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USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card Review

A perfect choice USAA members looking for a great rewards card! 3x points on dining, 2x points on gas and groceries and 1x points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
 CardRatings Editor  | Updated

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USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

This card is no longer available.
Our Rating:   
Good - Excellent

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • The points cardholders accumulate with this card are redeemable in a variety of ways including as cash back or donations to military affiliate groups.
  • There’s no need to meet a spending threshold to take advantage of the intro bonus offer – you'll earn 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase regardless the amount.
  • This card offers a super-low 4% APR on card balances held at the time the cardholder enters active duty.
  • Many of the card benefits are geared toward members of the military serving in active duty or who are deployed. If you aren’t active duty military, there are cards that offer higher rewards and more lucrative sign-up bonuses.

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card essentials

The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card is a niche-market card that offers nice, if not spectacular, bonuses for membership.

As a United States Automobile Association (USAA) product, the card is only available to active duty military, veterans and their eligible family members. You should also be aware, before applying, that you'll need a good - excellent credit score for acceptance.

The card has no introductory rate and carries an ongoing APR of 11.40% - 27.40% Variable, depending on credit worthiness. The rate is the same for balance transfers. It should also be noted that there's a special 4% SCRA rate for for military members who have a balance on their account at the time they enter active military duty. That 4% APR will apply to that existing balance for the remainder of the qualified period of active duty.

Like others in the USAA family, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and no over limit fee.

The rewards program is fairly straightforward. USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card offers three points for every dollar spent on dining, two points per dollar spent on gas and groceries and one point for each dollar spent on all other purchases. With each point equal to roughly a penny, the points can accumulate fairly quickly if you tend to dine out quite a bit. Points can be redeemed for cash, statement credits, merchandise and gift cards.

While it pales in comparison to many other cards, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card does offer an introductory bonus of 2,500 points that are awarded once making your first purchase.

Top Features

 Rewards
Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining with no caps. Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries with no caps. Earn 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
 Bonus Rewards
2,500 bonus points with your first purchase.
 Annual Fee

What our editors like most about the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

A $0 annual fee is a great place to start. With the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card, you don't have to worry about reaching certain spending thresholds in order for the card to pay for itself.

Free money is always an attractive quality and the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card gives you some cash right out of the gate. Just make one purchase and you get 2,500 bonus points, with a cash value of $25.

No foreign transaction fees is also especially nice for military families that might spend a good deal of time overseas.

We also like cards that weight their rewards toward food purchases. With three points for every dollar spent on dining and two points for each dollar spent on gas and groceries, the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card benefits all types of people with varying spending habits.

Another nice feature is a rental vehicle collision damage waiver for physical damage and theft coverage. If you rent cars a few times a year, this is peace of mind that won't cost you a dime.

Potential downsides of the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

This is not an easy card to be approved for. For starters, you must be a member of USAA and that means being active military, a veteran or an eligible military family member. In addition, your credit score will need to be in the good - excellent range.

There is no introductory interest rate and the APR could be either really great or really high, depending on your credit worthiness. The ongoing APR of 11.40% - 27.40% Variable is among the broadest ranges you will find.

The introductory bonus of 2,500 points (cash value $25) is very low compared to other cards. But you won't find one easier to attain, as it kicks in after your first purchase instead of after a specific spending threshold.

How the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card compares to other cards

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Evaluating these two cards comes down to a simple question— do you prefer simplicity and modest rewards or are you looking to take advantage of a more complicated rewards program that comes with a big bonus?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card carries a $95 annual fee and an ongoing APR of 15.99% - 22.99% Variable, depending on credit worthiness. On the other hand, USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has a $0 annual fee and an APR that could be either really low, or really high.

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card separates itself is with its rewards program, starting with a huge introductory offer of 80,000 bonus points when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months you have the card. Those points have a value of $1,000 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for travel. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card then offers two points per dollar for all travel and dining expenses and one point per dollar on all other expenses.

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card gives three points for each dollar spent on dining, two points for each dollar spent on gas and groceries and one point per dollar on all other expenses. The introductory offer is just 2,500 points (value $25) but it kicks in with your first purchase.

The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card vs. USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

As two cards in the USAA family, these products have many similarities. Eligibility is limited to active military, veterans and eligible members of military families. Both require a credit score in the good - excellent range for approval. That credit score is critical, as both cards have a wide potential interest rate range. The APR for the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is slightly higher, ranging from 13.40% - 27.40% Variable.

The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has an introductory bonus and a straightforward points-based rewards program. By comparison, the USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card program is more complicated and has more limitations. It has no introductory bonus, but you get a healthy 5% cash back for the first $3,000 in combined annual spending at gas stations, commissaries and post exchange locations on military bases, 2% cash back on the your first $3,000 spent annually at supermarkets, and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card vs. Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

When comparing these two cards, the biggest factor to consider will likely be the amount of money you spend dining out each month. While the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card gives three points for each dollar spent on dining out (along with two points per dollar on gas and groceries), the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card gives a straight 4% cash back on all dining and 2% on groceries. That cash back can add up quickly, but it should be noted that there is an annual fee associated with this card, $95. The annual fee is always $0 for the USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card, not just for the first year.

Speaking of introductory offers, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has an attractive one, with $300 back once you spend $3,000 in the first three months you have the card. The 2,500 bonus points awarded by USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card with your first purchase has a cash value of just $25.

Is USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card a good card?

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card has its limitations but, if you qualify and have strong credit, is a nice addition to your wallet. A lot of it will come down to your credit score. If your score is in the "excellent" category and you can land yourself with a low APR rate, you could save a great deal in interest charges with this card.

The reward of three points per dollar spent on all dining out expenses is competitive for that category. And the $0 annual fee means you never have to worry about the card paying for itself. Plus, let's not forget about the added benefit of 4% APR for active military members.

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card Compared to Other Reward Cards

This card is no longer available.
USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card
Apply online for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rewards
Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining with no caps. Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries with no caps. Earn 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. 
Rewards
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 
Rewards
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees. 
Rewards
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases 
Rewards
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases 
Bonus Rewards
2,500 bonus points with your first purchase.  
Bonus Rewards
Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.  
Bonus Rewards
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®  
Bonus Rewards
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening  
Bonus Rewards
Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  
Annual Fee
$0 
Annual Fee
$95 
Annual Fee
$550 
Annual Fee
$99, waived for first 12 months 
Annual Fee
$0 

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