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.
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.
As of March 2020 my wife and I have 27 open credit and charge cards. Since 2015 we have opened 41 cards. My credit score is currently 805-818 according to Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. I recommend both sites to check your credit score for free.
The most popular cards for military credit card holders on my site since 2018 are:
- AMEX Platinum (AMEX Platinum review)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (Chase Sapphire Reserve review)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (Chase Sapphire Preferred review)
You can compare the AMEX Platinum vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the CSR vs the CSP.
Physically Managing Lots of Credit Cards
I keep my cards in a leather credit card binder I purchased on Amazon for less than $15. It keeps the cards I don't use daily organized.
For daily use, I have a Travelambo Front Pocket Minimalist Leather Slim Wallet RFID Blocking Medium Size. About 3 years ago I purchased the 5 top rated wallets on Amazon.
I returned the other 4 and kept the Travelambo. This is the best wallet for credit cards I have found after trying several.
Credit Cards I Carry Daily
Right now, I'm carrying my military ID (CAC), driver's license, some cash, a list of goals I want to accomplish, and some small photos. The credit cards I carry daily are:
- American Express Gold Card, 4x points on restaurants and groceries, AMEX Gold Card Review
- Chase Sapphire Reserve, 3x points on travel and dining, Chase Sapphire Reserve review
- Chase Freedom Unlimited, 1.5x points on everything, best cash back cards for military
- USAA ATM Debit card – my USAA review
What I Look for in a New Credit Card
The 3 primary things I care about when evaluating a new credit card are:
- The welcome bonus, like the 75,000 Amex MR points you can earn on the Amex Platinum
- The ongoing benefits of holding the card, like travel credits or free hotel nights
- The categories I can earn extra points in, like restaurants and groceries with the Amex Gold or travel and dining with Chase Sapphire Reserve
I update a list of the best credit card welcome bonuses each month. I also have an exact recommended order military servicemembers and spouses should open up cards to maximize their points earnings in my best credit cards for active duty military guide.
I have earned millions of points and miles just from welcome bonuses. I have also received thousands of dollars in cash back welcome bonuses.
The ongoing benefits of a hotel card, for instance, can be higher automatic elite status and an annual free night. For instance the Hilton Honors Aspire card gives you automatic Diamond status. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant gives you automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status.
The 27 Credit Cards I Have Right Now
This saves me over $5000 per year. I can walk you through how to save your first $550 annual fee in my Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course. It's 100% free.
American Express Cards
All American Express personal credit and charge cards are no annual fee for military servicemembers and their dependents. AMEX does this to comply with the Military Lending Act (MLA) and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
- The Platinum Card from American Express x6 (AMEX Platinum military review) – I have upgraded several Green and Gold cards to this card so now I get $1200 of Uber credit annually, $1200 of airline fee credits, and $600 of Saks Fifth Avenue credit. 5x points on airfare and travel insurance makes this my card of choice for airline purchases.
- American Express Gold Card (AMEX Gold card review) – a daily driver for me with 4x AMEX Membership Reward points on groceries and restaurants.
- American Express Green Card (AMEX Green card review) – good welcome bonus
- Platinum Card for Charles Schwab from American Express – cash out AMEX MR points for 1.25 cents each
- American Express Hilton Honors Aspire x3 (AMEX Hilton Aspire review) – 2 for me and 1 for my wife. You can upgrade the AMEX Ascend or Surpass to another Hilton Honors Aspire card.
- American Express Bonvoy Brilliant (AMEX Bonvoy Brilliant review) x2 – upgraded an AMEX SPG Luxury (no longer available) to my second Bonvoy Brilliant. $300 annual credit at any Marriott Bonvoy hotel or resort on each card. Annual free night worth up to 50,000 Bonvoy points.
- American Express Delta Reserve (AMEX Delta Reserve review) – annual companion pass lets you fly up to Delta One in the lower 48 states and you only pay for 1/2 tickets. If you have a Hawaii or Alaska address, you can use the companion pass for a flight back to the mainland.
- American Express Business Platinum (AMEX Business Platinum review) – great way to earn AMEX Membership Reward points. AMEX Business cards do not waive annual fee for military with any cards opened after January 2020.
