Best Military Credit Card

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deadlymonkey
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:22 pm

Best Military Credit Card

Post by deadlymonkey » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:13 am

Does anyone have a recommendation about the best Credit Card to use for Active Duty Military? First, I do not carry a balance (ever). Second, I am stationed overseas so no foreign transaction fees are best. My family and I travel A LOT so a card that gives points for that is beneficial. Looking around it seems like the Chase Sapphire Reserve might fit the bill. It has a $450 fee that is waived for military. Does anyone have experience with that card or another recommendation? I have always just used my USAA card in the past which is convenient but I feel like I'm missing out on some potential rewards.

feehater
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by feehater » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:51 am

CSR is a good one. That is probably the best since you travel a lot. Amex Platinum also waives fees for military and has no foreign transaction fees. Both those cards also come with a Global Entry reimbursement, free lounges, etc. If you want to get fancy/greedy, you could each have your own account with each of these cards, and be raking in lots of these credits each year without paying the annual fees.

This website has a lot more explanations. https://militarymoneymanual.com/amp/

Edited to add: I have both cards and like them both fine, although I tire of playing all of the games that some people do to totally maximize points redemption.

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Ketawa
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Location: DC

Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by Ketawa » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:13 am

If you are looking for just one card, I would get the CSR.

The AMEX Platinum Schwab card is also a good option since you can cash out all Membership Rewards points at 1.25 cents, effectively making all MR earning cards 1.25% cash back or better, which is relatively rare for cards with no FTF. This also makes the AMEX Gold card 5% cash back at restaurants.

I find using transferable points or travel portals a PITA and would rather get simple cash value for points, and 1.25 cents is pretty good for MR points. I cashed out a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points for 1 cent each since I would have needed to wait over 2 years to apply for the CSR due to the 48 month rule.

If you are planning to get many cards, I would start with whatever assorted Chase cards you want due to the 5/24 rule, then pivot to AMEX.

Even if you don't want to churn cards or carry a lot of them due to complexity, you can get a lot of AMEX cards with annual benefits that add up. I currently have 3 different AMEX Platinum cards (regular, Schwab, Mercedes-Benz), AMEX Hilton Aspire, and AMEX Gold that add up to $950 in airline credits that I put towards airline gift cards (check FlyerTalk for the process and data points). I also get $600 in Uber credits, status with hotels, etc.

krafty81
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Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by krafty81 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:51 am

I have a PENFED gas card that returns 5% with no limits. Not sure if they still offer that. PENFED cards on base or Costco works great. Where I live Costco gas is cheaper than the bases.

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Ketawa
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Location: DC

Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by Ketawa » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:54 am

krafty81 wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:51 am
I have a PENFED gas card that returns 5% with no limits. Not sure if they still offer that. PENFED cards on base or Costco works great. Where I live Costco gas is cheaper than the bases.
The PenFed Cash Rewards card with automatic 5% cash back on gas is no longer available to new applicants.

MichCPA
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by MichCPA » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:27 am

My choice for OP would be CSR for simplicity (the one card with least hassle getting value from pts and credits) and better for overseas use. Amex would be best overall for a multi card setup right now, but they are less accepted overseas and even where they are accepted you are limited to 1x pts on many foreign transactions. Also the credit are harder to use (esp overseas).

He are some relevant perks:

AMEX Plat- $200 Uber credit (15 mo and 35 in Dec) $200 airline incidental credit (less versatile than Chase credit but can be used for gift cards) $100 Saks credit ($50 per half year). If you can get multiple AMEX cards on the military discount, US based service members might consider the Gold too $100 airline and $120 dining (less useful for OP because bonus pts are US only and no idea how you could use dining credit overseas, its limited). The Green is rumored to be refreshed with 4x on gas, 3x on streaming services and an Amazon Prime credit.

