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The sacrifices that members of the military and their families make for their country can never be repaid. But to help make their burdens easier, there are certain financial services and products available specifically to them. These typically include deals that are better than the ones available to the general public.
After all, military service can often lead to financial hardship. If you're a servicemember, a member of one's family, or a veteran, there are several excellent credit cards that stand above others. We review four of the top cards:
In order to apply for this card, you must have a USAA membership, which is open to all active and former military members (who were honorably discharged). Widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members and children are also eligible for membership.
This card is an excellent option for racking up rewards on everyday spending. Users earn a whopping 5% cash back on the first $3,000 spent on gas and military base purchases (like commissaries and shops on bases), and 2% back on the first $3,000 spent on supermarket purchases per year. You earn unlimited 1% back on everything else.
The card has no annual fee and carries a variable APR that ranges between 13.65% to 27.65%, depending on your credit history (you must have good, very good or excellent credit to qualify).
However, if you are an active duty member, you benefit from an even lower rate thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which limits the interest rates on various loans, including credit cards, taken out before joining the military.
This card offers a special 4% SCRA rate on balances incurred before active duty began and continues for one year after active duty is completed. USAA also offers a 4% APR on all balances for 12 months during deployment.
Learn more about this USAA credit card here.
2. PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card is available to members of PenFed Credit Union. Active or retired military members qualify, but you must open a PenFed account with a $5 initial deposit. It offers a nice, flat 1.5% cash back rewards rate on all purchases and no annual fee, which is a good deal if you're looking for a hassle-free card for earning rewards.
However, current and former military members can also apply for PenFed HonorsAdvantage membership, which makes this card even more attractive. Once you're enrolled in that program, you can earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases, which is one of the best flat cash back rates available.
You also get a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of owning the card, and a 0% promo APR on balance transfers for 12 months (you will pay a 3% transfer fee on balance transfers).
3. Navy Federal Credit Union Go Rewards Credit Card
To qualify for this card, you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union (membership is available to all serving in the armed forces, the Department of Defense, veterans, and their families).
If you're a military member or veteran who likes eating out, this card is an excellent option for earning rewards. You get three points per dollar spent on restaurants, two points per dollar spent on gas purchases, and one point per dollar spent on everything else.
There's no annual fee, and the card comes with a variable rate between 10.24% and 18%. Rewards can be redeemed for travel, merchandise and more. It is important to note, however, that rewards expire four years after they are earned, so you can't sit on them forever.
This card is available on Experian CreditMatch if you sign up as a free member and are logged in. It's not available without signing in because Experian's credit card matching technology analyzes your individual credit situation, and matches you with cards you're more likely to qualify for and that make sense for you based on your spending habits. (You'll still need to be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to qualify.)
This is another one that requires USAA membership, but it's perfect for consumers looking for a no-frills card that offers a low interest rate, which starts at 8.65% variable (and goes to 25.65% variable). Better yet, it's available to applicants with fair or good credit (the exact rate you qualify for will depend on your credit). The same rate applies to all purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. There's no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
There are also other valuable deals and products available for military personnel and veterans such as mortgage offerings, discounts and special promotions for financial products that are worth checking out before making a purchase or opening a new account.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on April 3, 2018, and has been updated.