- American Express Business Gold – AMEX business cards can be a great way to earn extra AMEX MR points
Chase waives all annual fees for military servicemembers and dependents on their personal credit cards (not business cards) as long as you are on active duty after 20 Sep 2017 and open the card after that date.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (Chase Sapphire Reserve review) – lower sign up bonus than the Chase Sapphire Preferred (compare the Reserve vs Preferred) but the $300 annual travel credit, 3x points on dining and travel, and global Visa acceptance makes this a must have card for every military servicemember. Compare the CSR vs the AMEX Platinum to see which is the best military credit card.
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited (Chase Ink Business Unlimited review) – the Chase Ink business cards are an excellent way to earn valuable Chase Ultimate Reward points and do not count against your 5/24 Chase card limit. You do NOT need an LLC to open business credit cards.
- Chase Ink Business Cash (Chase Ink Business Cash review) – Business credit cards frequently come with the best welcome bonuses. You can compare the Chase Ink Business Preferred vs Chase Ink Business Cash
- Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier (Chase IHG review) – annual free night with this card makes it worth keeping even if you had to pay the annual fee…but you don't!
- Chase World of Hyatt (Chase Hyatt card review) – Hyatt offers beautiful hotels and resorts around the world. While not as big as Hilton or Marriott, it is growing rapidly. The Hyatt card offers an annual free night and complimentary elite status. Should be part of every military servicemember's hotel credit card collection: Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG.
- Chase Freedom Flex x3 (cash back credit cards for military) – 5% cash back on rotating categories like Netflix, gas, Costco, and groceries. My first credit card after graduating college means I'll keep this one for a long time. I have multiples of this card because of downgrading other cards. Compare the Freedom Flex vs Freedom Unlimited.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited (best cash back cards for military) – 1.5% cash back on all purchases. A great fall back card if what your buying doesn't fall into a bonus category for another card.
My Citi Premier is annual fee waived thanks to MLA. Citi Prestige is also MLA fee waived.
My only Capital One® card at the moment is the Capital One® Spark® Business Cash card. This card was offering an insane 200,000 point welcome bonus when you spend $50,000. (Note: offer is no longer available.)
I was able to hit the welcome bonus on this card and earn $3000 cash back. That was a nice check to receive!
Welcome Bonuses on my Credit Cards
With these cards and the ones I've closed, I received the following cumulative welcome bonuses:
- 575,000 Hilton Honors points
- 480,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 420,000 AMEX Membership Rewards
- 310,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- 250,000 American Airlines miles
- 100,000 IHG Points
- 60,000 Citi Thank You Points
- 75,000 Delta Skymiles
- 50,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles
- 50,000 Hyatt Points
- $3700 cash back
I also receive the following recurring benefits annually:
- $1200 Uber or Uber Eats credit ($90 per month, $210 in December)
- $1200 annual airline fee credit
- $750 credit at Hilton hotels and resorts
- $600 credit at Marriott hotels and resorts
- $300 travel credit
- Domestic first class companion pass on Delta
I also max out my “refer a friend” for cards every year, which results in the additional points with no spending:
- 550,000 AMEX Membership Rewards (can cash out at 1.25 cents per point = $6875 minimum per year)
- 240,000 Hilton Honors points
- 110,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points
- 55,000 Delta Skymiles
I pay $0 in annual fees thanks to the Chase Military Lending Act and AMEX MLA policy The Spark Cash card is a $95 annual fee not waived for military, but I will probably close the account before the annual fee posts.
The Next Credit Card to Open
I keep this page updated with the best credit card welcome bonuses available to military servicemembers. I also have my recommended order to open credit cards for military servicemembers and their spouses.
Personally, I have maxed out my Chase 5/24 and AMEX 5 credit card limit (not charge card, like the Platinum). My wife still has a lot of AMEX cards she is eligible for so she will probably open more of those this year.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. My score is above 800 and I have opened and closed 38 credit cards in the past 5 years.
I read of people having 60+ cards. The Guinness Book of World Records says the most credit cards owned by one person is 1562.
The AMEX Platinum card offers monthly benefits like a $15 Uber or Uber Eats credit ($35 in December), so with my 6 AMEX Platinum cards I get $90 per month of Uber Eats credit. In December I get $210 of Uber credit. That's a lot of free food!