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Are you on active duty, or will you be soon? If so, you may be able to use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to get valuable credit card rewards and benefits at very low cost (in many cases for free).
By Brendan Harkness
By Brendan Harkness
Though we’ve compiled the credit cards on this page with servicepeople in mind, most (but not all) of the picks you’ll find here are everyday consumer credit cards available to cardholders far and wide.
As an SCRA-eligible military servicemember, however, you may be able to get them with improved terms and waived fees, often giving you a lot more bang for your buck.
That’s why it’s important to confirm whether you’re eligible for SCRA benefits. We’ve outlined SCRA eligibility requirements at the bottom of the page, so take a look before applying for anything new.
If you qualify, examine your options carefully to find a card that will help you earn rewards without changing up your spending habits. Think about where and how you shop, and find cards that will reward you for the things you (or your family) already purchase on a regular basis.
Dig into the benefits each card offers, too. Many credit cards provide features beyond their rewards programs that can amplify their value considerably. And these perks become even more appealing if you qualify for SCRA benefits and can get them all for free.
Premium credit cards, which usually have annual fees around $500 (give or take), naturally come with the best perks on the market, like airport lounge access, airline statement credits, and elite hotel statuses. These can deliver hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in value. Other benefits, like travel insurance, are just icing on the cake.
This list touches on several types of cards — from flat-rate cash back to premium hotel rewards and beyond — and you’ll likely find an appealing offer whether you’re working on repairing poor credit or reveling in your excellent scores.
The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
SCRA benefits are legally required for eligible servicemembers for every credit card, no matter the issuer. If you’re on or will be going on active duty, you can use these benefits to get an exceptionally good deal on certain cards.
Active-duty servicemembers of several kinds are able to get reduced interest rates on credit cards and other loans. These benefits apply only to active-duty military servicemembers, to avoid punishing you with high interest and fees while serving your country.
The main benefits of the SCRA that relate to credit cards are:
And a few more things to know:
So, for example, if you had debt with an interest rate of 20% when you began active duty, that previous balance would get a new APR of 6%. But any new purchases you make after beginning active duty would be subject to the regular 20% rate.
You can make even better use of your SCRA benefits by adding authorized users to your card account. Authorized users will share the same SCRA benefits you get, which could mean having annual fees waived, depending on the issuer. That means you can get an extra copy of your Amex Platinum Card for your spouse totally for free, for example (or any other Amex card for that matter).
Take note that full-time National Guard duty is not considered to be active duty under the SCRA.
SCRA eligibility will begin on the date that active duty begins. It will end when the period of active duty ends, although some card issuers may choose to extend their SCRA benefits longer than that.
There are quite a few other SCRA financial benefits that aren’t related to credit cards. If you’re eligible, consider taking advantage of these if possible. And if you’re a veteran, learn more about the financial opportunities that may be available to you.
All credit card issuers must abide by the basic terms of the SCRA. But some credit card companies go above and beyond those requirements to provide even better terms to their eligible cardholders.
The following table shows the SCRA benefits that each issuer will apply to eligible accounts. In some cases you’ll see that the issuer only provides the basic SCRA terms, while others will go further by waiving annual fees or other fees, or providing interest rates even lower than 6%.
Take note: American Express has told us that it’s “very likely” that the annual fees of its cards will be waived, but they can’t guarantee that this will occur (they might just be cagey for legal purposes). We recommend submitting an SCRA request to see if they’ll grant this benefit, as some Amex cards would be very lucrative without the annual fees. If you’re worried that you won’t get a fee waiver, go with a different issuer instead.
Remember that credit card issuers will usually only apply these benefits to accounts opened and balances accrued before active duty begins.
|Issuer||Interest Rates||Fees Waived||How to Apply for SCRA Benefits|
|American Express||6% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|Bank of America||6% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|Barclays||0% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|Capital One||4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|Chase||4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|Citi||0% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
|USAA||4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins||
Looking for other rewarding cards to use with your military benefits? Check out our picks for the Best Reward Credit Cards.
If you’re on active duty in the military, certain credit card issuers may waive annual fees and lower the APRs on their cards. This means you may be able to take advantage of high-end premium credit cards without paying the high costs usually associated with them.
The most lucrative credit card offers tend be travel rewards cards, like:
But, keep in mind that in most cases these benefits only apply to credit card accounts opened before active duty begins.
Active-duty military personnel may be eligible for SCRA credit card benefits, which include a cap of 6% on interest rates (the SCRA only applies to accounts opened and balances accrued before entering active duty).
But some card issuers will go even further, like reducing APRs to 0% and waiving some or all card fees (including annual fees!).
American Express cards, for example, will waive annual fees and late fees; Capital One and Chase cards will waive all fees; and Citi cards will waive all fees and reduce APRs to 0% for balances accrued before active duty began.
The SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) is a legal mandate that requires all credit card issuers to extend certain relief measures to eligible active-duty military personnel. These measures only apply to credit card accounts that were opened before active duty began (the same goes for credit card balances; they must be there before active duty begins to qualify).
The two main SCRA benefits that apply to credit cards are:
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.
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