/>
X
Finance
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process | Ad Disclosure

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Ad Disclosure

This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com This compensation may impact how and where links appear. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.
Close

The 5 best military credit cards: Be rewarded for your service

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is our pick for the best military credit card with a competitive APR, no annual fee, and a long list of benefits. These are some of the other military credit cards we chose for 2022's best.
lena-borrelli-author.jpg
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Marc Wojno

Life in the military is challenging enough without having to worry about your finances. The right military credit card, however, can simplify a serviceperson's life by providing lucrative rewards that can bring excellent, and exclusive, benefits to members of the military.  

ZDNet presents this year's list of best credit cards for members of the military, providing unique benefits and rewards designed for those who serve and defend our country.   

Card Highlights
Intro Bonus$100 Bonus Offer Statement Creditƚ When you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days
APR16.49% - 17.99% Variable
Recommended CreditGood, Excellent
Reward Rates
  • 2% Cash Back** on all purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Membersƚƚ
  • 1.5% Cash Back** on all purchases made with your card
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a straightforward rewards structure that does not limit your earnings with a glass ceiling. Instead, cashback is unlimited without any caps. If you are a PenFed Honors Advantage Member, you can earn 2% on all of your purchases. Otherwise, the cashback rewards rate is 1.5% for all purchases you make. 

An introductory offer includes a $100 bonus credit when you make at least $1,500 in purchases during the first 90 days. You also skip the interest on any balance transfers you make, thanks to a 0% APR for one year, although a 3% transaction fee applies. Overall, the Power Cash Rewards Visa gives you a competitive APR with no annual or foreign transaction fees, making for an even more attractive offer.

Pros: 

  • No fees
  • Intro offer
  • Cashback program

Cons:

  • Excellent credit recommended
  • Fee applies for balance transfers
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
APR18.49% - 25.49% Variable
Recommended CreditExcellent Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$550
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a fantastic credit card that appears on many of our lists, like the best sign-up bonus and the best credit card for airport lounge access. The rewards start when you first sign up with 60,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases within the first three months. That alone is worth $900 in travel when you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 

You only have to spend $300 on travel before the rewards kick in for your road warrior lifestyle, giving you 5x the points on flights and 10x the points on hotels and car rentals annually. You get 3x the points on all other travel, plus 10x the points on Chase Dining purchases to help boost your trip. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. 

Plus, every year, you receive a $300 annual travel credit. However, there is a high annual fee, plus you have to pay for each authorized user.

Pros: 

  • Impressive introductory offer
  • Premium benefits
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons:

  • Annual fee applies
  • Excellent credit recommended
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR18.00% (Variable)
Recommended CreditPoor Credit
Reward Rates
  • 1X point per dollar spent
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

If you struggle with poor credit, the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards® Secured Credit Card could be a great fit for you. Whether you are new to credit cards or rebuilding credit, any member of Navy Federal can apply for this card with an easy prequalification tool on the site. The APR is a flat rate that is surprisingly competitive, given the higher end of interest rates from other cards.

To help with that initial deposit, there are few fees with no annual fees, balance transfer fees, or foreign transaction fees. Once approved, all you need is a $200 minimum to get started, and Navy Federal will review your account twice a year to see if you are eligible for an upgrade to a secured card. In the meantime, you will earn rewards in the form of 1x the points per dollar spent.

Pros:

  • Accepts bad credit
  • Few fees
  • Excellent for credit-building

Cons:

  • Must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member
  • Must pay deposit
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Recommended CreditExcellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Annual Fee$695
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Platinum Card® from American Express has seemingly endless rewards, making it one of the best rewards credit cards out there. To start, you earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases within your first six months of Card Membership. There are ongoing rewards, too, with a $200 hotel credit each year, $200 in Uber Cash, a $200 airline fee credit, $189 CLEAR credit, and a $300 Equinox credit. Go shopping with a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit and a $155 Walmart+ credit. 

