Review of the USAA Classic American Express® and Visa Platinum®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Feb 17, 2016 | Updated Sep 21, 2016

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USAA offers two versions of a very basic credit card: the USAA Classic American Express® and the USAA Classic Visa Platinum®.

USAA cards are only available to members of the military, active or honorably discharged, as well as certain members of their family. Click here for details on USAA eligibility.

These cards are designed for people with fair or average credit, with a FICO Score of around 675. As you use your card responsibly and improve your credit, USAA will periodically consider you for an upgrade to a premium credit card.

These cards are very similar, with the same interest rates and fees, but there is a bit of a difference when it comes to their extra benefits. Read on to learn if one of these cards might be a good choice to help you build up your credit.

USAA Classic American Express®
Apply Now

USAA Classic American Express®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 18.15%-24.15% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • USAA Eligibility Requirement: Today, USAA membership is only open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have received a discharge type of Honorable, and their eligible family members.
  • This credit card is best for members with average credit.
  • Make consistent, on-time payments and you could improve your credit rating — sometimes in as little as 12 months.
  • USAA will periodically consider you for an automatic upgrade to a premium credit card based on improved credit and your account history.
  • Special rates are available for military members during deployment or PCS. See terms for additional information.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.
USAA Classic Visa Platinum®
Apply Now

USAA Classic Visa Platinum®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 18.15%-24.15% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • USAA Eligibility Requirement: Today, USAA membership is only open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have received an discharge type of Honorable, and their eligible family members.
  • This credit card is best for members with average credit.
  • Make consistent, on-time payments and you could improve your credit rating — sometimes in as little as 12 months.
  • USAA will periodically consider you for an automatic upgrade to a premium credit card based on improved credit and your account history.
  • Special rates are available for military members during deployment or PCS. See terms for additional information.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.

The Rewards

Neither of these cards offer rewards, like points or cash back. Instead, they’re meant to help build up your credit as you use them responsibly. In time, as your credit improves, you’ll be able to qualify for a credit card with rewards.

The Benefits

These cards share almost the same set of benefits. You won’t find the Concierge Service on the Visa card, however, and you won’t find the Satisfaction Guarantee on the American Express card.

In some cases the benefit will be serviced by the card’s particular network (American Express or Visa) and in those cases the details may differ slightly. Check your Guide to Benefits to learn exactly what your card offers.

Perks

  • Concierge Service

    Call to get personal help with all sorts of tasks, like travel planning, making restaurant reservations, finding hard-to-find items, and finding convenient services nearby, wherever you may happen to be. (Amex only)

Military Benefits

You may or may not qualify for some of these benefits; click here to learn more and see if you qualify.

  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

    The SCRA provides help to active-duty service members, and includes benefits like protection for life insurance policies and reduced interest rates on debts incurred before beginning active duty. USAA will provide an interest rate of 4% for pre-existing USAA credit card debt and loans, and a rate of 6% for other debts like credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and others.

  • Deployment Discount

    Members of the military who are deployed or deploying can have the interest rate on their USAA card reduced to 4% for current balances, new purchases, and cash advances.

  • Permanent Change of Station (PCS)

    Active-duty members with permanent change of station can have the interest rate on their USAA card reduced to 4% for current balances, new purchases, and cash advances.

  • Qualifying Campaign Level

    Members who receive a qualifying campaign medal can receive a rebate for all of the interest incurred during their campaign. The qualifying campaign medals include the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Shopping Protections

  • Price Protection

    If you find an item you bought being advertised for a lower price within 120 days of the purchase, you could be reimbursed for the price difference (up to $250 per claim, up to 4 claims per year).

  • Extended Warranty

    Doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty, up to a maximum of 2 years for most items.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee Coverage

    If you want to return an eligible purchase but the retailer won’t take it back, you could be eligible for a refund up to $250. (Visa only)

Travel Protections

  • Travel Assistance Services

    Available when traveling 100 miles or more from home, provides help like information on travel requirements, locating documents or lost items, or arranging emergency money transfers.

  • Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident, Baggage Delay and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

    Provides insurance in case of a tragic accident, funds to reimburse purchases if your bags are delayed, and reimbursement if your trip is interrupted for eligible reasons. (Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is Amex-only)

  • Rental Car Insurance

    Provides coverage against damage and theft of rental vehicles, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Security Benefits

  • Identity Theft Resolution Services

    If you become a victim of identity theft, this service provides help with contacting the credit bureaus, getting a new credit card, and going through the proper legal proceedings.

  • Identity Fraud Expense Reimbursement

    You won’t be held liable for unauthorized charges as a result of identity fraud.

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
Classic American Express $35 18.15%-24.15% (Variable) Not Available Not Available
Classic Visa Platinum $35 18.15%-24.15% (Variable) Not Available Not Available
Card Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Classic American Express See Terms See Terms See Terms
Classic Visa Platinum See Terms See Terms See Terms
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Classic American Express None See Terms See Terms
Classic Visa Platinum None See Terms See Terms

The Bottom Line

If you don’t have the best credit, the USAA Classic American Express and the USAA Classic Visa Platinum are great ways to build up your credit score. They don’t offer any rewards, but if you use them responsibly you’ll eventually be able to qualify for better credit cards.

These cards each also come with a nice set of extra benefits, which you won’t always find on lower-level cards. Be sure to take advantage of them when shopping and traveling .

If you’re looking for other cards to help build your credit, USAA offers another set of secured credit cards that you can learn about here.

Want to apply for or learn more about one of these cards? Just click the card’s name below.

USAA Classic American Express®
Apply Now

USAA Classic American Express®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 18.15%-24.15% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • USAA Eligibility Requirement: Today, USAA membership is only open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have received a discharge type of Honorable, and their eligible family members.
  • This credit card is best for members with average credit.
  • Make consistent, on-time payments and you could improve your credit rating — sometimes in as little as 12 months.
  • USAA will periodically consider you for an automatic upgrade to a premium credit card based on improved credit and your account history.
  • Special rates are available for military members during deployment or PCS. See terms for additional information.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.
USAA Classic Visa Platinum®
Apply Now

USAA Classic Visa Platinum®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 18.15%-24.15% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • USAA Eligibility Requirement: Today, USAA membership is only open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have received an discharge type of Honorable, and their eligible family members.
  • This credit card is best for members with average credit.
  • Make consistent, on-time payments and you could improve your credit rating — sometimes in as little as 12 months.
  • USAA will periodically consider you for an automatic upgrade to a premium credit card based on improved credit and your account history.
  • Special rates are available for military members during deployment or PCS. See terms for additional information.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.
Not the cards for you? Would you rather earn cash back or points for your purchases? Check out what Reward Credit Cards have to offer.

How do you like your USAA Classic credit card? Leave your own review of the American Express or Visa version!

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