Let me show you how to get your first $550 credit card 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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Credit card companies are desperate for you to use their cards. Some of the welcome bonuses they offer are ridiculously high, easily surpassing $1000 of value. For military servicemembers and spouses, the benefits are even greater since annual fees are waived on Chase personal cards and all American Express cards.
To be crystal clear: Chase and Amex waive annual fees for civilian spouses married to an active duty servicemember AND ALSO waive annual fees for the military servicemember. A married couple with one member in the military can double dip on annual fee waived cards. Each person can get their own card and get their fee waived. Not just authorized users, but their own actual account.
You can earn free hotel stays, almost free* air travel (*just paying taxes and fees, usually under $50), business or first class upgrades, airline fee reimbursement, monthly Uber or UberEats credits, free Centurion and Priority pass airport lounge access, and the list goes on.
My wife and I have earned over 3 million points over the past 5 years without paying a dime in interest or fees. Thanks to military annual fee waivers, the outstanding travel, hotel, and airline benefits of the best credit cards are unlocked for military personnel and their families.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Best Offer Ever: Earn 100,000 (!) Chase Ultimate after spending $4000 in the first 3 months of card membership
- 100,000 points = $1250 minimum when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
- Points can also be redeemed with “Pay Yourself Back” for 1.25 cents each on eligible purchases
- 2x points on travel and dining (includes takeout, delivery, and dine-in)
- No foreign transaction fees, great for overseas OCONUS assignments, TDY, and PCS
- Primary rental car insurance coverage
- Unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Must activate by 12/31/21.
- 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
I recommend US military servicemembers open up a Chase Sapphire Preferred first to earn the larger welcome bonus and then upgrade to a Chase Sapphire Reserve after 1 year, primarily for the $300 annual travel credit. Learn more about the best Sapphire Preferred and Reserve strategy for military servicemembers in this article.
American Express Gold Card – BEST EVER BONUS
- Learn how to apply for the American Express® Gold Card
- $250 Annual Fee waived for US military and spouses (rates and fees)
- Earn 60,000 Membership Reward Amex points after spending $4000 in the first 6 months of account opening
- Rose Gold is back! Choose between the Gold or Rose Gold version when you apply.
- 4x points on all restaurants worldwide
- 4x points on US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) – includes OCONUS Commissarries
- 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
- No foreign transaction fees – great for the 4x on restaurants worldwide when travelling for fun, OCONUS TDY, or PCS!
- $120 annual Uber or Uber Eats cash. Combines nicely with Amex Platinum Uber credit. Earned as $10 per month.
- $120 per year credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House or Shake Shack
- Read my full review of the Amex Gold card for military, terms apply
You can upgrade the Amex Gold card to another Amex Platinum after 1 year of card membership. This gives you an additional $200/year of Uber/UberEats credits and $200/year of airline fee credits or gift cards. My wife and I have 6 Platinum cards between us.
Compare the Amex Platinum vs Amex Gold card and you'll see the Gold card is a much better daily driver card. Military servicemembers should get both as the cards are complimentary.
You still pay no annual fees on the extra Platinum card if you are military or a military spouse, giving you another AMEX Platinum card for free. Sign up for my course here to see how I do it.
The Platinum Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
- Annual fee of $550 waived for US military personnel and spouses (rates and fees)
- 75,000 Membership Reward Points welcome bonus (valued at $1500) when you spend $5000 in the first 6 months
- 10x points at US Gas Stations and US Supermarkets (OCONUS Commissaries are US supermarkets) up to $15,000 in combined purchases for the first 6 months (an extra 150,000 points potentially!)
- 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com
- 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
- $200 annual Uber or UberEats credit (free taxi or food) + VIP Uber Status
- $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards
- Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounge access for free + guest
- No foreign transaction fees
- Heavy metal card that looks and feels really cool
- Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military, terms apply
Chase Sapphire Reserve (Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum)
- 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
Blue Cash Everyday From American Express
- Learn how to apply for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Earn 20% cash back on Amazon purchases in the first 6 months of account opening, up to $150 back
- Earn $100 after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card (equivalent to 5% cash back!)
- 3% back at US supermarkets up to $6000 per year
- 2% on US gas stations, 1% on all other purchases
- No annual fee (rates and fees)
Blue Cash Preferred from Amex
- Learn how to apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- $0 annual fee for the first year, then normally a $95 annual fee, but waived for military + spouses (rates and fees)
- Earn 20% cash back on Amazon purchases within the first 6 months of opening the account, up to $200
- Plus, earn $150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
- 6% cash back on US supermarkets, including most OCONUS Commissary
- NEW: 6% cash back on US streaming services, including Apple Music, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video (full list here)
- 3% cash back on transit like taxis, Uber, Lyft, parking, tolls, trains, buses, etc
- 3% cash back on US gas stations (including OCONUS NEX/AAFES)
- 1% back on all other purchases
Chase Ink Business Preferred (Best Ever Offer for this Card)
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Ink Business Preferred
- 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards welcome bonus points after $15,000 of spend in the first 3 months
- 100,000 UR points = $1250 worth of travel when redeemed through Ultimate Rewards portal. Can be worth $1500 in travel if transferred to Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Cell Phone Protection: Up to $600 coverage against theft or damage when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your CIP
- Earn 3X points on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and online advertising purchases up to $150,000 per year
- NO Foreign Transaction fees
- $95 annual fee (not waived for military), but worth it just for the welcome bonus alone
American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card
- American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card
- $450 annual fee waived for US military servicemembers and spouses
- 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
- Full review of Amex Aspire card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – learn how to apply
- $450 annual fee 100% waived for US military personnel (rates and fees)
- $300 Marriott Statement Credit on all charges to your room including spa, restaurants, room service, laundry, and nightly rates
- Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5000 in the first 3 months of card membership
- Earn 6 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary (any redemption up to 50,000 points)
- Complimentary Gold Elite Status at all Marriott Bonvoy properties (Westin, St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, etc)
- No foreign transaction fees, terms apply
You can earn up to 250,000 Marriott points with the 3 new Marriott Bonvoy cards from Chase and American Express. All 3 cards have the annual fees waived for military. Compare the best hotel credit cards for military servicemembers here.
