How to Get Chase and Amex Annual Fee Waivers | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 19

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In this episode you will learn how to get Military Lending Act (MLA) benefits applied to your Chase and Amex accounts. It's a very easy process as long as your Social Security Number is correctly loaded in the MLA database, available here:

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 19 Links

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 19 Transcript

[00:00:00] Jamie: Thank you for joining us here today. Again, I'm Jamie and I'm here with Spencer, the founder of the Military Money Manual and the author of the new book we've talked about several times before If you want to check that out, we wanted to introduce a slightly new concept here just to help us get through the holiday season over the next three or four weeks, just mainly to maximize our time with the family.

And During the holiday season. We hope all of you have a great Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, happy new year, whatever you and your family are doing over the next three to four weeks, where you hope these quick five to 10 minute episodes. We'll see how we meet that time hack over the next few weeks.

We'll still scratch the itch to encourage you along your journey to financial independence and the goal of achieving freedom for what you choose to do with your time. We're thankful for all of you, the listeners, and appreciate you coming back to listen, to grow and support the In today's short episode, we're going to talk about the MLA, the Military Lending Act, and how to actually apply for a free card for the military member and their spouse for both Chase and Amex.

[00:01:13] Spencer: Hey, Jamie, Spencer here once again. So yeah, like you said, how to apply for the Military Lending Act or MLA.

MLA was a law passed, I think it was in the early 2000 teens.

[00:01:27] Jamie: I know that applications in September, October, 2017 are when they implemented the new policy. I'm not sure exactly when the law was signed, but

[00:01:35] Spencer: Right. I think the law came into effect about 2015 or so. But Amex didn't actually update their MLA policy until January of 2020.

I think it was. Yeah, it was right before COVID. They updated it. And a lot of people were confused because they were applying for SCRA benefits and getting denial letters. I've actually got an, if you Google SCRA, Amex SCRA denial. My website should pop up and I walk you through why you got a denial letter, but have no fear.

As long as you're in the MLA database, which we'll talk about here in a second, you should still get your annual fees waived. Okay. So for Chase, they updated their policy after September 20th, 2017. So if you opened up your Chase card before that date, sorry, you're out of luck. You can get SCRA applied.

But I don't think Chase, I can't remember how Chase does their SCRA. No, you can't get SCRA applied if you are on active duty. That's my, that was my problem. Yeah. So unless you opened before you joined, unless you opened before you joined active duty, so for Chase cards you, if you opened up your card after September 2017, you fall under their Military Lending Act, MLA policy for both of them, and then for Amex it's after January.

January 1st, 2020, you fall under their MLA policy. If you open up the card while on active duty, if you open up the card before active duty, it falls under both Chase and Amex's SCRA or Service Member Civil Relief Act policy. Both companies waive annual fees if you fall under SCRA, but it's a little bit trickier to get.

So today we're just going to talk about MLA. And how to get it. So for Chase and Amex, very generous interpretations of the law. So not all the banks do this. Capital One doesn't, Bank of America doesn't.

[00:03:17] Jamie: US Bank and Citi do, but it's not quite as easy.

[00:03:20] Spencer: It's not quite as easy.

So that's the other thing too is all the other companies make you jump through hoops, whereas Chase and Amex, all they do is they, when you apply for the card, you put your social security number in there at this. I think they do this for everybody as they just run the social security number against the DOD MLA database.

And if it comes up positive that yes, you are in fact on active duty. Or you are a spouse of an active duty service member. And the legal term they use for this is a covered borrower, a borrower who's covered by the Military Lending Act. Then if they show up in the database, then Chase and Amex just waive your annual fees because they don't want to deal with the legal implications of charging you an annual fee.

These benefits could go away at any minute. So if you want to get a card with an annual fee waiver and you're listening to this podcast, go to my website, and look at the best offers. I have the best offers listed there on the homepage and open up an account because I would not be surprised if this benefit goes away in the next five or 10 years or even sooner.

So Chae and Amex, they waive all their annual fees on all their personal cards. The website you want to go to is, or you can just go to Google and look up “DOD MLA” database and it should be the first link right there. You'll have to create an account, but it's a it's a pretty easy process.

You, you don't need a CAC or anything like that. You just create an account and then you can run a single, look up, you just put in your date of birth, your name and your social security number. And it just spits out a form, a PDF and it says. The person that you search for. Our records show they are an active duty or they are covered borrower by the Military Lending Act or they are not and so when you as an active duty person or Someone who's on guard reserve on title 10 orders for more than 30 days If you run your social security numbers, it should pop positive and if you run your spouse's Information should also come up positive as well.

[00:05:22] Jamie: Like you said, one of the great things about both chasing Amex, it's pretty much it happens automatically for us. And in fact both my wife and I are on our recent Chase cards. We've gotten a letter from Chase saying that you've, we've applied MLA benefits to your account and we won't charge you fees other than late fees and non sufficient funds fees.

If applicable is the verbiage they use. We've gotten that letter before the card even arrives. It happens without any real application. You shouldn't have to call them or fill out anything online to get it right. 

