Best Military Credit Cards: 2018

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness

Updated Jul 11, 2018

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Are you on active duty, or will you be soon? If so, you can use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to get valuable credit card rewards and benefits at a very low cost (in many cases for free).

Most of these cards were picked assuming you will use the SCRA to get better terms, like having the annual fee waived (this is only offered by some issuers). If you won’t be going on active duty, check out USAA’s line of credit cards, specifically designed for members of the military and their families.

Credit Card Insider’s Top Military Credit Card Picks

Best for Card
Gas USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card (Review)
Groceries Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express® (Review)
General cash back Citi Double Cash Card (Review)
Premium travel rewards credit card Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review)
Premium travel rewards charge card Platinum Card® from American Express (Review)
Airline rewards Various high-end cards
Hotel rewards Various high-end cards
Balance transfers Citi Diamond Preferred Card (Review)
Fair credit Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card (Review)
Bad credit Discover it® Secured Credit Card (Review)

The Best Military Credit Cards of 2018

Most of the credit cards mentioned on this page aren’t designed specifically for members of the military and other servicemembers. Instead, they’re great cards to use in combination with the benefits you get from the SCRA.

You’ll find some expensive cards from American Express, Chase, and Citi in the list below, but don’t worry. All of these issuers will waive the annual fee for any eligible cards, making them incredible deals if you can get them.

Remember that when your period of active duty ends you’ll have to start paying fees again, including annual fees. You may want to close out the card at this time. We don’t usually recommend closing credit cards, but if you’re going to pay an annual fee for a card you won’t use enough, this is a good situation to close the account.

Best for Gas

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card
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USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.65–27.65% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn $150 bonus after you make $500 in qualifying purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined
  • Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card (Review) is one of the few credit cards that provide 5% cash back for gas all year round. Some others, like the Discover it® (Review) or Chase Freedom (Review), offer 5% back but only during a few months of the year.

Rewards

  • 5% cash back for the first $3,000 spent each year on:
    • gasoline
    • military base purchases, which include commissaries, exchanges, and shops on base
  • 2% cash back at supermarkets for the first $3,000 spent each year
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

So you’ll only get the 5% back for the first $3,000 you spend in those categories each year. That’s a maximum of $150. If you know you’ll be spending much more than that every year, you may want to pair this card with either of the cards mentioned above, or the next one on our list.

Other Key Features

  • Special 4% SCRA rate for balances that exist before entering active duty, and this lasts until one year after active duty is completed
  • USAA provides a 4% APR on all balances for 12 months during deployment or permanent change of station (PCS)
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Basic shopping and travel protections
  • Free monitoring of your VantageScore based on your Experian credit report

Read more in our Review of the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

Best for Groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express®
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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%–25.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Get $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the cash back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 14.24% to 25.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (Review) is currently the best card for buying groceries. It has a generous cash back rewards program, and usually comes at a $95 annual fee. But American Express will waive that fee as part of their SCRA benefits, making this card even better.

Rewards

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% cash back)
  • 3% cash back at
    • U.S. gas stations
    • select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back for all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: $200 cash back for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

6% is a very good rate to get for grocery purchases, compared to other cards. And with no annual fee to pay, the cash back you earn will be all profit.

Other Key Features

  • $95 annual fee will be waived as part of the SCRA benefits
  • Certain other fees are waived for SCRA-eligible cards as well, like late and returned payment fees
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months for both purchases and balance transfers
  • Access to Amex Offers for more cash back deals at specific retailers
  • Basic shopping and travel protections
  • Foreign transactions have a 2.7% fee

Read more in our Review of the Blue Cash Everyday® and Blue Cash Preferred Cards from American Express

Best for General Cash Back

Citi® Double Cash Card
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Citi® Double Cash Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.99%–24.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • The only card that earns you cash back twice on every purchase with: unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases*
  • $100 cash bonus for spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.99%–24.99%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • No Category Restrictions, No Caps, No Enrollments in Rotating Categories
  • No Annual Fee

If you want a way to earn decent cash back on every purchase, without worrying about bonus reward categories, the Citi Double Cash Card (Review) should be on your radar.

Rewards

  • 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit
    • 1% cash back when you make purchases
    • another 1% cash back when you pay those purchases off
  • Signup bonus: $100 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening

That’s all there is to it. The Double Cash is an easy way to earn 2% back for everything you buy, rather than being more rewarding for certain purchases.

This makes it a good option to pair with a card that does have some bonus reward categories, like some of the others on this list. You’ll be able to earn more rewards in the bonus categories, while using the Double Cash to get 2% back on everything else.

