What is the USAA Credit Card?
The United Services Automobile Association is a diversified financial services group based in Texas. Operating since 1922, the company has grown to prominence over the last 96 years.
If you’re a member of the military community, you’ll feel particularly at home. The USAA has dedicated itself to serving the military community, and its credit cards are created to target this niche market. In this review we will look at the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card.
Cash rewards cards have become very popular in recent years, but does this card have what it takes to become your go-to card? Here’s a deeper look at everything you need to know.
Let’s begin with the rewards. These are the main reason that you’ll be choosing one card over the other, after all.
You’ll find that this card offers 1.5% cash back on all of the purchases that you make. Some cards only offer cash back rewards in particular categories such as fuel or groceries, but this card has no restrictions. This cash back rate is pretty good when held alongside other cards and means that you can rack up significant amounts of cash back over the course of the year.
Another great feature is the lack of caps. This means that you can continue to earn cash back throughout the year without worrying about hitting a limit. Some other cards will impose annual limits which can be disappointing, but that isn’t the case here.
You can use the card for all of your purchases without having to track the amount you have spent or the categories that you have spent in. This makes it a card that you can comfortably walk around with and use each day.
When it comes to collecting your cash back, the system is very clear and straightforward. Your cash will never expire and there is no redemption limit. When it comes to redemption, you can do that at any time as either a statement credit or a deposit into another USAA savings or checking account.
This is a great feature and it means that the flexibility is in your hands. Some other cards may obscure the cash back process, so this simplicity is definitely a plus.
Help with the Deployment Team
Military personnel have a series of unique advantages with this card. There is a unique deployment/PCS rate which means cardholders can enjoy 4% APR on all balances during deployment for up to 12 months.
There’s also a special 4% SCRA Rate, which means that when a cardholder enters active military duty then receive 4% APR on an existing balance until one year after they complete their active duty.
The assistance for military personnel is taken seriously, and there is a dedicated deployment team at USAA who can help. By all accounts, this department offers a wonderful level of service and has a refined understanding of the circumstances facing military personnel.
No Sign-Up Bonus
Unfortunately, the card does not offer a sign-up bonus. These have become very common in recent years and some credit cards will offer generous sign-up bonuses in order to attract new cardholders.
The lack of sign-up bonus will affect people in different ways: what may be a deal breaker for some doesn’t really factor into the decision. This is why it’s worth thinking carefully about the terms offered by the card.
No Annual Fee
The USAA Credit card does not have an annual fee, which is a nice touch. Some credit cards have an annual fee which can put you at a loss right away. This means that the first cash back rewards you earn will simply be offsetting the cost of that annual fee.
This lack of annual fee is particularly attractive to military personnel, who won’t have to worry about those renewal fees while on active duty. This offers a great peace of mind to military personnel.
The special APR for military personnel on active duty will surely be appreciated, but unfortunately the variable APR on offer is on the higher side. Ranging from 13.90% to 27.90%, this is a high range and it is higher than competing card cards on the market.
Of course, the rate will depend upon a person’s credit rating. Those with a greater credit score will have to pay on the lower end of the range.
Regular Account Fees
Unfortunately, the card charges a 3% fee on each cash advance and balance transfer made using the card. There is, however, a $200 maximum fee that can be applied to each transaction.
If payments are late or returned, then there will be a fee of $35 in place. This is relatively high, and cardholders should make every effort to ensure that they clear their balances regularly and avoid incurring these fees.
A Range of Perks
Aside from the account itself, the card offers a host of perks that can help cardholders to shop with confidence.
There are no foreign transaction fees for those purchases which are made outside of the USA, for example. This is a powerful example and means that cardholders can travel with confidence and continue to rack up cash back on their purchases. Again, this is a great benefit for military personnel who may find themselves abroad.
Rental cars are also covered for physical damage and coverage. This is a great benefit and if you travel frequently using rental cars, you’ll be sure to appreciate it. Concierge services are also included, as well as extended warranties on a range of products bought using the card.
Price protection is another powerful benefit and means that cardholders can shop safe in the knowledge that if an item is suddenly reduced in price, they will receive the different back.
Travel and baggage insurance again improve traveling and helps to make it a safe and enjoyable experience. International travel is made even safer thanks to chip technology, improving the security of the card.
A Low-Maintenance Option
As a member of the military, it’s important for you to find an option that fits with your particular lifestyle. The low-maintenance nature of the card means that you can use it comfortably without having to worry about convoluted rewards systems or annual fees.
These features make this card a favorite among military members, but there might not be any reason for other to go for this card. There are a host of other similar cards on the market which offer more competitive sign-up bonuses, APR, and on-going rewards.
Terms and Conditions
Whenever you sign up for a credit card, it’s very important that you carefully read and understand the terms and conditions. If you have a great understanding, you’ll find it easier to get the most from the card. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, on the other hand, you may find that you run into nasty surprises while using your card.
If you are a member of the military, you’ll want to be particularly careful and read thoroughly through the terms and conditions that apply specifically to you. You’ll want to understand just how those terms work and whether or not they will serve your needs appropriately.
If you have any questions or concerns about the terms and conditions, then it’s a good idea to directly contact the USAA. They will be able to give you the answers that you need, and you will also get an indication of the level of customer service you can expect to receive should you sign up.
The Bottom Line on the USAA Credit card
If you are a member of the military and you’re looking for a card that fits with your unique needs, then this could indeed be the card for you. It all comes down to your individual needs.
The ability to earn unlimited cash back on purchases anywhere is a great benefit, and the rate of 1.5% across the board is fairly good. Unfortunately, a high APR means that you should avoid carrying balances on the card, or you’ll quickly face steep fees.
The perks associated with the card make your hectic life much easier across the board. With features like extra security, price protection, and a lack of transaction fees you can travel and shop comfortably. The lack of annual fee also another important benefit and means that you can use the card without having to worry about renewal dates while you’re on active duty.
Support from the Deployment Team is another important benefit that will make your life on active duty much easier. You should be sure to dive deeper into this process and you may find that it works well for your particular needs.
It is also important to remember that the USAA also offers a range of other credit cards which again offer unique benefits to military personnel. If that aspect of your life will determine the card that you use, then it could be worth investigating the others available from the USAA.