USAA Secured Card American Express Card

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The USAA Secured Card American Express Card is a cost-saving option for those who serve and their eligible family members.

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If you or a loved one will be deployed soon, the USAA Secured Card American Express Card could prove a real help. Think about applying for this card before you head overseas so you can take advantage of the generous benefit offered active-duty military personnel.

The card has a special low APR for deployed members of the U.S. armed forces — much lower than standard credit card interest rates — and, unlike most other unsecured cards, offers travel and auto protections and extended warranty coverage.

Review

There are better secured credit cards in the marketplace, particularly when you consider this card’s annual fee. What sets the USAA Secured Card apart is its standard APR and the deployment benefit — a 4% APR for up to a year. USAA says it will rebate all finance charges accrued if you serve in a qualified military campaign.

If you or a loved one is in the military and you need to get a credit card, this could be a great choice if you qualify for the lower end of the standard APR range. At 10.65%, it’s significantly lower than the national average and that, plus the interest rate breaks for actively deployed servicemen, makes it a solid choice.

But if the APR you’re offered is at the higher end of the range, shop around for another secured card that doesn’t ding you with a $35 annual fee. It doesn’t hurt to consider cards that let you graduate to unsecured, too.

Still, other popular secured cards may charge you a variable APR of 25% or more. That’s not an issue if you pay your bill in full each month. But if you carry a balance, this card won’t sock you with the typically high secured credit card interest rate.

Like all secured credit cards, your credit limit is determined by your deposit. When you apply for this card, you open a 2-year CD in an amount ranging from $250 to $5,000. The small bonus here: You’ll earn interest on this deposit, although it’s a small enough payout that this shouldn’t be a factor in your decision. The CD earns 0.54% APY.

Who should get this card

For those who serve in the military and their eligible family members, the USAA Secured Card American Express Card can be a great entry point for building or rebuilding credit. The card is available for cadets, too, who are likely to have thin credit files that may not let them qualify for a typical credit card.

The card will report to all three of the major credit bureaus, so with regular on-time payments, you can improve your credit score.

Advantages
  • When you open a two-year USAA CD with a minimum deposit of $250, a requirement to own this card, you earn interest on the deposit. Most secured credit cards don't offer this perk.
  • The generous APR for deployed military personnel could help you and loved ones back at home pay the bills.
  • Those who can qualify for the lowest end of the APR range will own a secured card with a rate significantly lower than competing cards.
Disadvantages
  • You have to be a USAA member to be eligible for this card. Membership is restricted to military members, veterans and family members.
  • You won’t have access to the money you put in the CD for two years.
  • There’s no option to graduate to an unsecured card, something that some other secured cards offer.
  • Other secured cards come with no annual fee.

Fees and APR

  • This card carries a $35 annual fee.
  • The annual percentage rate is a variable 10.90% to 20.90% APR, based on creditworthiness.
  • You’ll be charged 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or a permanent change of station.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

This card comes with several benefits not typically offered with secured cards.

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

With the price protection feature of this card, you may be eligible for a refund 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.

How this card compares

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®
Card Details
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 10.90%-20.90% (Variable)
Annual Fee $35
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

If you’d prefer to have a Visa-branded card, the USAA Secured Card Platinum Visa offers the same rates and benefits as the USAA Secured Card American Express Card.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Card Details
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Credit Needed No Credit
Regular APR 24.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Capital One Secured MasterCard charges no annual fee, and if you qualify, you can put down as little as $49 to get a credit limit of $200. Or, if you have to put down $200 to get a limit of $200, this card lets you pay that amount in installments.

 

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.