Other Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers, making it good for paying off a balance from another card
  • Special SCRA rate of 0% for balances that exist before entering active duty (extending that 0% intro rate until you end active duty)
  • Other special SCRA benefits include no fees of any kind (foreign transaction fees, late and returned payment fees, etc.)
  • Basic shopping and travel protections

Read more in our Review of the Citi Double Cash Card — 18 Month BT Offer

Best Premium Travel Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
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Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–24.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 3X points on travel and dining worldwide
  • 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
  • 1:1 point transfer to airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • $300 annual credit for travel expenses
  • $100 Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application credit
  • Visa Infinite Concierge
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection
  • Travel and Shopping protections
  • $450 annual fee
  • 17.24–24.24% APR Variable

The information for Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review) is a high-end travel credit card, normally designed only for frequent travelers. But Chase will waive the annual fee of any card eligible for SCRA benefits, in this case a $450 fee. So this card could be quite valuable even if you don’t travel very much.

Rewards

  • 3X points per dollar on travel (airfare, hotels, car rentals, taxis, etc.)
  • 3X points per dollar on dining
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • 50% point bonus when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

This card is all about travel spending. And you’ll need to redeem your points for travel expenses too, if you want to get the best value for them.

When redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards you’ll get a 50% bonus, so your points will be worth 1.5 cents each. That means you’ll be getting the equivalent of 4.5% cash back when spending on travel and redeeming in that way.

You’ll also be able to transfer your points to several airline and hotel travel partners. You could find a better deal through one of them, and we’ve seen transfers that could provide the equivalent of about 6% cash back.

That signup bonus of 50,000 points will be worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you can’t redeem for travel expenses, your points will be worth less.

Other Key Features

  • Chase will waive all fees as part of their SCRA benefits, including the $450 annual fee, foreign transaction fees, late fees, etc.
  • Special SCRA rate of 4% for balances that exist before entering active duty
  • $300 annual credit to cover travel expenses of any kind, including airline tickets and hotel rooms
  • Complimentary membership in Priority Pass Select, providing access to airport lounges all over the world
  • A fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® membership
  • Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection comes with special services and discounts at participating properties

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Best Premium Travel Charge Card

Platinum Card® from American Express
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Platinum Card® from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.

Another option for a high-end travel card is the Platinum Card from American Express (Review). It has a $550 annual fee, but you won’t need to worry about that because American Express will waive annual fees as part of their SCRA benefits.

Unlike the Chase Sapphire Reserve above, the Platinum card is a charge card. That means you’ll need to pay off the balance in full each month, instead of having an option to carry it over at an interest rate. So take care not to charge more to the card than you’ll be able to pay off by the billing due date.

Rewards

  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible hotels booked with the American Express Travel portal
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup Bonus: 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

This card is focused mainly around spending through the American Express Travel service, although flights booked directly through airlines are included too.

That makes it a bit more restricted than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which isn’t limited to a single travel service. But this card provides more rewards on average, with a cash back equivalent of 5% when earning at the 5X rate and redeeming in certain ways. That’s what you can get when redeeming for flights, which will provide the best regular value for your points.

You can also find even better deals than that through point transfers, where we’ve seen the equivalent of over 7% cash back for certain transfers.

Other Key Features

  • American Express will waive the $550 annual fee as part of their SCRA benefits
  • Certain other fees are waived for SCRA-eligible cards as well, like late and returned payment fees
  • $200 annual airline fee credit (only good for incidentals, not ticket purchases)
  • $200 in Uber statement credits each year ($15 per month, except December which is $35)
  • The Global Lounge Collection, which includes airport lounges like The Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club, and Priority Pass Select
  • Gold membership status with both Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors
  • A fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ membership
  • Discounts and complimentary services at participating hotels through the Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection

Read more in our Review of the Platinum Card from American Express: Is it worth the $550 annual fee?

Best for Airline Rewards

There are many different cards that are co-branded with certain airlines. Most of these cards are issued by American Express, Chase, and Citi.

Luckily for you, all three of these issuers will waive the annual fees of cards that are eligible for SCRA benefits. So nearly the entire market of airline cards will have their annual fees waived, along with certain other fees depending on the issuer.

The right card for you will depend on which airline you spend the most time and money with. Check out our picks for the best airline credit cards and you’ll probably find a match. If you don’t fly often you could probably get more value out of a different type of card.

Let’s take a closer look at one airline card. The United MileagePlus® Club Card (Review) from Chase has a $450 annual fee, but if you’re getting it waived you might as well go big.

