If you’re in the market for a cash-back credit card that rewards you for the types of purchases you probably make every day (or at least every week), look no further than the USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card. It’s one of the best no-annual-fee cash-back cards around thanks to a generous rewards program and choice nonrewards benefits.
The big catch is that it’s only available to USAA members, who make up a very small minority of U.S. consumers. But if you’re fortunate enough to be an existing or eligible member, this card is definitely worth a closer look.
What Is the USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card?
The USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card is a cash-back card with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. It offers an accessible sign-up bonus, a 0% intro APR promotion on balance transfers, and a simple but solid cash-back earning structure.
New account holders can earn a tidy sign-up bonus without much effort. The fact that there is no minimum spend for this sign-up bonus makes it accessible to everyone.
New cardholders may also qualify for introductory financing, which offers 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers and convenience checks that post to your account within 90 days of account opening. This offer is available only for a limited time. And after the introductory APR offer ends, a variable APR will apply — which is currently 14.90% to 30.90%, depending on your creditworthiness.
This card’s rewards program is quite generous for a no-annual-fee card:
- 3 points per $1 spent on dining
- 2 points per $1 spent on groceries
- 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
These points are worth one cent each when deposited to a USAA checking or savings account, which is the best redemption option. They’re worth slightly less when you request your rewards as a statement credit.
The card also offers other travel benefits, including auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage and baggage delay and reimbursement. Plus, you get extended warranty protection on eligible U.S. manufacturer warranties.
What Sets the USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card Apart?
This card has several features that help it distinguish itself from other credit cards in its category.
- 0% Intro APR promotion on balance transfers. Although this offer doesn’t waive interest on purchases at any point, its 15-month, 0% intro balance transfer APR is still a good offer. It also covers convenience checks that post to the account within 90 days of account opening, with no additional cash advance fee. That’s unusual (and welcome).
- A sign-up bonus that’s easy to earn. New accountholders qualify for this card’s sign-up bonus after making just one purchase with their card. Many other sign-up bonuses have a minimum spend that you must meet in order to receive the bonus, but this one doesn’t.
- 3x points on dining. For a card with no annual fee, 3x points on dining is a good earning rate for folks who regularly dine out and/or order takeout.
- Requires USAA membership. You must be a member of USAA to apply for this card. USAA membership is available to active-duty and retired military service members and their families, which means most consumers aren’t eligible. This is definitely the card’s biggest drawback.
Key Features of the USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card
The USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card offers an easily accessible sign-up bonus, a 0% intro APR promotion, and a simple but solid earning structure.
Earn 2,500 bonus points after your first purchase. That’s worth up to $25 at redemption.
This card earns 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Rewards can be redeemed for:
- Cash back in the form of a statement credit or an electronic deposit to your USAA account
- General merchandise
- Gift cards from participating merchants
- Charitable contributions to participating charities
- Travel accommodations through USAA’s own travel booking portal
Minimum redemption requirements vary by redemption method but are generally manageable..
0% Introductory APR Promotion
For a limited time, this card offers 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers and convenience checks that post to your account within 90 days of account opening. After the intro APR offer ends, a variable APR will apply, which is currently 14.90% to 30.90%, depending on creditworthiness.
This card charges a balance transfer and cash advance fee of 3% of the amount of each transaction. There are late payment and returned payment fees of up to $35, but no foreign transaction fee.
This card requires good or better credit to qualify. If your FICO score is much below 700, your application might be denied.
Pros & Cons
The USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card has several appealing benefits and a couple downsides to keep in mind as well.
- Generous rewards program for a no-annual-fee card
- Long 0% intro APR promotion on balance transfers and convenience checks
- Valuable nonrewards benefits
- Requires USAA membership
- Very small sign-up bonus
This card has a generous rewards program, a long 0% intro APR promotional period, and valuable nonrewards benefits.
- Strong bonus categories. Earning 3x points on dining and 2x points on groceries and at gas stations can add up quickly. These points are worth $0.01 each when you deposit your rewards into a USAA checking or savings account.
- Receive 15 months of 0% APR financing. This offer is a little quirky in that it applies only to balance transfers and convenience checks, both of which have a 3% fee. But it’s rare to find an introductory APR offer that includes convenience checks, which usually charge interest from the get-go.
- Valuable benefits. This card comes with a host of travel insurance and purchase protection policies that are usually just found on premium rewards cards. So it’s a welcome surprise to see these benefits on a cash back card with no annual fee.
This card has strict eligibility requirements and a sign-up bonus that’s almost not worth writing home about.
- You must be a USAA member. For the most part, USAA members are very satisfied with their membership, but it’s not open to everyone. You have to be an active-duty or retired service member, or a spouse or child of one. If you’re not eligible for membership — and something like 95% of Americans aren’t — then you can’t apply for this card.
- Token sign-up bonus. The new account bonus is very small, even for a no-annual-fee card. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but you’ll barely feel it.
How the USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card Stacks Up
The card’s closest competitor is probably the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card. Here’s how the two cards compare:
|USAA Rewards American Express Credit Card
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
|Up to 3x
|Up to 5x
|0% Intro APR
|0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and convenience checks
|0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers
|Foreign Transaction Fee
|Good or better
|Good or better
It’s great to find a cash back credit card that offers competitive returns with no annual fee. For USAA members, the USAA Rewards American Express is an offer that’s worth considering. If you can take advantage of the bonus rewards categories, as well as the promotional financing terms, then the USAA Rewards American Express could be right for you. And if you’re not a USAA member yet, it could be worth joining just to take advantage of this offer.