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Veterans may be eligible for a wide range of financial perks, including exclusive financial products, services and discounts. Programs and businesses have varying criteria for veterans benefits eligibility, and ask to see a veteran ID card, VA benefits card or other proof of military service to access services. You may also qualify for certain perks if you're the spouse or child of someone who served in the military.
Major VA Benefits
Some of the most valuable financial perks and benefits come directly from the VA. To qualify, many federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits require that you served full time in the military, naval or air service and were discharged or released under a condition other than dishonorable. These benefits can help you pay for higher education, buy a home and receive health care—three major expenses for many households.
- VA home loans and protections: VA home loans don't require a down payment or private mortgage insurance, and they may offer better terms than conventional loans. The VA also offers foreclosure avoidance assistance to veterans and surviving spouses, including assistance with non-VA mortgages.
- VA health care: VA health benefits cover most types of medical care and services, including preventive care, hospital services, emergency care, mental health and long-term care. Some veterans are eligible for additional services, such as dental coverage.
- Education benefits: VA education benefits can offer help with tuition, fees, job training, certification programs and career counseling.
- Direct financial assistance: Eligible wartime veterans, surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children may qualify for monthly cash payments from a VA pension. Additional assistance may be available if you're homebound or need help with daily activities.
- Group life insurance: The VA has multiple life insurance options for service members and veterans. Beneficiaries can also receive free financial planning and will preparation services.
Financial Products and Services
While membership isn't exclusively for veterans, some banks and credit unions (such as USAA Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union) require people to have a connection to the armed services if they want to become a customer or member. These financial institutions offer many products and services, including bank accounts, loans, credit cards, insurance and financial planning.
You may also be eligible for a variety of free and low-cost financial assistance or guidance programs. For example, you can create an account on VeteransPlus and receive free financial coaching, financial education workshops and financial planning.
Additionally, Prudential partnered with the VA to offer financial wellness resources to transitioning service members, veterans and family members starting in early 2021. The perks include self-assessment and budgeting tools, student loan assistance and educational seminars. Prudential also partnered with GreenPath, a nonprofit credit counseling agency, to offer free one-on-one debt management and credit counseling sessions.
You may also be eligible for discounts from retailers and service providers. These can range from special rates on auto loans to discounted mobile phone plans, meals and clothing.
The American Legion, MilitaryBenefits.info, VeteransAdvantage and ID.me have lists of discounts for military members and veterans from popular stores and brands. With online orders, you might be asked to verify your veteran status using an ID.me account.
There are also smaller stores that offer veterans discounts but don't publicly advertise it, or make it available to online lists. If you're looking to save, it can't hurt to ask before making a purchase.
Many states also have benefits specifically for service members and veterans, including financial perks that might save you a significant amount of money. Some examples include waivers for state license and registration fees, low-cost loans, tax exemptions, tuition waivers and preference for public sector jobs.
A Military.com directory explores some of the perks for each state. You can also look for more information on your state's website.
Protection from Certain Negative Credit Reporting
In 2018, the Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended with several new provisions, including changes to when veterans' medical debts can appear on their credit reports.
Credit bureaus must wait a full year before adding unpaid medical debts to your credit report if the VA wrongly charged you for services, or if the bill is from a non-VA provider and the VA authorized the procedure.
Also, if a delinquent, charged-off or collection account related to an eligible medical bill is paid off, it should be removed from your credit history. Usually, delinquent and collections accounts can stay in your credit history for up to seven years, even if you pay off the past-due balance.
Check Your Credit Report and Score for Free
Checking and monitoring your credit can help you protect your finances and prepare to take out a loan or credit card. Experian gives you access to your free Experian credit report and a FICO® Score☉ for free based on your report. You can also receive free credit monitoring with alerts, an explanation of which factors are impacting your credit score the most and suggestions on how you can improve your credit.
If you're still active duty, Experian provides several services including free credit monitoring through IDnotify™ and a special type of fraud alert that can help you protect your credit while you're deployed.