The Best USAA Credit Cards Reviewed

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) was founded in the 1920s by a group of US Army officers who were frustrated at being deemed “high-risk” for insurance simply because they were serving. In the decades that followed, it expanded from insurance into several other financial services, before entering the banking service industry in the 1980s.

Today, the USAA offers a plethora of credit cards, all of which are aimed at serving military members and their families. In this guide, we’ll look at the very best of these cards, tell you how you can qualify, and compare them to similar cards being offered elsewhere.

How to Qualify for USAA Credit Cards

You need to be a member of the USAA to qualify for one of the organization’s reward cards, and membership requires you to be one of the following:

  • On active duty
  • In the National Guard or Reserve
  • A military veteran
  • An eligible family member of a serving member or veteran
  • Grown children of USAA members
  • A cadet or midshipman

There is no charge for USAA membership and providing you meet the aforementioned criteria you can join and qualify for a USAA credit card.

USAA Membership

If you’re not a member then applying for any of the USAA rewards cards listed on this page can seem like a bit of a chore. After all, you have to become a member first and jump through several hoops before you can even complete the application. However, in addition to the benefits provided by the USAA card, you’ll also get the following benefits offered by USAA membership:

  • Get paid quickly with Direct Deposit of all military pay
  • Competitive rates on main insurance products (health insurance, life insurance, home insurance)
  • Additional coverage available (pet, boat, and small business)
  • Access to over 60,000 USAA ATMs nationwide
  • Auto insurance discounts
  • Roadside assistance coverage
  • Budgeting tools and assistance
  • Discounts on car rentals and other travel essentials
  • Shopping and shipping discounts on a host of products

The Best USAA Credit Card Offers

With USAA credit cards, you’re guaranteed great customer support and can rely on low fees and interest rates. You’ll still need a relatively good credit score, however, and simply being offered by a respected organization like USAA doesn’t automatically mean it has the best credit cards and the most generous rewards.

We have listed a few of the best USAA credit cards below to help you make your choice.

USAA Rewards American Express Card

  • Annual Fee: No
  • Regular APR: 11.40% to 27.40% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score Required: Good
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Rewards Program: Between 1x and 3x points
  • Sign-up Bonus: 2,500 bonus points when you make your first purchase

The USAA Rewards AmEx is a low interest rate card with a high rewards rate. You can earn as many as 3x points every time you spend a dollar on dining purchases and 2x on gas stations and groceries, with a 1x rate for all other purchases. These are cash back rewards as opposed to travel rewards, so they can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and cash.

As with most USAA credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees or penalty rates, but you will be charged a cash advance fee.

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card

  • Annual Fee: No
  • Regular APR: 8.40% to 25.40% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score Required: Good
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Rewards Program: N/A
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

The USAA Visa Platinum card is designed for consumers who don’t clear their balance in full every month. The interest rate is very low for an unsecured credit card and while there is no introductory APR, you can move your money across with a balance transfer. You’ll pay just 3% in balance transfer feeds and these are capped at $200.

The USAA Visa Platinum doesn’t have a rewards program and that can be a bit of a turn off, but very few reward programs will earn enough to offset interest and fees accrued from unpaid balances. So, if you don’t pay that balance in full, this could be the card for you.

USAA Cash Back Rewards Plus American Express Card

  • Annual Fee: No
  • Regular APR: 13.40% to 27.40% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score Required: Good
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Rewards Program: Up to 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

The ultimate USAA cash back card offers 5% cash back when you spend money at gas stations and military bases. There is a limit of $3,000 per year, after which the rate returns to 1%, and there is also a 2% cash back rate applied to the first $3,000 you spend at supermarkets.

The only thing letting this credit card down is the lack of a sign-up bonus and intro rate, but if it’s a USAA cash back card you seek and you have a low to average income, this could be the one for you.

USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card

  • Annual Fee: No
  • Regular APR: 13.40% to 27.40% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Minimum Credit Score Required: Good
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Rewards Program: 1.5% flat rate on all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

If you spend a little more than the average or you don’t use your card for many gas or supermarket purchases, the USAA Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card could be a better alternative to the cash back card discussed above.

There are no bonus categories here and no 5% rate. Instead, you’ll earn a fixed rate of 1.5% on every dollar that you spend, with no limits whatsoever. What’s more, because it’s a Visa Signature card, you’ll benefit from additional financial products and perks, including travel protection, purchase protection, and more.

Best USAA Card for You

We have highlighted some of the best cards above, but these span a host of different pros and cons and the one that is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances. All these cards are available for current and former members of the US military (as well as their families) none of them require Excellent credit reports and scores, and all offer good rates. If you meet the criteria, it’s worth taking a look. Just make sure you keep the following in mind:

  • If you Don’t Pay Your Balance – Look for a low interest rate credit card and focus on the interest above the rewards.
  • If you Don’t Spend a Lot – Look for cards that have fixed cash back bonus categories.
  • If you Spend a Lot – It’s all about unlimited rates.
  • You Travel a Lot – There are no specific travel rewards or foreign transaction fees, but if you travel a lot you may benefit more from a Visa (such as the Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature) as it is accepted in more locations around the world.

Alternatives to USAA Credit Cards

Although the USAA offers some great credit cards with excellent reward schemes and perks, you should always see what you can get elsewhere and compare all other highly-rated credit cards in your comparisons. To help you do just that, here is a selection of other top credit cards, all of which offer rewards. 

Blue Cash Preferred American Express

There are two types of Blue Cash cards from American Express. The first is the most basic form and is known as the Blue Cash Everyday. It offers a steady cash back rate for everyday purchases but is somewhat limited in its scope. The Blue Cash Preferred card, however, doesn’t have those strict limitations and is far more generous.

With the Blue Cash Preferred credit card, you can earn up to 6% cash back on the things you buy every day. At the time of writing, there are bonus rates of 6% and 3% that apply to subscription services and domestic travel costs respectively, but there are also fixed rates of 6% for supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year), 3% for gas stations, and 1% for everything else.

The Blue Cash Preferred credit card has an annual fee of $95, so you will need to earn a couple hundred bucks in rewards to make this a viable credit card, and there is a welcome bonus that gives you $2450 in statement credit when you meet the qualifying criteria.

Chase Freedom Credit Card

The Chase Freedom card is one of the most popular in the United States and can be found in the pockets of countless consumers nationwide. It offers up to 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 each quarter) and it has a flat rate of 1% that applies after this limit has been reached and for all non-bonus categories.

Chase Freedom cardholders can also collect a sizeable sign-up bonus of $150 when they spend $500 following the first three months from the account opening. There are many redemption options available, including gift cards, statement credit, and cash transferred to Chase checking accounts.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards Credit Card

If you quickly reach the quarterly spending limits set by the Chase Freedom credit card or you don’t spend much money on the bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited may be a better fit.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a fixed rate of 1.5%, 50% higher than the fixed rate offered by the Chase Freedom card. There are no bonus categories, but this higher fixed rate means you’ll earn more points when you spend on non-qualifying categories.

What’s more, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a very reasonable interest rate and there is no annual fee to worry about.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express

Earn 20,000 reward points when you use the Wells Fargo Propel credit card to make $1,000 worth of purchases in the first three months, with no annual fee weighing you down and respectable interest rates offered to most applicants.

The reward scheme returns 3 points for certain qualifying purchases (covering most common bonus categories) and 1 point for everything else, with no blackout dates, no limit to the amount of points that can be earned, and the chance to transfer these points to other Wells Fargo credit cards.