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USAA Rewards American Express Card Review

*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 Jun 14, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Who the card is best for

If you’re a military member or an eligible family member who often spends on dining, gas and groceries, you may benefit from the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card. This card has a $0 annual fee and a wide range of benefits suitable for frequent travelers. If you’re looking for a different type of rewards card, particularly one that earns rewards in other categories such as travel, check out our lists of the best travel, rewards and cashback cards.

  • 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

Rewards breakdown

This card is ideal for cardholders who spend on dining, gas and groceries — 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.

Here are examples of qualifying purchases in each category:

  • Dining: restaurants and fast food restaurants
  • Gas: purchases made at businesses that primarily sell gas to consumers (e.g. Shell and Exxon stations)
  • Grocery: purchases made at businesses that primarily sell non-wholesale groceries to consumers (i.e. supermarkets and neighborhood grocery stores)*

*Note: Grocery purchases made at discount stores, wholesale stores, and warehouse clubs are not included in the grocery category. That means grocery purchases at Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club are excluded.

The value of rewards points vary, but you can redeem them in a variety of ways:

  • Airline tickets
  • Merchandise and gift cards
  • Cash rewards
  • Donation to participating charities
  • Cruise tickets

Refer to the terms and conditions of the rewards program for more detail.

Where this card stands out in its category

Well-rounded rewards program. This card has a robust rewards program that is deal for spenders in gas, grocery and dining. 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 Plus, this card doesn’t have caps on the amount you can earn in the 3x and 2x categories while some other cards do.

USAA provides all its credit card holders with military interest rate benefits. If you’re an active duty military member and are deployed while your account is in good standing, you may receive a reduced interest rate of 4%. Purchases made before and after active duty may be covered if you qualify. This is a helpful feature that can save you racking up high interest charges while you serve and is a better rate than the 6% provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Find out more about this benefit here.

Where this card falls short in its category

Overall, this card is a solid offering, but if we had to point out one factor that may be outmatched by other cards, it would be the 1x rewards rate you earn on purchases outside of gas, grocery, and dining.

You can find cards that offer higher rewards rates on everyday purchases such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offering cardholders the ability to Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.. However, those cards may lack the wide range of benefits the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card provides.

Additional card benefits

The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has several added perks that you can utilize by calling 888-884-6643:

  • Rental car insurance*: When you rent an eligible vehicle for 31 consecutive days or less, you may be covered for damage or theft, reasonable loss of use charges, and towing charges.
  • Travel accident insurance*: Pay for your trip with your card and you may receive coverage for accidental death or dismemberment up to a maximum of $500,000.
  • Baggage delay insurance*: Use your card to pay for your trip fare and if your baggage is delayed more than four hours, you may be reimbursed for incidentals up to $100 a day for three days.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance*: When you pay for travel on a common carrier (airplane, train) and cancel travel or cut your trip short due to covered situations like accidental injury or physical illness, you may be reimbursed up to $1,500.
  • Travel assistance services*: Receive referrals for emergency medical assistance and legal issues when you travel 100 miles or more from home.
  • Road assist service*: If your card breaks down during a trip in the 50 United States or D.C., simply call 888-884-6643 and assistance will be on the way for many services like gas delivery, tire changes and towing.

*Terms Apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more detail.

Compare it with the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card

The USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card is very similar to the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card — the main difference is the rewards programs offered by each card. While they both offer have rewards programs tailored to gas and dining spending, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card also includes the category of grocery purchases — 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. That’s compared to the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card where you can Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and dining and earn one point for every dollar spent on all purchases.

  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and dining and earn one point for every dollar spent on all purchases

  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase

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

Highlights
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and dining with no cap
  • 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™ Visa Signature® Card

More Info

Looking at both rewards programs side-by-side, it’s clear that the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has a more robust offering than the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card. And, as both cards have the same terms, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card may be a better choice — especially if you often dine out and spend on groceries.

Here’s a breakdown of the key features of each card:

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee $0 $0
Regular Purchase APR 11.90% - 27.90% Variable 11.90% - 27.90% 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 Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and dining and earn one point for every dollar spent on all purchases
Foreign Transaction Fee None None

Bottom Line

The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card is a great offering for military members and their eligible family members who want to benefit from a $0 annual fee card with a well-rounded rewards program.


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