Best Credit Cards for Reserve Military – Amex and Chase

14,542 grads of the Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course already know why
The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

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The best credit cards for reserve military are my standard top recommendations:

  1. Amex PlatinumAmex Platinum review
  2. Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Preferred review
  3. Amex Gold CardAmex Gold card review
  4. Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Reserve review
Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Annual fee of $695* See more details about military protections for you and your spouse 
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • Earn 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
  • $200 Annual Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Note that The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides every year. Only available to the basic card member, Terms Apply
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • This is a MAJOR time saver–$100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®! Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® lets you visit more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting. You can love the lounge life with more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, enrollment required
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military, terms apply

If you go on active duty Title 10 or Title 32 orders for 30 days or more, you are eligible for annual fee waivers on all of these cards.

American Express and Chase both waive all annual fees on their personal credit cards for active duty servicemembers and Reservists or National Guard called to active duty orders for 30 days or more. This is to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Reflief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA).

In this article I'll review how to check your MLA status and my top recommended card for military reservists.

How to Check MLA Status for Military Reservists

The easiest way to check your Military Lending Act or MLA status is to head over to the MLA database. Once there create an account and run a report with your name, date of birth, branch of service, and social security number. The MLA database is an official DOD database so your SSN should be safe.

The MLA website should look something like this:'

Once you've inputted your information, you should get a PDF that confirms you ARE or ARE NOT eligible for MLA benefits. If you are eligible, then cleared hot to apply for some awesome annual fee waived travel rewards credit cards!

If you are not eligible, and you are on 30 day orders, make sure that your personnel shop has properly updated your status because you SHOULD be eligible for full MLA benefits.

You should also check that your spouse is also eligible for benefits. You can run a check on the same website. As long as he or she is properly loaded in DEERS, he or she should also be eligible for MLA benefits and can get all the cards listed below with no annual fees.

Best Cards for Reservists

After you've confirmed your active duty status in the MLA database, you and your spouse should get automatic MLA fee waivers applied to your accounts. Here are my top recommended cards, in order, that you should apply for while you have MLA benefits.

I recommend you also read my optimal order to apply for the best military credit cards, my article on credit cards that waive annual fees for the military, and sign up for my Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course.

American Express Gold Card military AMEX Gold Card Military No annual fee SCRA $250 annual fee waived

American Express® Gold Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Reward® Points after spending $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card in the first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 4x points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the US
  • Earn 4x points on US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1x points) – includes OCONUS Commissaries
  • Earn 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fees – great for the 4x on restaurants when travelling for fun, OCONUS TDY, or PCS!
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Amex Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 annually.
  • $120 per year Dining Credit: Earn up to $10 per month in statement credits when you use your Amex Gold at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose between the Gold or Rose Gold version when you apply.
  • Read my full review of the Amex Gold card for military, terms apply
  • $250 Annual Fee* See more details about American Express protections for you and your spouse 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $937.50 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x points on dining (includes takeout, delivery, and dine-in), select streaming services and online groceries
  • 2x on all other travel purchases
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠ . Example- 60,000 points would be worth $750 toward travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees, great for overseas OCONUS assignments, TDY, and PCS
  • Primary rental car insurance coverage & trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and more.
  • DashPass access is complimentary which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Upgrade to a Chase Sapphire Reserve after 1 year (compare Reserve vs Preferred)
  • $95 annual fee waived for military and spouses with Chase Military Lending Act
  • Member FDIC
Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Annual fee of $695* See more details about military protections for you and your spouse 
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • Earn 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
  • $200 Annual Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Note that The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides every year. Only available to the basic card member, Terms Apply
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • This is a MAJOR time saver–$100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®! Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® lets you visit more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting. You can love the lounge life with more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, enrollment required
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military, terms apply
Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • $550 annual fee waived to $0 for US military + spouses with Chase MLA policy
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually.
  • 3x Points on other Travel (airfare, hotels) after earning the $300 travel credit
  • 3x Dining restaurants, takeouts, delivery
  • Chase Ultimate Reward Points redeemed through Chase Travel℠ are worth 1.5 cents, a 50% bonus.
  • Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access with over 1300+ airport lounges worldwide
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry every 4 years
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Primary coverage with Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • No foreign transaction fees, Member FDIC
  • Learn more in the Chase Sapphire Reserve review

If you go TDY often, you should also get the 4 best military hotel credit cards to ensure upgraded rooms, free breakfast, executive lounge access with free happy hour, and much more.

If you are not that interested in travel, check out the best cash back cards for military. You can earn $1000s in cash back with just your everyday spending.

Whether you are in the Air National Guard, National Guard, US Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Naval Reserves, Marine Corps Reserves, or Coast Guard Reserves, you should take a look at maximizing your annual fee waived credit card benefits.

How Long Do Reserve MLA Benefits Last?

Technically as soon as you come off active duty orders you may be on the hook for an annual fee. But both Chase and Amex will warn you before charging you an annual fee, so I think it's worth the risk. If you are getting value from the card, keep the account open. If you are not getting value, then just close the account.

If you can get on active duty orders again, you can submit your orders to re-confirm your active duty status and continue to get your fees waived. It just depends on how often Amex or Chase check the MLA database.

Can reserve military get annual fee waived credit cards?

Yes! Under the Military Lending Act, military reservists can get Amex and Chase cards with no annual fees if they are on active duty orders of 30 days or more. These are awesome benefits that not many reservists know about.

Can military reservists get the Amex Platinum card fee waived?

Yes, if you are Guard or Reserves on Title 10 or Title 32 orders for 30 days or more, you can get your Amex Platinum annual fee waived with the Military Lending Act or MLA.

1 thought on “Best Credit Cards for Reserve Military – Amex and Chase”

  1. I might recommend a strategy of something like this: Before a deployment apply for cards like Venture X, AMEX Delta Blue, and the Hilton Honors card making sure to get those three bonuses. Then once you deploy upgrade the Delta Blue to the Delta Reserve, then the Hilton Honors to the Hilton Aspire and get the free waived for the Venture X card. Then while deployed you can apply for and get the bonus for the AMEX Platinum (Walmart+ would probably be nice for your wife to make things easier for her while you are gone.) Then once you have completed your bonus on the AMEX Platinum get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and get that bonus. Then you have 5 premium travel cards without paying any annual fees. I can’t guarantee how long you will have these fees waived, but some people I know have had them waived for a few years passed coming home from their deployments on AMEX cards. I don’t know anyone with experience with the Venture X card yet, maybe I will apply for it and see how the SCRA benefits work with that card and add another comment then.

    Reply

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