August 11, 2022

5 Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel in 2022

Quick Look at the Best Credit Cards for Military: Serving our country as active duty…

5 Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel in 2022

Quick Look at the Best Credit Cards for Military:

Serving our country as active duty military personnel can present you with a lot of challenges. Because you likely move every few years, you may have trouble establishing the roots that allow for a pristine financial picture. 

Congress addressed the issue with the passage of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003, which caps interest rates at 6% for cards you had before joining the military while you’re on active duty. Then, the Military Lending Act (MLA) extends that law to credit cards (and other lending products) that you acquire while in the military and caps the interest rate at 36%. Keep in mind that you must apply for these benefits after receiving approval from a credit card issuer. 

While your rates will stay capped at these rates on all of the credit cards listed below, you will receive extra perks and benefits from each card. In fact, some credit card issuers go the extra mile to make it easier for you to take control of your finances by offering credit cards for military personnel that have extra perks.  Here are our picks for the best military credit cards.

Best Overall: American Express Platinum Card®

Specs:

  • Minimum payment: N/A 
  • One-time fee: $150 annual fee, waived for military members
  • Intro APR: N/A 
  • Regular APR: 16.74% – 23.74%
  • Annual fee: $695 annual fee waived for military 
  • 150,000 membership reward points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months 
  • Rewards:
    • Annual $200 hotel credit as a statement credit can be used at Fine Hotel + Resorts or the Hotel Collection Bookings when you use your credit card to pay.
    • Get up to $200 airline fee credit for things like paid lounge access, checked baggage and seat upgrades.
    • $35 a month in Uber cash ($15 a month, plus another $20 in December).
    • Up to $155 in a Walmart + membership that gives you things like free shipping and discounts on gas.
    • Up to $240 on digital entertainment, shown as a $20 credit each month. This can pay for subscriptions for Disney +, Disney bundle, Audible, ESPN +, Hulu, Peacock, Sirius XM, and the New York Times.
    • $179 credit to pay for your CLEAR Membership.
    • $25 statement credit each month (up to $300) for your Equinox digital fitness app or club membership.
    • Up to $85 for a TSA PreCheck credit or up to $100 for a Global Entry every five years.
    • Up to $100 ($50 every six months) for a Saks Fifth Avenue credit.  

Pros 

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Waves all fees including late payment fees, returned payments and over-the-limit fees
  • Global lounge access to 1,300 lounges in airports across the world
  • Discounts, car upgrades and waived fees at major car rental agencies

Cons 

  • Must have good-to-excellent credit score to qualify (670 – 850)

Description 

The American Express Platinum is one of the best credit cards for military families that travel. Aside from all the waived fees and statement credits, it offers perks for travelers that can be used by both the service member and others who are cosigners on the card. By using this card, you will enjoy the same luxury perks as those who pay $695 a year to have the card. Additional benefits include access to luxury airport lounges, a generous sign-up points bonus and an abundance of travel perks when you use your card. 

Best for Food and Dining: American Express® Gold Card

5 Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel in 2022

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Regular APR

16.74% – 23.74% variable

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  • Select Gold or Rose Gold as your card color
  • 25.99% cash advance APR
  • The cash advance fee is $10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Specs

  • Annual Fee:
    $250
  • Regular APR:
    16.74% – 23.74% variable
  • Minimum Payment:
    $35 or 1% of your balance, plus fees and interest
  • One Time Fee:
    None
  • Intro APR:
    0% for 1 year
  • Rewards:
    4X points on dining and groceries, 3X points on flights, 1X points on other eligible purchases, up to $120 per year on Uber Cash, up to $120 in credits per year to use at Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and others.
  • Welcome Bonus:
    60,000 points, 4X points at US supermarkets & restaurants. Terms Apply.
Pros

  • $100 experience credit when booking through Hotel Collection
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons

  • Penalty APR is 29.99% and can apply if you miss only one payment and will last for at least six months
  • Late payment and returned payment fees are up to $40

If you love to eat, using your American Express Gold card for groceries and dining out, including takeout and delivery, can earn you up to 4X the points on your card. You can use these points for up to $25,000 a year and get great rewards to pay for flights and prepaid hotels when you use AmexTravel.com. If you’re looking for a luxury credit card without all of the charges, this could be it. American Express has lowered its typical $695 annual fee to $250 as an introductory offer, but if you’re in the military, you won’t have to pay it. But, you still get the perks. That means access to flexible payment schedules, and generous points (in addition to your introductory points) for most things that you buy. 

Best for Travel: CHASE® Sapphire Preferred

Specs:

  • Minimum payment:N/A
  • One-time fee: $95, waived for military members
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 16.24% to 23.24%
  • Annual fee: $695 annual fee waived for military 
  • Welcome bonus: 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards:
    • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 2X points on all other travel-related expenses
    • 3X points on dining
    • Earn 25% more points when using them on the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
    • Primary rental car insurance
    • Trip interruption/cancellation insurance
    • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit

Pros 

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 10% anniversary points boost

Cons 

  • Must have good-to-excellent credit score to quality (670 – 850)

Description 

If you’re a jet setter at heart and want a generous sign-up bonus, CHASE® Sapphire Preferred is one of the best credit cards for travel. You will earn 5X points on travel, and that, combined with your huge sign-up bonus, could have you jetting off to your favorite spot in no time. And as a bonus, your reward points are easily transferred to other reward programs on a one-to-one basis. You can use your points for more than airline fees. You’ll also get generous points for dining and other travel-related fees. Add that to the hotel credits, rental car insurance and a points boost on your anniversary, and the world is your oyster.

