Best Credit Cards for Reserve Military – Amex and Chase

Let me show you how to get your first $550 credit card annual fee waived in my Ultimate Military Credit Cards course
The Amex Gold card is annual fee waived for military. It's even better than the Amex Platinum for everyday spending on dining and groceries.

Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Military Money Manual and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Thank you for supporting my independent, veteran owned site.

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

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

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.

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 (rates and fees)
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Reward Amex points after spending $4000 in the first 6 months of account opening
  • Rose Gold is back! Choose between the Gold or Rose Gold version when you apply.
  • 4x points on all restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points on US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) – includes OCONUS Commissarries
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fees – great for the 4x on restaurants worldwide when travelling for fun, OCONUS TDY, or PCS!
  • $120 annual Uber or Uber Eats cash. Combines nicely with Amex Platinum Uber credit. Earned as $10 per month.
  • $120 per year credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House or Shake Shack
  • Read my full review of the Amex Gold card for military

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 (rates and fees)
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Reward Amex points after spending $4000 in the first 6 months of account opening
  • Rose Gold is back! Choose between the Gold or Rose Gold version when you apply.
  • 4x points on all restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points on US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) – includes OCONUS Commissarries
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fees – great for the 4x on restaurants worldwide when travelling for fun, OCONUS TDY, or PCS!
  • $120 annual Uber or Uber Eats cash. Combines nicely with Amex Platinum Uber credit. Earned as $10 per month.
  • $120 per year credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House or Shake Shack
  • Read my full review of the Amex Gold card for military
Chase Sapphire Preferred Military SCRA MLA
  • Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Best Ever Offer: Earn 80,000 (!) Chase Ultimate after spending $4000 in the first 3 months of card membership
  • Plus, earn up to a $50 credit towards grocery store purchases
  • 2x points on travel and dining (includes takeout, delivery, and dine-in)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary rental car insurance coverage
  • 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
  • American Express Platinum Card – learn how to apply
  • Annual fee of $550 waived for US military personnel and spouses (rates and fees)
  • 75,000 Membership Reward Points welcome bonus (valued at $1500) when you spend $5000 in the first 6 months
  • 10x points at US Gas Stations and US Supermarkets (OCONUS Commissaries are US supermarkets) up to $15,000 in combined purchases for the first 6 months (an extra 150,000 points potentially!)
  • 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
  • $200 annual Uber or UberEats credit (free taxi or food) + VIP Uber Status
  • $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards
  • Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounge access for free + guest
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Heavy metal card that looks and feels really cool
  • Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military
Chase Sapphire Reserve No Annual Fee for Military
  • Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • $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 minimum value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $300 annual travel credit – through Dec 31, 2021 gas station and grocery store purchases also count towards your travel credit
  • 3x Points on Travel (airfare, hotels) and Dining (restaurants) after earning the $300 travel credit
  • 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 about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

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.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.