Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings and OMAAT for our coverage of credit card products. Military Money Manual, OMAAT, 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.
Military servicemembers and their spouses enjoy one of the most lucrative credit card benefit available: no annual fees on the best travel and cash reward credit cards. There are over 30 credit cards that waive annual fees for military families.
Credit card military fee waivers mean you can get luxury travel cards, like the AMEX Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve, and not pay the regular $550 annual fees everyone else has to pay.
Credit Card Companies that Waive Annual Fees for Military
- American Express (AMEX military policy explained)
- Chase (Chase military policy details)
- Citi (Citi military policy)
- US Bank
American Express waives annual fees for active duty military card members and their spouses under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA. More details on this AMEX's military policy here.
There are 11 AMEX credit and charge card with a military fee waiver:
- AMEX Platinum – review
- AMEX Gold – review
- AMEX Green – review
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant – review
- Blue Cash Preferred – review
- Amex EveryDay Preferred
- Delta Skymiles Platinum – review
- Delta Skymiles Gold – review
- Delta Skymiles Reserve – review
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass – review
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire – review
As of January 2020, only personal credit and charge cards are included in American Express's military fee waiver policy. Military spouses (legal dependents) are also eligible for annual fee waivers on their own cards. More the best AMEX cards for military spouses here.
AMEX waives annual fees automatically on new accounts opened under the AMEX Military Lending Act policy. This benefit is automatically applied, there is nothing required for you to do. If you opened an AMEX card before joining active duty service, make sure you apply for AMEX SCRA benefits.
Chase waives annual fees on all of their personal cards for active duty military servicemembers and spouses. Note that this does not include business cards.
There are 15 Chase credit cards with a military fee waiver
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – Chase Sapphire Preferred review
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Chase Sapphire Reserve review
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – Southwest Airlines credit card review
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – review
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – review
- United Club Infinite Card
- United Explorer Card
- British Airways Visa Signature® card
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card
- Iberia Visa Signature® card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ credit card – Marriott credit card review
- Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card – Hyatt credit card review
- Disney® Premier Visa® Card
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card – IHG credit card review
- Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card
You can read more about the Chase Military Lending Act policy in this article.
- Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
- $550 annual fee and $75 authorized user fee waived for US military + spouses
- Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points after $4000 of spend in the first 3 months ($750 minimum value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- $300 annual 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
- Primary car rental auto insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
Citi credit cards waive annual fees for military personnel and military spouses to comply with the Citi Military Lending Act.
There are 5 Citi cards that do not have annual fees for military:
- Citi Premier Card
- Citi Prestige Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
US Bank waives annual fees for active duty military and spouses under SCRA and MLA. This includes the US Bank Altitude Reserve card.
There are 2 U.S. Bank credit cards that waive annual fees for military:
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
- U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold AMEX Card
Credit Card Companies That DO NOT Waive Active Duty Military Annual Fees
Here are the banks, credit unions, and credit card companies that DO NOT waive annual fees for military servicemembers for accounts opened AFTER joining active duty military service.
- Bank of America (see Bank of American credit card application rules)
- Capital One
- Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)
- Synchrony Bank
- Wells Fargo (Wells Fargo credit card application rules)
All of these companies must comply with SCRA and MLA. However, these companies have decided their policy is to not to waive annual fees for military servicemembers or spouses.
I'm not a lawyer, but from my reading of the relevant laws it seems that annual fee waiver is not a requirement. The MLA states that “bona fide and reasonable” fees may be charged. Therefore the companies that do waive all annual fees for servicemembers and their spouses are going above and beyond.
Why Credit Card Companies Waive Annual Fees for Military
The two relevant laws to this issue are the SCRA or MLA. The SCRA, or Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, is designed to protect SMs from civil suits and financial issues arising from their active duty military service.
The Military Lending Act, or MLA, is a recent law that is designed to prevent predatory lending practices from targeting military servicemembers. It caps the interest rate that any lender can charge military servicemembers at 36% per year.
Note that when I refer to “active duty military servicemembers,” that means anyone on active duty military orders 30 days or greater. So National Guard and Reservists are eligible for these benefits if activated. Save a copy of your orders to provide to the respective company.
Frequently Asked Questions
American Express, Chase, Capital One, Citi, and U.S. Bank all waive their personal credit card annual fees for US military servicemembers and their spouses.
There are 2 laws Congress passed to help protect military servicemembers and their families: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA). The SCRA primarily provides protections for accounts opened before active duty starts. The MLA primarily protects military families for accounts opened while on active duty. Both laws restrict the interest and fees credit card companies may charge military families.
Active duty military servicemembers are protected by the SCRA and MLA laws. The SCRA restricts any debt acquired prior to active duty to 6% interest. The MLA requires no more than a 36% interest rate on all debt acquired during military service.
Yes, Chase waives annual fees on all of their personal credit card for active duty military and spouses.
Yes, thanks to the MLA and SCRA laws, American Express or “AMEX” waives the annual fees on all of their credit and charge cards. This includes the AMEX Platinum card, AMEX Gold card, and 9 other AMEX cards.
Citi waives the annual fees on all of their personal credit cards for active duty military personnel and their spouses, This includes the Citi Prestige card.
Yes, US Bank waives annual fees on their credit cards for US military servicemembers and their spouses. This includes the US Bank Altitude Reserve credit card.