USAA® Secured American Express® Card

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Snapshot

4.3

Bankrate rating
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USAA Image

USAA® Secured American Express® Card

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

$35

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

11.90% - 21.90% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair  (300 - 670)

Editor’s note: This card is no longer available. For more secured cards visit our Best Secured Credit Cards page.

USAA® Secured American Express® Card Overview

If you or a loved one will be deployed soon, the USAA® Secured 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.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

A deeper look into the current card offer

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—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. 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.

Benefits

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 American Express® 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.

Fees and APR

  • This card carries a $35 annual fee.
  • The annual percentage rate is a variable 11.90% – 21.90% APR, based on creditworthiness.
  • You’ll be charged a 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or a permanent change of station.

Bankrate’s take—Is the USAA Secured American Express Card worth it?

For those who serve in the military and their eligible family members, the USAA® Secured 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.