USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

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A great choice for military families who spend a lot at the pump and on base.

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The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card offers the best cash-back rewards on gas and military base spending of all of the USAA-branded credit cards.

Review

Military personnel and their family members can greatly benefit from the low rates and perks offered by the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card. The card offers pumped-up cash-back rewards of 5% on gas and military base purchases, up to a combined $3,000 in annual spending in these categories, after which it drops down to 1% cash back rewards. It pays 2% cash back on supermarket spending up to $3,000 annually, after which it drops down to 1% cash back rewards. All other spending earns an unlimited 1% cash back.

There’s a special APR of 4% for balances on this card for those on active duty and for up to one year afterward. For those who don’t qualify for the Servicemember Civil Relief Act benefit, USAA still will grant a 4% APR on purchases and existing balances for those who are deployed or on a permanent change of station for up to one year. There’s also no penalty APR, so late payments won’t affect your balance.

Who should own this card

Anyone who is affiliated with, or a family member of, someone in the military could benefit from the low rates and tiered cash-back rewards program offered by this card.

Advantages
  • Offers rewards specifically for military base spending.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.
  • If you make a late payment, it won’t affect your APR, but you’ll have to pay a late fee of up to $35.
  • There’s a special APR of 4% for those actively serving, that lasts for up to one year.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • Eligibility is limited to those who have or have had an affiliation with the military, either through service, work or family.
  • There's no sign-up bonus.
  • You have to have a good to excellent credit score to qualify.

Fees and APR

  • Variable APR is 12.90% to 26.90% depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Pay no annual fee.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you may be subject to a late fee of up to $35.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

If you rent a qualifying car for 31 days or less and pay using your USAA card, you’ll get insurance coverage for physical damage to the car or theft.

With the price protection feature of this card, you may be eligible for a refund to your card of the price difference if you find a lower price on a new item you bought with the card within 120 days of your purchase.

This card offers extended warranty protections up to one year longer than the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Cardholders also receive access to a 24-hour concierge, emergency services including roadside assistance and trip cancellation or interruption insurance.

You can redeem your rewards anytime, but it must be in increments of $1. To do so, log into your account online or through your mobile app.

How this card compares

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature®
Card Details
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • There's no limit on the amount you can earn
  • Redeem your rewards anytime online or with the USAA Mobile App.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 12.90%-26.90% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

Even if you’re not an active duty service member, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature offers attractive benefits, most notably its 1.5% cash back on all purchases, without limits or restrictions. Most non-rotating cash-back cards offer 1%, so the extra half percentage point definitely is a score in its favor.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Card Details
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Use your Quicksilver card and get 50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription, now through April 2018
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that; a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% intro on purchases for 9 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% intro on balance transfers for 9 months

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card pays a flat 1.5% back on all purchases. This may work out to be better for you depending on your spending habits.

Quicksilver does not offer any APR rate breaks like the USAA cards, so if that feature matters to you, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card might be a better choice.

Citi® Double Cash Card
Card Details
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $0*
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 18 months*

When it comes to rewards value, the Citi Double Cash Card ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards that charge no annual fee.

So why, you might ask, does this card not receive a higher score from Bankrate? There are a couple reasons, but the main thing dragging this card down is this: Because Citi Double Cash offers no sign-up bonus, it struggles to compete with many cards in this category.

Card Details
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

The Chase Freedom card is fee-free and offers rotating bonus categories that pay 5% back, with a cap of $1,500 in each category per quarter and an unlimited 1% back on everything else. You also have to sign-up each quarter to get the bonus.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.