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The best cash back credit cards for active duty US military servicemembers can put up to 6% back in your bank account. Cash back cards are great if you do not travel frequently or you just want to be rewarded for your everyday purchases.
Cash back cards offer the simplicity of just getting cold hard cash for your normal spending. Some of them offer extra cash back bonuses in specific categories like gas stations, groceries, supermarkets, or pharmacies.
The AAFES or NEX gas stations on base or post qualify for the gas category. The Commissary rings up as a supermarket (usually) and the Shoppette usually qualifies as a gas purchase.
All the cards listed below also have a welcome bonus, which you will receive after spending the minimum amount required in the time required. These are often low threshold minimums ($500-$1000) with plenty of time to meet the spend.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Learn how to apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- $95 annual fee, but waived for military + spouses
- Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months with your new card
- 6% cash back on US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), including most OCONUS Commissaries
- 6% cash back on select US streaming services, including Apple Music, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video (full list here)
- 3% cash back on transit like taxis, Uber, Lyft, parking, tolls, trains, buses, etc
- 3% cash back on US gas stations (including OCONUS NEX or AAFES)
- 1% back on other eligible purchases, terms apply
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred is my #1 recommended cash back card for military.
The 6% cash back at US supermarkets, including the DECA Commissary on base/post, is the best cash back offer available on any category. This cash back works overseas on US military bases, as Commissary transactions process like you are in the States.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred also offers 6% cash back on many US streaming services, including:
Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible, CBS All Access, Direct TV Now, ESPN+, Fubo TV, HBO Now, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Kindle Unlimited, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, Netflix, NHL.TV, Pandora, Amazon Prime Video Unlimited, Showtime, Sling TV, SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite, Spotify, YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium, YouTube TV
A 3% category has also been added for transit including taxi/rideshares (like Uber and Lyft), parking, tolls, trains, and buses.
The 3% cash back on US gas stations also works on OCONUS and CONUS bases, at the NEX and AAFES gas stations.
The Blue Cash Preferred is an excellent choice for military servicemembers, especially since the $95 annual fee is waived. Read the full Amex Blue Cash Preferred military review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Learn how to apply for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Earn a $200 after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card (equivalent to 10% cash back!)
- 3% back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after
- 2% on US gas stations
- 1% on all other purchases
- No annual fee (terms apply)
- Compare to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express with a $95 annual fee waiver for military and 6% cash back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Intro offer: earn an additional 1.5% on everything you buy up to $20,000 in the first year – worth $300 cash back!
- 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- 4.5% on dining at restaurants, takeout, and delivery
- 4.5% back on drugstore purchases
- 3% on all other purchases
- After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards(R), 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- No annual fee
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is my go to card when I’m CONUS.
The cash back is earned as Chase Ultimate Reward Points. You can transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve to maximize the value of the points and get more than 1 cent per point.
The card offers 5% back on travel bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining and drugstores, 1.5% cash back on all other purchases, and no annual fee. Great to use for online purchases or anything other than travel and dining which you should get 3% back on with your Sapphire Reserve.
This is my default card when I’m back in the States. If you can get 5% back on rotating categories like gas or groceries with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card above do that. Otherwise use this card to get 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Compare the Freedom Flex vs the Freedom Unlimited in this article.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Earn $200 cash back (20,000 UR points) when you spend $500 in 3 months
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- 3% on dining at restaurants, takeout, and delivery
- 3% back on drugstore purchases
- 1% back on all other purchases
- 5% on up to $1500 of purchases in specific bonus categories each quarter
- No annual fee
- Compare the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Flex card offers 5% back on rotating categories and no annual fee. It also has great points earning on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on everything else.
The welcome bonus is paid in Ultimate Reward points worth 50% more if you transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve with no annual fee for military.
I have had this card since I joined the military over a decade ago. I keep it open to age my credit history with no annual fee.
Gasoline is usually one of the categories for half the year, making this a great card to use to fill the car up. I usually put whatever the 5% category is on the Freedom Flex, then travel and dining on my Sapphire Reserve, and then everything else on my Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card offers 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay off the purchase.
American Express Cash Magnet Card
- Learn how to apply for the Amex Cash Magnet Card
- $150 cash back welcome bonus when you spend $1000 in the first 3 months of Card Membership
- 1.5% cash back unlimited
- No annual fee
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Learn how to apply for the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- 1.5% cash back on all purchases including gas, BX, PX, AAFES, and Shoppette
- No limit to how much you can earn, points never expire, no rotating categories
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees (rare for no annual fee cards)
Cash back cards offer US military members an easy way to earn cash for the day to day spending of life.
My first credit card was a cash back American Express. A cash back card is a great way to start building your credit history so you can qualify for the best military credit cards, like the AMEX Platinum (read my full American Express military Platinum review). Or check out my full list of credit cards that waive annual fees for military.
Are you are more of the travelling type? Does the idea of flying business class to New Zealand and Australia for New Year's Eve sound like a dream vacation? Then check out my step by step guide of no annual fee luxury travel cards for military servicemembers. Or sign up for my complete beginner's course for military credit cards, the Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course.
Cash Back Credit Cards for Military FAQ
Yes, cash back credit cards can be great if you want to earn cash back on all your purchases and bonus cash back on certain categories, like groceries or gas. However, you can earn even more value from your spending by earning flexible credit card points and transferring them to airlines for almost free flights, hotels for free nights, and other partners for vacation or travel experiences.
The Citi Double Cash card gives 2% cash back. 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay the bill.
The Citi Double Cash card, Amex Blue Cash Preferred, Chase Freedom Flex, and Chase Freedom Unlimited are my top recommended cash back credit cards in 2020.
If you want to just earn cash, cash back can be better than points. However, if you like travelling, vacationing, or flying to another state to see family, you will probably get more bang for your buck with credit cards points.
Amex Platinum Card With NO Annual Fees for Military
Military servicemembers and spouses can get The Platinum Card® from American Express with NO annual fees. This ultra premium luxury travel card normally has a $695 annual fee.
Learn how to apply for the Amex Platinum military fee waiver.
The Amex Platinum offers:
- $695 Annual Fee WAIVED for US Military (and spouses)!
- Earn 100,000 Membership Reward Points with $6000 spend in 6 month
- Earn up to $200 annual Hotel Credit: Get $200 statement credit on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or the Hotel Collection, which requires a two-night minimum stay, booked on Amex Travel and paid for with your Platinum Card
- Earn up to $200 credit for Uber rides (or Uber Eats!) annually
- Earn up to $200 airline fee credit
- Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
- Earn up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards, enrollment required
- No foreign transaction fees, terms apply
- Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com up to $500,000 per calendar year
- Transfer to 22 travel partners
These benefits, especially up to $600 of credits for hotels, airlines, and Uber, plus the massive 100,000 point welcome bonus, make the Amex Platinum card my TOP recommended card.
This is the largest welcome bonus on this card I've seen in years.
You have a leisurely 6 months to meet the $6000 minimum spend to earn the 100,000 points. That's only $1000 per month.
If you already have an Amex Platinum card, check out the American Express® Gold Card, fee waived Chase military credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and this month's top recommended credit card bonuses, all with no annual fees for US military personnel and their spouses.
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