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Are You Actively Serving? Our Best Cards for Military Members!

Are You Actively Serving? Our Best Cards for Military Members!

Andrew RAre You Actively Serving? Our Best Cards for Military Members!Million Mile Secrets Team

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The Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel

Andrew R:   If you’re actively serving in the military, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) will protect you from high interest rates and certain other financial obligations.  And some banks, like American Express and Capital One, offer benefits like waived annual fees on cards you’ve opened even after entering active service.  This far exceeds the SCRA’s minimum requirements.

This is a great opportunity for folks serving in the military to earn credit card rewards and enjoy fantastic perks without worrying about paying annual fees.  Many of these cards also have no foreign transaction fees so you can use your cards around the globe without paying any extra!

Whether You Are Stationed in Pearl Harbor or Around the Globe, Enjoy Waived Annual Fees on Certain Credit Cards!

We’ll go through all the best credit card offers for active military, so you can decide which cards will work best for you!

Who Qualifies for SCRA Benefits?

Link:   What Is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?

Generally, SCRA benefits apply to anyone who is actively enrolled in a branch of the US military and their spouses.   Each bank or card issuer might define other qualifications above these, but the people who will qualify across all banks (as written in the law) would be:

  • Anyone on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard
  • Anyone serving in the National Guard and are called to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days (for service funded by federal money)
  • Commissioned officers of the US Public Health Service (USPHS) OR National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who have been called into active service
  • Anyone who is absent from active duty because of sickness, wounds, or other qualifying reasons
  • A spouse of an active duty service member (based on above qualifications) as long as they share a joint line of credit with that person

But some banks extend relief beyond these minimum requirements.  Capital One, for example, extends protection to National Guard members called for active duty regardless of if the service is state funded, or federally funded (the law only requires them to comply for federally funded service such as a war).

Check out team member Alex’s post about all the SCRA benefits active duty servicemembers are entitled to!

The Best Military Credit Cards

Best Credit Card for Military for Travel Rewards:   American Express Platinum

Link:   Apply for the American Express Platinum

Link:   Our Review of the American Express Platinum card

The American Express Platinum card might be the best value in this entire list.  The reason is that this card normally comes with a $550 annual fee, which is waived for active military members!  That means you can take advantage of all this card has to offer, like the $200 airline incidental credit, Global Entry credit, and $200 in Uber credit every year, without paying the annual fee!

AMEX will waive the annual fee on cards you opened even after entering active duty.  Read more about having fees waived in our post about Servicemembers Civil Relief Act credit cards.

This essentially makes the card a no-brainer for those looking to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points, because it comes with a welcome offer of 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.  This is a great way to build up your points balance.

In addition to this incredible sign-up bonus, you’ll also get:

Walk the Streets of Rome After Booking Flights Using AMEX Membership Rewards Points!

The American Express Platinum card comes with even more benefits such as extended warranty, purchase protection, return protection, and more!  Plus, you’ll qualify for AMEX Offers, which can save you even more on purchases you’d make anyway.  See our full review of the American Express Platinum card to see all the benefits!

Apply here for the American Express Platinum card.

Best Credit Card for Military Members with a Small Business:   American Express Business Platinum

Link:   Apply for the American Express Business Platinum

Link:   Our Review of the American Express Business Platinum 

If you are a small business owner and actively serving, the American Express Business Platinum is the card for you!  While this card would normally have a $450 annual fee, you don’t have to worry about it because AMEX will waive the fee while you are on active duty!

When you apply for the AMEX Business Platinum card by August 8, 2018, you’ll earn:

  • 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • An additional 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 more on qualifying purchases within the same 3 month time frame

With the AMEX Business Platinum card, you’ll also get:

While you do need to be a small business owner to get this card, we have a list of a few ways you can qualify for opening a business credit card that you may not have thought of!

Like the personal version of the card, you’ll also receive perks like extended warranty, purchase protection, return protection, and more!  And you’ll have access to AMEX Offers, for even more savings.

Apply here for the American Express Business Platinum card.

Best Credit Card for Military for US Supermarkets and US Gas Stations:   AMEX Blue Cash Preferred

Link:   Apply for the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred

Link:   Our Review of the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred

I love the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred.  It was one of the first cards I applied for and is a great cash back card With this card, you get:

  • 6% back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%)
  • 3% back at US gas stations
  • 3% back at select US department stores like Macy’s
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • Terms Apply

If you spend $500 per month at US supermarkets with this card, you can earn $360 cash back annually on US supermarket spending alone.

The current welcome offer for the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred is $200 cash back after spending $1,000 on your new card in your first 3 months.  By putting groceries you would normally buy on this card, you could earn $560 cash back ($200 offer + $360 rewards on groceries) in the first year!  Another great perk is active military members can get the $95 annual fee waived, making this an amazing cash back earning option.

