Active-duty military members may already know about the discounts they can receive from stores and restaurants around the country. However, they may not know that major credit card companies also offer military benefits. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and Military Lending Act, credit card companies are required to offer helpful rates and benefits to military members.
American Express goes above what the law requires of them and offers some of the best credit cards for military members. With Amex military benefits, active-duty service members can take advantage of valuable credit card perks — for free.
Here, we’ll take a look at the excellent U.S. military benefits found on American Express credit cards and see how they can bring you value.
MLA and SCRA credit card benefits
Since it was enacted in 2003, the SCRA has provided financial relief to active-duty service members across all United States military branches, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Activated Reserve and National Guard members are also included. The MLA also helps military members financially, though it was enacted in 2006 and focuses more on lending practices.
To qualify for Amex military benefits under the SCRA, service members must have an American Express credit card before entering active-duty military service. The best SCRA benefit for eligible cardholders is a cap of 6% on your credit interest rate. This limit also applies to credit card fees, such as annual fees and late fees. You can apply for SCRA benefits upon entering active duty and up to 180 days after leaving active duty.
MLA benefits include the Military Annual Percentage Rate, which limits the amount creditors may charge active-duty military members. The MAPR can’t exceed 36% and includes any interest or fees charged by creditors. To receive MLA benefits, you have to qualify for an American Express credit card during active-duty military service. There’s no need to enroll for benefits, as they’re automatically applied once you qualify for a credit card.
Be sure to check out the Amex SCRA page for more information about Amex military benefits.
3 best Amex military credit card benefits
Certain credit card issuers, including American Express, Chase, and Citi, offer military benefits in addition to what’s required legally by the SCRA and MLA. As one of these issuers, American Express provides military personnel with certain perks that can reduce their financial burden during active-duty service.
Here are the best Amex military credit card benefits:
- Waived fees
- Lower interest rate
- Free luxury benefits
1. Fee waivers
American Express is known to waive credit card fees for eligible active-duty military members. This may include:
- Annual membership fee
- Over-limit fee
- Late payment fee
- Return payment fee
- Return ATM fee
- Statement copy request fee
- Reinstatement fee
Without fees, you can focus on paying off debt or solely using your credit card for its benefits. It’s a great opportunity to get some financial relief and shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to start spending more on your card.
2. Lower interest rate
The SCRA limits the interest rate at 6% on any credit cards you opened before entering active-duty military service. This also applies to American Express credit cards, which is a huge bonus if you carry a balance. The average credit card interest rate is typically much higher than 6%, so this could save you a lot of money over time
American Express will also review your account when you apply for SCRA benefits and possibly give you a lower rate. Although it’s not generally a best practice to carry a balance on your credit card, it can happen. If you can use Amex military benefits to lower the interest accruing each month, you can reduce your overall debt in the process.
3. Free premium benefits
No annual fee means there’s no annual cost to have certain credit cards, including some of the best travel credit cards with premium benefits. These benefits aren’t directly tied to SCRA or MLA requirements, but you get them anyway.
Let’s take a look at the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. The Amex Aspire has a $450 annual fee, but it comes with many valuable benefits. Normally, a frequent traveler could offset the annual fee by earning rewards and taking advantage of benefits like Priority Pass Select membership and $250 annual airline fee credit.
However, if you don’t travel as often, it’s not as easy to get value from the card and balance out the annual fee. With Amex military benefits, you don’t have to worry about an annual fee at all. Even if you only travel occasionally, you can still take advantage of these Amex Aspire benefits:
- Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Free weekend night reward each year
- $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
- $250 annual airline fee credit
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
- Credit card travel insurance
Staying at hotels for free and getting luxury benefits is an amazing deal when you don’t have to pay an annual fee. Keep in mind, these SCRA or MLA benefits work with any personal Amex credit card account, but the premium cards have the most benefits.
The best Amex credit card for active-duty military
For all-around amazing benefits, The Platinum Card from American Express is the best Amex credit card for active-duty military members. It’s easily one of the best travel credit cards available, and having the $550 Amex Platinum annual fee waived makes its value skyrocket. Plus, this card also has no foreign transaction fees, so you can use it abroad wherever Amex is accepted without worrying about added costs.
Amex Platinum cardmembers get these premium benefits:
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn Amex Membership Rewards points on every eligible purchase
- Access to Amex Travel and more than 10 Amex transfer partners
- Up to $200 Uber Cash each year (good for Uber rides or Uber Eats)
- Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit each year
- $200 annual airline fee credit
- Priority Pass Select and Amex Centurion Lounge access
- TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement
- Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits equaling, on average, a total value of $550
- $100 hotel credit and room upgrade with The Hotel Collection
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
- Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status
- Credit card rental car insurance
Whether you travel often or infrequently, you can benefit from having an Amex Platinum card in your wallet. Even if you don’t travel at all, you can still take advantage of the $200 Uber Cash each year. And for a limited time, you can leverage Chase and Amex COVID-19 perks. Through Dec. 31, 2020, you can receive these limited-time benefits with your Amex Platinum:
- Up to $20 credit each month for select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- Up to $20 credit each month for U.S. wireless phone service charges
That’s up to $40 in credit you can receive each month for everyday expenses. Overall, no annual fee equals awesome value with the Platinum Card from American Express.
FAQs about Amex military benefits
Does American Express waive credit card fees for active-duty military members?
Yes, American Express may waive credit card fees for eligible active-duty military members. Possible waived fees include:
- Annual fee
- Over-limit fee
- Late payment fee
- Return payment fee
- Return ATM fee
What is the best American Express card for active-duty military members?
The best American Express credit card for military members is the one that brings you the most value and aligns with your spending habits. Because eligible active-duty members of the Armed Forces can have their Amex card fees waived, it makes sense to get a premium credit card with loads of benefits.
The Platinum Card from American Express has a $550 annual fee that can be waived through Amex military benefits. With the fee waived, you get airport lounge access, up to $200 annual Uber credit, $200 annual airline fee credit, and elite hotel statuses — all for free. These benefits easily make the Amex Platinum card one of the best credit cards for military members.
The bottom line
Active-duty military members can receive heaps of discounts and deals for their military service, but many don’t know about military credit card benefits. If you’re eligible through the SCRA or MLA for these benefits, it’s well worth it to consider them.
Because Amex military benefits can waive your credit card fees, you can get valuable card benefits without paying an annual fee. Amex Platinum military benefits are particularly useful, even if you’re not a frequent traveler. And if you're a loyal Hilton guest, the Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card also offers premium benefits for cardholders.