USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card review: Discounted rates for active-duty military members

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In a Nutshell

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card offers solid cash back along with exclusive perks and rewards to meet the needs of active-duty and former service members and their families. But active-duty service members are the ones who can benefit the most from this card.

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Pros Cons
No annual fee Must be a USAA member to apply
Decent cash back rates Cap on bonus category cash back limits your earnings
APR discount for active-duty members

 

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See Details, Rates & Fees

What you need to know about the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

If you’re thinking about applying for the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card, here are some key features that stand out.

USAA members only

USAA financial products are limited to USAA members only. So if you want to apply for the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card, you must be a member.

To be eligible for USAA membership, you must be …

  • Active-duty military personnel
  • A member of the National Guard or Army Reserve
  • A veteran
  • A cadet or midshipman
  • An eligible family member related to one or more of the above

If you’re not a USAA member, you can apply for membership before filling out a credit card application.

Cash back rewards for military base and gas purchases

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card offers the following cash back rates:

  • 5% cash back on up to $3,000 spent on combined gas and qualifying military base purchases, then 1%
  • 2% cash back on up to $3,000 spent on grocery store purchases each year, then 1%
  • For all other purchases, you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back

You can redeem your cash back any time and in any amount of $1 or more by using the USAA Rewards Service Center or by phone.

APR discount for active-duty military service members

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, requires credit card issuers to offer a reduced interest rate of 6% to active-duty military personnel for debt incurred before active military service. USAA goes above and beyond — it offers a 4% APR on existing balances to eligible active-duty service members. The catch is that you must have already had a USAA account before active duty and incurred the charges before you went on active duty.

If you’re not an active-duty service member, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card may still offer you a competitive interest rate, depending on your credit. The variable APR for purchases is 13.4% - 27.4%, which is comparable to the rates that some other major cash back cards offer.

But even with a competitive APR, it’s not a good idea to spend more than you can pay back every month. Carrying a balance triggers interest charges that can negate the value of the cash back you earn.

A closer look at the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Here are some more details to know when comparing the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card.

  • There’s no foreign transaction fee, so feel free to bring this card along when you travel.
  • There’s no annual fee.
  • The card has added protection benefits, like an extended warranty for your purchases and travel accident insurance.

Who this card is good for

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is best for active-duty military members (or their family members) who do most of their shopping on base. That boosted bonus rate for on-base purchases is pretty rare. This card is really great for people who love to earn as much cash back as possible and have a card for every situation.

But if you’d rather not have to juggle multiple cards to maximize your cash back, you may be better off with a flat-rate cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers up to 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you swipe your card and 1% when you pay off your balance.

And keep in mind — not everyone qualifies for the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card. You have to join USAA first, and the bank has some firm guidelines for membership. So if you’re not eligible, keep on marching.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you’re not sure whether the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is right for you, consider these alternatives.