Best for Cashback: CHASE® Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card

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Regular APR

15.24% – 23.99%

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Chase Freedom Unlimited® allows customers to earn 5% cash back when purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card also offers 3% cash back on drugstore purchases as well as dining, restaurants and delivery. Other purchases earn 1.5% cash back.

Specs

  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% – 23.99%
  • Minimum Payment:
    N/A
  • One Time Fee:
    Late fees up to $40
  • Intro APR:
    0% for 15 months
  • Rewards:
    N/A
  • Welcome Bonus:
    $200 after spending $500 within the first 3 months
Pros

  • 5% cash back on travel
  • 1.5% cash back on other purchases

The introductory offer of 1.5% additional cash back with a CHASE® Freedom Unlimited card can really add up. For instance, you will earn 6.5% on travel if you purchase it through Chase Travel Rewards, 4.5% on dining, including takeout and delivery, 4.5% on drugstore purchases and 3% cashback on all other purchases. And the welcome bonus is one of the most generous Benzinga has seen. You’ll earn $200 when you spend $500. That’s almost half of the amount you spend back in your pocket, which is cash ck baany military member will welcome. 

Best for Luxury Travel: CHASE® Sapphire Reserve

Specs:

  • Minimum payment:N/A
  • One-time fee: $550 annual fee, plus $75 per authorized user, waived for military members
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 17.74% to 24.74%
  • Annual fee: $695 annual fee waived for military 
  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 
    • Priority Pass Select membership grants you access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide
    • $300 travel credit on your credit card anniversary every year
    • 10X points on hotels and car rentals
    • 5X points on air travel
    • 3X points on dining and other travel
    • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry, TSA and Nexus

Pros 

  • Access to luxury travel amenities
  • Use the Chase Travel portal to earn 50% more value

Cons 

  • Must have excellent credit (740 – 850)

Description 

If you love traveling in style, the CHASE® Sapphire Reserve card will accommodate your needs. The private lounge access will make your trips more enjoyable, and the $300 per year travel credit will add that extra oomph to your trips. And all those points that you earn? They don’t expire as long as your account remain open, hasn’t changed status or is closed for fraud or other unlawful purposes. This credit card is truly one of the best credit cards for living the military lifestyle you are part of.

Features to Look for in Credit Cards for Military Personnel

When looking for the best credit card for military members, it’s important to check for these benefits.

1. Points

You can use points as cash back, for travel or for that luxury hotel you’ve been dying to stay in. A good military credit card will allow you to use your points in a way that will best benefit your life.

2. No Annual Fee

The best military cards waive annual fees for military personnel, allowing them the opportunity to take control of their financial lives. Those fees can go toward reducing your credit card balance or adding to your savings account.

3. Good Customer Service

As a military member, you need easy access to customer support when you want to dispute a charge or ask a question about your card. Look for a card that allows you to get in touch with no hassle.

4. Perks

As a military member, some credit card issuers offer you perks that you might not have otherwise received. For instance, you can get access to the same airport luxury lounges that others do who pay hundreds in annual fees.

How to get Approved for a Credit Card for Military Personnel

As a military member, use these tips to get approved for the right card.

1. Know Your Credit Score

The first step in building your credit and getting the right credit card is knowing your credit score. Once you know your score, you can take the steps to ensure that it’s as good as it can be.

2. Sign up for SCRA and MLA

As soon as you’re approved for a credit card, contact the credit card company and ask them to sign you up for both programs. Doing so will put a cap on your interest rate, waive certain fees and make you eligible for perks you wouldn’t otherwise receive.

3. Make Your Payments on Time

Just because you get one credit card, that doesn’t mean you can let your credit score slip. By making your payments on time, you will continue to build your credit. After all, you don’t want to have to look for credit cards for bad credit.

4. Use Good Spending Habits

Don’t think of your credit card as a way to spend more money. Instead, think of it as a way to spend smarter money. Use your points and cash back to improve your finances.

How you can Improve Your Credit Score

Having a great credit score allows you to take advantage of credit cards with more perks. Here’s how you can improve yours.

1. Set up Automatic Payments

When your credit card payments are automatically taken out of your check, you don’t run the risk of a late payment or the accompanying ding to your credit score.

2. Know Your Limits

Lenders use a debt-to-income ratio to determine how much credit to extend to you. If you have too much debt, they aren’t likely to take the chance of lending to you. Your debt-to-income ratio should never exceed 50%.

3. Use the Perks to Your Advantage

Credit cards for military members offer perks that you can use to help save money. For instance, you can use the cash back or points to pay for other expenses. And some credit cards give you monthly or yearly statement credits that you can use instead of having to pay out of pocket.

4. Create a Budget

If you spend more than you earn in a month, it can be the beginning of credit card debt. Instead, manage your money by creating a budget and learning to stick with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are military members exempt from credit card annual fees?

1

Are military members exempt from credit card annual fees?

asked

Suzanne Kearns

1

Some credit card issuers waive annual fees for military members, but it’s up to the credit card company to decide whether they do.

Answer Link

answered

Benzinga

What are the best credit cards for military members?

1

What are the best credit cards for military members?

asked

Suzanne Kearns

1

The best credit card for you, as a military member, is one that fits your lifestyle. You can get a credit card that offers points for travel, cash back or statement credits for the things you love.

Answer Link

answered

Benzinga

Is Chase Sapphire free for military members?

1

Is Chase Sapphire free for military members?

asked

Suzanne Kearns

1

Yes, Chase Sapphire waives the annual fee for active duty military members.

Answer Link

answered

Benzinga

Is Amex Gold free for military members?

1

Is Amex Gold free for military members?

asked

Suzanne Kearns

1

American Express waives all fees for active military personnel, so like all other American Express cards, the Amex Gold is free for military active duty personnel.

Answer Link

answered

Benzinga