Men and women who serve in the military have a lot to think about. They’re risking their lives for our country every day.
Finances and credit shouldn’t be one of the things they have to worry about, especially arguing for better rates and getting assistance where needed.
We offer our picks for the best credit cards for military members. But, before diving into the top five, let’s take a few moments to understand one of the best and most important benefits military members receive, courtesy of The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
What is SCRA?
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides credit benefits to men and women who are entering, called into active duty, or deployed in the military. It puts restrictions on how much credit card issuers can charge you in interest and fees, as well as on the terms they can hold you to if you’re an active duty service member.
Creditors have to follow these mandates by law, but many of them will up the ante and offer you benefits beyond those required by the SCRA, including some of the cards listed below.
If you’re an active duty servicemember, I highly suggest you read all about SCRA and how it impacts you before making any type of financial decisions.
Overview of the best credit cards for military members
|Credit card||Best for|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Everyday cash rewards|
|Platinum Card® from American Express ||Generous travel rewards|
|Citi® Double Cash Card ||Balance transfers|
What We Like:
1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.
No foreign transaction fees and a modest $39 annual fee.
If you don’t have the greatest credit in the world, this is the military card for you. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card gives you 1.5% unlimited cash back on any purchase.
After six months, Capital One will automatically review your credit limit. This is valuable for someone who will be traveling and in need of more credit during active duty.
The card has no foreign transaction fees, and your annual fee of $39 is waived while you’re on active duty. Your interest rate is capped at 4% while you’re on active duty.
One other perk of this card is the extension of SCRA benefits beyond just traditional military members. For example, Capital One will provide the same benefits an active duty member would receive through SCRA to someone in the National Guard.
Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is hands down one of the best travel rewards cards you can get. To start, there are no foreign transaction fees.
And if you’re staying in hotels while traveling, you’re automatically given Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status, which gives you all kinds of perks. You’ll get a $200 airline fee credit to use for things such as in-flight meals and baggage fees, as well as a $100 credit toward Global Entry or an $85 credit toward TSAPre✓®. Finally, with this card, you’ll receive complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges.
This really is THE travel card to have. So what makes it so good for military members specifically? American Express will waive the steep $550 annual fee for all active-duty military members.
This is a little-known trick that many gloss over. You will just need to call the number on the back of your card to get started with the process.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card claims to be the “best cash back credit card.” It works in a different way than most cash back cards.
You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay your bill. So if you pay your bill in full, you’ll get a full 2% cash back.
Citi gives military members 0% interest during active duty and waives any and all service fees on the account. You’ll also get no foreign transaction fee while on active duty, which is a huge bonus if you’re using the card out of the country.
The Double Cash card also offers good rates on balance transfers as well as one of my favorite Citi features: Price Rewind. Basically if something you buy drops in price within 60 days, Citi will credit you the difference. There are exceptions, of course, so make sure to research the details.
Summary of the best military credit cards
|Credit card||Military benefits||Rewards||Annual fee|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||4% APR on existing balance during active duty|
Annual fee waived during active duty
|1.5% cash back on all purchases||$39 (when not on active duty)|
|Platinum Card® From Amex||Waived annual fee during active duty||5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel|
5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com
|$550 (when not on active duty)|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||0% interest during active duty||1% when you buy, another 1% back when you pay off your card||None|
Methodology – how I came up with this list
When creating this list, I took into account, not just what military benefits are offered by each card, but the card as a whole. I looked at each card’s annual fee, rewards, and interest rates.
Thanks to SCRA, many of the credit cards on this list go a step further and cancel their annual fees if they have any.
This is an especially good perk for cards like the Platinum® Card from Amex. It has a whopping $550 annual fee – so not having to pay that can be a huge relief when you’re on active duty.
I wanted to include credit cards that offered rewards in addition to military benefits. But I also wanted to include cards that offer different types of rewards.
For example, I included the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card for cash back rewards and I included the Platinum Card® from American Express for travel rewards.
Since this is a list of the best credit cards for military members, it was obviously important to find cards that had great military benefits.
All of these cards offer SCRA benefits.
Interest and balance transfer rates
I also included cards that offer better balance transfer and interest rates to military members.
Having a lower interest rate can be of great help to a spouse who’s husband or wife is on active duty. It can take away some financial burden at a time when it’s needed most.
When I am not on active duty, will I need to pay an annual fee and other waived fees?
Cards like the Platinum Card® waive their annual fee for active-duty military members only.
If you’re not on active duty or you’re a veteran, you will have to pay the regular annual fee. The same goes for the waived interest rate associated with the Citi Double Cash.
I’m an active duty military member, does my family get the same credit card benefits?
That’ll vary on a card-by-card basis. But SCRA applies to joint accounts as well as personal accounts, so your spouse will get any of the benefits you do as long as you’re both listed on the account.
Are there any credit card perks specific to veterans?
Unfortunately, most of the benefits under SCRA apply only to military members on active duty. If you’re a U.S. veteran, USAA credit cards are a great place to start when looking for benefits. USAA credit cards are designed for military members and veterans, so you’ll still find great rates and benefits.
As a member of the military, you’re given excellent financial benefits on things like credit cards. Know your rights, know the law, and look at our top picks to find the absolute best card for you whether you’re on active duty or in the reserves.