Similar to the USAA World MasterCard, the USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard rewards all purchases at a flat rate. This frees you from specific spending categories and allows you to earn rewards on everything you buy. However, instead of earning points, you earn a cash back percentage of what you spend. This card and program are also available through Visa with the USAA Cash Rewards Visa Card.
- Fees. There is no annual fee. Balance transfers are 3% of the amount transferred up to a maximum fee of $200. Foreign transactions are 1%.
- APR. The APR for purchases and balance transfers is 9.90% to 25.90% depending on your creditworthiness and variations in the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. All purchases earn 1.25% cash back per dollar spent. All cash back accumulated is awarded annually in January. You can earn an unlimited amount and it does not expire.
- Online Retailers. USAA’s online shopping portal, MemberShop, includes more than 500 retailers such as Apple and Home Depot, which allow you to earn as much as 20% cash back for each dollar spent. This is a separate rewards program from the 1.25% cash back you earn when you use your credit card, and it is awarded simply for shopping with MemberShop.
- Membership Qualification. To qualify for USAA membership you must either be active duty, enlisted personnel of the U.S. military, a retired and honorably separated officer, or an officer candidate in a commissioning program such as Academy or Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC). You can also qualify for membership as an adult child of eligible parents, a widow or widower of a USAA member, or spouse of a qualifying member.
- Military Benefits. The USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard includes several benefits for military personnel. For example, if you are active-duty, deployed or deploying, you can qualify for a reduced APR of 4% on pre-existing USAA credit card and loan debt. You can also qualify for certain card fees to be waived, and if you receive a qualifying campaign medal such as the Iraq Campaign Medal or Afghanistan Campaign Medal, you can receive interest paid during the campaign as a rebate to your credit card.
- No Cap on Cash Back. Many cash back credit cards impose caps on purchase amounts or rewards – once you reach the cap, all other purchases earn 1%. With the USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard, you receive an unlimited 1.25% on all purchases, which is slightly higher than the cash back rate you would receive in the unlimited categories with other cards.
- Additional Benefits for Service members. Service members and military personnel can qualify for additional card benefits specific to USAA financial products that you won’t find with other credit cards.
- No Rotating Categories. Many cash back rewards cards require you to enroll each quarter in rotating spending categories – otherwise you earn only the base amount, which is usually 1 point per dollar, or 1%. The USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard awards 1.25% on all purchases without categories, and provides an opportunity to earn more with MemberShop.
- No Sign-up Bonus. Rewards cards generally offer some type of sign-up bonus to attract applicants. Even the standard USAA World MasterCard offers a minimal bonus worth $25. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card awards a flat cash back rate on purchases, similar to the USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard, but also includes a sign-up bonus worth $100.
- No Introductory APR. There is no 0% introductory period on purchases or balance transfers. Cash back cards tend to offer the opportunity to transfer balances from cards with higher APRs or to make purchases without paying interest for a limited time. For example, Capital One Quicksilver Cash offers 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, which is one of the longest introductory periods offered by all credit cards.
- 1.25% Cash Back. While the flat rate is convenient and simple, it isn’t nearly the best rate offered by cash back credit cards. Capital One Quicksilver Cash awards a flat rate of 1.50% on all purchases and Fidelity Investment Rewards gives 2% – and if you don’t mind rotating categories or spending categories with caps, you can earn as much as 5% in bonus categories.
- Annual Rebate. The USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard only awards your cash back once per year in January. You cannot cash out in smaller increments like you can with other rewards cards. For comparison, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash card allows you to redeem your rewards as a check, statement credit, or gift card anytime you choose.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. There is a foreign transaction fee of 1%, which cancels out almost all of the rewards you would earn on purchases if you used your card outside of the United States. In this case, a card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee, such as Discover it or Capital One Quicksilver Cash, is a better option for maximizing your rewards.
If you are a service member and prefer to be awarded with a flat rate on all purchases without the hassle of rotating categories, you can benefit from carrying the USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard. However, if you want to earn more cash back, redeem your rewards more often than once per year, or you want to transfer balances from a high-APR card, there are a number of better options out there.
The USAA Cash Rewards World MasterCard is a great card if you are a service member and just want a simple rewards card for earning cash back on all of your purchases.
3.9 out of 5 stars: There’s no sign-up bonus, but you are able to earn an unlimited amount of cash back at a slightly higher rate than other flat-rate credit cards.