You also receive a $240 digital entertainment credit each year that includes popular services like Audible, Disney+, Hulu, and SiriusXM. American Express also gives you access to its Global Lounge Collection to over 1,400 airport lounges in 650 cities and 140 countries for even greater flexibility. You receive 5x the points on flights and prepaid hotels and 2x the points on other purchases for regular rewards. 

Pros: 

  • Built-in Elite status
  • Luxury benefits
  • Lounge access

Cons:

  • Steep annual fee
  • Must have good credit
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR12.65% to 26.65% Variable
Recommended CreditGood/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military purchases annually on these categories combined.
  • Earn 2% cash back on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card starts with an introductory offer that includes a 0% intro APR lasting 15 months on your balance transfers and convenience checks within the first 90 days. In addition to the lowest starting APR on our list, this card also offers a military-friendly rewards structure, with 5% cashback on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases each year. You also receive 2% cashback on your first $3,000 in grocery purchases annually with unlimited 1% cashback on all other purchases. 

It is also attractive because there are no annual or foreign transaction fees, saving you even more money each year. Travel benefits come included with the auto rental and travel accident coverage, as well as protections for trip cancellations and interruption coverage with baggage reimbursement.

Pros: 

  • Competitive APR
  • Introductory offer
  • Excellent rewards

Cons:

  • Excellent credit required
  • Spending caps apply

What is the best military credit card?

Based on our extensive research, the best credit card for the military is the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, offering a competitive APR with extra rewards. However, the other military credit cards on our list are also worthy of a second look, depending on what you are seeking.  

Which is the right military credit card for you?

Finding the best credit card for military life is not always the easiest. Based on our in-depth study, we offer our expert recommendations to help.

Choose this card...

If you...

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

Want cashback with extra rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Want premium travel perks

Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Credit Card

Are rebuilding credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Luxury benefits and travel rewards

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Want a card made for life on-base


How did we choose these military credit cards?

Credit cards can seem like they are a dime a dozen, which is why we take our time studying each one to find the very best credit cards worthy of military life. 

These are some of the factors we considered in our search:

  • APR: The APR on your credit card dictates how much interest you will pay for your purchases and balance transfers. The higher the APR, the more you will spend on interest.

  • Fees: Watch out for credit card fees that can quickly cost a ton of money, like annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and balance transfer fees.

  • Introductory offer: Many cards offer an intro offer when you first open a card. This could be in the form of a lower APR or a welcome bonus. 

  • Rewards: Several credit cards on our list come with extra perks, like travel benefits and cashback. 

  • Credit score: In order to qualify for a credit card, there may be a specific credit score you will need to apply. Be sure to check these requirements first so you don't risk harming your credit in the process. 

Who qualifies for a military credit card?

Credit cards for the military vary based on the provider. For example, American Express does not require you to be in the service in order to get the Platinum card. On the other hand, credit card companies like USAA and Navy Federal specifically serve active-duty, disabled, and retired military members and their families. 

What is the APR for the best military credit cards?

The APR on our recommendations for the best military credit cards range significantly. The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card has the lowest starting APR at 12.65%, but its rates are also among the highest, venturing up to 26.65%.

Are there alternative credit cards worth considering?

Some of the other military credit cards we considered in our study include: 

  • American Express® Gold Card: Great for groceries
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Skip the annual fee
  • USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card: Save on interest
  • Wells Fargo Reflect® Card: An impressive introductory APR

For more recommendations on credit cards, check out our expert picks for the best rewards credit cards, the best high-limit credit cards, and the best international travel credit cards.

Editorial standards

Related

The 5 best identity theft protection services: Plus, top picks with credit monitoring
Placeholder product image alt text

The 5 best identity theft protection services: Plus, top picks with credit monitoring

The 5 best dishwashers: Make dishes less of a chore
Placeholder product image alt text

The 5 best dishwashers: Make dishes less of a chore

The 5 best juicers: Make your own juice at home
Placeholder product image alt text

The 5 best juicers: Make your own juice at home