Home > Credit Cards > The Credit Card Perks Military Members Get

Comments 0 Comments

Members of our armed forces who are on active duty, and their families, are faced with many unique challenges. Thankfully, they also receive several unexpected benefits — and that includes credit cards. The blog Military Money Manual, written by an active duty member of the Air Force, has learned that American Express will waive most of its fees on all of its cards that are held by active duty members of the armed forces. I spoke with the blog’s author, who writes as Spencer and prefers not to disclose his full name as he is on active duty.

Personal Finance Challenges

According to Spencer, service members do not appear to be any more or less financially capable than civilians, but they face an entirely different set of challenges when it comes to managing their finances and credit. For example, he says new service members may not receive their first paycheck for six weeks to two months, due to the paperwork required by the massive Pentagon bureaucracy. Then, their first payment is received as a check, before direct deposit can be enabled. Other challenges to their budget include frequent relocation.

“We have to frequently pay for our moving expenses, and immediately put down two month’s of rent as a deposit, and buy new furniture, so it can easily strain our finances,” he says.

Furthermore, Spencer calculates that new enlistees earn less than minimum wage when their long duty hours are considered. Finally, he cites the massive time commitments required by military service, as well as the prospect of temporary deployments, that leave the the average service member little time to research and manage their own personal finances.

How the American Express Fee Waivers Works

Cardholders can contact American Express customer care and inform them that they are active duty military, and request fee waivers in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This act requires that banks offer an interest rate of no more than 6% on loans received before starting active duty. In addition, American Express appears to be exceeding the legal requirements in waiving all annual membership fees, overlimit fees, late payment fees, returned payment fees and statement copy request fees for service members on active duty.

Service members must supply their credentials to American Express, which then verifies that the cardholder is in fact on active duty. Spencer has also heard from other service members that American Express may even refund fees that were paid during the time the card member was on active duty.

Other Issuers That Offer Benefits

Bank of America

Bank of America will also go beyond the requirements of the SCRA. For eligible members of the armed services, the bank will waive all credit card fees, including fees for balance transfers, overdraft protection, foreign transactions, NSF, late payments, overlimit, statement copy requests and any annual fees (if applicable on the account).

Capital One

Capital One also waives all credit card fees for service members such as the annual membership fee, monthly maintenance fee, past due, overlimit, balance transfer and cash advance fees. They also offer a 4% interest rate cap on eligible loans, as opposed to the 6% cap required by law, which they extend to one year beyond their separation, as opposed to the 180 days required by law.

Chase

Chase waives all credit card fees for active duty service members on accounts that were opened before going on active duty. In addition, Chase offers its Blue Star Deployment Program, which offers a 100% refund of any interest and fees charged during military deployment. In addition, Chase offers a line of credit cards for members of the military that have no annual or foreign transaction fees, and rewards that never expire.

Citi

Emily Collins, spokeswoman for Citi, says that “During active military service, service member accounts will receive a 0% APR and will not be charged such fees as balance transfer fees, annual membership fees and penalty fees such as late fees.”

Discover

According to Katie Henry, spokeswoman for Discover Financial Services, “Discover fully complies with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which for those active duty servicemembers who apply for this benefit, we will, among other things, lower their interest rate below 6%.”

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank complies with the SCRA regarding credit card interest rates, and grants all active service members their Platinum Package benefits at no cost, which waives checking fees and annual fees on lines of credit.

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team