USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card Review: Rewarding You for Your Service [2019]

If you are a member of USAA and looking to save money on your purchases, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express card could suit your needs.
9/4/19 | By Brett Holzhauer

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USAA (United Services Automobile Association) is a Texas-based insurance group that assists military members and their families with insurance and banking products — including credit cards. Founded in 1922, USAA has assisted millions of military families with their financial needs. 

The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card (learn more) is a great card for someone who is a USAA member looking to save money on their expenses. With its wide rewards categories, this card can potentially earn you hundreds of dollars in cash back each year. Along with rental car protection and no foreign transaction fees, this card is worth considering for a spot in your billfold.

In this USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card review, you’ll learn more about the card’s earning potential and whether or not you may qualify as a USAA member.

Cash Back on Military Bases

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

Benefits

  • Up to 5% cash back on qualifying purchases
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply


Who should get this card?

The perfect candidate for this card is someone stationed on a military base or who spends a large amount of money on gas — or both. In addition, you must meet USAA’s membership qualifications.

According to USAA, the following people can qualify for membership:

  • Active duty or former service members (discharged honorably) in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy National Guard, and Reserves
  • Widows, widowers, and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage
  • Individuals whose parents joined USAA
  • Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship
  • Officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning

With 5% cash back on gas and at military bases (combined first $3,000 annually), 2% cash back on groceries (first $3,000 annually), and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, you can earn a respectable return on your spending. 

That said, there are more lucrative offers specifically for spending at supermarkets, including the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, which offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on first $6,000 in purchase per year, 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Card basics

Annual Fee $0
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Generous cashback rewards: You’ll earn 5% cash back on gas and at military bases (combined first $3,000 annually), 2% cash back on groceries (first $3,000 annually), and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. When spending on military bases, you’re also saving money since your purchases will be sales tax-free, making your savings even larger.
  • No foreign transaction fees: When spending abroad, you won’t incur any foreign transaction fees.
  • SCRA interest rate benefits: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides active-duty service members a reduced interest rate of 6% on credit card debt incurred prior to active duty. USAA takes that even further by offering an even lower rate of 4%.
  • No annual fee: There’s no annual fee for this card.
  • Rental car protection: With the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card, your rental car may qualify for collision damage waiver insurance. This insurance is activated when you pay for the car rental using the card.

Earning & redeeming

Earning cash back with the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card is quite simple. And you can redeem your cashback at any time in $1 increments.

Best ways to earn

Categories Rewards rate
Gas stations 5%
Military bases 5%
Supermarkets 2%
All other purchases 1%

Maximizing your redemptions

With the bonus categories of 5% cash back on gas and at military bases (combined first $3,000 annually), 2% cash back on groceries (first $3,000 annually), and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, your maximum redemption after a year of spending in the two higher categories will be $210. This return on spending isn’t all that high, but it could be a great supplemental card in your wallet if you’re frequently spending at gas stations or military bases.

Common questions

Does USAA automatically increase credit limits?

You can request a credit limit increase or decrease in your accounts page through USAA.

How much does USAA charge for a cash advance?

There’s a transaction fee of 3%.

Do I qualify for a USAA credit card?

You can qualify for a USAA credit card if you’re one of the following:

  • Active duty or former service member (discharged honorably) in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy National Guard, or Reserves
  • Widow, widower, or un-remarried former spouse of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage
  • Individual whose parents joined USAA
  • Cadet and midshipman at U.S. service academies in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship
  • Officer candidate within 24 months of commissioning

Which USAA credit card is easiest to get?

For the best chance of being approved for the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card, you’ll need to have a good-to-excellent FICO score of 670 or higher.

Other cards to consider

There are special benefits for military members when it comes to credit cards. Given your access to different benefits than civilians, it’s important that you look at all the details to ensure you select a card that works for you. If the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card isn’t right for you, we have other recommendations. Here are a few of the best credit cards for military members and their families to earn valuable cash back or rewards on their purchases.

In addition, you may want to check out the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card. This is basically a more flexible version of the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express. With the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. If you’re not spending on base or purchasing a significant amount of gas, this card may fit your overall spending habits better.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card could also be a great fit. You’ll earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on to first $2,500 spend each quarter); and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Along with those great cashback categories, you’ll get $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. While the individual category rewards rates don’t match the cashback percentages of the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus, the Bank of America Cash Rewards could prove to be more lucrative once you combine the bonus offer and category earnings.

Cash Back on Military Bases

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card

Special Offer

Up to 5% cash back

See how these cards compare:

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No penalty APR
  • No annual fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • $200 cash rewards bonus offer
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • 3% cash back on one category of your choice
  • No annual fee

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