USAA Cash Rewards American Express Credit Card Review

By Kris Majaski. Last updated 7 January 2021. 0 comments

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The USAA Cash Rewards® American Express® Card includes all the benefits USAA provides for military personnel, plus allows you to earn over 2% cash back on some of your purchases. However, its tiered system is complicated, and your cash back rate is dependent on how much you spend. 

How This Card Works

The USAA Cash Rewards American Express Card offers a tiered cash rewards program:

  • Get 0.45% on your first $5,000 of Qualifying Purchases
  • Get 0.85% on your next $5,000 of Qualifying Purchases
  • Get 1% on the next $17,000 of Qualifying Purchases
  • Get 1.25% on all Qualifying Purchases after $17,000.

No matter where you fall in the tier, you’ll get an additional 1% for the gas and grocery store purchases.

If you spend over $17,000 a year, that means you’ll get 2.25% cash rewards for gas and grocery store purchases. Cash back is awarded annually in January and is based on your net purchases in the previous year. You can earn an unlimited amount of cash rewards, which do not expire. 

Other Benefits

USAA MemberShop. USAA offers a free online shopping portal called MemberShop, which includes popular retailers such as Macy’s and The Home Depot. When you shop with your card through MemberShop, you can earn additional rewards and savings with your purchases.

Extended warranty. Purchases made with the card receive an extension on the manufacturer or U.S. store brand warranty for up to one year.

Military benefits. USAA experts can not only help you before and after deployment, but many products include various military benefits such as the opportunity to qualify for a rebate on finance charges accrued during service in a qualified military campaign.

Travel benefits. The card also comes with concierge services, collision waiver coverage for rental vehicles, and travel accident insurance for you and your family.


No foreign transaction fee. Foreign transaction fees can be as much as 3% of each foreign purchase, which can become costly if you frequently travel abroad. For military personnel and family members who may be deployed overseas, it's important to carry a credit card that doesn't charge this fee.

Benefits for military personnel. One of the most valuable advantages of USAA credit cards is the extra benefits designed specifically for those who are in the military. USAA is one of the financial institutions which provide products, especially for military service members. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel)


Annual rebate. Most rewards cards allow you to redeem your rewards or cash back at any time during the year (provided you meet the minimum amount). Receiving your rewards only once a year can be inconvenient.

Low rate of rewards. Depending on your spending for the year, you could end up earning as little as 0.45% cash back. Other cash rewards credit cards award at least 1% cash back, with opportunities to earn more in special bonus categories. If you spend less than $5,000 per year with your card, you can double the cash rewards you earn with almost every other cash rewards credit card on the market. 

Who This Card Is Best For

The USAA Cash Rewards® American Express® Credit Card is best for military personnel whose card purchases average, ideally, over $17,000 per year in order to earn the most cash back from the card. The card is also best if you don’t mind accumulating your cash back throughout the year, and especially if most of your card spending falls within the grocery store and gas categories.

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