USAA Rewards American Express® Card Credit Card Review

by | Mar 23, 2020

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The USAA Rewards American Express® Card offers an impressive 3 points for every $1 spent on dining out, and 2 points for every $1 spent on gas and groceries, which is a great combination for families. Coupled with the 4% APR for qualifying military members during deployment or PCS, this card is a solid option for those who serve. On the downside, the high end of the APR range is a pricey 28.15%, and you can’t apply for this card unless you’re a member of USAA, which is exclusive to service members and their eligible family members. 

Best for: Service members who spend a lot on dining out, gasoline and groceries.

Rewards: Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on dining out, 2 points on every $1 spent on gas and groceries, and 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere. 

Other perks: Qualifying service members get a 4% APR on balances for 12 months while they’re deployed or when they permanently change duty stations. Plus, the card comes packed with perks such as travel insurance and shopping protections. 

Annual fee: $0

Other fees: A balance transfer fee of 3% (maximum $200); cash advance fee of 3% (maximum $200) that’s waived if you transfer funds electronically from your USAA credit card to your USAA bank deposit account; late-payment fee up to $35; returned-payment fee up to $35; no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR.

Bonus: 2,500 points when you make your first purchase

How this card might bring joy to your wallet

The unlimited rewards potential on this card is enticing: Cardholders get 3 points for every $1 spent on dining out, 2 points on every $1 spent on gas and groceries, and 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Those points can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, gift cards, travel or donations to a military affiliate group. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for airline tickets or for cash through the mobile app, but the value varies when you redeem for other rewards.

There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and there’s no penalty interest rate that applies if you accidentally miss a payment. So long as you pay off the balance each month, you won’t pay a penny to enjoy the card’s perks and rewards. 

The minimum APR is already on the low side (starts at a variable 12.15%), but you could get an ultra-low 4% APR if you’re on active duty or deployed while your account is in good standing. Purchases you make before and after active duty may be covered. It’s a nice draw that can help you save on interest costs while you serve, and it even beats the 6% APR provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 

Plus, this card offers a ton of perks. To use them, you’ll typically have to charge the original purchase to your USAA Rewards American Express® Card or pay with points from the card. The perks include:

  • Rental car insurance: Get secondary car insurance on rentals for up to 31 days. 
  • Identity theft resolution services: If your identity is stolen, a specialist will work on your behalf to handle details such as preparing documents, pulling credit reports, canceling accounts and communicating with the consumer reporting agencies. 
  • Identity fraud expense reimbursement: You may be reimbursed up to $1,000 for costs associated with identity theft (limited to one per year).
  • Price protection: If you make a purchase and find it at a lower price within 120 days, you may get up to $250 reimbursed for the price difference per claim, for a maximum of four times a year.
  • Extended Warranty: When you purchase items with a manufacturer’s or store brand warranty, this benefit lets you double that warranty for a maximum of 24 months. 
  • Concierge services: Knowledgeable experts can help with on-site household tasks (such as taking delivery of packages when you’re not home), make special dining reservations and plan trips for you. Plus, these experts can track your preferences to give you tailored advice.
  • Travel assistance services: Receive medical and legal service referrals plus road assistance, language translation, and emergency money transfers.
  • Worldwide travel accident insurance: You may receive coverage for accidental death or dismemberment while traveling, up to a maximum of $500,000.
  • Worldwide baggage delay insurance If your bags are delayed four or more hours while traveling, you could be reimbursed for emergency purchases, up to $100 per day for three days. 
  • Worldwide cancellation/interruption insurance: If an airline or train reservation is canceled or a trip is cut short due to covered situations, you may be reimbursed up to $1,500.

How this card might not bring joy to your wallet

The maximum APR on this card is steep (see terms), depending on your creditworthiness. And although cardholders get a sign-up bonus, it’s on the mediocre side, at 2,500 points when you make your first purchase. 

But aside from the potentially expensive APR and second-rate sign-up bonus, you won’t be able to enjoy this card’s benefits unless you’re a USAA member. That includes active and former service members and their eligible family members, cadets, and midshipmen. If you lack ties to the armed services, you’ll need to shop around for a card with a different issuer. 

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