveler, you might want to choose a credit card that provides travel benefits like credits for hotel or airline purchases. If you’re working to lower the balance on a high-interest-rate credit card, you should consider getting a credit card with an intro APR offer on balance transfer.
You can also maximize your spending on the military base with certain credit cards that can reward you with cashback.
Lastly, you want to contact your card issuer. Even if you’re not looking for a new card, you should check with your current credit card issuers and see if they give any special perks to members of the military.
Some credit card issuers go above and beyond. They’ll waive annual fees to eligible service members and offer lower rates.
The Importance of Knowing About the Best Credit Cards for Veterans
As we can see, there are many good options out there when it comes to choosing credit cards for veterans. That’s why it’s so important to know specifically what you want out of your credit card and what that card offers. Hopefully, after reading the above article, you have a better understanding of how these credit cards work and which ones will be best for you.
Are you looking for more helpful articles about all things credit cards? If so, check out our Credit Cards page for more!