Explore Hawaii and Its Black Sand Beaches Using Rewards From Top American Express Cards

Keep in mind, with this card you can also take advantage of AMEX Offers to earn even more cash back!  In the past, promotions have included getting $60 cash back for spending $300 at Delta.com or getting $40 cash back for spending $200 at Universal Hollywood online.  So the cash back you earn can really add up quickly with the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred!

Apply here for AMEX Blue Cash Preferred card.

Best Credit Card for Military Members for Hotel Status / Free Nights:   Hilton Honors Aspire

Link:   Apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

If you’re looking to earn elite status and free nights at one of the largest hotel chains in the world, the Hilton Honors Aspire card is a great pick.  This card normally has a $450 annual fee, but AMEX waives the annual fee for active military, which means you get all of its perks for free!

To start, you’ll earn 100,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.  In addition, every year you’ll also get 1 weekend night you can use at most Hilton locations!  You’ll get an additional weekend night if you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year.  So you could end up with a free weekend stay at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, which costs $800+ per night!

The card also comes with:

  • 14 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
  • 7 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card
  • Unlimited free Priority Pass lounge visits
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status (50% bonus on base points – increasing to 100% bonus later this year), upgrades, late check-out, and choice of My Way Benefit (upgrades, free breakfast, etc.))
  • Up to $250 per calendar year in credits for incidental fees charged by your selected airline
  • Up to $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts
  • Up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when you book a 2-night minimum stay with your card at HiltonHonors.com/AspireCard
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply

Not even counting the 100,000-point welcome offer, you could easily get over $1,000 worth of value from this card – all without the annual fee if you’re actively serving!

Apply here for the Hilton Honors Aspire card.

Best Credit Card for Military Members for Dining:   Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   Apply for the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   Our Review of the Capital One Savor Card

If you spend a lot on dining and groceries, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a strong card for you.  With the Capital One Savor, you’ll earn $150 cash back after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

You’ll also get:

  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining
  • Unlimited 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • NO annual fee

The Capital One Savor card is a great option if you are looking to earn cash back on your dining purchases, because you earn 3% back on dining with no caps.   The additional 2% back on groceries is a great bonus as well, though it is not as strong in this category as the previously mentioned AMEX Blue Cash Preferred.

Apply here for the Capital One Savor card.

Best Credit Card for Military Personnel With Less Than 3 years of Credit History:   Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   Apply for the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   Our Review of the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you have a limited credit history or you are working to rebuild your credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne is a good card to consider!  This card was designed for folks with some blemishes on their credit report and those with a limited credit history such as students and new US residents.

This card has no sign-up bonus but it earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases.  Capital One also waives the $39 annual fee for active military members.

You’ll also get these benefits with the Capital One QuicksilverOne:

  • Access a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Auto rental insuranceSecondary collision and theft insurance for you and all additional drivers on your agreement
  • Extended warranty – Additional warranty protection when you purchase items your card
  • Price protection – Get reimbursed the difference if the price drops on eligible items within 60 days of purchase
  • Travel accident insurance – Insurance for death or dismemberment at no extra charge when you purchase airfare using your card
  • 24/7 roadside assistance

This would be a great option for those looking to either get started with credit cards or those looking to rebuild their credit!

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Use the Cash Back You Earn From the Capital One QuicksilverOne Card to Book Travel to Destinations Like San Francisco

If you want to check your credit score, a great resource is myBankrate which allows you see your credit score for free!  Remember, the bank has the final say and your credit score doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a card.  They look at other factors too.  But your credit score will give you an idea if you have a chance at approval.

Apply here for the Capital One QuicksilverOne card.

Bottom Line

The best credit cards for military are:

Remember to check out our SCRA benefits post to learn more about what each bank offers in terms of relief for our servicemembers.

The American Express Business Platinum is especially lucrative because this is the highest public welcome bonus we’ve ever seen!  You’ll earn up to 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements until August 8, 2018.  And while others pay $450 annual fee, active military have successfully had it reimbursed!

If you spend a lot on travel but don’t qualify for a small business card, you may want to consider the American Express Platinum, which earns lots of valuable points and offers premium travel perks such as lounge access and travel credits.

The AMEX Blue Cash Preferred is a great option for earning lots of cash back at US supermarkets and US gas stations.

Or earn Diamond status at Hilton and 100,000 Hilton points after meeting minimum spending requirements with the Hilton Honors Aspire card, in addition to travel and hotel credits annually – including weekend night certificates!

If you are looking to make the most of the rewards you earn on dining, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card might be the strongest card for you.

Finally, earn 1.5% cash back and work on building your credit with the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Thank you to all our service members around the world who keep us safe every day.  Hopefully this article will help you take advantage of some great offers available to you as a small token of our appreciation for all that you do.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments below.  We would love to help!

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Interested to know why you chose Hilton over Marriott, since they both are offering 100k points bonuses? Right now Hyatt is my hotel brand of choice, but I’m looking to add a second option. In my research it seems like Marriott’s award system is a better option…

The Marriott offer is also a good deal. I wrote a review of the card here:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/guides/marriott-credit-card-review/