United MileagePlus Club Card
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United MileagePlus Club Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Miles never expire

The information for United MileagePlus Club Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Rewards

  • 2X miles per dollar spent on United Airlines ticket purchases
  • 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

A typical redemption value would be about 1.5 cents per mile. That means you’ll be earning the equivalent of about 3% cash back when spending with United, and about 2.25% cash back on all other purchases.

That might not seem like a whole lot for an expensive card like this, but the real value of many airline cards comes from their extra benefits.

Other Key Features

  • Chase will waive the $450 annual fee as part of their SCRA benefits, as well as all other fees
  • Special SCRA rate of 4% for balances that exist before entering active duty
  • Complimentary United Club airport lounge membership, providing access for you and your eligible traveling companions
  • Complimentary World of Hyatt: Discoverist Status, which comes with rewards and services at Hyatt hotel and resort properties
  • The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection, which comes with complimentary services and discounts at participating properties
  • Premier Access travel services, including expedited processing at airports and priority check-in at hotels
  • Free first and second checked bags for every United trip
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets

Read more in our Review of the United MileagePlus Club Card.

Best for Hotel Rewards

Just like with airline cards, many hotel credit cards are issued by American Express, Chase, and Citi. These issuers all waive the annual fees for cards that are eligible for SCRA benefits, making them good picks if you stay at hotels often.

The right hotel card for you will depend on where you like to stay. If you prefer Hilton, there’s a card for that. If you like Starwood Preferred Guest, Ritz-Carlton, or Hyatt, there are co-branded cards for them too. See our picks for the best hotel credit cards to find the right card for any particular hotel brand.

One option you might like would be the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card. Its $450 annual fee will be waived by Amex, so you can use its rewards and benefits for free under the SCRA (as long as you avoid interest charges).

Hilton Honors Aspire Card
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Hilton Honors Aspire Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 16.99%–25.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 14X Bonus Points per dollar at participating Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts
  • A minimum of 15X additional Base Points per dollar at Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts
  • 7X Bonus Points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines, select car rentals
  • 3X Bonus Points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • 100,000 Bonus Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and other benefits
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $450 annual fee
  • 16.99%–25.99% Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers

Rewards

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio
    • plus an additional 15X Base Points per dollar
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel
    • Car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
    • U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 Bonus Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership

This card is very rewarding, offering plenty of Hilton Honors points when you spend with Hilton. You’ll get those additional 15X Base Points because this card comes with automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status, which is the highest possible elite membership tier.

That means when you spend with Hilton you’ll be able to earn the equivalent of 10%–15% cash back, depending on how you redeem those points. This is an excellent value, especially considering that you won’t have an annual fee to pay.

That’s a lot of cash back, but you’ll also get benefits and statement credits that can be worth hundreds of dollars every year.

Other Key Features

  • American Express will waive the $450 annual fee as part of their SCRA benefits
  • Certain other fees are waived for SCRA-eligible cards as well, like late and returned payment fees
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond membership status, which includes a point bonus and other perks
  • Unlimited Priority Pass Select airport lounge access, for you and up to 2 guests
  • $100 Hilton on-property credit, good for every eligible stay of 2 nights or more
  • $250 annual Hilton resort credit
  • $250 annual airline fee credit (only good for incidentals, not ticket purchases)
  • A free weekend night every year, and a second free night after spending $60,000 in a given year

Best for Balance Transfers

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
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Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%–24.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Get a 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 21 months. After that, the APR will be 14.24%–24.24% Variable based upon your creditworthiness.*
  • Get a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Citi® Easy DealsSM Get what you want for less. Earn Citi Easy Deals Points for the purchases you make with your card.
  • Redeem your points for great online deals on name-brand merchandise, gift cards and even local deals.
  • Let our 24/7 concierge service help book your hotel rooms, flights and more.
  • $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • No annual fee*

If you’re carrying a large balance at a high interest rate, you may be able to transfer that balance to a card with a 0% interest rate. That will give you time to pay it off without accruing extra interest as you go, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) currently has the best offer you’ll find, at 0% APR for 21 months for balance transfers. There’s also a fee of 3% for transfers normally. That gives you almost two years to pay off a balance at no interest.

Citi provides a 0% APR for existing balances as part of their SCRA benefits. This means you’ll get that 0% rate for as long as you qualify for the SCRA. That could give you quite a long time to pay off a balance. Citi also waives all fees associated with their cards, including that transfer fee.

However, the special SCRA 0% rate will only apply to balances that exist before you enter active duty. So if you transfer a balance after entering active duty it will be subject to the regular APR, even though you’ll get the fee waived.