[00:05:53] Spencer: that's a change from Amex used to have kind of an arduous process where you had to fill out a form online, you had to send in active duty orders.

I remember I sent them like my first PCS orders, I think, or something back from like 2010 to show them that I was applying for SRA benefits. And, but now it's all automated. It's a much simpler process, and I'm sure it's cut down on the number of calls and emails that their military hotline, their military department has had to deal with.

The other thing is that all the companies have a military response unit or like a military hotline. So for chase, It's 1-800-235-9978. And you can just Google Chase Military Hotline. I Google it every time. It should pop right up. I will say, though, that most of the time, even on the military hotline, customer service reps are not familiar with their own company's policies.

This must be an internal decision that Chase and Amex have made. Because if you call an Amex rep, a customer service rep, or a Chase customer service rep, and you ask them, are my annual fees going to be waived? All they're going to do is read you a boilerplate statement, and it's going to answer none of your questions.

And that's why they don't know. And that's why my website has been so successful is because I've actually broken down, okay, this is the real world. This is what's going to happen. And this is what you can expect. And I've gathered the data points, thousands of data points over the years. And I'm able to confidently say that if you open up an Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve while you're in active duty, or your spouse does, as long as they're in the MLA database. Automatic fee waiver.

[00:07:26] Jamie: Yep. And that one, one thing we always love to highlight is remember you do not need to be an authorized user on your spouse's card or on their account. Military members and their spouses each get their own waived card, which gives you double the benefits, double the $300 travel credit, double the $250 resort fee or resort credit, whatever benefit of the card that you love.

You can each have your own account. You do not have to be an authorized user on your spouse's account to get it.

[00:07:52] Spencer: And the other thing, what for that is if you have opened up at a card and your spouse wants to open up a card, make sure that you refer them from your card so that you get a referral bonus and then they get the bonus for opening up their own card.

So again, you do not need to be authorized users on each other's accounts. You should really be opening up your own cards, but before you do, especially for spouses, I always recommend that you check the MLA database because of a couple of things that happened. One, either you just a couple of gotchas if you just entered active duty.

So maybe your social security number isn't hasn't quite hit the database yet. Another gotcha is you just got married. So maybe DEERS hasn't been updated yet because the information flows from DEERS into, or maybe somebody fat fingered your social security number, right? And they put a six where there should have been a nine.

So those are a couple of gotchas there. And then also for guard or an active duty or guard and reserves, if you're on title 10 orders for 31 days or more, then you also just need to double check that you're, that, someone at the personnel center puts you in the MLA database and shows that you're on title 10 orders and you're eligible for the for the MLA fee waivers.

Okay. So we talked in depth about Chase right there and just to go over the Amex process again, completely automated, there should be no input from you, especially if you're in the MLA database, I have had a couple data points of like newlyweds or foreigners. The other gotcha is if you were born overseas and you've got a social security number, late, later in life Then you might have to have that updated and DEERS at some point.

And maybe they created a DEERS account without a social security number, which is possible. Yeah. If you do get a social security number issued later, especially after you get married or you were, you're, you weren't born in the United States or a US citizen, then make sure that you get dears updated with your social security number.

Again, should be a completely automated process and on what's it called terms and conditions or borrower agreement on page two. Yeah. There should be some verbiage. Do you want to identify?

[00:09:53] Jamie: Yeah, exactly. So for you'll see the specific verbiage you've been identified as a covered borrower under Military Lending Act on the bottom of page two of the terms and conditions.

You can go back and look at that now in your account. I believe it'll even show up in the terms and conditions as you're applying for the card. I think you can see it there. If not, definitely after the account is active. Again, this is for newer cards and a newer concept of the way the banks have been applying the law.

You'll have confusion with customer service representatives between SCRA and MLA. So really understand which one you're covering for. Like Spencer says, he's got an article about SCRA denial. If you're having that issue for sure. If you've never applied for benefits or you've had a card and you're new or on active duty, or you just didn't know that you could get your cards waived.

One of the coolest things is you've had several readers right into the website and comment on the page about getting fat refund checks, like thousands of dollars back in fees or interest fees. From after they've requested MLA benefits on their cards, which is great. Really cool for me and my wife personally, I totaled them up the other day.

Sorry, we officially busted our 10 minute time hack. We'll try to do better next time. But I totaled up all of our annual fees. We're getting over $9,200 in annual fees waived. So yours is probably a little bit more than that. Probably over $10,000. Yeah. And again, it's all separate cards and everything.

[00:11:16] Spencer: Yeah. The last time I ran it, it was $6,000. So I'm going to have to run it. It's got to be more than that though, with all the Amex Platinums I've got.

[00:11:22] Jamie: Yeah, you also have more business cards, which are not typically waived. So maybe some of those are non waived cards.

[00:11:29] Spencer: We kept it under 15 minutes.

Yeah, so that's how to apply for Military Lending Act benefits on Chase and Amex again. We're doing some shorter episodes so we can maximize our time with our families in the holiday season from all of us, Which is basically me and Jamie at Happy holidays, merry Christmas, happy new year, happy Hanukkah and et cetera.

And yeah, thanks for listening. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.

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