Best Credit Cards for Reserve Military – Amex and Chase

Get a $695 credit card annual fee waived in my Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course
The Platinum Card® from American Express card is annual fee waived for military. Terms apply.

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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
  • Annual fee of $695 waived for US military personnel and spouses
  • Best Ever Public Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Reward Points welcome bonus (valued at $2000+) when you spend $6000 in the first 6 months
  • 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
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credits: Up to $20 in monthly statement credits when you use your Platinum card to pay for: Peacock, Audible, Sirius, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, and the New York Times. Enrollment Required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards, enrollment required
  • 40 Centurion Lounges and 1200+ Priority Pass airport lounge access for free
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card(R). Enrollment required.
  • $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. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Heavy metal card that looks and feels really cool
  • 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
  • Learn how to apply for the American Express® Gold Card
  • $250 Annual Fee waived for US military and spouses
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Reward® Points after spending $4,000 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 annual Uber or Uber Eats cash. Earned as $10 per month automatically.
  • $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, Molk 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
Chase Sapphire Preferred Military SCRA MLA

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

  • Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
  • 60,000 points = $750 minimum value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3x points on dining (includes takeout, delivery, and dine-in)
  • 2x points on all other travel purchases
  • Points can also be redeemed with “Pay Yourself Back” for 1.25 cents each on eligible purchases in select, rotating categories
  • No foreign transaction fees, great for overseas OCONUS assignments, TDY, and PCS
  • Primary rental car insurance coverage & trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass 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
Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Annual fee of $695 waived for US military personnel and spouses
  • Best Ever Public Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Reward Points welcome bonus (valued at $2000+) when you spend $6000 in the first 6 months
  • 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
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credits: Up to $20 in monthly statement credits when you use your Platinum card to pay for: Peacock, Audible, Sirius, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, and the New York Times. Enrollment Required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards, enrollment required
  • 40 Centurion Lounges and 1200+ Priority Pass airport lounge access for free
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card(R). Enrollment required.
  • $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. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Heavy metal card that looks and feels really cool
  • 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 No Annual Fee for Military
  • Learn how to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
  • $550 annual fee waived to $0 for US military + spouses with Chase MLA policy
  • Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points after $4000 of spend in the first 3 months – $900 value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars & 5x points on air travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards after the first $300 spent on travel 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 the Chase travel portal 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
  • Primary car rental auto insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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.

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