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The 5 best USAA credit cards: Find the right card for your military family

What is the best USAA credit card? The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is ZDNet's No. 1 choice. USAA offers a selection of excellent credit cards, but which one is the right one for you? ZDNet can help.
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Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Marc Wojno

For one century, USAA has made a name for itself through its service to the military community. Today, USAA offers key services to help your family adjust and settle into military life, from banking to investing and everything else in between. No matter where in the world you may be, USAA is there to help with a variety of products, including its highly-rated credit cards. With unparalleled customer service and low fees, USAA has become the go-to provider for the military community. 

However, with more than one card, it can quickly get confusing when trying to decipher the best USAA credit card for you. 

That is where ZDNet comes in. We analyze the market and weigh the options to bring you the best USAA credit cards for you and your family.  This is what we found. 

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 is the card to get when you are living on base because you are rewarded for the purchases you make on base. Rewards start with a 0% introductory APR for all balance transfers and convenience checks that you make within the first 90 days of having the account. You will still have to pay a 3% fee, but the introductory APR offer can still save you some extra bucks each month. There are regular rewards, too. You will receive 5% cash back on gas and purchases made on military bases, up to $3,000 per year. You also earn 2% gas back on groceries, also up to $3,000 per year. 

There is also unlimited 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases with no category restrictions. Another way you can save money is through fees, with USAA charging no annual fees or foreign transaction fees to trouble you during your service. The starting APR is higher than many of USAA's best credit cards, but the rewards make it well worth it for many. 

Pros:

  • Introductory APR
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • On-base cashback

Cons:

  • No intro rewards
  • Spending caps apply
Card Highlights
Intro BonusGet 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
APR12.65% to 26.65% Variable
Recommended CreditGood/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa® Signature Card gives flat rewards with unlimited 1.5% cash back on every qualifying purchase with no category restrictions. It is not as generous with the rewards as other cards, but there is something to be said for flat rewards that have no caps or category restrictions. You still get the 0% introductory APR for balance transfers and convenience checks, lasting for 15 months, with a 3% fee. There are also few fees with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, plus there is no penalty APR. It is an extra way to save money on your credit card bill every month, especially since the rewards are limited with this card.

Pros:

  • Intro APR offer
  • No categories
  • Few fees

Cons:

  • Low cash back rate
  • Excellent credit recommended 
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR7.65% to 24.65% Variable
Recommended CreditGood/Excellent
Reward Rates N/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details

The USAA Rate Advantage Visa® Platinum Card also shares the same offer as the other cards, giving you a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers and convenience checks lasting your first 15 months of having the card. After that, you transition to a competitive APR starting at less than eight percent. In order to benefit from a low APR, you only have to carry a balance each month to receive the same rate on your purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. Like the other cards before, there are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees.

Pros: 

  • Intro balance APR
  • Few fees
  • No annual fee

Cons:

  • No cashback rewards
  • Balance transfer fee 
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
APR10.65% to 26.65% Variable
Recommended CreditGood/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3X points per dollar on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card gives you the same introductory 0% APR for balance transfers and convenience checks made within the first 90 days. A 3% fee applies. You also get regular rewards, too, with 3x the points when you dine out. You also get 2x the points when you fill up your car at the gas station or go shopping at your neighborhood grocery store. 

All other purchases earn 1x the points. The APR is reasonable, too, falling within the middle of USAA's three rates. Plus, when you first sign up for the card, USAA will give you 2,500 bonus points with your first qualifying purchases, giving you a healthy head start on your earnings. 

Pros: 

  • Intro balance transfer APR 
  • Unlimited rewards
  • Few fees

Cons:

  • No intro purchase APR
  • Fee applies for balance transfers
Card Highlights
Intro BonusGet 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
APR10.65% to 26.65% Variable
Recommended CreditGood/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and dining
  • Earn 1X points for every dollar spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

When you stay on the move, the USAA Rewards Visa® Signature Card could be the perfect card for you. You start with 2,500 bonus points with your first qualifying purchase. You also get 2x the points on gas and dining out, with 1x the points on all other qualifying purchases. Points are unlimited, so you do not have to worry about any caps. There are no foreign transaction fees to save you extra money, as well as no annual fee or penalty APR. It is just another way you can save money with USAA.

Pros:

  • Intro APR for balance transfers
  • Bonus rewards
  • Unlimited rewards

Cons:

  • No intro purchase APR 
  • The balance transfer fee applies

What is the best USAA credit card?

The best USAA credit card all depends on what you are seeking in a credit card. Some are best for life in base, giving you discounts on purchases you make on base. Others may favor rewards, offering generous sign-up bonuses and introductory offers. 

Our list of the best USAA credit cards is an excellent place to begin your search for the best USAA credit card for your needs.

USAA credit card

APR

Rewards

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

12.65% to 26.65%

5% cash back on first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases

2% cash back on first $3,000 in groceries

1% cash back on all other eligible  purchases

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

12.65% to 26.65% 

1.5% cash back on all purchases

USAA® Rate Advantage Visa® Platinum Card

7.65% to 24.65%

None

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

10.65% to 26.65%

2,500 bonus points with first eligible purchase 

3X points on dining out

2X points on gas and groceries

1X points on all other eligible purchases

USAA Rewards Visa® Signature Card

10.65% to 26.65%

2,500 bonus points with first eligible purchase 

3X points on dining out

2X points on gas and groceries

1X points on all other eligible purchases

Which is the right USAA credit card for you?

The best USAA credit cards can all blend together over time, so these are our expert suggestions to help you find the right card for your family.

Choose this credit card...

If you want...

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Rewards for your on-base purchases

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

Flat-rate cashback

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card

A low APR 

USAA Rewards American Express® Card

Rewards for bonus categories

USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card

International perks

How did we choose these USAA credit cards?

There are several factors we consider in our search for the best USAA credit card. 

  • APR: The annual percentage rate, or APR, determines how much interest you will pay on your purchases and balance transfers. The lower the APR, the less interest you pay.
  • Fees: Fees can quickly add up, so we consider fees like annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and balance transfer fees.
  • Rewards: One of the best things about a credit card is the amount of rewards you can receive, from cash back to bonus points. 
  • Credit score: There are often credit requirements in order to qualify for a new credit card. Most USAA often looks for good to excellent credit for its credit cards.

Before you apply for a USAA credit card, consider which features, fees, and factors are the best fit for you. 

What is USAA?

Founded in 1922, the United Services Automobile Association, or USAA, serves the military community including active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Today, it has 13 million members.

Services include not only credit cards but also insurance and investment opportunities. 

What is the APR for the best USAA credit card?

The APR for USAA credit cards all depends on the one you choose. For example, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card starts at 12.65% but the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card is significantly lower with a 7.65% starting APR. Overall, the best USAA credit cards range from 7.65% to 26.65% variable APR. 

Are there alternative USAA credit cards worth considering?

USAA only offers five credit cards, as demonstrated above. 

However, there are many credit cards that may suit your specific needs. While searching for the best credit card, check out our recommendations for the best rewards credit card, the best high-limit credit cards, and the best credit cards for good credit!

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