Best Credit Cards for Military: A Closer Look
Platinum Card® from American Express
Military members looking for luxury travel perks and great everyday rewards without having to pay a large annual fee need to look no further than the Platinum Card® from American Express.
The American Express Platinum Card also has an amazing introductory bonus and hundreds of dollars in statement credits available to its card carriers. This impressive metal card brings status to the palm of your hand.
>> More: Best Travel Credit Cards
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card
Service members carrying a balance on their credit card from month to month and looking to save on APR will love this USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card.
This card has a $0 annual fee for everyone, but only USAA members can apply. While this card does not have rewards, it makes up for that by offering the lowest APR of any of USAA’s cards.
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card
The Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card is an excellent choice for military members ready to pay off their credit card debt.
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card charges no balance transfer fees and offers an introductory 12-month 0% APR on balance transfers. This card has no annual fee, and only Navy Federal Credit Union Members may apply.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great pick for military members looking to get the most out of their travel rewards.
This card has an excellent introductory bonus, and the annual fee is waived for active-duty military.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
This is a luxury card with big rewards without the large annual fee for active-duty military members. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is a solid choice for travelers that enjoy the finer things in life.
Carrying the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card means airport lounge access across the globe.
Servicemembers who want to get the most out of this card need to be willing to book most of their dining, hotels, and airfare through the Chase Ultimate Rewards system.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18-month BT offer
Paying off debt just got easier with the Citi® Double Cash Card- 18-month BT offer. This card gives 0% APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers.
With a solid plan, service members can use this 18 month on no interest as a strong start to getting out of debt.
This card has a $0 annual fee for everyone, and cardholders can expect to earn 1% on purchases when they buy and another 1% when they pay.
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is not a card for everyone because it requires an excellent credit score, but those that qualify will enjoy a $0 annual fee and straightforward rewards of 2% cashback for active-duty members.
The is also a generous introductory offer that is $100 for anyone spending $1,500 in the first 90 days.
PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Service members looking for a travel card with big rewards and a $0 annual fee will love the PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature®. This card gives big rewards on travel and 1.5x rewards on everything else.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward rewards card with a $0 annual fee for everyone, but they offer something enticing to active-duty military.
Active-duty military that qualifies for SCRA Benefits can ask Capital One to lower their APR.
Capital One lowers it to no more than 4%, which is lower than what is required by law, making them a very Mil-friendly brand.
>> More: Best Rewards Credit Cards
American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card brings status to everyday spending. The AMEX Gold card has tiered rewards that are highest for things households spend on the most.
AMEX Gold Cardholders can expect to get the highest rewards on dining and groceries, with rotating statement credits.
Military members can get all this and travel benefits when booked through AMEX Travel without the hefty annual fee making the AMEX Gold Card an excellent choice for service members looking to get the most value from their everyday spending.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The annual fee on this card is waived for active-duty service members making this everyday spending card a top pick for military members looking to rack up points for spending they’d be doing anyway.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card awards 3x the points on dining, streaming, and groceries and 5x the points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
How Do Military Credit Cards Work?
Some credit cards do a huge advertising push to attract military personnel, and some offer benefits like capped interest rates, waived annual fees, and increased rewards when asked.
Military personnel should be prepared to provide proof of active-duty status to the credit card company to receive the full benefits.
Those on active duty who think they are not getting the most out of their card should certainly check in with the issuer and see what deals are available for the military through good faith efforts or SCRA Federal mandates.
Is Applying for a Military Credit Card Worth It?
Do you like freebies? Do you like reduced APR? Do you like bonuses? If the answer to any of these is yes, then applying for a military credit card is worth it.
A little leg work is expected on the front end to ensure the credit card company has proof of your eligibility, but the benefits certainly outweigh the tasks.
>> More: How to Apply for a Credit Card and Get Approved
Who Is Eligible for Military Credit Cards?
There is a distinction between who is available for military credit cards and who is available for military relief based on SCRA provisions.
As a general rule, active-duty service members, activated reservists, and activated National Guard members are all eligible as well as their dependents.
How to Choose the Best Military Credit Card
#1. Review SCRA Benefits
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is designed to offer financial relief to servicemembers and their families that have been impacted by the servicemember’s active-duty requirements.
SCRA Benefits for credit cards ensures that no active-duty servicemember is paying more than 6% interest on any loan or credit card regardless of when the servicemember took out the loan.
The interest rate cap applies to all debts and remains throughout the servicemember’s time on active duty. Most companies will request proof of active-duty status in writing.
#2. Compare Signup Bonuses
Signup bonuses are not exactly free money, but they can be rewards received for money you would spend anyway.
To get the most out of your military credit card, be sure to compare signup bonuses to get the best one for you.
Some signup bonuses may be more lucrative than others, but if they’re not something you want or need, keep looking.
#3. Understand and Consider Your Needs
Every card is not for everyone. If you are not a big traveler, then a card with amazing travel benefits might not be for you, no matter how great the benefits look on paper.
There are enough cards out there that give additional benefits that servicemembers can find a good fit.
Looking at spending patterns and in what categories is a great thing to know before searching for the perfect card.
#4. Family Capabilities
Some military members use their credit cards for everything from grocery spending to vacations to $1.07 for a Snickers at the gas station.
Some military members use their credit cards just for those expenses they need a little more time to pay on or some hybrid of the two.
Whichever category servicemembers fall into, they need to remember that a credit card is still a debt, and they should proceed responsibly based on their capabilities for repayment.
Getting amazing rewards out of a card is not worth it if service members will still be paying on the card when they’re 95.
#5. Travel Friendly
Travel perks are certainly a win for servicemembers who travel for work and leisure because their duty station takes them far away from home or they want to see the world.
The great news is that there are cards out there that offer both travel perks and rewards on things servicemembers buy the most.
Can A Military Spouse Get the Credit Card Fees Waived?
It is not an absolute fact that credit card companies will waive fees for military spouses, but many companies do waive fees for military spouses and domestic partners when the credit is jointly filed.
Which Credit Cards Waive the Annual Fee for Military Personnel?
Chase, Citi, Capital One, and American Express are some of the more popular brands that waive annual fees for Military Personnel.
Some brands are particular about when the account was opened and encourage servicemembers to give them a quick call to discuss benefits.
Does Chase Waive the Fee for Active-Duty Military?
Chase does waive their annual fees for active-duty military personnel with proof of active-duty status. This applies to all of Chase’s credit cards, even their premium cards.
Does American Express Waive the Annual Fees for Active-Duty Military?
American Express is a brand that backs the military, and they put their money where their mouth is on annual fees.
American Express waives annual fees for the active-duty military on all of their cards, even their most prestigious Platinum and Gold cards.
Can Military Reserve Personnel Apply for a Military Credit Card?
Military Reserve personnel called to active duty on Title 10 or Title 32 orders may apply for benefits under the SCRA provisions.
What Is the Maximum Interest Rate on Credit Cards for Active-Duty Military?
SCRA provisions cap interest rates for active-duty military personnel at 6% regardless of the company’s standard interest rate.
Bottom Line: Best Credit Cards for Military
Which credit card is best for servicemembers depends a lot on their needs and what benefits they’d like to receive most.
The great news is that there are tons of credit cards to choose between SCRA Benefits and patriotic credit card companies, and it’s up to the servicemember to pick the best one for them.
To select the best military credit cards we reviewed each cards rewards potential, exclusive military member cardholder benefits, annual fees, and credit score requirements. These factors are key for active-duty military members and eligible veterans to understand before choosing a military credit card. Read our editorial guidelines and rating methodology for credit cards to learn more about our thorough review process and integrity.