USAA Rewards Visa Signature

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An OK choice for the special military benefits, but there are other USAA cards that offer more.

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The special military benefits on the USAA Rewards Visa Signature make it a worthy option for those who serve our country. But outside of the special perks and benefits for those actively deployed, the card offers meh rewards and less-than-favorable interest rates for those with less-than-favorable credit scores.

Review

It’s hard to recommend USAA Rewards Visa Signature card over the another rewards card from this issuer, the USAA Rewards American Express card. While the Visa card earns just 1 point for every dollar spent, the AmEx version pays an unlimited 2x per dollar on groceries and gas and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. This could be a significant difference in earnings potential if you spend heavily in those categories.

Those who are approved for the USAA Rewards Visa Signature with credit on the lower end of the spectrum will face higher-than-average APRs, maxing out at a jaw-dropping 26.90%. Of course, you can avoid that APR by paying off your balance in full each month.

The ideal candidate for this card is a deployed military member who qualifies for the ultra-low deployment APR rate of 4%. That being said, all USAA cards offer a the same special low deployment rate of 4%, so you’re likely to be better off with a card that has a different structure.

Who should get this card

We don’t recommend this card when there are other USAA cards that offer more compelling features and benefits. This card offers one of the lowest rewards returns on the market today.

Advantages
  • Earn one point per $1 on every purchase.
  • Get a 2,500 point bonus after your first purchase, worth about $25.
  • There’s a special APR of 4% for those actively serving, that lasts for up to one year.
  • The card will rebate all finance charges accrued to you while you were serving in an active military campaign.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • There’s no penalty APR.
Disadvantages
  • Eligibility is limited to those who have or have had an affiliation with the military, either through service, work or family.
  • You have to have a good to excellent credit score to qualify for the best rates.
  • A rewards rate of 1% is low compared with other cash back cards.

Fees and APR

  • There’s no annual fee.
  • On purchases, you’ll pay a variable 10.90% to 26.90% APR based on your creditworthiness.
  • You’ll pay no foreign transaction fee for purchases outside the U.S.
  • Deployed service members are eligible for 12 months of a 4% APR on balances incurred before deployment.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of 3%.

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, if 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.

To redeem your points, log into your account online or through your mobile app. Each category has different redemption levels that require a minimum amount of points. Typically, each point is worth about 1 cent, but points may increase in value when redeemed for certain awards like travel.

How this card compares

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
Card Details
  • Earn one point for every dollar spent on your everyday purchases.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on gas and groceries with no caps.
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase.
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 10.90%-26.90% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

This card has all the same features and benefits as the USAA Rewards American Express Card, except the AmEx version also pays an unlimited 2 points per dollar on groceries and gas. This could be a significant difference in earnings potential if you spend heavily in those categories.

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

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.

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

If you’re up for the challenge of tracking bonus rewards categories, Chase Freedom can give you some real cash-back bang for your buck. For travel junkies and road warriors, this card is ideal when paired with an eligible Chase card to reap maximum travel rewards on your spending.

If you don’t want to do the work, get a card that offers a flat cash-back rate better than what you’ll find here.

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*

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.

Longer-term, the Citi Double Cash Card may earn you more rewards. The card earns an unlimited 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay for those purchases. Big spenders may find this nets more cash-back overall as there’s no ceiling on what you can earn back.

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.