Are there credit cards for military with bad credit?
If you need to establish or rebuild credit, it can feel like you have a lot of hurdles to jump over, but there are a number of credit cards for military with bad credit to help you out. If your credit is good, but not great, you might want to consider the PenFed Promise Visa® Card. The card’s straightforward approach to credit makes it a great starter card.
If your credit score falls more into the fair or bad range, then you might want to start with one of the best secured credit cards. With secured credit cards, you’ll put down a security deposit that is equal to your credit limit (minus fees). As you use the card responsibly and build credit, you may qualify to receive a deposit refund after several months. Secured credit card options for military members specifically, like the USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®, still offer military-friendly perks such as no foreign transaction fees while building credit.
What are the best credit cards for veterans?
While a few credit cards for veterans do exist — such as the AMVETS USAA Rewards™ credit card from both American Express® and Visa Signature® — in most cases, veterans may be able to join military-specific credit unions. USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, and PenFed may accept your membership application as a veteran. As a member, you could take advantage of their products, like military-specific credit cards with low interest and no foreign transaction fees, or veteran-specific benefits and cards.
What’s the difference between military credit cards and low-interest credit cards?
Military credit cards will offer military-specific perks — such as $0 foreign transaction fees and lower-than-average APR for active duty members — whereas the best low-interest credit cards offer super-low or 0% interest for a fixed period of time. While low-interest credits cards may have better interest rates, they are usually only for 12 to 18 months. Some low-interest cards also come with the opportunity to earn cash back. With one of the best military credit cards, you’ll have a low interest rate for everyday purchases and then an even lower rate during active duty. You’ll also get more military-specific perks, such as no late fees, $0 foreign transaction fees, miles that don’t expire, and cash back programs that include your base’s commissary or post exchange.
Credit card issuers that focus on service members
While the SCRA applies to all credit card issuers, some service members have reported difficulty working with their banks to properly apply their benefits. As a result, some prefer to use credit cards that have the same benefits built right into the card, or work with a credit union focused on military members and their families. If you’re looking for a financial organization with a military focus, then these three are the best:
USAA is one of the largest companies that provide banking services designed for service members, and credit cards are just one of its numerous options, which also include many insurance products, home buying services, and a travel agency. It offers a full range of credit cards that are part of either the Visa or the American Express payment networks.
To apply for any of these cards, you must be a member of USAA. Membership is available to active, retired, and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the US military. Adult children of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy are also eligible, as are officer candidates in commissioning programs. Membership is also available to widows and widowers of USAA members.
With nearly 6.4 million members, Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the United States. It also has 223 physical branches, which is far more than USAA or PenFed. It offers six different credit cards ranging from cash rewards cards to a secured card. All of its products feature no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, no cash advance fee, and no foreign transaction fee. Membership is available to active and retired service members, civilian DoD employees and retirees, and household or family members of existing members.
PenFed, or the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, was created to offer financial services to active-duty and retired military members and their families. It offers a range of credit cards including simple cards, reward cards, and cards specifically offered to active-duty and retired service members. Membership is open to members of the military and uniformed services, employees of many different defense-related organizations, their family members, and even members of the same household of an eligible person. One of the differences between PenFed and other military credit unions is that it’s open to people who aren’t active or retired military. Anyone can qualify for membership by joining a military support organization for a small one-time fee.
The bottom line
Members of the military have myriad responsibilities without having to worry about their credit cards, and the SCRA gives them and their families a much-needed break. By waiving all interest charges and fees, most credit card issuers will go above and beyond the requirements of the law, so long as you let them know that you are eligible for SCRA benefits.