Review of The USAA Rewards Visa Signature® and American Express® Cards

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Feb 16, 2016 | Updated Sep 14, 2016

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This is a review of two very similar reward credit cards from USAA: the USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® and the USAA Rewards™ American Express® card.

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.

As members of the USAA, cardholders get access to very good rates and benefits that are seldom seen outside of the most exclusive credit cards. These two cards have the same potential rates and benefits, but differ a bit in their rewards.

Read on to learn more about them and see if one might be right for you.

USAA Rewards™ Visa®
Apply Now

USAA Rewards™ Visa®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0.00.
  • Interest Rate: 10.15%-26.15% (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.
  • Redeem your USAA Rewards points towards cash, gift cards, name brand merchandise and travel with no blackout date.
  • Free Travel and Retail Benefits: Get benefits like Visa® Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Insurance, Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident Insurance, and Warranty Manager Service.
  • Enjoy variable rates as low as 10.15% APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • No annual fee and no minimum finance charge.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.
USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
Apply Now

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 10.15%-26.15% (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.
  • Earn 2,500 Bonus Points after your first purchase and earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and grocery purchases all the time.
  • No caps or limits on the amount you can earn.
  • Redeem your USAA Rewards points towards cash, gift cards, name brand merchandise and travel with no blackout date.
  • Redeem your points anytime on USAA's website or from your mobile device - with no redemption fee.
  • Enjoy variable rates as low as 10.15% APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.

The Rewards

As you can see, the American Express card has an extra reward category that the Visa doesn’t.

Rewards Visa Signature

  • 1 point per dollar on all purchases
  • 2,500 bonus points when you make your first purchase

Rewards American Express

  • 2 points per dollar on gas and grocery purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 2,500 bonus points when you make your first purchase

The Benefits

These cards share the same fairly comprehensive set of benefits.

In some cases the benefit will be serviced by the card’s particular network (Visa or American Express) 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.

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.

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.

  • 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
Rewards Visa Signature $0.00. 10.15%-26.15% (Variable) See Terms See Terms
Rewards American Express $0 10.15%-26.15% (Variable) See Terms See Terms
Card Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Rewards Visa Signature See Terms See Terms None
 Rewards American Express See Terms See Terms None
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Rewards Visa Signature See Terms See Terms Up to $35
Rewards American Express See Terms See Terms Up to $35

The Bottom Line

The USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® and the USAA Rewards™ American Express® are good cards for military members, offering rates you probably won’t be able to get anywhere else. When choosing between the two, you only need to consider if you’ll use that extra rewards category on the Amex card because the other terms are identical.

The rates for these cards are quite solid. You can get a very low APR if you have a good credit rating, and there’s no annual fee or penalty APR to worry about.

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

USAA Rewards™ Visa®
Apply Now

USAA Rewards™ Visa®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0.00.
  • Interest Rate: 10.15%-26.15% (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.
  • Redeem your USAA Rewards points towards cash, gift cards, name brand merchandise and travel with no blackout date.
  • Free Travel and Retail Benefits: Get benefits like Visa® Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Insurance, Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident Insurance, and Warranty Manager Service.
  • Enjoy variable rates as low as 10.15% APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • No annual fee and no minimum finance charge.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.
USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
Apply Now

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 10.15%-26.15% (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.
  • Earn 2,500 Bonus Points after your first purchase and earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and grocery purchases all the time.
  • No caps or limits on the amount you can earn.
  • Redeem your USAA Rewards points towards cash, gift cards, name brand merchandise and travel with no blackout date.
  • Redeem your points anytime on USAA's website or from your mobile device - with no redemption fee.
  • Enjoy variable rates as low as 10.15% APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • Chip technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.

These two cards don’t offer very high rewards, however. If you’re looking for some USAA cards with better rewards, check out our reviews:

If you’re looking to earn points or cash back with non-USAA rewards cards, learn more about Rewards Credit Cards right here.

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

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