I will show you how to get your 1st $550 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.
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That means you can get this card, with all it's benefits, including the huge welcome bonus, and pay no annual fee. You can then upgrade the Sapphire Preferred to a Chase Sapphire Reserve after one year, giving you a card with better recurring benefits.
This is a great starter card for military servicemembers. If you are building an awesome portfolio of annual fee waived credit cards, this is an important card to get early on because of Chase's 5/24 rule.
Some of the highlights of this card include:
- 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
You should compare this card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve in my Chase Sapphire Preferred versus Sapphire Reserve article. Chase waives the $550 annual fee on the CSR and the CSR comes with a $300 annual travel credit.
Personally I would open the Preferred for the extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points and then upgrade to an annual fee waived Reserve after one year.
What to Do with 60,000 Chase UR Points
Chase's Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are extremely flexible. With 60,000 UR points, you have the following options to redeem:
- Spend the points at Amazon for $420
- Cash out and received an $600 check
- Apply a $600 statement credit to your credit card bill
- Book a flight through the UR Travel Portal for $750 of airfare
- Transfer the points to a travel partner (best value!)
In the above example, I searched for a flight from Boston to Edinburgh in August. Normally it would cost $890, but you can cash in your UR points at 1.5 cents per point when you have the CSR. The total roundtrip cost is under 60,000 UR points.
The best value of UR points is when you transfer them to partner airlines. You can get 2 cents or more value per point, making your 60,000 UR points worth $1200 of airfare.
Chase Ultimate Reward Transfer Travel Partners
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
And the Chase hotel transfer partners are:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
All of these programs transfer at a 1 UR point = 1 airline/hotel point. Sometimes they run promotions where you can get more than one airline/hotel point for a UR point.
Chase MLA Rules
Chase is a relatively newcomer to waiving annual fees for military servicemembers. While AMEX has been doing it for over a decade, Chase just changed their policy in September 2017.
Any personal (not business) Chase credit card opened after 20 Sep 2017 is eligible for Military Lending Act or MLA protections for active duty servicemembers (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard) or guard/reservists on 30+ day active duty orders AND their spouses.
A covered borrower is a consumer who, at the time the consumer becomes obligated on a consumer credit transaction or establishes an account for consumer credit, is a covered member of the armed forces or a dependent of a covered member (as defined in 32 CFR 232.3(g)(2) andhttps://www.fdic.gov/regulations/compliance/manual/5/v-13.1.pdf
Covered members of the armed forces include members of
the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard currently serving on active duty pursuant to title 10, title 14, or title 32 of the U.S. Code under a call or order that does not specify a period of 30 days or fewer, or such a member serving on Active Guard and Reserve duty as that term is defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(d)(6).
Both my wife and I have opened several Chase credit cards since the new Chase MLA rules went into effect. Both of us received letters stating our annual fees would be waived in accordance with Chase's MLA policy.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Military service frequently brings servicemembers and their families on international travel. When you leave the United States, you need a credit card that gives you no foreign transaction fees.
Personally, I estimate I saved over $2000 in foreign transaction fees over the last 7 years of military service. With over 400 days on overseas TDYs, deployments, and 2 years spent stationed in the Middle East, I spent a lot of money overseas on dining, travel, groceries, gas, and many other items.
2x Points On Travel
Travel includes any of the following:
- Hotels, motels, timeshares,
- Car rental agencies
- Cruise lines
- Travel agencies, discount travel sites
- Ground transportation such as: Trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries
- Toll bridges and highways
- Parking lots and garages
Any purchases at these types of places will give you 2 UR points per dollar spent.
2x Points on Dining at Restaurants
Restaurants include any establishment classified as a sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants and fine dining establishments. Anything from a McDonald's in Paris to the French Laundry in NYC counts.
If you go TDY often, you know how hard it is to keep costs down on the road. If your going out to eat, might as well get some points for it. 2 UR points per dollar spent on dining adds up fast!
Upgrade Chase Sapphire Preferred to Sapphire Reserve After 1 year
- 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
Due to the CARD ACT, a federal law passed in 2009, credit card companies are not allowed to charge you an increased annual fee for a period of one year. Because of this, you are restricted from upgrading your CSP to a CSR for 1 year.
However, once that 1 year has passed you can upgrade to the CSR and start using the $300 annual travel credit immediately. You can also get the 3x points on dining and restaurants, which adds up fast versus the 2x points of the CSP.
I recommend you compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the Preferred and decide if you want the $300 annual travel credit or the extra 10,000 welcome bonus points. Personally I would take the extra 10,000 welcome bonus points and upgrade to the CSR.
Long term, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is definitely the superior card for military servicemembers, thanks to it's 3x points and $300 annual travel credit.
Since active duty military get the annual fee waived on both cards, you don't need to worry about the increased $95 -> $550 annual fee!