I'm 24 and in the military. I'm looking to get my first credit card. Should I go with Navy Fed or USAA?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Thanks for your service to our country! As you've already mentioned, a few financial institutions have already extended some special credit card deals to active duty military professionals and their families.

USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union both enjoy excellent reputations as credit card issuers catering to the needs of military families. As membership institutions, both of these organizations can afford to minimize service fees while offering extra cardholder benefits. By vetting your military status, they practically eliminate their risk, making them some of the most stable lenders in the country.

The USAA World MasterCard offers some great benefits for global travelers and their families, with a strong rewards program and no annual fee. If you're deployed, you're at increased risk of identity theft. Therefore, USAA and MasterCard have teamed up for enhanced identity theft resolution and fraud detection systems, attached to this card at no extra charge. Pay your bills on time, and enjoy an annual 1.25 cash back rebate on your everyday purchases. The version of this card for active military service members bumps the rebate as high as 4 percent.

Navy Fed offers its own lineup of cash back credit cards for service people from all branches of the military, not just the Navy. In addition to a variety of fee-free cards, the Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards card costs just $49 per year and adds a host of extra perks and benefits. You'll earn the equivalent of a 2 percent rebate that you can apply toward discount airfare, while paying no foreign transaction fees. Plus, you'll get Visa Signature benefits that include travel and emergency assistance. Visa Signature's concierge team can handle booking travel, hotel, and restaurant reservations from anywhere in the world.

To answer your question, think about how you might funnel as many of your purchases through your new credit card to maximize your rebate. It's hard to beat the straight 4 percent rebate on the USAA Active Military World MasterCard. If your status is likely to change over the next year or two, you may prefer the extra value from the Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards.


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