Best Credit Cards for Active Duty Members
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Best Credit Cards for Active Duty Members

Reviewed by Tanza Loudenback

Military members often face unique financial challenges despite being responsible and committed to serving the country. But which are the best credit cards for those in the U.S. military?

Being a member of the U.S. Military comes with a number of benefits, as well it should. Among those are a number of special credits, exemptions, and benefits that can result in real financial gain for those who use them. See below for some of the frequently asked questions around credit card benefits for Military members, as well as our recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions :

If I'm an active-duty military, will my family get the same credit card benefits?

It's not guaranteed since it varies on a card-to-card basis. But you can opt for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) since it's valid for joint and personal accounts. This means that both you and your spouse will get equal benefits if you're both listed on the same account.

SCRA mainly protects military members from default charges. It also allows the court to stay proceedings for the military debtors.

Apart from that, the act covers the following:

  • Security deposits
  • Income tax payments
  • Credit card interest rate
  • Mortgage interest rates
  • Health insurance
  • Installment contracts
  • Prepaid rent
  • Evictions
  • Mortgage foreclosures
  • Civil judicial proceedings
  • Rental agreements
  • Automobile leases
  • Life insurance

Will I Need to Pay an Annual and Other Waived Fees When I Am Not on Duty?

Yes, you'll have to pay the regular annual fee if you are a veteran or not on active duty. It also applies to the waived interest rate linked to the Citi Double Cash.

You can also go for the Platinum Card, where the annual fee is waived exclusively for active-duty military members.

The Credit Cards That Waive the Annual Fee for the Military

Among the credit card issuers that waive the annual fee for active-duty military, Chase and American Express are the most valued.

Unlike other credit cards, these cards don't apply the benefits to those acquired before active duty. This means you can apply for credit cards with either of the two cards while on active duty since you'll have your fee waived if you qualify.

Are there Credit Card Perks Specific to Veterans?

There isn't since most of the SCRA benefits are for military members on active duty. For U.S. veterans, the USSA credit cards are what you'll need if you want to enjoy the benefits. Such cards have great rates for both military and veteran members.

Will Chase Waive Your Annual Fee If You Are an Active Military Member?

Yes, but you need to qualify for the service to enjoy the Chase waive even on your other account.

Among these, you'll get the privilege of using the Premium Travel Rewards card and Chase Sapphire Reserve card with a yearly fee of $550.

What Maximum Interest Rate Does the Active-Duty Military Pay for Their Credit Cards?

The associated account fees govern the active-duty military credit card interest rates, and the Military Lending Act (MLA) limits interest rates. They allow up to 36% maximum APR for secured credit cards while on active duty.

If you secure a credit card before active duty, it will be governed by the SCRA. You'll have limited interest rates of only 6% APR. The same will also apply to your other account fees.

The Credit Cards That Waive the Fee for the Retired Military

Even though SCRA and MLA only benefit the active military, some benefits can go for at least 15 months after active duty.

Despite this, veterans can enjoy credit card offers including other prime services from several financial institutions, including:

  • USAA
  • PenFed
  • Navy Federal Credit Union

How You Can Benefit From Credit Cards While in the Military

Some of the bonuses and perks offered by credit card issuers include the cap interest rates, waived annual fees, and cash back for purchases of up to a specific amount.

Due to the different policies of the credit card issuers, some companies will offer the above services on request or a case-by-case basis. However, other companies will opt to advertise the perks as a current feature for their credit programs.

It would be nice to know that all active members should receive the federally mandated perks on request.

What Credit Card Benefits Should You Ask for While Signing Up for a New Credit Card Account as a Military Member?

As an active military member, you may have a credit card, but you might only be enjoying some if not all of the below benefits. If so, consider calling the issuing company or apply for a new one with the following benefits:

If you are in the U.S. military, do your due diligence before making your final financial decision. Only you know your financial strengths or weaknesses. The credit cards we have provided above have different benefits, and you can determine which one is the best for you.

If you have any issues with your current credit card, don't hesitate to contact your card issuer. To learn more about your benefits as a service member, apply for SCRA benefits!

Thomas Donaldson is's credit card expert. His work has been featured by USA Today, NBC News, Business Insider and many more.

Tanza Loudenback is a CFP® certificant, writer, and editor. From 2015 to 2021, she was a top-read author and editor at Business Insider. Her work focuses on helping people make smart decisions with their money and is published by a variety of online publications. Full Bio

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