The Best Gas and Military Credit Card: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

By Christina Majaski. Last updated 12 November 2018. 0 comments

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This is one of the newer rewards credit cards added to the USAA family. While some of the other rewards cards have featured a couple disadvantages such as a tiered program based on spending, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® card has handled these issues, resulting in an improved product. Because of the new and improved features, this card is not only one of the best USAA credit cards available, but one of the best all around rewards cards as well.

Why We Like This Card

  • 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases
  • Exclusive military benefits
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee

How This Card Works

Earn 5% cash back for gas and military base purchases such as those made at commissaries, exchanges, and shoppettes on base, up to a total of $3,000 in purchases per year. You also earn 2% for grocery store purchases up to $3,000 in purchases per year, and 1% cash back for all other purchases. Once you have reached the annual cap, your purchases in those categories earn 1% cash back for the rest of the year. You can earn an unlimited amount of cash back in the 1% category and your rewards do not expire. You'll receive a rebate of your rewards annually in January for the cash back earned in the prior year. There is no annual fee.

Other Benefits

USAA MemberShop. MemberShop is a free shopping portal online where cardmembers can earn extra rewards with popular retailers such as The Home Depot and Macy's. These rewards and savings opportunities are in addition to the rewards earned when you use your card.

Reduced APR. You can qualify for a reduced APR of 4% for up to 12 months during deployment or PCS on all balances and on existing balances when you enter active military duty. Those who participate in a qualified military campaign such as The Global War on Terrorism or Operation New Dawn, can also receive a rebate of all finance charges accrued during the military campaign. USAA membership also includes qualified experts for assisting with military-related questions and for help preparing for, during, and after deployment.

Costs

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 13.90% - 27.90% Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers
  • 3% Balance Transfer Fee (Up to $200 maximum fee)
  • $0 Foreign Transaction Fee

Pros

5% cash back for military base purchases. There are very few cards that award as much as 5% cash back for purchases of any type, except for cards with rotating quarterly categories. Even fewer cards reward extra cash back for purchases made at commissaries, shoppettes, and exchanges, which, for many military members and family who live on base, are their primary stores.

5% gas and 2% grocery stores. Even if you don't frequently shop on base, 5% cash back on gas and 2% on grocery stores purchases are both among the highest cash back rates available for these categories.

No rewards tiers. Unlike the other USAA credit cards, the amount of cash back you earn isn't dependent on how much you spend with your credit card. Regardless of how much you spend per year, you earn 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases, 2% on grocery store purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Military benefits. The most significant perks of USAA credit cards are the military benefits which not only help you save money with opportunities for reimbursement of fees and lower APRs, but when you have questions or concerns, you can work with experts who are familiar with your lifestyle and situation. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel and Families)

No foreign transaction fee. No-annual-fee cash back cards which also do not carry foreign transaction fees are rare. Fortunately, this card is a part of that rare group of credit cards that carry no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, which lets you maximize on your rewards no matter where you shop.

Cons

Annual rebate. You only receive your cash back once per year in January, for the cash back earned the prior year. While other rewards credit cards allow you to redeem when you reach a certain amount, often as low as $10 or $20, you must accumulate your cash back for the entire year before you receive it.

Low limit on bonus categories. The limit on the 5% cash back categories is $3,000 per year, which only allows approximately $250 per month. If your spending in these categories is regularly more than $3,000 per year, you can earn more cash back with a card that offers a higher limit.

Who This Card Is Best For

Of the USAA rewards credit cards, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® offers the best opportunity for earning the most cash back on your purchases. It is best for members of the military and their families, who frequently shop the 5% categories, but not significantly more than $3,000 per year. 

Click here to apply for the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card today!


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