*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Oct 09, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you’re looking to earn rewards for restaurant and gas purchases, and you’re a military member, veteran or an eligible family member, take a look at the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card . We evaluate what the card offers, who qualifies for USAA membership and alternative cards you may want to consider.
In this article:
- Who is eligible for USAA membership?
- Rewards breakdown for the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card
- Where the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card stands out
- Additional benefits
- Where the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card falls short
- Compare it with the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card
- The bottom line
Who is eligible for USAA membership?
You may qualify for USAA membership if:
- You’re currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard or reserves.
- You are retired or separated from the U.S. military with an honorable discharge.
- You’re a widow, widower or unremarried former spouse of a USAA member who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage.
- Your parents are USAA members.
- You’re a cadet or midshipman at a U.S. service academy or an affiliated academy preparatory school.
- You’re in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship.
- You’re an officer candidate within 24 months of commissioning.
Rewards breakdown for the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card
Frequent drivers and foodies can benefit from the rewards program that is geared toward purchases in those categories — 2x points on gas and dining out, 1x points on all other qualifying purchases. There is no limit to how many rewards points you can earn as long as your credit card account is in good standing, and the card’s annual fee is $0.
Qualifying purchases for the dining category include those made at restaurants and fast-food establishments. For the gas category, a qualifying purchase covers gasoline at a business that primarily sells gas to consumers (such as Shell and Exxon Mobile stations).
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 the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card stands out
Wide range of travel benefits. This card offers numerous travel benefits that can be helpful when you’re away from home, including auto rental collision coverage, travel and emergency assistance, trip cancellation and coverage, baggage delay reimbursement and extended warranty protection. Check out the additional card benefits section below for more details. Plus, there’s no foreign transaction fee, saving you the typical 3% fee some other cards charge on purchases outside the United States.
Chance to benefit from lower military interest rate. USAA offers a reduced interest rate of 4% on credit card and other loan debt incurred prior to active duty. That’s better than the reduced rate of 6% required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Note that charges put on your card before active duty may qualify, but charges put on your card during or after active duty will not qualify. You can find out more about this benefit here.
The USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card has several perks, including:
- 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. (Within your country of residence, this is secondary coverage, meaning your personal automobile insurance will kick in first, then the credit card’s coverage.)
- 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 (such as an airplane or train) and cancel travel or cut your trip short due to covered situations, such as 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 from home.
Should you find yourself in need of any of these benefits, a USAA representative can assist you when you call 844-288-2141.
*Terms apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more detail.
Where the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card falls short
This card is an overall decent choice that has no major setbacks. However, one factor that competing cards outdo is the 1-point-per-dollar rewards rate on purchases other than gas and dining. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a cashback program where you can earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer could be appealing if you want flat-rate cash back on every purchase, though it doesn’t offer some of the benefits that the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card does.
Compare it with the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card
3X points on dining out, 2X points on gas and groceries and 1X points on all other qualifying purchases
2,500 bonus points after your first qualifying purchase
$0 annual fee, no penalty APR & no foreign transaction fee
- 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
Though the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card offers decent value on dining and gas purchases, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has a more robust rewards program. 3X points on dining out, 2X points on gas and groceries and 1X points on all other qualifying purchases.
Here’s how the two cards stack up:
|USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card||USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card|
|Welcome offer||2,500 bonus points after your first qualifying purchase||2,500 bonus points after your first qualifying purchase|
|Regular purchase APR||11.40% - 27.40% Variable||11.40% - 27.40% Variable|
|Rewards||2X points on gas and dining out, 1X points on all other qualifying purchases||3X points on dining out, 2X points on gas and groceries and 1X points on all other qualifying purchases|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None|
If you’re looking to maximize the rewards you earn on dining, it’s clear the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card wins out. If you spend $1,200 on eligible purchases in a year, for example, that’s 3,600 rewards points at the 3X rate, but only 2,400 rewards points at the 2X rate you’d get with the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card.
However, it’s worth noting that Visa is more commonly accepted outside the United States than American Express. For military members who may be deployed abroad, this could be a reason to apply for the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card.
The bottom line
Military members and their eligible family members who spend a lot on dining and gas may see good value in the USAA® Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card. However, if you’re looking for a rewards program with higher rewards rates on dining and groceries, check out the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card.