Best Credit Cards for Military Service Members

See military credit cards that let you earn rewards.

Finding the best credit cards for you and your family can be tough, but you should always consider all of your needs before you apply for a credit card. Whereas the right credit card can be a valuable tool in achieving your financial goals, the wrong one can lead to racking up costly debt or paying excessive fees, so it’s worth sifting through the various credit card offers out there before you settle on one.

And if you’re a member of the military, you likely have your own set of specific financial needs based on your service. Since the passage of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in 2003, military service members have a range of additional protections from creditors that civilians don’t, and there are a number of credit cards designed specifically for service members that offer additional benefits as well.

Take a look at the eight best credit cards for military service members and the benefits each has to offer so you can better choose the right credit card for your needs.

Best Credit Cards for the Military

One of the benefits of the SCRA is that it limits the fees and interest that can be charged to an active-duty service member, including capping any interest rates at 6 percent while you’re overseas. All of these eight cards are offered by financial institutions that cater specifically to service members and their families — the United Services Automobile Association and Pentagon Federal Credit Union. None them requires an annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and several have solid rewards programs.

Here are the best military credit cards:

8 Best Credit Cards for Military Service Members
Credit CardAPR (%)Points/RewardsHow to Apply
PenFedPenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card11.24 to 17.991x points on all other purchases
3x points at the supermarket
5x points on gas purchases paid at the pump
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PenFedPenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card11.24 to 17.991.5% cash back on all purchases
2% total cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members
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USAA logo 2017USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card13.4 to 27.45% on gas and military bases
2% on groceries
1% on all other purchases
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PenFedPenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card12.24 to 17.993x points on all travel purchases
4x points on all travel purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members
1.5x Reward Points on all purchases unrelated to travel
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USAA logo 2017USAA Rewards American Express Card11.4 to 27.43x points for dining out
2x points for gas
2x points for groceries
1x points on all other purchases
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USAA logo 2017USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card8.4 to 25.4NoneLearn More
USAA logo 2017USAA Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card11.4 to 27.42x points on dining
2x points on gas
1x points on all other purchases
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USAA logo 2017USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card13.4 to 27.41.5% cash back on every purchaseLearn More

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PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card

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  • 11.24% – 17.99% APR
  • 3x points at supermarket, 5x points for gas
  • 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months

The PenFed Platinum Rewards card might be the ideal choice for a family on the go, with its triple points at supermarkets and quintuple points on gas purchases. What’s more, it offers 0% APR for the first year on balance transfers, so someone with existing debt might be able to leverage the card into savings money on interest payments, though there is a 3 percent fee on transfers.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

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  • 11.24% – 17.99% APR
  • 2 percent cash back for PenFed Honors Advantage members
  • $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days

In addition to competitive interest rates that cap out at under 18 percent and the same interest-free 12 months for balance transfers that the Platinum Rewards card offers, the Power Cash Rewards card offers its rewards in the form of cash instead of rewards points. You can get 1.5 percent back on all purchases, but that rises to 2 percent if you’re an Honors Advantage member. And, if you spend $1,500 in the first three months, you’ll get $100 of that forgiven.

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

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  • Special 4% SCRA Rate
  • 4% APR for up to 12 months during deployments or permanent change of station
  • 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases for the first $3,000 each year

The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus has a number of very specific perks for military members, including a special 4% APR on balances of deployed service members — that’s 33 percent better than the law requires. In addition to the 1 percent cash back on all purchases, you’ll get 2 percent on your first $3,000 in supermarket purchases each year and 5 percent on your first $3,000 of gas or purchases on military bases.

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Plus American Express Card

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  • 3x points on travel purchases, 4x for Honors Advantage members
  • 1.5x points on all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first three months

Like the other two offerings from PenFed, you’ll get an introductory 0% APR on balance transfer for the first 12 months after paying the 3 percent transfer fee on your PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Plus American Express Card. Cardholders also have chances to rack up a lot of extra points, between the 3x points on travel purchases and the chance to score big bonus points in your first few months.

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USAA Rewards American Express Card

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  • 11.40% – 27.40% APR
  • 3x points for dining out
  • 2x points on gas and groceries

The rewards program offered with a USAA Rewards card gives you an array of options for snatching up bonus points with your purchases. Not only will you get double points on the gas and groceries you need to keep your family on the go, the 3x points on dining out mean you’ll have more incentive for taking everyone to your favorite restaurants.

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USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card

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  • 8.40% – 25.40 APR
  • $0 in annual fees

Although you won’t get any rewards or bonus perks for opening a USAA Rate Advantage card, what you might get is one of the lowest APRs of the military card offerings. The low end of the APR range is just 8.40%, meaning you can potentially make up for the lack of rewards or bonuses by saving a bundle on interest payments.

USAA Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

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  • 11.40% – 27.40% APR
  • 2x points on gas and dining

In addition to the potential for a competitive APR, you’ll be able to boost your rewards points by spending strategically in the right categories. With double points on purchases of gas or eating out, you might be able to turn your normal family outings into a great opportunity to score rewards.

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

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  • 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase
  • $0 in annual fees

Although the APRs range higher than most of the other offerings listed here, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card does offer a blanket 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. So, if you’re confident you can and will pay your full balance every month, you can take advantage of that cash back while avoiding the higher interest rates.

More on Credit Cards and Saving

GOBankingRates.com identified the best military credit cards by analyzing purchase APRs, rewards and offers. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion, and some bonus offers might no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how you access the web page.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article.