Citi® Premier® Card
- Learn how to apply for the Citi® Premier® Card
- Earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- 3x points at restaurants and supermarkets
- 3x points on Gas Stations, Air Travel, and Hotels
- 1 point per $1 on everything else
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee waived for military with Citi MLA, see details below
More details on the Citi MLA waiver here.
- Learn how to apply for the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier
- $89 annual fee waived for US military according to Chase MLA policy and waived for everyone for first year
- Earn 125,000 IHG points after $3000 of spend in the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn a free night each account anniversary
- Fourth night is free each time you redeem points for a 4+ night stay
- Earn 25x points per $1 spent at IHG properties
- Automatic Platinum Elite Status (2nd highest membership level)
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee credit every 4 years – military members should get Global Entry, since you can get PreCheck with your DOD ID number off of your CAC
- No foreign transaction fees – essential for international travel
Chase World of Hyatt
- Learn how to apply for the Chase World of Hyatt card
- Earn 30,000 welcome bonus points – spend $3000 in the first 3 months to earn 30,000 points.
- Hyatt rooms start at just 5000 points, so you could earn 6 nights with just the welcome bonus
- 1 free night at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotel every year you keep the card open
- Earn ANOTHER free night at category 1-4 hotel when you spend $15,000 on the card in a year
- Cardholders get World of Hyatt Discoverist status (Tier 2/4) just for having the card, as long as the account is open
- $95 Annual fee waived for US military personnel and spouses with Chase MLA policy
American Express Delta Cards
Annual Fee: $550 per year, but waived for US military servicemembers and spouses to $0
Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus Skymiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of cardmembership.
- This is my TOP recommended AMEX Delta card for military
- $550 annual fee waived for US military (active duty and Title 10/32 Guard/Reserve)
- 3x miles on Delta purchases
- Free Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) access when travelling on a Delta flight in any class
- First bag checked free
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (military should get Global Entry)
- Annual Companion Certificate
- Earn up to $100 statement credit for eligible US restaurant purchases within the first 3 months of card membership
- No foreign transaction fees (rates and fees)
You can earn the coveted AMEX Delta Reserve card companion pass, unlocking a buy 1 get 1 round-trip US domestic first class ticket annually with the American Express Delta Reserve card. Learn how to apply for this card here.
Normally this card as a $550 annual fee, but it's waived for US military servicemembers! Learn more about the AMEX Delta cards for military servicemembers.
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Ink Business Cash card
- New offer: $750 cash back welcome offer (75,000 UR points) when you spend $7500 in the first 3 months (10% cash back)
- 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores, internet, cable, phone services
- 2% cash back on on the first $25,000 spent at restaurants and gas stations
- 1% cash back on everything else
- No ($0) annual fee
- Learn how to apply for the Chase Ink Business Unlimited
- $750 bonus cash (75,000 UR Points) after you spend $3000 in 3 months
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- No Annual Fee (for everyone, not just military)
Southwest Credit Cards for American Military
Southwest often does limited time offers that, added together, can be worth a Southwest companion pass. Go to my Southwest Companion Pass for Military page for more details. For example, you could earn 40k with a personal credit card and up to 100k with a business credit card.
My advice to earn a Southwest Companion Pass for almost 2 years:
- Open a personal and business Southwest card in Jan or Feb of 2021.
- Earn the welcome bonus in January 2021.
- 40k on the personal and 100k on the business = 140,000 Southwest points
- You only need 125,000 points earned in one calendar year to earn the Southwest companion pass for the rest of the year and the following year.
- Since you earned the Companion Pass in Jan/Feb 2021, you will have the companion pass until Dec 2022, almost 2 full years!
- More details on how the Southwest Companion Pass for military works here.
Capital One Travel Cards for Military
Currently the Capital One SCRA military policy is to only waive annual fees if you get the card before going on active duty orders. Reserves and National Guard can sign up for a Capital One credit card, go on 30+ active duty orders, and get the annual fees waived.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card for military is offering a sign up bonus worth at least $500 when you spend $3000 in the first 3 months.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred 100k offer updated 6 June 2021
- Chase Sapphire Preferred 80k offer added 15 Sep 2020
- Updated various offers March 2020
- Added Capital One cards
- Updated AMEX Delta offers 4 July 2019
- Removed Chase Southwest cards offering 60k 11 June 2019
- Removed Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard 8 June 2019
- Removed Capital One Savor 19 May 19
- Added Southwest cards offering 60,000 points on all cards 2 May 19
- Added Chase Sapphire Preferred 60k Bonus 19 March 19
- Added AMEX Delta LTOs 2 Mar 19
- Added Marriott Bonvoy Chase and AMEX Offers 2 Mar 19
- Removed limited time Southwest Companion pass offer 12 Feb 19
- Added Southwest Companion Pass deal 11 Jan 19
- Added Capital One Savor card 10 Jan 19
- Added Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard 3 Dec 18