These are my top recommended credit cards for this month. Let me show you how to get the $450-550 annual fees waived exclusively for US military personnel in my five day, 100% free course.

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Unfortunately, the nearly unbelievable SCRA and MLA benefits American Express, Chase, and other credit card companies extend to active duty servicemembers does not apply to military veterans and retirees. I can only believe it myself because I have benefited from these fee waivers for years!

Military vets and retirees must pay annual fees on AMEX and Chase cards just like civilians.

That being said, there are still excellent travel reward and cash back credit cards available to veterans and retirees. You want to look for a credit card that offers a large welcome bonus, great recurring benefits, and great rewards for spending in travel categories.

If you have a business, whether freelancing, rental properties, AirBnB, Uber, etc check out my best cards for veteran owned small business. If you are looking for cash back cards, check out my best cash back cards for military servicemembers.

My Top Recommended Card for Military Veterans and Retirees

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Learn more about my top recommended card for military vets here
  • Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4000 in the first 3 months of card membership
  • 60k UR points = at least $750 in travel (1.25 cents per point)
  • Or you can transfer to airline or hotel partners for even more value
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining globally
  • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary rental car insurance coverage
  • $95 annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the little brother to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and comes with amazing Sapphire benefits.

The 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points could be cashed in for $600, used to book travel in the Chase travel portal for $750, or transferred 1:1 to partner airlines and hotel brands for potentially $1200-$1800 of value.

Other cards you should check out are listed on my Best Military Credit Card Bonuses of the Month page. I keep this page updated monthly with the best cards offering the highest bonuses.

Best Cards for Mil Vets & RetireesLearn MoreWelcome OfferFirst Year Value
Chase Sapphire PreferredLearn More60,000 Points$1500
The Platinum Card from American ExpressLearn More60,000 Points$1500
AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire CardLearn More150,000 Points$1750
Chase Freedom UnlimitedLearn MoreUp to 3% on $20k$600

American Express Platinum Card for Veterans and Military Retirees

Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum

Learn more about this ultimate travel rewards card here

The SCRA law that allows active duty military servicemembers to get their annual fees waived on all American Express cards does not extend the same protections to military veterans and retirees. It's not my policy, that's just the way the law is written.

Therefore, military vets need to pay the $550/year annual fees on the Platinum Card from American Express. While this might seem high, this card can actually deliver over $1500 of value in the first year alone, easily covering the annual fee.

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus after $5000 spend in the first 3 months of card membership (valued at least $1000 if transferred to travel partners)
  • $200 annual Uber Credit
  • $200 annual airline fee reimbursement (see how I use this in my course)
  • Free Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass membership (value of $200 if you use it 4 times a year)

AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire Card

Free Diamond Status at Hilton Hotels for Military
  • Learn more about this great card here
  • Complimentary Diamond Status at all Hilton brands (suite upgrades, breakfast, check in gifts, etc)
  • 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points welcome offer after $4000 of purchases in the first 3 months
  • 1 weekend night reward after opening your account and every year on renewal
  • $250 Hilton Resort Credit
  • $250 airline fee credit (similar to the AMEX Platinum, also free for military)
  • 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points at Hilton properties
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee
  • Full review of AMEX Aspire card

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card offers a tremendous amount of value for the travelling military veterans for retiree. With this card you get automatic Hilton Honors Diamond Status. That means free breakfast!

You get automatically upgraded (subject to availability) at all Hilton brands including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Canopy, Curio, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Tapestry Collection, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Tru, Homewood Suites, or Home2 Suites.

The recurring annual benefits with this card are also stunning. $250 airline fee credit which can offset purchases made with the US airline of your choice.

You also get a annual free night award, good at any Hilton property. This can be worth over $1000+ depending on the hotel or resort you cash it in at.

I have had the Aspire card since 2018 and love it! I have stayed at multiple Hilton properties in Bucharest, Munich, Dubai, Melbourne, Brisbane, New York, Oklahoma City, London, Edinburgh all on points! No taxes, no fees, no room charges: totally free. And usually I'm upgraded to a suite because of the complimentary Diamond status.

Chase Freedom

no annual fee credit cards for active duty
  • Learn more about this card HERE
  • $150 welcome bonus after $500 of purchases in the first 3 months after opening card
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories up to $1500
  • 1% cash back on every other purchase
  • Points never expire as long as account is open
  • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom card offers 5% back on rotating categories and no annual fee. Click here to check out this card.

I’ve had this card since I joined the military. 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 this card, then travel and dining on my Sapphire Reserve, and then everything else on my Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Learn more about this card HERE
  • 3% cash back on all purchases for your first year of card membership up to $20,000 of spending (maximum $20k x 3% = $600 cash back)
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase after that
  • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is my go to card when I’m CONUS.

The welcome bonus can be as much as 60,000 Ultimate Reward points worth $750 if you transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or $150 if you just cash them out.

The card offers a simple 1.5% cash back on every purchase 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 easy categories like gas or groceries with the Chase Freedom card above do that. Otherwise use this card to get 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite card is for military veterans and retirees!

Best Credit Cards for Military Veterans and Retirees 2019

5 thoughts on “Best Credit Cards for Military Veterans and Retirees 2019

  • July 30, 2019 at 06:47
    Permalink

    I retired in March 2019 and July 23 (roughly 4 months later) I received a letter from AMEX stating that according to CSRA law they are showing that I recently retired and are asking for documentation stating otherwise if this isn’t the case. What is NOT stated in the letter is that once I provide my DD214 and am listed as a retiree account holder that I will then be applicable to the yearly service fee… I only found that out by reading it here on this blog 🙁

    Reply
  • January 27, 2019 at 10:57
    Permalink

    First of all, thank you for what you’re doing to spread information to our community. I retire soon (May 2019) after 24 years of service and I was wondering if you have any data points that show how often AMEX or Chase review your status and commence charging annual fee’s?

    Also, if I decide to cancel my CSR, can I transfer my UR points to my Freedom Unlimited card and then transfer back to a CSR or CSP at a later date?

    Thanks again for sharing the knowledge you’ve gained.

    Reply
    • June 15, 2019 at 05:58
      Permalink

      “First of all, thank you for what you’re doing to spread information to our community. I retire soon (May 2019) after 24 years of service and I was wondering if you have any data points that show how often AMEX or Chase review your status and commence charging annual fee’s?

      Also, if I decide to cancel my CSR, can I transfer my UR points to my Freedom Unlimited card and then transfer back to a CSR or CSP at a later date?

      Thanks again for sharing the knowledge you’ve gained.”

      I’d also like an answer to these questions if anyone knows?

      Reply
      • June 15, 2019 at 11:18
        Permalink

        Micah: before you cancel your CSR, move the UR points to your Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom. You can move them back to CSR or CSP at a later date as you say. Great question!

        Reply
    • June 15, 2019 at 11:14
      Permalink

      David and Micah: first of all thank you both for your long years of service. Most data points indicate Chase checks your active duty status within a year of leaving active duty (retire or separate). AMEX appears to not really check your status frequently. Some Redditors indicate they have been separated for 3+ years and still have their AMEX fees waived.

      Reply

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