Home > Credit Cards > 4 Credit Cards for Military Members Awaiting Deployment

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[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card.]

There are many credit cards offered to military members and civilians alike that have great rewards programs, interest rates and features. But if you’re a service member who needs a credit card leading up to deployment, don’t jump at the first card that looks decent.

Many cards have features offered only to military members, and others go above and beyond the requirements for interest rates and fees set by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

Here are four credit cards for military members awaiting deployment.

1. PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases for PenFed HonorsAdvantage Members, 1.5% cash back on all purchases for everyone else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 9.74% to 17.99% on purchases; 0% for 12 months on balance transfers, then variable 9.74% to 17.99
Why We Picked It: Military members get double cash back on all purchases.
For Military Members: Current and former military members qualify to become PenFed HonorsAdvantage Members, and will get 2% cash back on all purchases. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Plus, balance transfers get 12 months interest-free.
Drawbacks: You must be a PenFed member to access this card.

2. Navy Federal GO REWARDS Credit Card

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent at restaurants, two points per dollar spent on gas and one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: Variable 9.99% to 18%
Why We Picked It: Everyday purchases earn points with a variety of redemption options.
For Military Members: All purchases earn reward points, with special rates on dining and gas purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise and more. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: Points expire after four years. You must be a Navy Federal member to access this card.

3. USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $3,000 in annual gas station and military base purchases, 2% cash back on up to $3,000 in annual supermarket purchases and 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: Variable 12.9% to 26.9%
Why We Picked It: Cardholders earn great cash back rates on gas and on-base purchases.
For Military Members: This card earns a fantastic 5% cash back rate at gas stations and military bases, 2% cash back at supermarkets and 1% cash back everywhere else. There are no foreign transaction fees. During deployment, USAA will cap the interest rate on qualified accounts at 4%.
Drawbacks: You must be a USAA member to get this card. There is no signup bonus.

4. Citi Double Cash

Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% upon payment
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 15 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: This card has a strong 0% intro APR offer and earns double cash back on all purchases upon payment. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
For Military Members: All your purchases earn 1% at the time of purchase and an additional 1% when you pay. You also get 15 months interest-free, which is a long time to pay off purchases and balance transfers.
Drawbacks: You’ll have to wait until you pay to earn the full cash back. There is a foreign transaction fee.

How to Choose a Card for Military Members

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act caps interest rates for all established credit obligations at 6% during your time of active duty.

But some credit cards go beyond the minimum federal requirements and will set interest rates below 6% and waive fees while you’re deployed. Many of these policies are difficult to find online, so you should call the issuer of any card you’re considering to check their active duty policies.

Beyond that, you should choose a card that best meets your needs at home or abroad. While military credit cards are designed specifically for service members, you shouldn’t discount civilian cards, as they may have strong offers and military-friendly policies as well.

Cards with strong rewards programs, low interest offers and other perks all have their own benefits and drawbacks. Be sure to consider your spending habits and how a credit card can meet your specific needs.

What Credit is Required for a Card for Active Duty?

Credit cards for military members have highly variable credit requirements, ranging from poor to excellent credit. But if you’re looking for a card with strong rewards or low interest rates, you’ll likely need good to excellent credit to qualify. Be sure to check your credit score before applying, as you’ll want to be reasonably confident in your chances of approval. You can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: vgajic

At publishing time, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Signature Visa, Citi Double Cash and USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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