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American Express waives the annual fees on all their cards for active duty military servicemembers. This includes the $550/year AMEX Platinum. The company waives the AMEX Platinum annual fees to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA).
AMEX is very generous in their interpretation of these laws, extending very generous fee waivers to active, guard, and reserve military servicemembers. If you are on active duty orders for at least 30 days, you can qualify for the AMEX SCRA benefits.
American Express Platinum for Military Servicemembers
My Top Recommended AMEX Active Duty Military No Fee Card (Updated November 2019):
- Learn how to apply for the Platinum Card from American Express here
- Annual fee of $550 waived for US military
- 60,000 point welcome bonus
- $200 annual Uber Credit
- $200 annual airline fee credit
- Centurion and Priority Pass lounge access for free
American Express continues to offer me amazing customer service and credit card products since 2007. I've had nearly a dozen AMEX cards, all without ever paying an annual fee.
My military spouse wife is also growing her AMEX collection without any annual fees. So far she has the Platinum card, the Hilton Honors Aspire card, and the Delta Reserve card.
My first credit card was an American Express card. Since then, I've opened up dozens of accounts with AMEX, including Hilton Hotels cards with FREE Diamond Status, several Platinums, Marriott cards with free nights annually, and the AMEX Gold Card.
All the cards I carry from American Express come with an annual fee that is waived by the company.
Currently I save over $5000 a year but still get all the benefits of a cardholder. This is a great deal that all military servicemembers need to take advantage of!
Best AMEX Cards for Military with No Annual Fees
|Learn How to Apply||Welcome Offer||Annual Fee Waived||Other Benefits||Value|
|Platinum Card||60,000||$200 Uber + airline credit, 5x points on airfare||$2000|
|AMEX Gold Card||35,000||4x points on groceries and restaurants||$1200|
|Hilton Honors Aspire||150,000||Free night, Diamond Status, $250 credit||$2000|
|Bonvoy Brilliant||75,000||Free night, $300 credit||$1500|
|Delta Reserve||75,000||Annual companion benefit||$2000|
AMEX Platinum Military Fee Waiver
While on a TDY in 2013, a military buddy of mine mentioned that he had the American Express Platinum card that comes with a $550 annual fee. He had access to great airport lounges in Amsterdam while we were travelling on TDY. While I paid $15 for an airport sandwich, he was enjoying free food and drink courtesy of AMEX.
He also told me about the $200 of airline fees AMEX reimbursed annually. I thought the rewards program sounded good and the benefits were great, but I couldn't justify that insanely high annual fee. $550 a year was WAY too much money for a young lieutenant!
However, he mentioned to me that he wasn't paying any annual fee because AMEX had waived the fee under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a law Congress passed in 2003. I thought this was too good to be true so I had to do some more research.
The SCRA has a long history dating back to the Civil War and it protects servicemembers' from many legal and financial troubles that they could encounter while serving their nation both at home and overseas.
The SCRA has several sections covering taxes, lawsuits, and outstanding debt. Credit card companies are only legally required to keep your interest rate below 6% on any outstanding debt you have with them BEFORE you enter military service.
I had never heard of a credit card company waiving annual fees because of the SCRA so I had to investigate further. Plus I had recently become a cardholder (again) at AMEX and I would definitely remain a cardholder for much longer if I knew I wouldn't have to pay annual fees.
AMEX Active Duty MLA and SCRA
After further research, I discovered that American Express waives annual membership fees for active duty military servicemembers. This includes the $550 per year AMEX Platinum card and all of the other cards in the AMEX portfolio. It even includes business cards, which is great for military business owners or freelancers.
AMEX decided that they are going to be a true class act and go beyond their legal requirements. For the duration of your active duty military service, they will waive the following fees:
- Annual membership fees ($3000+ savings for my 12 cards)
- Overlimit fees
- Late Payment fees
- Returned Payment fees
- Statement Copy Request fees
Here's the email I received from AMEX once my active duty status had been verified:
To support the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces, we are handling your account referenced above in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides for a maximum annual interest rate of 6% per year on loans you received before starting active military duty.
As of today, your account does not have a balance owed which generates interest charges so there is no eligible balance. However, we have waived the following fees on the account for the duration of your active military duty:
* Annual Membership fees
* Overlimit fees
* Late Payment fees
* Returned Payment fees
* Statement Copy Request fees
This completes our review of this account, if there are any additional accounts you would like reviewed for Servicemembers Civil Relief Act benefits, please call us at 1-800-253-1720. If you're outside the United States, call us collect at 1-336-393-1111.
We are grateful for the service and devotion you have shown to our country.
American Express Customer Care
How to Get AMEX Active Duty Military Discount
To have AMEX handle your account in accordance with the SCRA, you can go 2 ways: call them or apply online. The online application is easy and they are quick to respond. Follow this 3 step process or click the picture:
- Log in to your account, click “Account Services”
- Click “Card Management” on the left
- Click “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Benefits”
If you want to call, simply dial the number on the back of your card or 1-800-528-4800. Tell them you are serving on active duty military and had heard that AMEX offers to handle your account in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
The first customer service representative I spoke to didn't know about the program and had to ask her supervisor. (This was back in 2012, the program is much more popular now and every rep you talk to should know about the program.) You'll be asked 5-10 questions about your situation, such as when you entered active duty and how long your commitment is.
This information is then verified by AMEX before they approve your account for the fee waivers. The entire process took about 6 weeks for me, from phone call to receiving the secure message that my account had been approved.
