USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® is a low APR (in many cases) credit card with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and a nice package of perks and benefits for military cardholders. It replaces the USAA Rate Advantage Mastercard, a similar Mastercard credit card that has been discontinued.
For active duty cardholders, this card include a potentially powerful, but often-overlooked, benefit. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, credit card companies cannot charge more than 6% interest on balances incurred by deployed active duty cardholders prior to their deployment. However, USAA does cardholders one better and caps interest on already-accrued balances at 4% for deployment duration and up to 1 year thereafter. Cardholders can inform USAA of their deployment at any time up to 6 months after their return.
Like most USAA products, including other USAA credit cards, USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum is not available to the general public. To qualify, you need to be a current or former member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a close family member (spouse or child) of one. If you do qualify, this card is definitely worthy of your attention.
USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum has no introductory APR promotion. Its purchase, balance transfer, and cash advance APRs range from 8.15% and 25.15%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is the same as the purchase and balance transfer APRs.
This card has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. The cash advance and balance transfer fees are both a flat 3% of the transferred or advanced amount, subject to a $200 maximum fee per advance or transfer. The cash advance fee is waived when the advance is transferred electronically into a USAA deposit account. Late and returned payments cost $35.
During deployment or PCS (“permanent change of station,” meaning a permanent transfer to another base), active duty military members’ interest charges drop to just 4% APR for a limited time. For PCS cardholders, that time-frame is 12 months. For deployed cardholders, that time-frame is 15 months. Cardholders can inform USAA of their deployment at any time before, during, or up to 12 months after their return.
Military Campaign Benefit
Cardholders who participate in qualifying military campaigns and earn campaign medals to prove it are eligible for the rebate of all finance charges incurred during the campaign. Per USAA, qualifying campaign medals include the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
This card has a nice lineup of Visa-backed cardholder benefits. These include:
- Complimentary loss and damage insurance on rental cars charged in full to the card
- Extended warranties of up to 1 year on certain items purchased with the card
Free Credit Score
You have unlimited access to a free credit score through your online account dashboard and mobile account app.
This card requires good to excellent credit.
- No Annual Fee. USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who don’t want to have to pay a recurring charge to build their credit or finance large purchases.
- Potential for Very Low APR. Though this card has a very wide APR range, its minimum interest rate (8.15%) is among the lowest of any consumer credit card on the market. If you have excellent credit, you’re likely to qualify for a rate at or near this minimum. If you regularly carry a balance, this could save you hundreds of dollars per year in interest charges.
- Potentially Low Cash Advance APR. If you have great credit and qualify for an interest rate at the low end of Rate Advantage’s range, you’ll pay less interest on cash advances than on almost any other credit card. This is a great benefit for folks who want to be able to draw on their available credit when facing liquidity issues.
- Potentially Valuable Benefits for Active Duty Military Cardholders. This card offers several generous perks exclusively for active duty military cardholders: 4% APR for 12 to 15 months during deployment or PCS; 4% APR on all balances accrued prior to entering active duty, until 1 year after active duty term ends; and a total rebate of finance charges accrued by active duty military members who earn qualifying campaign medals. Needless to say, few (if any) non-USAA cards offer any benefits of this sort.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has no foreign transaction fee. While this is a great benefit for any cardholder who travels outside the United States with any frequency, it’s especially useful for service members stationed overseas, where transactions executed outside military bases would normally carry foreign transaction fees.
- No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t have a penalty APR. That’s great news for service members and family members who occasionally miss payments due to liquidity issues or chaotic schedules, which are all too common before, during, and after deployments.
- Cash Advance Fee Waived on Direct Transfers. Though you always have to pay interest on cash advances, you can avoid the 3% cash advance fee when you transfer funds electronically from your credit card account into your USAA deposit account. For every $1,000 transferred, this amounts to $30 in savings.
- Only Available to Service Members and Their Families. The biggest drawback of USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum – and, indeed, all USAA credit cards – is its limited availability. To qualify for this card, you must be a current member of the Armed Forces, an honorably discharged veteran, or a qualifying family member of a service member or veteran. However, for people who do qualify, this card isn’t particularly hard to get.
- No Introductory APR Promotion. Unlike many low APR credit cards, USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum doesn’t have an introductory APR promotion. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR accrues from day one, foreclosing any opportunity to save on interest charges by financing large purchases or transferring existing high-interest balances. If you’re looking for introductory promotions, look to competitors such as Citi Simplicity (which has a lengthy 0% APR intro promotion) or Chase Slate (one of the best balance transfer cards around).
- No Rewards. This card doesn’t offer any rewards – no cash back, no travel rewards, nor anything else. If you want to earn something back on your credit card spending, you need to look elsewhere – for instance, to the USAA Cash Rewards American Express.
If you have great credit and want the flexibility to carry a monthly balance, it’s hard to do better than USAA Rate Advantage Platinum Visa. At the low end of its wide interest range, this card charges 8.15% APR, lower than most other credit cards on the market. On the other hand, the upper end of this card’s rate range exceeds 25% APR, which certainly doesn’t meet the standard definition of “low APR.” Like so many other things in life, USAA Rate Advantage Platinum Visa’s value depends to a large extent on where you stand.