The Best Credit Cards For Military Personnel and Families

By Jason Steele. Last updated 23 April 2020. 4 comments

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The United States demands a lot from our service men and women, and their families have unique needs when it comes to their personal finances. Thankfully, there are financial products specifically designed for their needs.

In addition, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) regulates the terms, fees, and interest rates that credit card issuers are allowed to charge active duty service members. For example, it limits interest rates to a maximum of 6%, and credit card issuers will waive most late fees and annual fees. With this in mind, here are the best credit cards for military families.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card offers 5% cash back on your first $3,000 spent on combined gas and military base purchases each year, 2% cash back on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. To apply for this card, you must first join USAA which is open to all active duty and retired military service members, and their eligible family members. There is no annual fee for this card, and no penalty interest rate, and no foreign transaction fee. 

USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

Rather than a rewards card, the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card offers a low variable APR of 6.90% - 23.90% for purchases and balance transfers. If you know that you'll need to keep a balance on the card, the most important feature of a credit card to use would be the APR.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

PenFed is the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, an organization that was created to offer financial services to members of the military, defense industry employees, and their families. Their PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases if you are a former or current member of the military, or if you have a PenFed Access America checking account. Plus, get a $100 bonus statement credit if you spend $1,500 the first 90 days. It also features no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Guest's picture

I have a friend who has an AMEX Hilton HHonors Platinum, and whose account was treated quite nicely via the awesome AMEX SCRA implementation. Said friend is no longer on AD, but AMEX doesn't know that. If my friend wanted to switch to the straight up AMEX Platinum (not the Hilton branded one), would AMEX reverify military status or not? If the choice is stick with the Hilton branded AMEX and have fees waived or switch to AMEX Platinum and have to pay the $450 annual fee, my friend would rather maintain the status quo. Any insight is appreciated.

Guest's picture
Doug S

Does anyone know how to get the fee waived for the Citi Prestige card? I called Citibank and they told me it can only be done if I got the card prior to entering active duty. Any thoughts?

Guest's picture

Seems to be NO way around it BUT i am very determined to find a way. There is always someone with the authority/power to make decisions that override current policies. I have many others but to me this would be one of the best if not best for active duty.

Guest's picture

Citi will not waive your annual fee if you open their account after joining military. It only applies to people who had Citibank account before joining the military, however AMEX offer waiver no matter what as long as you are Active-duty member.
P.s. Based on my experience :)

Guest's picture

For the Citi Prestige credit card, I am active duty military now but am going reserves in the next 2 years to go to college. Would I have to start paying the annual fee once I am in reserves though it would be the active reserves?