There are also some cards with no balance transfer fees as part of their normal terms, although they have shorter 0% periods:

  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card (Review): No transfer fees ever, 0% intro APR for 15 months for purchases and balance transfers, 2X points at supermarkets with a 20% bonus for increased usage
  • BankAmericard® Credit Card: No transfer fee for the first 60 days, 0% intro APR for 15 months for purchases and balance transfers
  • Chase Slate® (Review): Some applicants will get an offer without a transfer fee, 0% intro APR for 15 months for purchases and balance transfers

The Diamond Preferred also offers 12 months at 0% APR for purchases, but it provides no rewards for purchases. So if you’re looking for a card with a 0% rate to make purchases with you should check out some other options that will let you earn rewards as well.

That’s about all there is to this card, especially if you just want it for balance transfers. After transferring a balance, you should aim to pay it off by the time your 0% intro rate ends. An easy way to do this is to divide your balance by the number of months you have to pay it. That will tell you how much you to pay each month to pay it all off in time.

Other Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • Special SCRA rate of 0% for balances that exist before entering active duty
  • Other special SCRA benefits include no fees of any kind (foreign transaction fees, late fees, returned payment fees, etc.)
  • Basic shopping and travel protections

Read more in our Review of the Citi Diamond Preferred Card

Best for Fair Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 19.99%, 23.99% or 26.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • $39 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR of 19.99%, 23.99% or 26.99% Variable

If you have fair or average credit (a FICO 8 score of about 660–699), you won’t be able to qualify for the most rewarding cards on the market. But you don’t have to go with a secured card either.

Our top pick for people with fair credit is the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Card (Review). It’s advertised as being designed for people with average credit, unlike most cards which don’t tell you who they’re made for.

You can build up your credit over time by using this card responsibly. Eventually, as your credit improves, you’ll be able to get approved for better cards with more rewarding bonus categories.

Rewards

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase

It’s as simple as that. The QuicksilverOne doesn’t have a very strong rewards program, but you should expect this for cards meant for fair or average credit.

Other Key Features

  • $39 annual fee, but Capital One will waive all fees for cards eligible for SCRA benefits
  • Special SCRA rate of 4% for balances that exist before entering active duty
  • Access a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time
  • Use the CreditWise® tool to monitor your TransUnion credit report, and your VantageScore 3.0 based on that report

Read more in our Review of the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card

Best for Bad Credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Apply Now

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 24.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and on gas - up to $1,000 per quarter.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

With bad or limited credit (a FICO 8 score of less than about 660), you’ll have a hard time being approved for most credit cards. But some cards are designed for bad credit, including secured credit cards. A secured card requires a refundable security deposit when you’re approved, which will fund the credit limit.

If you’re in this situation, we recommend using the Discover it® Secured Card (Review). While some secured cards seem almost like a punishment for having bad credit, this card stands out for actually having a pretty good rewards program. It’s even better than what you’ll get with the QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards above, which is meant for average credit.

Use this card responsibly. That means paying your bills on time, but we also recommend always paying off your balance in full each month. This will be good for your credit utilization and it will also prevent any interest from accruing on purchases, helping you avoid credit card debt.

Rewards

  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter at:
    • restaurants
    • gas stations
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 5–50% cash back at a variety of retailers through the Discover Deals shopping portal
  • Cashback Match: get double the cash back in your first year

You’ll normally get 2% back for those common purchases, but Discover’s Cashback Match will double all the rewards you earn in your first year. So you’ll be getting 4% cash back in the reward categories and 2% cash back for all other purchases.

That’s an excellent offer to find because most other secured cards don’t offer any rewards at all. Compared to them the Discover it Secured seems very generous, especially considering the Discover Deals portal where you’ll find even more discounts at specific retailers. Any cash back you earn through Discover Deals will be doubled in that first year as well.

Other Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • Requires a security deposit of $200 to $2,500 to fund the credit line
  • Special SCRA rate of 5.9% for balances that exist before entering active duty
  • Late and overlimit fees are also waived for SCRA-eligible cards
  • Basic shopping and travel protections

Read more in our Review of the Discover it Secured Card

Is A Military Credit Card Right For You?

Servicemembers have two opportunities to take advantage of when it comes to credit cards: SCRA benefits and terms, and USAA membership.

SCRA benefits are legally required for every credit card, no matter the issuer. So you can get better terms on any card while on active duty.

USAA offers a line of credit cards that are specifically designed for servicemembers and their families. These cards generally have pretty good terms and interest rates.

You can jump to USAA membership requirements below. And we’ll keep discussing the SCRA here.

Active-duty servicemembers of several kinds are able to get reduced interest rates on credit cards and other loans under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. These apply only to active-duty 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:

  • A cap of 6% APR for any credit card debts owed before entering active-duty service (debts incurred after beginning active duty are subject to the regular APR)
  • Credit card issuers are barred from reducing credit limits or dropping customers as a result of entering active-duty service

These terms only apply to accounts that were opened before beginning active duty. If you get a credit card while on active duty, these terms will not apply to it.

