Credit Cards for America’s Military Service Members

  • 5 min read

There are many credit card companies who market themselves specifically to military personnel, but very few limit their consumer base specifically to our military service members. Our military personnel face unique financial challenges. Their frequent moving, smaller paychecks, and the prospect of deployments or temporary duty reassignments can make managing personal finances particularly difficult. While a number of credit card companies offer special rates and waivers on their service fees for military personnel, there are only a few financial institutions that have dedicated themselves solely to serving America’s military service members.

#1 – Pentagon Federal Credit Union

As the nation’s second-largest credit union, Pentagon Federal has dedicated itself to serving members of the United States military. Their PenFed Promise Visa card has a number of benefits that are excellent and specifically geared for military:

  • No fees for foreign transactions
  • Five percent cash back on gas when paying at the pump
  • Travel rewards of 5x points on air travel

View more information about Pentagon Federal Credit Union credit cards.

#2 – USAA

USAA isn’t just for insurance; they’re a financial institution as well. Their Active Duty MasterCard is particularly popular, especially with service members who tend to carry over a balance on their cards. This is because of the number of deployment benefits offered:

  • 100 percent of card-related finance charges rebated during qualified military campaigns
  • Lowered interest rates for up to a year during deployments
  • Foreign transaction fees waived during deployments

View more information about USAA credit cards.

#3 – Navy Federal Credit Union

Don’t let the name fool you – NFCU serves all branches of the military and Department of Defense, not just the Navy. For service members who have less than perfect credit, they offer secured credit cards. For those who prefer a regular credit card, their Platinum Visa offers benefits such as:

  • An APR a full percent lower than their other cards
  • Free extended warranty on certain eligible purchases
  • Concierge hotline

View more information about Navy Federal Credit Union credit cards.

Traditional Card Services

In addition to these military-specific institutions, a number of traditional credit card companies offer specific benefits geared toward military service members as well.

For example, American Express offers waivers on card related fees for active duty military connected to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The waived fees include membership fees, fees for being over the credit limit, late fees and more. The same is true of a number of traditional credit card companies, including:

  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • Discover Card
  • US Bank

As you might expect, with each of these cards, several offer benefits that go above and beyond what is required by the SCRA, however few are geared toward military service members the way that those cards created specifically for members of the military.

Those who have devoted their lives to the military service of our country have SCRA benefits. SCRA stands for the Service member’s Civil Relief Act. SCRA is designed for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, as well as the Commissioned Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Commissioned Officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These benefits are designed to take the stress off of the shoulders of those who serve our country as well as their families. This allows them to put all of their focus and attention on their duties without worrying about other issues.

The Navy Federal Credit Union and the USAA are well known for their outstandingly low APR’s. The Navy Federal Credit Union is also the largest credit union in the United States.

The Members of the Armed Forces

There are many options to choose from when it comes to credit cards for the military and many things to consider when you are choosing the right one for your specific needs. When comparing your options be certain that you consider the following:

• Foreign Exchange fees
• Many cards that are geared towards the military offer reduced or eliminated fees when the personnel are deployed.
• Variable Payment Options
• Most credit card companies with military credit cards will offer a payment plan that fits with the schedule that you are able to keep when deployed.
• Finance Charges
• Low interest rate
• Points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards and even travel discounts
• No annual or membership fee

For those in the military, there are many different options of credit cards to choose from, but it is important that you take your time and make sure that you are selecting the right card for your needs.

Military personnel, especially those who are in the Army, need credit cards that are specifically designed for their unique financial needs. It can be tough to manage your bills during a tour of duty, so having a credit card that can help you during this process is hugely important. Many Army members are still responsible for paying the bills back home for their families while they are away.

Christopher - BSc, MBA

With over two decades of combined Big 5 Banking and Agency experience, Christopher launched Underbanked® to cut through the noise and complexity of financial information. Christopher has an MBA degree from McMaster University and BSc. from Western University in Canada.