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3 Best Credit Cards for Military in 2020

Credit card companies are notorious for switching up benefits year-to-year or even every quarter. And since keeping up with the rewards and points associated with all the credit cards out there can be a bit overwhelming, we took a look at the 3 best credit cards for military members to utilize in 2020.

Based on the thorough research we’ve conducted on the topic, the best credit cards for military in 2020 are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and/or the American Express Platinum credit cards. While all of these cards come with different benefits and rewards, the one thing that all three have in common is that they offer incredible rewards to help you take some awesome vacations this year!

Best Starter Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

This is an absolutely must have credit card because of the great signup bonus and quick earning power for every purchase.

Terms Apply

Top Travel Card

The Platinum Card from American Express

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards!

If you are a traveler who loves the airport lounges, Marriott hotels, airfare credit, and more then you need to add this card to your repertoire.

Terms Apply

Top Travel Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

If traveling is a passion, then this card is the one to get. You can’t beat how fast this card accrues rewards for everyday purchases.

Terms Apply

Credit card companies are notorious for switching up benefits year-to-year or even every quarter. We know keeping up with the rewards and points associated with all the credit cards out there can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, we took a look at the 3 best credit cards for military members to utilize in 2020.

Everybody’s financial situation looks a little different, so there might be aspects of one card that suit you well. Like everything else, there are pros and cons associated with each of these cards. And that is the beauty of having multiple options to choose from – you are more likely to find an amicable fit.

In this blog post, we are going to examine what these cards have to offer. Additionally, why they are ideal for members of the Armed Forces and any fees associated with each one. Our hope is that by the time you are done reading through the article, you will know which card (or cards) you should seriously consider getting so you can take advantage of your active duty military status. After all, you have earned it!

Best Credit Cards for Military in 2020 Image

#1 Best Credit Cards for Military: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Cards for Military: Chase Sapphire Preferred Image

One of the first travel cards you should consider is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. In fact, we wrote a whole article about why it is the ideal credit card here.

If you are an active-duty U.S. Armed Forces member who frequently travels, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is perfect for you. This card really sets the foundation for reward travel credit cards. If and when you choose to leave the service, you will likely continue to use this card due to the $95 annual fee. Therefore, it is a great option while you consider if you want to keep the next two credit cards with the $550 annual fee!

Pros of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card offers perks such as the following…

  • 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months from opening the account
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide 
  • One point per dollar spent on all purchases
  • 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip cancellation insurance

One of the key arguments for this credit card is the incredible sign-up bonus. With this card, you will get 10,000 more points than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. More importantly, you don’t have to spend any more money to get them! All you have to do is charge $4,000 to the credit card within the first three months of signing up, and the 60,000 bonus points are yours. 

Drawbacks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Out of the three cards we will discuss, the Chase Sapphire Preferred packs the weakest punch in terms of accruing points. The points system is not as rewarding as the American Express Platinum, and you don’t get as many perks as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Furthermore, the sign-up bonus is subject to change so it just as quickly can scale back down from 60,000 to 50,000, the amount that Chase was offering only a couple of years ago. 

Verdict

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lot of excellent features that you can take advantage of. Especially if you spend a lot on flights, hotels, and dining. While the card isn’t as flashy, it’s a safe bet for military members to use because of your inevitable departure from the military. We definitely think it is worth looking at getting. Out of all three cards we discussed, it is a great starter option if you are new to the world of credit cards.

#2 Best Credit Cards for Military: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best Credit Cards for Military: Chase Sapphire Reserve Image

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a prime choice for any customer to use in 2020. This is due to the extraordinary travel benefits and rewards linked to the credit card. For example, if you spend $4,000 within the first three months from the time of signing up, you amass a handsome amount of bonus points… 50,000 to be exact.

What’s even more impressive about the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that members of the U.S. Armed Forces do not have to pay the $550 annual fee attached to the card. A lot of customers that use this credit card often agonize over this expense. They often extend themselves to put more purchases on the card so they can get enough points. Unfortunately, they use the cashback to cover the annual cost. However, we recommend you use all of the points accumulated by this card towards travel. This will get you the greatest value per point.

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Military members do not have to think twice about justifying the $550 expense. Instead, they can enjoy all of the incredible perks the card has to offer, including a $300 annual travel credit and 3x points on travel and dining worldwide. All you have to do is work with the Chase Military Department to ensure that the fee will be waived.

Between the sign-up bonus, travel rewards, and no annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card has a ton of upside.

Pros of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Beyond the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, $300 annual travel credit, and 3x points on travel and dining worldwide, there is still plenty to like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve…

  • 3X the points on travel available instantly after earning the $300 travel credit
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all purchases put on the card
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink Membership ($199 value)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $100 towards TSA Pre-Check
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge membership
  • 1:1-point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide after enrolling into Priority Pass Select

While all of these additional perks are great, you also get 50% more in travel redemption when you book your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points is worth $750 toward travel.

Drawbacks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

In order to get the $550 annual fee waived, you have to contact Chase. Fill out an application online and call Chase’s Military Department directly at 877-469-0110. Once you are approved, the $550 fee will immediately be waived. If you attempt to discuss the military fee waiver with anyone outside of Chase’s Military Department, they will not know what you are talking about. Understand that this is a request that most Chase employees don’t come across every day. Therefore, it is imperative to discuss this only with the right department!

