The Top Amex Military Benefits to Help Service Members Save

If you’re an active-duty service member, you may be able to save loads of money with Amex military benefits.
Last updated Jun 3, 2021 | By Ben Walker
Children with mother in military uniform

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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.

In this article

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 (See rates and fees) 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
  • Note that certain benefits require enrollment.

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.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Intro Offer

150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

up to 14X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Hilton travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

The best Amex card for active-duty military

For all-around amazing benefits, The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best Amex rewards card for active-duty military members. It’s easily one of the best travel credit cards available, and having the $695 (See rates and fees) 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. Do remember though, unlike typical credit cards, the Amex Platinum allows you to carry a balance for certain charges but not all.

Amex Platinum cardmembers get these premium benefits:

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. 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 $695 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, and elite hotel statuses — all for free. These benefits easily make the Amex Platinum card one of the best credit cards for military members. Note that certain benefits may require enrollment.

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.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Intro Offer

100,000 Membership Rewards points

Annual Fee

$695

Rewards Rate

up to 5X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
  • 10X points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months)
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 in Uber Cash, $300 Equinox credit, $200 airline fee credit
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • $695 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10x points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first 6 months)
  • 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.