3 of the Best Credit Cards for Military Members (2022 Edition)
Finding the Best Credit Cards for Military & Vets Starts With Financial Literacy
Financial literacy isn’t a strength for all of us. But we are still out here making money moves, so let’s talk about getting the most out of our credit cards. After reading our article, you’ll go from Googling “What is a credit card?” and “Should I get a credit card?” to learning the basics, reaping the rewards, and saving on fees and interest with the best credit cards for military members.
If you know the answer to those Google queries and how to check your credit score, you’re way ahead of the ballgame. Unless you need a refresher, you can skip ahead to our list of the best credit cards for military members.
What Is a Credit Score?
A credit score rates your credit risk to help creditors determine whether or not to approve your credit application, the terms of the offer, and the interest rates that will apply.
A low credit score can significantly affect your life. Your ability to get a loan approved, rent an apartment, earn clearance for employment, and get a lower insurance rate all depends on your credit score.
What Affects Your Credit Score?
Your credit score comes from your credit report’s info about:
- History of on-time payments.
- Money owed.
- Credit history length.
- The number of recent credit applications.
- Types of active credit accounts.
Did you know that around 55% of Americans are in credit card debt? If you’re thinking about getting a card off of our list of the best credit cards for military personnel, make sure you set up an easy and achievable way to pay it off. And if you do find yourself in credit card debt, it could be affecting your credit score.
Learn more about your credit score and explore how to raise it quickly in our blog: How To Increase Your Credit Score
How To Check Your Credit Score
Did you know that you can have several different credit scores? The number used by a car dealership could be slightly different from the number used by a department store when evaluating your credit application. Score calculations happen at different times and in different ways.
A great way to check your credit score is to work with nonprofit credit counselors and HUD-approved housing counselors.
Request Your Free Credit Report
Phone: 1 (877) 322-8228
Stay up-to-date with your credit report with AnnualCreditReport.com and know your score before you apply for a credit card.
What Is a Credit Card?
Credit cards pay for purchases over time, similar to a loan. You pay your credit card company back monthly (or per their terms and agreements and often with interest) for everything you charge. You might be asking yourself, is there a difference between credit cards and debit cards? The answer is yes!
A debit card purchase is automatically pulled from existing funds in your bank account since the card is linked to your checking account. A credit card puts a charge on your card for you to pay back at a later time with interest. So this is definitely something to take into consideration when asking yourself, “Should I get a credit card?”
How Do Credit Cards Work?
When you receive a credit card, the card will come with specific terms and perks that include the following.
- Credit limit (how much you can spend).
- Rewards programs (if applicable).
- Interest rate.
- Fees (late fees, membership charges, etc.).
Your credit card interest and limit can be affected by your credit score. It boils down to this: The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate can be and the higher your credit limit often is.
Besides helping to pay for the things you need, credit cards are great for building credit history.
Did you know? There are 10,000 worldwide credit card transactions every second.
How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
Americans have three credit cards on average, according to Experian. To find the right number for you, consider how you use credit cards and how you will avoid letting them lead to overspending.
On the flip side, a perk of using more than one card is collecting different rewards – travel, cashback, and making purchases on base.
What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?
For credit cards, the interest rates are typically called the annual percentage rate (APR). Business Insider reports an average APR of 14.65% on credit cards in the US.
The lower the APR, the less interest you will pay on credit card purchases. It’s that simple. A low ongoing APR is likely better than the 0% APR introductory rate for you to carry a balance.
A 0% APR introductory rate credit card may be useful to finance a big purchase if you know you can pay it off before the initial rate expires. Be aware that the APR often increases when the intro promo is over, so hold off on buying that Porsche or private jet.
Did you know? The first digit on your credit card tells what industry issued the card.
How To Get a Credit Card
After you review our list of the top credit cards for military members below, select a card that works for you and complete an application online or by phone if looking at a direct mail promotion.
Don’t worry if you don’t see one on this list that you like; there are so many different cards out there.
You will need to provide your:
- Date of birth.
- Social Security number.
- Gross annual income.
- Type of housing.
- Time at your current home.
What To Look for in a Credit Card
1. Decide How You Will Use the Card
Be realistic about whether you will pay it off each month or carry a balance and pay interest. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 60% of Americans with credit cards carry a balance. If you are likely to, consider credit cards that have the lowest APRs.
2. Shop Local
If you have an existing bank or credit union relationship, start your search there. Then compare with offers you received at home or online.
3. Crunch the Numbers
Compare APR, APR for balance transfers, penalty APR, and fees on a credit card offer.
4. What Are the Perks?
Focus on finding a card with a robust rewards program if you will not carry a balance on your credit card. It will be more valuable than a low APR.
5. Schedule a Consultation
Make an appointment with a Military OneSource financial counselor to learn about the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. You can also call 1 (800) 342-9647 if you prefer to speak to a representative.
Best Credit Cards for Military Members
To start your search for the best credit cards for military members, we’ve combined expert opinions in finance, consumer advocacy, and travel from NerdWallet, U.S. News & World Report, CreditKarma, and The Points Guy. Explore each category below to find the credit card that works best for you and your family.
Best for Travel Rewards
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Best for Cash Back
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- Chase Freedom Flex
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Citi Double Cash Card
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for Low Interest
Best for Paying Off Debt
Best for Low Fees
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
Best for Building Credit
Best for Other Rewards
Winner! Winner! Winner! These are the 3 Best Credit Cards for Military Vets!
So what is the best credit card for military members? A quick assessment of each category’s overlaps reveals the obvious picks for the three best military credit cards. These are great credit cards for Veterans, active-duty personnel, milspouses, or even people who are just about to go into the military.
You simply can’t beat the following military credit card benefits, which include tons of cash back for on-base purchases, a distinctive lack of OCONUS fees, and decreased interest rates for military members and Veterans. See what each of these three best credit cards for military personnel has to offer!
Its base rewards have earned recognition from several expert sources. Why?
- 5% cash back on the first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases every year.
- 1% cash back on purchases at commissaries, exchanges, and shoppettes for charges from $3,001 and up.
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
A low APR and interest rate continue to catch the eye of experts across the board. Why?
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
- 4% APR for existing balance during active duty, including deployment and PCS.
Its travel benefits scored more than one place in our categories. Why?
- $550 annual fee waiver under SCRA or MLA.
Choose YOUR Military Credit Card Wisely
These are just a small sampling of the best credit cards for Veterans and military members and the rewards programs available to all you savvy credit consumers. You will still need to do your due diligence to make the best financial decisions for you and your family. No one will do a better job of looking out for your money than you! But when you don’t know where to start, these three best credit cards for military personnel are a great jumping-off point.