USAA provides a number of USAA Military Affiliate Cards that feature logos and emblems, allowing you to showcase your pride in hundreds of organizations. These organizations fall within all military branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and veteran’s groups such as The American Legion and Jewish War Veterans of the United States. Many of these cards are available through both American Express and World MasterCard – which one you choose depends mainly on how you intend to use it.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you make your first purchase, you earn a bonus of 2,500 points which can be redeemed for $25 in airfare.
- Fees. USAA Military Affiliate American Express cards have no annual fees. Balance transfers are 3% of the transfer amount, up to $200 in fees. The foreign transaction fee is 1%.
- APR. There is an introductory APR of 0% for 12 months on balance transfers posted to your account within the first three months. The APR on purchases and balance transfers made after the introductory period is based on your creditworthiness and variations in the prime rate, falling somewhere between 10.90% and 25.90%.
- Rewards Program. You earn an unlimited 2 points per dollar spent on gasoline and grocery store purchases and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. You can redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards, travel (including airfare and cruises), and charitable donations. You receive the best value for your points if you redeem for airfare through the ALG Travel Service, or if you redeem at least 20,000 points for a statement credit, both of which give each point a value of one cent. There is no cap on the amount of points you can earn, and points do not expire.
- Card Emblems and Logos. USAA Military Affiliate Cards allow you to choose from a wide variety of emblems and logos. For example, Air Force designs include the Air Force Association (AFA), Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), and Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Or, you could choose a card that features the Army Athletic Association or Special Forces Association. Each branch has a number of designs and logos to choose from based on your preference.
- Servicemember Benefits. If you are a servicemember, USAA cards feature additional benefits including lower interest rates on preexisting USAA debt when you become active-duty. For example, if you are a servicemember (Reservists and National Guards are also included), and you are called to active duty, USAA provides a reduced interest rate of 4% on preexisting USAA credit card and loan debt. You can also qualify for an interest rebate to your card if you receive a qualifying campaign medal such as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
- Introductory APR. If you have balances on other cards with higher APRs, you can transfer them to the USAA Military Affiliate card and save on interest payments for 12 months.
- Earn Unlimited Points. There are no caps on the number of points you can earn, even in the gasoline and grocery store bonus categories. On the other hand, both Chase Freedom and Discover it allow a maximum of $1,500 in purchases to qualify for bonus points in quarterly categories.
- No Rotating Categories. There are also no rotating spending categories requiring enrollment. All gasoline and grocery store purchases earn 2 points per dollar spent, and everything else earns one point. This is extremely convenient, as it eliminates the need to manage and sign up for special categories every quarter.
- Military Benefits. One of the greatest advantages of USAA cards is their military benefits. Those, combined with the potential for lower interest rates and waived fees, means that eligible servicemembers can save quite a bit of money.
- Minimal Sign-up Bonus. Many rewards cards offer sign-up bonuses to attract new cardholders. Similar cards that award gas and grocery store purchases, such as the Chase Freedom and BankAmericard Cash Rewards cards also have no annual fees, but they offer sign-up bonuses worth at least $100.
- Interest Rate. Although the USAA Military Affiliate cards are similar to the USAA Rewards American Express Card in their benefits, rewards program, and fees, the interest rate on the military affiliate cards starts at 10.90%, which is a full percentage point higher than the standard Rewards American Express. The standard Rewards American Express card provides a lower interest rate, but not the 0% introductory APR offered by the affiliate card.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. If you travel abroad frequently, it is best to use a credit card that does not impose a foreign transaction fee. Although USAA cards offer one of the lowest on the market, there are plenty of rewards cards without foreign transaction fees at all, such as the Capital One and Discover it cards.
Although the USAA Military Affiliate cards are similar to the USAA Rewards American Express, the affiliate cards are slightly better if you prefer an introductory APR and the opportunity to support your favorite organization. Cards offering similar rewards programs exist, but because of the military benefits, the USAA Military Affiliate cards are great options for servicemembers who want to earn rewards on everyday purchases, without paying enormous annual fees.
The USAA Military Affiliate Cards include a rewards program, introductory APR on balance transfers, and military benefits, making it a great card for servicemembers.
4.2 out of 5 stars: It isn’t one of the best all-around rewards cards, but for servicemembers and military personnel, the USAA Military Affiliate cards offer better benefits than most.