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All information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Credit Card, Navy Federal Credit Union GO REWARDS® Credit Card was collected independently by Slickdeals and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Active duty military members (and sometimes their dependents) can benefit from credit card programs that waive fees and extend low-interest offers. Many of these relief efforts are a result of federal law set in place through programs like the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and Military Lending Act. We go over the unique credit card perks offered by card issuers and give our top picks for the best credit cards for active-duty military personnel.

Unique Credit Card Perks for Servicemembers

Below are some of the incentives you should look for in a credit card if you’re an active military member:  

  • Waived fees: Costs like annual fees and late fees can put a damper on your budget and a credit card offer. The best military credit cards offer waived fees, which may include annual fees and late fees.  
  • Maximum APR cap: Card issuers may also cap interest rates on debt during active-duty military service.

Quick Tip

These are not automatic benefits. Cardholders must apply through the issuer to receive these benefits, including the waived fees and capped interest rates.

Best Credit Cards for Active-Duty Military

  • Best for Flexible Travel Redemptions: Chase Sapphire Preferred®
  • Best for High-Value Travel Points: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Best for Beginner Travelers: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for Premium Travel Perks & Credits: The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best for Credit Union Fans: Navy Federal Credit Union GO REWARDS®
  • Best for Uncomplicated Rewards: USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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  • Our Rating 5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Sign Up Bonus 60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the gold standards for earning travel rewards. It has a generous sign-up bonus and you can earn points on travel and dining expenses. The card does have an annual fee, but you can continue earning points through bonus categories and an anniversary points boost.

Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is pretty flexible as it lets you transfer rewards points into miles or points several airlines and hotel programs. You can take advantage of strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Although the card might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers, it has a built-in upgrade path, so when it’s time to level up your travel rewards game, you won’t have to start from scratch.

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Pros

  • Points are easily transferable to airlines and hotel partners
  • Accelerated earnings on dining, travel & household purchases
  • Excellent travel and purchase protections
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Not ideal for the highest spenders
  • $95 annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a favorite among those who enjoy exploring local cuisines and experiencing new places, whether at home or during deployments. It has a strong Ultimate Rewards program with a substantial sign-up bonus that makes every dollar spent worthwhile.

It also comes with a $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit to make your stays more economical. In addition, the card offers important travel protections, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, to ease your mind while traveling.

Why We Like It:

Military members have the rare opportunity to receive all the benefits of a high-profile credit card without paying annual fees. If you’re on active duty, you’re eligible for all the perks, but be aware once your military contract is up, you will lose some of these benefits (namely the waived annual fee and capped interest rate). 

Card Benefits

  • 5X points on Chase Travel℠
  • 3X points on dining worldwide, including takeout and delivery
  • 2X points on travel, useful for flights back home
  • $50 annual credit for hotel stays booked through the Chase Travel℠ portal
  • Points are easily transferable to a long list of airlines and hotel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Excellent travel and purchase protections

SCRA Benefits

  • Waived $95 annual fee
  • Interest rate cap on debt incurred while on active-duty service
  • Available to active-duty servicemembers, members of the National Guard or Reserve on 30-day call and military spouses

Best for: Servicemembers who spend considerably on dining and want to earn valuable points toward travel.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR22.49% - 29.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$550
  • Sign-Up Bonus 60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after using your card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

This card features an annual credit for travel purchases, which can offset the annual fee, plus bonus points when you sign up. You'll also get free access to tons of Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world, along with access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounge network.

Overview

If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months—that’s worth at least $900 in travel-related spending booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and potentially more if you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.

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Pros

  • An array of premium travel perks including access to Priority Pass lounges
  • Easy-to-use $300 travel credit that helps offset card's annual fee
  • Generous rewards rates for spending

Cons

  • High annual fee may be a deterrent for some
  • Perks are starting to get stale relative to newer competition

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a high-end credit card that comes with a variety of travel-related perks and benefits. Known for providing complimentary access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide and annual travel credits, it offers a luxury experience that could suit almost anyone—but it's especially good for military members.

Why We Like It:

What sets this card apart for active-duty military is that the typical $550 annual fee is completely waived. This opens up the opportunity for active-duty servicemen and servicewomen to enjoy hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of benefits that others would have to pay for. It’s pretty much free money for serving our country when you add up the $300 in travel credits, new cardholder sign-up bonus, and credits that cover the application fees for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Card Benefits

  • Complimentary Priority Pass access to over 1,300 airport lounges globally
  • $300 annual travel credit, automatically applied to travel-related expenses
  • 3X points on travel and dining worldwide
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
  • 50% more value when redeeming points for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • $1,200 worth of benefits through partners such as DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft and Peloton
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

SCRA Benefits

  • Waived $550 annual fee
  • Interest rate caps on debt incurred during active-duty status
  • Available to active-duty servicemembers, members of the National Guard or Reserve on 30-day call and military spouses

Best for: Active-duty servicemembers who enjoy traveling comfortably, as it offers a number of luxury benefits like lounge access and valuable travel credits. This card is also part of the Chase trifecta, which can help you earn rewards faster.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a phenomenal beginner travel credit card with coveted travel perks and reward miles earned on all purchases. It's a nifty card for active-duty military members who are often on the move due to deployments.

If you're an active-duty military member and opened your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card before going on duty, you won't have to worry about the $95 annual fee—it's waived. This exemption doesn't apply if you opened the card while already on active duty. In that case, you'll still have to pay the yearly charge.

Some qualifying military members may also enjoy the benefit of having certain fees waived. Plus, whether you're in the military or not, you can make purchases abroad without incurring any foreign transaction fees.

