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Best Military Credit Cards: Top Picks for 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The information related to the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card and the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Certain credit cards are aimed specifically at the military community. Others aren't targeted at military members but are nonetheless a great fit for this segment. To cut through the noise, here is our list of the best military credit cards of 2019, with picks that fit all different types of needs.

Here's our list of the best military credit cards, along with their benefits and perks.

Best Military Credit Card for Cash Back

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is a good fit for service members stationed on a military base. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on the first $3,000 spent on gas and military base purchases every year and 2% back on the first $3,000 in supermarket purchases. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Other Worthwhile Features

This card also doesn't come with foreign transaction fees, meaning spending while abroad won't eat away at your cash-back rewards. The card also offers some less-common benefits, like collision damage waiver coverage, and doesn't charge a penalty APR. To top it off, the card has $0 annual fee, so you don't have to make a dent in your budget to start accumulating cash-back rewards.

Best Military Credit Card for Carrying a Balance

To be clear, we never suggest cardholders carry a balance since most credit cards are riddled with high APRs that make it very costly to do so. However, if you're going to carry a balance, you should do so on a card like the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card, which offers a relatively competitive variable APR (See Rates & Fees). The card also has $0 annual fee, meaning you can take advantage of its low variable APR at no additional cost.

One Important Thing to Note

This card currently has a 3% balance transfer fee, meaning if you want to transfer a balance to this card, you'll pay 3% of the total amount transferred. For example, transferring a balance of $2,000 would result in a $60 fee. That said, balance transfer fees on the card are capped at $200 per transfer.

To determine whether transferring a balance makes sense for your situation, you can utilize our balance transfer calculator.

Best Military Credit Card for Fair Credit

  • On Capital One's Secure Website
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Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website
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  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
Annual Fee
$39
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Average, Fair, Limited
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great card despite being geared toward people with fair credit. Its cash-back rewards rate is highly competitive at 1.5%, there are no limits to the amount of rewards you can earn and there are no rotating categories to track. In addition, cardholders may get access to a higher credit line after they successfully make five monthly payments on time.

Is It Worth the Annual Fee?

It's worth noting that the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with a $39 annual fee. Whether this card is worth it for you personally will depend on how much you spend per year on the card. We estimate that in order to break even on the annual fee, assuming a 1.5% cash-back rate, you'd have to spend $2,600 on the card every year or $217 per month. If you're interested in a card without an annual fee, click through to read our top picks in that category.

Best Military Credit Card for Bad Credit

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Discover it® Secured

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  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
24.49% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
New/Rebuilding
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Discover it® Secured is the best credit card for military members with bad credit because it helps you rebuild your credit while earning rewards. The card currently offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Perhaps the best feature of the Discover it® Secured is that Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Building Credit with the Discover it® Secured

To establish your credit line with the Discover it® Secured, you'll have to provide a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. However, after the first eight months, Discover will automatically review your account monthly to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured line of credit. If you're moved over to an unsecured line of credit, then the security deposit will be refunded to you. Discover reports the information on your account to the three major credit bureaus, which in turn helps you build credit.

Best Military Credit Card for Excellent Credit

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the top cards for people with excellent credit due to its great rewards structure and flexible rewards program. It offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, and all other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent. The card has a $95 annual fee. On top of this, cardholders who spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months are eligible for a 60,000-point bonus.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Points earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are among the most valuable in the card industry because they can be transferred to several hotel and airline partners. Furthermore, when you redeem the points you've earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for travel, they are worth 25% more, meaning the card has a rewards rate that ranges from 1.25% to 2.50%.

Compare The Best Credit Card for People in the Military

Using our tool below, you can enter your own monthly expenses to estimate how much value the cards will get you in terms of rewards over a two-year period.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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{"cardCategory":"rewards","cardIds":"196,1040,45","initialResultsLimit":14,"endpoint":"https:\/\/creditcards.valuepenguin.com\/api\/creditcards\/models\/rewards","onCurrent":"true"}

To arrive at our top picks, we analyzed dozens of credit cards with the best rewards and features. We broke down the best cards by category to ensure we've provided helpful picks for consumers with different budgets and credit scores. We prioritized cards that would yield some of the highest earnings in the relevant categories and ones that would be a great permanent addition to your wallet. Our selections were made with military members in mind, like the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card, which offers useful military base perks.

Active-duty service members enjoy special financial benefits and protections. Some of these are mandated by federal law, while others are offered by the credit card issuers themselves. Because the latter are not enforced by law, the extra benefits they provide are subject to change.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides financial relief to those who are currently in active duty. While deployed, SCRA limits interest rates on outstanding balances to 6% for the duration of your active duty. Additionally, fees relating to overlimits, late payments, returned payments and statement-copy requests must be waived. According to MilitaryBenefits.info, to qualify for SCRA benefits you generally must be:

  • A member of the U.S. Armed Forces (any military branch) serving on active duty.
  • A member of a reserve component called to active duty.
  • A National Guard member under a call or order to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days.
  • A commissioned officer for the Public Health Service or NOAA.
  • A U.S. citizen serving with the forces of a nation with which U.S. is allied in war or military action.
  • A spouse of active duty, where credit is extended to a service member and spouse jointly.
Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).