Below you can find an overview of the best credit cards geared specifically to the military community, as chosen by our editors regardless of advertising status, in addition to an issuer-by-issuer of special programs and promotions that are available to military families this Veterans Day and beyond. Of course, while military families may have special access to the cards listed below and should therefore consider them, they should also make sure to use CardAdvisor to compare these offers to the best overall credit cards on the market to ensure getting the best deal.
Best-in-Class Military Credit Cards
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus offers 5% cash back for gasoline and military base purchases (up to $3,000 per year), 2% cash back on supermarket purchases (up to $3,000 per year) and 1% on everything else. It does not charge an annual fee.
Offers a $100 initial bonus for spending $1,500 within 90 days of account opening in addition to 1.5% cash back on all purchases and does not have an annual fee. The initial bonus offer is available to applicants who open accounts by the end of 2015.
One of the best gas credit cards on the market, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Card offers 5 points per $1 on gas at any station, 3 points per $1 on groceries and 1 point per $1 on everything else. It does not charge an annual fee and offers a $100 signup bonus in the form of a statement credit if you spend at least $1,500 within 90 days of account opening.
This is definitely a card to consider if you travel a lot, despite its $49 annual fee. It offers 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases – the equivalent of 2% cash back, when you redeem for travel expenses.
Offers a 20,000-point initial bonus for spending $2,500 within 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $200 in airfare, in addition to 5 points per $1 spent on airfare. It does not charge an annual fee.
In addition to offering great everyday rewards and a $100 initial bonus, this Bank of America card also provides a 0% introductory rate for 12 months on new purchases as well as balance transfers, though a 3% transfer fee does apply. The regular APR ranges from 12.99% to 22.99%, depending on an applicant’s credit standing, and there is no annual fee.
Although this card requires a somewhat-steep $500 minimum deposit, it does not charge an annual fee and offers 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases. Military families who qualify for Navy Federal Credit Union membership can therefore use this card to cost-effectively build credit.
Special Programs for Military Personnel
In the spirit of Veterans Day, CardHub surveyed the nation’s largest credit card issuers about the military-oriented programs and promotions they offer. You can find an edited version of their responses below.
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Bank of America:
Our Enterprise Military Benefits Unit provides customers who are joining, currently serving, or have recently served in the military, and their spouses, with access to a specially trained single point of contact to help address their banking needs and ensure they are receiving all the benefits we provide to service members. SCRA-eligible accounts also receive a 6% APR extending for six months after the SCRA-eligible period ends.
Capital One: Capital One is committed to supporting veterans, servicemembers and military spouses - every day, year-round.
We are fully supportive of the financial safeguards offered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Capital One recognizes the financial hardship servicemembers and their families may face, and we provide benefits that go above-and-beyond the SCRA requirements.
- Capital One provides a 4% interest rate cap on eligible loans (favorable to the 6% cap required by statute).
- We waive all fees (not just those legally required such as annual membership fee, monthly maintenance fee, past due, overlimit, balance transfer, cash advance); examples include expedited card replacement and application fees.
- Capital One extends benefits to Reservists and National Guard members activated by their state (state-ordered active duty is generally ineligible for SCRA benefits by federal statute).
- Capital One extends interest rate benefits on all products for one year after the end of active duty (statute requires credit card and auto loan benefits only during active duty). At the end of active duty, we check the DMDC (a Dept of Defense database) for updated service periods, and if we don't find any updates, we send a reminder that SCRA benefits will no longer apply in one year, and we send two more reminders prior to the new terms taking effect.
- Capital One extends the eligible request period to one year after the end of active duty (statute requires request be made within 180 days of end of active duty).
- Capital One reviews and adjusts all of a servicemember’s related accounts based on a single account request.
- We offer a toll-free, 24/7 Military Hotline with agents specially trained to assist servicemembers and their families, 1-855-CAP1MIL (227-1645).
Citi: Citi maintains a long history of supporting our clients who serve in the United States military, and we are committed to adhering to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
During active military service, SCRA-eligible servicemember Citi Cards accounts that were opened prior to active duty will receive a 0% APR and will not be charged such fees as balance transfer fees, annual membership fees, and penalty fees such as late fees.