While Chase’s policies are a little murky, it is still well worth the time it takes to apply to have the annual fee waived. And you can always close out the card if it becomes too much of a hassle for you. Or, you can close it if you decide you aren’t using all of the benefits to justify the $550 fee when you transition to civilian life.

Verdict

You should sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card if you travel often. Nolan, MilitaryTravelPro’s founder, uses this card for all of his everyday purchases. 

We recommend putting all of your travel expenses (flight, hotel, etc.) on the card so you can rack up more points. However, even if you want to play it conservatively, this credit card will net you a lot of points that you can use on more flights, hotels, restaurants, and more.

Before you make a final decision about getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve, make sure you monitor your spending habits for a couple of months to see just how much you put on credit. The reasoning behind this is that you really want to hit that $4,000 mark within the first three months so you can get those 50,000 bonus points.

Lastly, keep in mind that the offers on credit cards can change from time to time, so be sure to double-check that the offer and sign up bonus is still the same on the Chase Sapphire Reserve by clicking or tapping here.

#3 Best Credit Cards for Military: American Express Platinum

Best Credit Cards for Military: American Express Platinum Image

The American Express Platinum comes with excellent sign-up incentives. You get a total of 60,000 bonus points when you spend at least $5,000 within the first three months. That is a significant reward for a card to offer, and it eclipses what the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers by 10,000 points.

Additionally, the American Express Platinum comes with a $550 annual fee but similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this can be waived. The good news is that the folks at American Express are much more candid, making the process of waiving the fee rather seamlessly. If you have any reservations based on poor past experiences with other credit card companies, we hear you. But rest assured when we say that you won’t have to agonize or explain yourself with this card.

The American Express Platinum is an ideal card if you serve on active duty status and like to travel.

Pros of the American Express Platinum

One of the greatest strengths of the American Express Platinum is that it is significantly easier to get the annual fee waived as it compares to its Chase Sapphire Reserve counterpart. The process through American Express is very straightforward. 

All you have to do is apply for the card online here. After you apply, follow the prompt for “Credit Management,” then select “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Benefits.” This can all be done online and, in most cases, within minutes.

After you sign up and confirm that you will not be charged the $550 annual fee, you are then free to enjoy plenty of perks such as the following…

  • $200 annual credits with a major qualifying airline (you have to choose one on the approved list of participating carriers)
  • $15 a month in Uber credit ($20 in December)
  • AmEx’s Fine Hotels & Resorts Program offers $550 of average value in complimentary benefits. These include dining, spa, resort activities, room upgrades (when available), and early check-in/late check-out
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Global Lounge Collection gives access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
  • Fee credit for global entry or TSA Pre-Check

Lastly, a lot of credit cards out there have a lackluster points system. However, the American Express Platinum card will actually help you get cash back to pay off debt or use it towards a major purchase. Instead of getting measly points that never seem to add up, the American Express Platinum card will net you one point per dollar spent as well as five points per dollar spent at participating hotels. In our experience, this point system rivals Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Drawbacks of the American Express Platinum

While the 60,000 sign up bonus is enticing, you still have to hit that $5,000 mark within the first three months in order to receive it. It is imperative that you do a little research on your end before electing to get the card. Some people will have a hard time spending at least $5,000. If you get close, for example, $4,150, it really isn’t worth it to stretch yourself that extra $850 just to get the sign-up bonus.

Another drawback to the American Express Platinum is that it is a charge card. In layman’s terms, you must pay off your balance in full each month. While there is no interest rate associated with the card, it can be easy to forget that you aren’t supposed to carry a balance. Therefore, you must be budget-conscious every time you charge something to the American Express Platinum. And always think of it as a debit card or cash instead of a credit line… Because it’s not credit! 

Verdict

Get the American Express Platinum card if you are good at sticking to your budget and paying your bills monthly. If you can accomplish this, the benefits for military members almost seems too good to be true.

Where we see people go wrong is when they really try to stretch themselves to hit that $5,000 of spending to acquire the 60,000 points as a sign-up bonus. But keep in mind, if you are a military member, you won’t be paying that $550 annual fee anyway, so it is not imperative that you get those 60,000 points. 

Furthermore, the American Express Platinum point system truly has some power behind it. This is more than what can be said for a lot of other cards. Since it is a charge card, you will get used to the idea of making purchases on it, acquiring points, and using them towards your next trip.

This card really puts your money to work for you in a smooth, effortless way.

Closing Remarks for the Best Credit Cards for Military in 2020

While there are plenty of credit cards on the market and a number of other products you can choose from, it is our humble opinion that the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the American Express Platinum are the best credit cards for military in 2020. From no annual fees, travel benefits, cash back, and no foreign transaction fees, any of these products will work to your advantage. They can even help towards rebuilding your credit through smart uses and paying your balance off in full each month. 

We are always doing a lot of research on our end to give you the most up to date insight on the best way to cut out a path to financial success. And if you have made it this far in the article, you have just absorbed an exceptional amount of information about the best credit cards for military to use in 2020 and why we have objectively chosen these three. 

One of the cornerstones of achieving a healthy financial profile is getting credit cards that actually work for you. And military members have earned their right to enjoy exclusive credit card perks. Make your cards work for you by getting points back on the categories that you use the most often. Whether you frequently travel (which is typical even afterlife as an active duty member), frequent restaurants, or buy groceries and gas on credit, put your money work so you can get more cash back and take advantage of the exclusive military benefits these cards have to offer.

Leave a comment below and tell us what your favorite travel credit card is!

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