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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
- Learn how to apply for my top recommended card for military vets
- 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.
A better use of the points is booking travel in the Chase travel portal for $750. 1.25 cents per point when booked through Chase Sapphire Preferred Travel Portal.
But the best use of Chase Ultiamte Rewards points is transferring them 1:1 to partner airlines and hotel brands for potentially $1200-$1800+ of travel value (assuming 2-3 cents per point).
I recently received 11 cents per credit card point when transferring to All Nippon Airways (ANA) and booking 2 first class tickets from Honolulu, Hawaii to Tokyo, Japan. The big point redemptions are still out there!
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 & Retirees||Welcome Offer||First Year Value|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||60,000 Points||$1500|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||60,000 Points||$1500|
|American Express Gold Card||35,000 Points||$850|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$150 cash back||$300|
American Express Platinum Card for Veterans and Military Retirees
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)
- American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card
- 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.
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Freedom
- $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.
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Earn $150 cash back after $500 spend in the first 3 months of account opening
- 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!