Chase is committed to serving our Military Servicemembers and their families. With all of our credit cards, we're proud to offer Blue Star Deployment Benefits to assist families when a loved one is deployed. It's a complimentary benefit for being a Military Credit Cardmember — and it's only available from Chase. Program benefits include:
- 100% Refund of Interest & Fees: With a Chase Military Credit Card and Blue Star Deployment Benefits, servicemembers and their families receive a 100% refund of any interest & fees incurred during military deployment. There's no minimum or maximum amount of deployment time or deployment campaigns necessary to claim a 100% refund.
- Customer Service: Customers can call the dedicated Chase Military Services Team for account and product questions. The team is staffed by trained experts who are knowledgeable about financial matters related to military life.
- Chase Military Credit Cards: Air Force Club Membership MasterCard®, Army MWR MasterCard®, Navy MWR MasterCard®, and the Marine Corps MasterCard® all offer valuable cash back rewards for our Military servicemembers, so they can earn at home and while they are away. Military servicemembers are never charged an annual fee or foreign transaction fees when they use any of their Chase Military Credit cards.
Discover’s commitment to helping military service members extends into our Cashback Bonus program and company volunteer efforts. Discover cardmembers can donate their earned Cashback Bonus to Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of military service members and wounded warriors.
We have a dedicated phone number for military personnel who have Discover student loans: 1-844-DFS-4MIL
Navy Federal Credit Union:
Navy Federal is dedicated to serving the U.S. armed forces and their families, and recognizes the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. We are committed to offering products and services that lighten the burden of our military members, including:
- Navy Federal offers credit card products like the nRewards Secured Credit Card to help those members who require help building credit.
- Navy Federal works with its military members in the event that credit card line increases or potential deferred payments are needed.
- Navy Federal has 276 branches across the world, many of which are located on or near military bases. This helps ensure convenient access to Navy Federal services for members of the armed forces.
- The credit union offers member service around the clock for servicemembers stationed across the world.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union:
PenFed features both the PenFed Defender American Express® Card* and the PenFed Defender Visa Signature® Card in its credit card portfolio. Both of these Cards feature low rates, no fees, and great cash rewards. Additionally, purchases made with a PenFed credit card while the member is on active duty are eligible for the SCRA’s 6% APR (the law itself applies only to existing debt).
In addition to our PenFed Defender credit cards, PenFed provides the following programs for military personnel:
- Warrior’s Advantage – Created especially for our military members, the Warrior’s Advantage program eliminates non-sufficient funds fees for our military members. All PenFed members serving in active, reserve, and National Guard components of our uniformed services will benefit from the program, which automatically waives the fees on PenFed checking accounts in cases of insufficient funds, uncollected funds, and returned ACHs for up to two occurrences in a rolling three-month period.
USAA goes well beyond the regulatory requirements for the Servicemembers Credit Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA protects service members while serving on active duty, including reservists and National Guard who are called to active duty. Although the SCRA allows creditors to charge active duty military a 6% interest rate on debts incurred before active duty, as part of USAA’s commitment to serve the military community, our SCRA rate is only 4%. And we apply the 4% rate to all balances—not just to the debt incurred prior to active duty. Plus, USAA goes above and beyond in how long the 4% SCRA rate stays in effect. While the SCRA only requires a reduced rate during the period of active duty, USAA provides our members with a 4% APR during the active duty period plus one full year thereafter. In addition, USAA waives all fees on the account, including all Foreign Transaction Fees, Balance Transfer Fees, Cash Advance Fees, and Late Fees.
Members who do not qualify for our SCRA benefit but who have a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) can receive a 4% APR on their credit card for 12 months. The 4% APR applies to all balances, including any new and existing debt. In addition USAA will waive all foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees and convenience check fees for one year.
Members who are deployed also can receive a 4% APR on their credit card balances for 12 months. The 4% APR applies to new and existing debt. In addition USAA will waive all foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees and convenience check fees for one year.
We offer a full refund of all interest to any military member who participated in a qualified military campaign. The refund applies to all interest charged during the member’s period of engagement in the campaign. Qualified campaigns include: Iraq, Afghanistan and Operation New Dawn.
USAA has partnered with Military Affinity groups to offer co-branded credit cards. Our Military Affiliate cards have no annual fee.