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Saluting Your Service: A Servicemembers’ Guide to Credit

The brave men and women of the United States military regularly conquer seemingly impossible challenges. Across land and sea, your courage, strategic skill, and fortitude are routinely tested whenever American force is needed to protect our freedoms. Military service makes demands on many parts of a service member's life and support network — it truly can take a village to give our troops the support they deserve — not least of which are your unique needs when it comes to managing finances, and even your credit.

Changes in your living situation, whether a deployment or a change of station, can produce a ripple effect in your life that finds its way into your finances. If you're deploying, you should absolutely know more about the active duty alert that you can add to your credit report. What does the active duty alert do?

  • A fraud and identity theft protection measure, the active duty alert notifies lenders that you're a member of the U.S. military and you're currently serving overseas, so they'll need to activate their extra precautions to confirm your identity before extending any credit in your name.
  • Once you place it on your credit report, it remains there for one year. When you activate it, your name is also removed from preapproved offers lists for two years.

Once you return, you can choose to remove the active duty alert by visiting our online fraud center, completing and mailing the Remove a Fraud Alert form with needed ID documentation.

There are several other ways that military service can impact your credit: for most people, credit is what helps them achieve a home purchase. As an active service member (or as a veteran), you're eligible to take part in the VA's mortgage loan program, which offers some key differences from conventional or even FHA mortgage loan options. How do VA mortgage loans differ?

  • The thing most commonly known about VA loans is that they require no money down for qualified borrowers.
  • VA loans also don't require the PMI (private mortgage insurance) that many conventional loans include when home buyers put down less than 20 percent, which helps keep monthly payments low.

We honor the sacrifices you make to protect our country and are committed to providing the tools and education to help you learn more your credit and also how your service can play a role in your finances, too.


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 May 19, 2016, and has been updated.

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