CSR- $300 credit that includes almost all travel, smaller but much simpler to use. Primary Rental card coverage and 6 hr trip delay coverage. Point worth minimum 1.5 CPP on Chase portal As mentioned above you can combine with Freedom (5% rotating becomes 7.25% using Chase 1.5x portal) and freedom unlimited ( just under 2% on everything with the 1.5x transfer)

Thank you for your service

3504PIR
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by 3504PIR » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:12 pm

OP, I would look at the availability of using any AMEX product at you location and likely travel destinations. AMEX doesn’t usually work well in Europe for example.

We use the Chase Sapphire card which allows very good travel points and points in general, and is very easy to use those points in a variety of vendors like airlines and hotel chains. I got my Chase card at an APO which was also a bonus as I had trouble with other cards requiring a US address, which you’ll find common as you g through the application process.

Mathew675
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by Mathew675 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:18 pm

Look into the AMEX platinum card. $450 fee is waived for active duty military.

krafty81
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Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by krafty81 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:44 pm

AMEX also gets Centurion Lounge Access anywhere and Delta lounge access if you are flying Delta.

SwampDonkey
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by SwampDonkey » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:37 pm

If you are looking for simplicity, USAA has a credit card with minimal perks but it offers 2.5% cash back on ALL purchases with no limitations. I don't know of any other cards on the market that offer this. The card is not available to everyone so if you are interested, you may need to call and ask if you qualify.

criticalmass
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Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by criticalmass » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:05 am

SwampDonkey wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:37 pm
If you are looking for simplicity, USAA has a credit card with minimal perks but it offers 2.5% cash back on ALL purchases with no limitations. I don't know of any other cards on the market that offer this. The card is not available to everyone so if you are interested, you may need to call and ask if you qualify.
USAA no longer issues new Limitless Cashback rewards cards with the 2.5% as of late 2017/early 2018. (That card requires $1000 monthly DD to a USAA checking account to get the full 2.5% cashback).

For military, these are my favorites:

American Express Platinum Card
$550 annual fee waived for military. $200 uber credits per year (divided per month); $200 airline fee credit; Global Lounges: Centurion, Delta Sky Lounge, Priority Pass; fee credit for Global Entry (Military doesn't need pre-check although this may work with additional card holders), Gold status with Starwood & Hilton, various others.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa: $450 annual fee waived for military. This card has tons of benefits, including Priority Pass lounges worldwide, fee credit for global entry, (Military doesn't need pre-check), signup bonus of 50,000 points=$750 in Ultimate Rewards, point transfers to airline/hotels, certain benefits at Luxury Collection hotels, 50% bonus when redeeming UR points for travel. Extra points earned on travel and dining.

Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card Visa $450 annual fee waived for military. Tons of United and travel benefits.

Hilton Honors Aspire American Express $450 annual fee waived for military. Tons of travel + Hilton benefits. Priority Pass Select lounges for cardholder + 2 guests. $250 annual Hilton resort credit. $250 annual airline fee credit.

The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card: 5% cash back for the first $3,000 spent each year on gasoline and military base purchases, which include commissaries, exchanges, and shops on base.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. $95 annual fee waived for military. 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, U.S. department stores. $200 signup bonus, spend $1000 in first 90 days.


NOTE: CHECK IF FEE WAIVERS ARE EFFECTIVE FOR MILITARY PRIOR TO APPLYING. SOME CARDS MAY ONLY WAIVE FEES FOR SCRA BENEFITS, MEANING FEE WAIVER MAY ONLY APPLY FOR CARDS ISSUED PRIOR TO ENTERING MILITARY. OTHER CARDS WAIVE FEES FOR ALL MILITARY MEMBERS.

Golf maniac
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Location: Florida

Re: Best Military Credit Card

Post by Golf maniac » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:53 am

A slightly different question than the original poster, my son is 18 and joining the Navy. He has no credit but looking for his first credit card for building credit. He has a Navy Federal checking and savings account opened along with a Allly savings. I have taught him the importance of savings and have discussed his TSP options but I am less knowledgeable about credit cards (I have stuck with the USAA card for ease).

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