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Best USAA Credit Cards

Best USAA Credit Cards

*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. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jan 31, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

With more than 12 million members with some type of affiliation with the U.S. military, USAA has some of the best credit cards for military members and their families.

USAA offers seven different types of credit cards, four of which have been selected to be the best USAA credit card for travel rewards, cash back, balance transfer and low interest. We’ve highlighted the pros, cons and benefits offered by each card.

How to get a USAA card

While USAA cards are fairly competitive and carry low or no fees, they do require USAA membership. To be eligible for USAA membership, you must be active duty, Guard or Reserve, veteran or an eligible family member (i.e., adult children of USAA members), cadet or midshipmen. To find out if you qualify for membership, you can call USAA at 800-531-8722 and say “join USAA.”

How does USAA confirm membership eligibility?

If you are not directly related to a USAA member, which can qualify you for immediate membership, then you may be asked to submit documents to determine if you meet the requirements, such as:

  • Drivers license, passport or state-issued ID
  • Military verification, such as discharge certificate, military orders, leave and earning statement, or a DD214 Member 4 copy (including discharge type)

These documents can be uploaded to USAA on its website or mailed to the address provided on that webpage.

Best USAA card for travel rewards: USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining, 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries, 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases

  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase

  • $0 annual fee, no penalty APR & no foreign transaction fee

Highlights
  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X points for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

More Info

The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has a fairly generous rewards program that would benefit USAA members who eat out often and would like to earn rewards on gas and grocery expenses that can be redeemed for travel, cash back or statement credits.

Pros:

Competitive rewards program earning structure: Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining, 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries, 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

Lack of fees. There is no annual fee, no penalty APR and no foreign transaction fee.

Special 4% SCRA rate for active-duty personnel. The lower APR will apply on any balance you’re carrying on your card when you enter active military duty.

Other benefits: Extended warranty protection, travel accident and baggage delay insurance.

Cons:

Low welcome offer. For the welcome offer, you’ll only get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase.

No promotional 0% APR purchase or balance transfer offer. If you need a card offering 0% introductory APR, this card doesn’t have it.

Best USAA card for cash back: USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

If you’re looking for a cashback card, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card is worth a look, especially if you live on or near a military base.

Pros:

High cashback rate for military base shopping. The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card offers a generous 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in combined gas station and military base purchases yearly, 2% cash back on your first $3,000 in grocery purchases yearly, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Lack of fees: There is no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and no penalty APR with this card.

Special 4% SCRA rate for active-duty personnel. The lower APR will apply on any balance you’re carrying on your card when you enter active military duty.

Other benefits: Extended warranty protection, travel accident and baggage delay insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and interruption coverage up to $1,500 per covered person when you purchase your ticket with the card, concierge services and identity theft assistance.

Cons

No welcome offer. The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card does not reward new cardmembers with a welcome offer.

Maximum cashback earning potential on the 5X and 3x rewards is limited to $210 annually (not including what you may earn on the 1% purchases).

No promotional 0% APR offer for purchases or balance transfers.

Best USAA card for balance transfers: USAA Military Affiliate Visa Signature® Card

USAA offers numerous card designs based on military affiliation for the USAA Military Affiliate Visa Signature® Card, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and veteran groups. What sets this card apart from other USAA cards is its 0% Introductory APR for 12 months for balance transfers, allowing the cardholder an extended interest-free period to transfer and pay off other high-interest debt. Note that a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer applies.

Pros:

0% intro APR. 0% Introductory APR for 12 months for balance transfers made within the first three months of card approval. After, a 12.40% to 27.40% variable APR applies.

Sign-up bonus. While not very generous, there is a bonus of 2,500 bonus points after your first purchase.

Lack of fees. There is no annual fee, no penalty APR and no foreign transaction fee.

Cons

Low rewards earning at 1X points on every purchase.

Best USAA card for low APR: USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

  • 8.40% - 25.40% Variable

  • Rental Car Insurance, Price Protection, Extended Warranty & more

  • $0 annual fee, no penalty APR & no foreign transaction fee

Highlights
  • Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

More Info

If you tend to carry a balance from time to time and are looking for a low-rate card, USAA has one of the lowest on the market, carrying a variable APR of 8.40% - 25.40% variable. If you have a solid credit score and credit history, you may qualify for the low end of the APR range, making this a good card to have in your wallet for when you need to roll over a balance now and then.

Pros:

Low APR. If you qualify for the low APR range on this card, it’s ideal to have on hand for emergency expenses.

Lack of fees. There is no annual fee, no penalty APR, no over-the-limit fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Special 4% SCRA rate for active-duty personnel. The lower APR will apply on any balance you’re carrying on your card when you enter active military duty.

Additional benefits: Extended warranty protection, travel accident and baggage delay insurance, identity theft support.

Cons:

No guarantee you’ll qualify for the low APR. The USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card has a wide APR range, and the APR is typically set based on your creditworthiness.

No sign-up bonus. This is a no-frills card. The draw is the chance for low ongoing APR.

No promotional 0% APR offer for purchases or balance transfers. If you’re looking for a card with a 0% interest period to let you pay off debt, there are better options. But if you need to roll over a balance from time to time and want to do it at a low interest rate, the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card could be the card you need.

How to redeem USAA cashback rewards

To check your cashback balance earned with a USAA cashback card, go to the USAA Rewards Service Center after logging into usaa.com or by calling 800-980-8722. Cashback must be redeemed for no less than $1 increments and can be redeemed toward your statement balance or deposited into a USAA checking or savings account.

How to redeem USAA rewards points

Points don’t expire as long as the card account remains open.

Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash (either as a statement credit or deposited into a USAA checking or savings account, charitable contributions or applied toward a cruise travel rewards.

To redeem or view your points, log into usaa.com and go to the USAA Rewards Service Center or call 800-980-8722.

If redeeming for a cruise, call USAA Member Travel Privileges at 800-571-4208.

Compare the best USAA cards:

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card USAA Military Affiliate Visa Signature® Card USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card
Annual fee $0 None $0 $0
Regular purchase APR 11.40% - 27.40% variable 13.40% to 27.40% variable 12.40% to 27.40% variable 8.40% - 25.40% variable
Rewards Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining, 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries, 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in combined gas station and military base purchases yearly, 2% cash back on your first $3,000 in grocery purchases yearly, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. 1X points on every purchase Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card, Pay no annual fee, no penalty APR & no foreign transaction fee
Welcome bonus Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase. None 2,500 bonus points after your first purchase. None
Balance transfer offer None None 0% Introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers and convenience checks that post within the first 3 months. Then, an APR of 12.40% to 27.40% variable applies. None
Foreign transaction fee None None None None

FAQs on USAA cards

How do I apply for a USAA card?

You must be a USAA member in order to qualify for a USAA credit card. If you are not a member, visit the membership page on usaa.com. If you are already a member, then proceed to usaa.com’s website and view the credit card selections. Once you decide which card to apply for, click the “get started” button, which will take you to the application.

What credit score do I need for a USAA credit card?

You will likely need a good or excellent credit score to qualify for a USAA credit card. Read more about what’s considered a “good” credit score in our guide.

Can I add a family member to USAA?

If you are a USAA member, your eligible immediate family members may also join USAA. Eligible family members include biological children, stepchildren, spouses, widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage.

Do USAA credit cards have foreign transaction fees?

The credit cards chosen for our list of best USAA credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.

How do you add your USAA card to ApplePay?

You can add a USAA credit card to Apple Pay through the USAA Mobile App or through your device settings. For instructions, visit this webpage.


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