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Apply online for USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card Review

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What USAA says about this card

Apply online for USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card
  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined
  • Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members

By Brooklyn Lowery Site Editor  Updated Aug 27, 2019

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card Essentials

USAA offers several financial products for current and former military members and their families, including four cash-back cards. The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is one of these cards, and has one of the highest rewards rates among all the USAA offerings. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on gas and purchases at military bases and 2% cash back on supermarket purchases on the first $3,000 spent each year, and 1% cash back on all other purchases, allowing cardholders to accrue rewards without worrying about an annual fee to offset. USAA also gives cardholders a break if they miss a payment during the first six billing periods – the fee is $25 during that initial period (it increases to a late penalty fee of $35 afterward).

Some of the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card's key features include:

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases (up to $3,000 spent annually); 2% cash back on groceries at supermarkets (again, on up to $3,000 in annual purchases); and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases and once you've met the spending caps for the 5% and 2% categories.
  • Security and travel benefits like chip card technology, concierge services, 31-day worldwide rental car insurance, identity theft resolution services, price protection, extended warranty, and travel accident, baggage delay and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
  • Zero liability if your card is lost or stolen

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • This card is specially designed to meet the unique needs of members of the military and their families as well as reward spending those individuals are likely to do.
  • Earn up to 5% cash back on all gas and military base purchases as well as 2% at supermarkets and 1% on other purchases.
  • When you have a balance on your account at the time you enter active military duty, get 4% APR on that existing balance until one year after you complete active duty.
  • Card membership is limited to those with military service and their family members.

What Our Editors Like Most About USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card offers a straightforward rewards structure. There aren't any rotating categories or a cash-back calendar that cardholders must keep track of to maximize their rewards. It's pretty simple: earn 5% cash back on purchases at gas stations, commissaries, exchange and shoppette locations on military bases (on up to $3,000 spent annually); 2% cash back at supermarkets (up to $3,000 spent annually); and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. This rewards structure rivals other competitive cash-back cards on the market, such as Chase Freedom® , which offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter you sign up in specific bonus categories.

Similar to the Chase Freedom®, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, but what sets it apart is the flexibility the card offers military personnel. The card's interest rate can be high, but military members get several breaks to ease some of the financial burden for their families while they're deployed. Cardholders also get a special interest rate under the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA): when you have a balance on your account at the time you enter active military duty, get 4% APR on that exisisting balance for the remainder of your qualified period of active duty.

The card's redemption options are flexible, too. Cardholders can redeem their rewards at any time for any amount of cash back in $1 increments. Several cash-back cards on the market allow you to only redeem rewards once you accrue at least $20 or $25 in cash back.

Bottom line: This is a good no annual fee card with flexible redemption options and special financial benefits for military members. If you're looking for a no-fuss card with a straightforward rewards structure, this is a good card to consider.

Potential Downsides of the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Unfortunately, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card has certain disadvantages compared to other cash-back competitors. There's a 3% transaction fee on balance transfers, but USAA caps this fee at $200 for each transfer.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card members shouldn't overlook the card's fine print either. That 2% cash back on groceries only applies to purchases at supermarkets and neighborhood grocery stores – not discount stores like Walmart or wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. If you do most of your regular grocery shopping at these merchants, then a card that offers more flexibility in this category will reap more rewards. However, many military families shop at commissaries or the Post Exchange (PX) because items are often cheaper than a commercial grocer, so this detail might not be a deal breaker.

Another downside is the card's annual bonus reward spending cap of $3,000. When you compare it to a card like Chase Freedom®, which has a quarterly spending cap of $1,500 or $6,000 a year, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card's cap is 50% less. After you reach this $3,000 cap, you only earn 1% cash back on gas, military base and grocery purchases. Military members who want to maximize their rewards and don't mind strategizing their spending around rotating categories, might want to opt for a card with a higher spending cap as their sole cash-back card or use the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card in combination with it.

Top Features

Cash Back on Gas Cash Back on Groceries Cash Back on Other
5% cash back on up to $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. 2% cash back on up to $3,000 in supermarket purchases per year. 1%

How the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card Compares to Other Cash-Back Credit Cards

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card vs. PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is open to current and former military members, U.S. government employees and other members of qualifying organizations who join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union. With this card you can earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days as well as ongoing rewards of up to 2% cash back on gas, groceries and all other purchases if you're a member of the PenFed Honors Advantage Program. Otherwise, it's 1.5%. Like the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

With the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card PenFed members get discounts on insurance, home warranty, home protection and on mortgage fees if they're buying a home, but the card doesn't have military-specific benefits like what the USAA card offers. If your main concern is managing your finances during deployment, then the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card might be the better option.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card vs. USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. Like its sister card, there's a 3% balance transfer fee.

The one difference is that the USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card card has a flat, unlimited rewards structure, while the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card has specific rewards categories and a $3,000 annual cap in those categories.

Both cards offer the same travel, security, retail and military benefits, so cardholders who want a simpler rewards structure might be better off with the USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card vs. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express isn't a military-specific card, but it does feature cash-back rewards categories that could fit well into a military lifestyle – or really any lifestyle. Terms apply. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

With this card you can earn 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on all your other purchases. There's no annual fee to consider, but there also aren't the military-specific features and perks that the USAA card offers. Of course, you will receive the same SCRA protections that are guaranteed under the law.Terms apply.

You can snag a healthy welcome offer right now, though. Spend $1,000 in the first three months and you'll earn $150 in bonus cash back. Terms apply.

Who Should Get the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Past or current military members who want a card that caters especially to them are who should take a long look at this card. With the SCRA benefits, military members who are actively deployed or relocating also have less of a financial burden if they have an existing balance or if their families need to use the card to cover day-to-day or emergency expenses while they're away. For those making the ultimate sacrifice for their country, these benefits are just a small way USAA can reward them for their service.

To see the rates and fees for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please visit the following link: See Rates and Fees.

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card compared to other cash back cards

Card Name
Cash Back on Gas
Cash Back on Groceries
Cash Back on Other
Ratings/Apply
5% cash back on up to $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined.
2% cash back on up to $3,000 in supermarket purchases per year.
1%
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Apply online for Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
Unlimited 1% on all other purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Apply online for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply online for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
3% at U.S. gas stations
6% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
1% cash back on other purchases
Apply Now
Terms and Limitations Apply
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Apply online for U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
1-5%
1-5%
1-5%

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