Why We Like It:

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a straightforward and easy-to-remember rewards structure: Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase and unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Cardholders can also enjoy valuable travel perks, including up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when the card is used to pay the application fee.

Card Benefits

  • Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, handy for booking flights back home
  • Unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked via Capital One Travel
  • Application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry when you pay the fee using your card
  • Transfer miles earned to 15+ travel partners

SCRA Benefits

  • Servicemembers who opened a card prior to active duty may be eligible to have their $95 annual fee waived
  • Late fees and balance transfer fees may be waived for qualifying active-duty military members
  • APR cap on debt during active duty

Best for: Those who want a beginner travel card with simple rewards structure.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is another example of a value-packed card that allows active military members to enjoy complimentary benefits worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

These perks elevate the travel experience, both at home and abroad, offering worldwide airport lounge access, elite status at hotels and enhanced car rental privileges. In addition, this premium credit card offers an amazing deal for active military personnel with statement credits toward airline incidental charges, a Walmart+ membership and select streaming services—all in addition to an opportunity to earn an alluring welcome offer. 

Why We Like It:

The Amex Platinum Card generously waives the usual $695 annual fee for active military members, making it a favorite in the military community. American Express may also waive other fees like late payments, returned payments and over-limit fees, providing a financial safety net amidst the unpredictable nature of active duty life.

Card Benefits

  • Complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges around the world
  • Around $1,500 in annual statement credits for incidental airline fees, hotels, Uber Cash, digital entertainment and more
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked through Amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fees, a relief when deployed overseas

SCRA Benefits

  • Waived $695 annual fee
  • Waived late payment, returned payment, and over-limit fees for qualifying active-duty military members
  • Available to active military members, their spouses and child dependents

Best for: Frequent travelers who enjoy a touch of luxury during their journeys and those who want a card packed with perks and annual credits.

Navy Federal Credit Union GO REWARDS® Credit Card

The Navy Federal GO REWARDS® credit card is a solid choice for military households. Keep in mind that enrollment is restricted to members of the Navy Federal Credit Union, which is open only to active-duty military personnel, veterans, their families and affiliated organizations. What makes this card so appealing is that people with average credit scores can get it, and the rewards program is still competitive. 

What’s more, if you've got a bank account with Navy Federal or if you're using their insurance policies or VA mortgage loans, this card can help simplify your financial picture. It provides a straightforward way to keep tabs on your spending and payments, all within a single financial institution. So, while managing the unique demands of military life, this card offers a way to keep your financial matters neat and rewarding.

Why We Like It:

With the Navy Federal GO REWARDS card, you won’t pay annual fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees or foreign transaction fees—which is a breath of fresh air. Plus, the competitive rewards on dining and gas are a nod to the everyday spending categories of servicemembers. Plus, you can redeem those rewards for cash, travel and gift cards.

Card Benefits

  • 3X points at restaurants
  • 2X points on gas
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Industry-leading low interest rates for military
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fees
  • No cash advance fees

Best for: Military families with fair to average credit who want to earn credit card rewards without having to pay an annual fee. And with Navy Federal's discounted military APRs, you will pay less if you routinely carry a balance from month to month.

USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

For military households that have a relationship with USAA's many military-only financial services, the USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Credit Card is a smart move. You'll have to be a member of USAA to apply for this card, and membership is limited to active servicemembers, veterans and their families. However, if approved, you will be able to earn points for all of your purchases without having to pay an annual fee. In addition, new cardholders can take advantage of a balance transfer offer and a special welcome bonus to further sweeten the deal.

Why We Like It:

The USAA Rewards Visa provides a simple rewards system for every purchase that can be redeemed for travel rewards, gift cards or cash. The absence of an annual fee, combined with travel insurance and purchase protections, makes it a cost-effective option for military families. And if you have insurance or a VA loan with USAA, this card helps keep track of spending while earning rewards that can be used to pay off debts.  

Card Benefits

  • 2X points on dining
  • 2X points at gas stations
  • 1X points on other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Best for: Those in search of a no-nonsense rewards program without an annual fee. The simplicity and value of this card are both excellent. 

FAQs

  • Military personnel who are deployed overseas may use their credit card at retail locations that accept their credit card’s issuer. However, it’s wise to pay attention to foreign transaction fees you may incur and inform your card provider that you are traveling to avoid any declined charges due to suspicion.

  • Yes, you can apply for a credit card while in the military. Military status neither hurts nor helps you get approved. Approval rests solely on your personal financial profile. However, some credit card companies offer better incentives exclusively for military members.

  • American Express currently waives its annual fees for active military members across all of its cards, but note you need to apply for the benefit. To confirm your active duty status call their customer service line at 1-800-528-4800.

  • Credit cards for military personnel perform just as credit cards for civilians do. While active military members reserve some exclusive benefits through federal law, all potential applicants must apply and have their credit profiles reviewed to gain approval.

  • When selecting a credit card, consider your military lifestyle and a credit card that benefits your needs. These may include waived fees and capped maximum APRs, but may vary by issuer.

  • The pros of a credit card for active military personnel are low interest caps, waived fees and special benefits designed for military members.

    The biggest con, however, is that most of the best features expire with your active duty contract, including interest caps and waived fees.

RT

Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a personal finance expert and writer. His work has been published on NBC, ABC, USATODAY, The Mortgage Reports, Yahoo Finance, MSN, and more. Ryan is the former managing editor of the finance website Sapling, as well as the former personal finance editor at Slickdeals. Find him online at ryantronier.com.