AMEX Military Reddit Success Stories
Fellow servicemembers report thousands of dollars of fees refunded and excellent cards obtained with no annual fees. Just read some of the dozens of comments below this post. Here's a few highlights:
Brian from the Army sent me this email on Christmas Eve, 2013:
Wanted to thank you for your posts about American Express's unique support for SCRA. I called AMEX last month (Nov '13) and applied to have my account associated with the program. Last week I received $2500 in returned fees (annual fees, interest charges, etc…), all paid to AMEX over the last 10 years as a Delta AMEX card member. Today I just applied for the AMEX Blue Preferred Card and according to customer service, the annual fee is waived. Thank you again for sharing and for the support you've provided to all Servicemen.
So awesome to hear, Brian!
Kevin reported in 2016 getting over $8000 back!
I was looking around the AMEX website and came across their SCRA link. I have the AMEX Blue card and recently opened up an AMEX Platinum account…mostly for the airport lounge access. A friend of mine said AMEX will waive the annual fee for active military, which is a hefty $495 annual fee. I didn’t even speak to anyone, just clicked on the link. This was March 19th. I received an email saying I had a message in the secure message center which in turn said my “issue” has been resolved and I would be receiving written confirmation of the results. On April 2nd, I started downloading transactions through Quicken and had several from American Express. They were all refunds in varying amounts, ranging from $50 all the way to $5,382.61. The total amount I received back was $8,604.05. I actually have a credit of nearly $1,900! I was happy, but at the same time concerned a mistake had been made. I’ve had an AMEX account since 2002 and been active army since 1999, so I’ve amassed some fees, however when I called to confirm, I was told, yes, this is all correct, no errors made. Needless to say, I am forever dedicated to AMEX.
Since writing this post nearly 5 years ago, I've received hundreds of responses from military servicemembers getting their fees waived and enjoying the benefits of great cards like the AMEX Platinum.
There are also lots of posts on Reddit describing the fees AMEX has waived for military personnel.
Best AMEX Travel Cards Free for US Military
American Express has the best travel reward credit card lineup of any of the major credit card companies. These cards include:
- The AMEX Platinum Card ($550 fee waived)
- Hilton Honors Aspire card ($450 annual fee waived)
- Bonvoy Brilliant card ($450 waived)
- Delta Reserve card ($450 waived)
With just these 4 cards, you get $1900 of annual fees waived and you get perks like:
- Diamond Status at all Hilton Hotels
- Free airport lounge access
- $450 per year of airline fee credits
- $200 per year of Uber credits
- Gold Elite Status at SPG, Marriott, and Ritz Carlton Hotels
- 300,000+ points in welcome bonuses
Currently, I have the following American Express cards, all with the annual fees waived:
- AMEX Platinum x2 (my wife and me) ($1100)
- Platinum (upgraded from Gold) ($550)
- Gold Card ($250) (read my full AMEX Gold card military review)
- Green Card ($95)
- Charles Schwab Platinum ($550)
- Ameriprise Platinum ($550)
- Business Platinum ($595) (full AMEX Business Platinum for military review)
- Ameriprise Gold (will upgrade to Platinum soon) ($195)
- Delta Reserve ($450) (read my full AMEX Delta Reserve for military review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant x2 (upgraded an AMEX SPG) ($900)
- Hilton Honors (upgrade to another Aspire soon)
- Hilton Honors Aspire ($450)
- Bonvoy Business ($125)
Total annual fees waived: $5810
With these cards I earned over 250,000 Hilton points, 270,000 AMEX Membership Reward Points, 410,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, and 75,000 Delta Skymiles.
Valued at a conservative 1.5 cents per point, that's $25,200 of travel value, just from the welcome bonuses.
Seven Years of AMEX Platinum Military Fee Waivers
Just a quick update in 2019 here – I've had AMEX cards since 2012. I have never been charged an annual fee.
Imagine if I keep all the cards I listed above for another 7 years of active duty military service. That would be over $40,000 in annual fees waived over the next 7 years.
Think of all the free airport lounges I've been in, the hotels I've been upgraded at, and the upgraded flights I've taken in those 7 years! The value of this benefit for military servicemembers is truly astronomical.
Just this month I received over $75 of Uber Cash from my 5 AMEX Platinum cards. That's at least two free meals from a restaurant, every month!
AMEX Platinum Military Authorized User
Most of the time military spouses can get their AMEX Platinum card annual fees waived without adding the active duty servicemembers as an authorized user to the account.
Personally, my wife has 3 AMEX cards now and had the annual fees waived on all of them without adding me (the military person) as an authorized user.
Once the SCRA benefits are applied to the first personal AMEX credit or charge card, usually you don't need to apply for the benefits again – they are automatically applied to future accounts you open.
Best American Express SCRA Benefits for US Military
American Express offers a unique opportunity to US servicemembers to earn a ton of Membership Rewards points, Marriott Bonvoy points, Hilton Honors points, and Delta Skymiles.
You can earn hundreds of thousands of points in welcome bonuses and points just for doing your ordinary spending with your AMEX cards AND pay no annual fee.
These no annual fee cards can open up business/first class travel opportunities and free hotel stays that would cost you thousands if you paid cash.
Take advantage of your AMEX Platinum military benefits and get the best no annual fee AMEX Platinum card now:
And then sign up for my 100% free, 5 day course on how to maximize your SCRA and MLA travel credit card benefits!