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 made after beginning active duty would be subject to the regular 20% rate.

Some credit card issuers have also taken it upon themselves to provide extra benefits, like waiving the annual fees on their cards. You can find some extremely valuable deals by getting the annual fee waived on a premium credit card, for example. We’ll show you some of the best of them below. And you can check the bottom of this page for more on the specific benefits offered by each issuer.

Another way to further utilize your SCRA benefits is by adding authorized users to your card account. Authorized users will share the same SCRA benefits you get with your card, which could mean having the annual fee 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 you’ll need to apply for SCRA benefits, you won’t get them automatically. You can also apply to have SCRA benefits retroactively applied to your account, to cover the period when you were on active duty. If you do so, any eligible fees you paid will be reimbursed.

Consider a military credit card if you:

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

If you’re on or will be going on active duty, you can use these SCRA benefits to get an exceptionally good deal on certain credit cards.

SCRA Benefits Eligibility

  • Any member of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) or a reserve component called to active duty (Reserve, National Guard, and Air National Guard).
  • National Guard personnel under a call or order to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days (for purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by federal funds).
  • Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officers.
  • U.S. citizens serving with the forces of a nation with which U.S. is allied in the prosecution of a war or military action.
  • Spouses of active duty servicemembers listed above where credit is extended to a servicemember and spouse jointly.

Take note that full-time National Guard duty is not considered to be active duty.

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 extend the SCRA benefits for 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.

USAA Credit Cards

USAA offers a line of credit cards designed specifically for members of the military, other servicemembers, and their families. As such, they have special terms and benefits favorable to servicemembers.

This could make them better picks if you won’t be going on active duty, depending on why you want a credit card. SCRA benefits will apply to them as well.

USAA membership is free, but only certain people are eligible to join. If you or a member of your immediate family has been a USAA member or in a branch of the military, there’s a good chance you’ll be eligible.

Once you’re a USAA member, you’ll be able to apply for any of their credit cards. You’ll also enjoy access to their other financial services, like banking and insurance.

USAA Membership Eligibility

USAA membership is open to:

  • Active Military: Individuals who are currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, or Navy.
  • Former Military: Those who have retired or separated from the U.S. military with a discharge type of Honorable.
  • Family: Widows, widowers, un-remarried former spouses of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage, and individuals whose parents joined USAA.
  • Cadets and Midshipmen: Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, and officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.

Selection Criteria: What Makes A Great Military Card?

Whether you’re considering a USAA military-specific card or not, look for the following features when you’re shopping around for a credit card.

  • Fits your lifestyle: you want a card that matches your spending and general habits; travel cards are for people who like to travel, etc.
  • More than SCRA benefits: all credit card issuers must abide by the terms of the SCRA, but some companies will provide even better terms
  • No annual fee: some card issuers will waive the annual fee as part of their SCRA benefits, even for very expensive cards
  • Rewards: it’s great to have a card that will provide points or cash back for purchases you make quite often
  • Card perks and benefits: the more extra features to make shopping and traveling easier and cheaper, the better
  • 0% introductory APRs: if you’re looking for a card to pay off purchases over time or for a balance transfer, you’ll want a card with a 0% intro APR
  • No foreign transaction fees: you don’t want pay extra when you use your card while on duty outside the U.S.

Military Benefits by Credit Card Issuer

All credit card issuers must abide by the basic terms of the SCRA. But some issuers 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 other will go further by waiving annual fees or other fees, and providing interest rates even lower than 6%.

Take note that credit card issuers will usually only apply these benefits to accounts opened 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
  • Annual fee
  • Late and returned payment fees
  • ATM fee
  • Statement copy request fee
Bank of America 6% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • None
Barclaycard 0% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • All transaction fees (e.g., foreign transaction fees)
  • Call customer support and ask to apply for SCRA benefits
  • Call the military benefits line: 1-866-918-5212
Capital One 4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • All fees
Chase 4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • All fees
  • Online instructions provided by Chase
  • Call 1-877-469-0110
  • Outside the U.S., call collect 1-318-340-3308
Citi 0% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • All fees
  • Email general inquiries to: [email protected]
  • Call 1-877-804-1082
  • Outside the U.S., call collect 1-605-335-2222
Discover 5.9% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • Late fees
  • Overlimit fees
USAA 4% APR for eligible balances before active duty begins
  • None
Looking for other rewarding cards to use with your military benefits? Check out our picks for the Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards.
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