Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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USAA is most famous for offering military members and their family members state-of-the-art financial products and services.
Oddly enough, however, USAA actually stands for United Services Automobile Association, which is somewhat of a misnomer (you might think this was some sort of credit union for car owners).
Founded in 1922, this San Antonio-headquartered company boasts a full suite of services, including banking, investment, and even insurance!
In this guide, we’ll be examining a sub-section of USAA’s banking services: its rewards credit cards.
As you can probably imagine, USAA Rewards is the name given to the bank’s loyalty program.
It’s important to note that you must be from a military family to become a free member of USAA and qualify for a USAA Rewards card, which includes:
The points you earn and redeem are called USAA points. As long as your account is open and in good standing, your USAA points will not expire. However, if your account is closed (either voluntarily or involuntarily), then you have 90 days to redeem your rewards before they are forfeited. You can also transfer USAA points to any other cardholder with a USAA Rewards credit card.
USAA uses both Visa and American Express cards within its portfolio of credit cards. You can earn rewards on all qualifying purchases, which excludes balance transfers, cash advances, ATM cash disbursements, money transfers, truck stop transactions, gaming transactions, tax payments, finance charges, fees, and cash equivalents.
Hot Tip: If you’re active military, see our guide to the best credit cards for active military as many issuers do not charge annual fees and you can use still use the benefits that come with those cards. The Platinum Card from American Express is the most popular choice for military members given the perks and benefits that come with it. See our in-depth guide on the American Express Platinum military benefits that are available.
USAA points can be earned with either of the 2 USAA Rewards credit cards. Both of them are personal credit cards — USAA doesn’t have a business credit card in this realm.
The flagship USAA credit card is the USAA Rewards Amex card that offers big benefits with no annual fee.
This credit card usually comes with a small welcome bonus after your first purchase — to sweeten the deal, you’ll earn as per the following structure:
Your earning is uncapped, which means that are no limits to the bonus spending you can earn points on.
This credit card offers primary rental car coverage if renting outside of your country of residence and secondary rental car coverage if renting within your country of residence; it also comes with trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance, and travel/emergency assistance.
Furthermore, you’ll enjoy extended warranty coverage, identity theft resolution services, personal identity theft reimbursement, zero fraud liability, and access to a 24/7 concierge.
As we mentioned above, the USAA Rewards Amex card doesn’t have an annual fee and also doesn’t incur foreign transaction fees!
All information about the USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card have been collected independently by Upgraded Points.
The second (and last) USAA Rewards product is the USAA Rewards Visa card, which has plenty to love, too!
To start, you’ll almost always find an identical welcome bonus to what’s offered to new cardholders of the Amex version.
But you’ll notice that the rewards structure is reduced:
In comparison to the USAA Rewards Amex card, this card will earn you 1 point per dollar less on dining out and groceries.
You’ll enjoy all of the same benefits, including rental car coverage (secondary if renting inside your country of residence, primary elsewhere), trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance, a 24/7 concierge, extended warranty, and more.
Notably, this credit card also comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
USAA has a different set of credit cards for those interested in stable, cash-back rewards.
In total, there are 2 USAA credit cards that deliver cash-back, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Let’s take a look at our options.
The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus card is the best cash-back credit card USAA offers.
Although you won’t typically get access to a welcome bonus, what you will get is access to up to 5% cash-back in rewards:
As you can see, this is our first credit card with bonus category limits, so just be sure you keep track of that when making purchases.
With the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus card, you’ll get all the same benefits as the USAA Rewards cards above, including rental car coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay and reimbursement, identity theft resolution, zero fraud liability, and 24/7 concierge service.
There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees with the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus card.
All information about the Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card have been collected independently by Upgraded Points.
Our last credit card product is the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa card, which has a different appeal.
Just like the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus card above, you’ll rarely find an introductory welcome bonus on this card.
What’s special about this card, however, is that instead of bonus categories like military base purchases, you’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash-back on all qualifying purchases with no category restrictions.
Your potential rewards are infinite because there aren’t any caps on spending.
Of course, you’ll also get travel perks such as baggage delay coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental coverage, and more.
Just like every other card above, there are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
So after you’ve earned your points, the next thing to do is redeem them! You can currently redeem USAA points in the following ways:
The most you’ll get from your redemptions will be 1 cent per point when booking cruises and airfare.
You’ll get around 0.9 cents per point when redeeming for cash-back, around 0.8 cents per point when redeeming for charity, and around 0.7 cents per point when redeeming for gift cards.
Sadly, this isn’t a competitive redemption rate. Nonetheless, you can redeem your points by logging into your online USAA account or calling the USAA Rewards Service Center at 800-980-8722 (to redeem points for a cruise, you’ll need to call 800-571-4208).
It’s much simpler to redeem your cash-back because there’s just 1 redemption option: cash-back!
You must redeem your cash-back in increments of $1.
To use or check your cash-back rewards balance, log into your online account or call 800-980-8722.
All in all, USAA offers a great incentive structure and schedule of fees, considering a total absence of any annual fees.
If you happen to be an eligible military member, you can enjoy no foreign transaction fees, annual fees, and a decent rewards structure on a few different bonus categories like dining and grocery.
Hopefully, you found this guide useful in learning more about USAA’s credit cards and rewards program.
The information regarding the USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card, Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card, and Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The best USAA Rewards Points card is the USAA Rewards Amex card, while the best USAA Cashback Rewards card is the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus card.
You don’t have to be in the military to get a USAA credit card. If you fall under any of these categories, you are eligible for a USAA credit card:
Most likely, the best cards for you if you have bad credit or are looking to pay a low interest rate are the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card or the USAA Secured Visa Platinum® Credit Card.
Yes. However, you need to be affiliated in one of these ways to the military:
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.