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If you find this information valuable or you want to learn more, you can sign up for my 100% free, 5 day course on maximizing your Military Lending Act (MLA) and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) benefits.
The MLA and SCRA unlock the best parts of the travel reward credit cards that you see all over the web, but with the additional benefit of no annual fees.
Questions I answer in this post:
- What effect does opening this many cards have on your credit score?
- Do travel miles and credit card points have an expiration?
- Are Credit Card Welcome Bonuses One Time Only?
- How Often Do AMEX and Chase Check Active Duty Military Status?
- How to Get Military Spouse Fees Waived on American Express and Chase Credit Cards?
American Express, Chase, and other companies are all waiving annual fees for active duty US military servicemembers to comply with the MLA and SCRA laws.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but it is true. I get over $5000 in annual fees waived annually and $2000+ in annual recurring benefits like free shopping, free hotel stays and dining at Marriott and Hilton, and automatic Hilton Diamond status.
Here are some of the questions I have received from the 400+ graduates of my Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course.
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What effect does this have on your credit score?
Love the site. I'm currently deployed and have saved $22k in cash which I will use upon redeployment for a hefty down payment on a car and to pay for a post deployment vacation.
I have excellent credit (817), however I don't own any of these 8 cards yet. How would applying for these 8 cards in a short amount of time (approximately 2 months) effect my credit score? That's the only thing holding me back from starting this! Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Almost no effect at all. My credit score when I started opening credit cards 4 years ago was 800+. Today, after opening 30+ credit cards, my credit score is still 790+, depending on which score you check.
Here's my credit score as a screenshot from CreditSesame in March 2015:
And here's another screenshot from June 2019, also from CreditSesame:
Do travel miles and credit card points have an expiration?
Thank you for all the great content. I am a graduating med student about to start my active duty career with the Navy.
I will be in residency for the next 3 years or longer if I have to do a flight surgeon tour, just wondering if all the bonus miles have an expiration.
My wife and I love traveling, but know we will be restricted with my schedule during medical residency. I would love to get started with all your great tips, but wondering if will be worth or not depending on how these miles work.
Most credit card points DO NOT have an expiration, especially the most flexible and valuable points like AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Thanks to the AMEX SCRA and Chase MLA military fee waivers, you can start building your portfolio of cards and points for the next 3+ years AND pay no annual fees on these cards. It's a win-win situation!
Some airline points expire after 12-36 months of no activity. Delta Skymiles never expire, but they are not as valuable as other miles programs. Marriott Bonvoy points expire after 24 months of no activity and Hilton points expire after 12 months.
However, you can easily earn points, buy points, transfer points, and redeem points to keep your point balances active. You can put a transaction or two through your airline or hotel co-branded credit card and earn points to keep the accounts active every few months easily.
The AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire card both offer annual free night stays and no annual fees for military. I'm sure you can get away for at least one night a year while in residence.
Also the AMEX Delta Reserve and Delta Platinum offer annual companion passes after you have had the card for 1 year. I would definitely pick up both of these cards when you are approaching 12-18 months out from ending your residency.
Think of a great travel goal to work towards over the next 3+ years and I'm sure you will be amazed at how many points you can accumulate between you and your wife.
Wait for the best bonuses on each credit card, hit your minimum spends, and never carry a balance, and you can profit immensely. Let me know how it goes.
Are Credit Card Welcome Bonuses One Time Only?
I've been digging through and reading tons of awesome information from your site – thank you so much! But the question is, how are you able to redeem so much via points when most cards give only a one-time signup fee?
There are so many cards out there offering welcome points and new cards are released every year. So even though you can only get the sign up bonus once on the AMEX Platinum card, there are at least 4 versions of the AMEX Platinum card, all eligible for their own sign up bonuses.
Also, you can refer friends and families to cards and earn points that way. And then of course your everyday spending can earn you points as well.
I've opened over 30 cards in the last 3 years between my wife and me. We still have so many cards to go and since new cards are getting released every year, we'll probably never run out of cards.
Also, companies merge and change. So you could have opened Marriott and SPG cards years ago, and now open the new Bonvoy cards and be eligible for the sign up bonuses.
How Often Do AMEX and Chase Check Active Duty Military Status?
What a great resource you have here; thanks for your insight over the past couple years. I have a question for you.
I am also an Air Force officer (reservist) that was activated on orders from December 2016-August 2018. I started getting into credit cards a little before that so once I found out about the incredible benefit on waived Amex fees, my wife and I got a regular and MB Platinum and we both got the Hilton Aspire cards.
Since I have gotten off orders I cancelled the MB Platinum before it was converted since my wife has never had the regular one and I wanted her to be able to get that sign up bonus.
Also, one of our Aspire cards annual fee should have come due but it was
Do you know how long they will keep waiving annual fees? I want to get a Gold card or another one with an annual fee but also don’t want to change my file if this will keep on. Have you see this before?
Many data points suggest that AMEX doesn't really check your active duty status frequently. Some veterans have reported 5+ years of fees continuing to be waived after they leave active duty.
I would just press to test and continue getting cards until AMEX catches on. Worst case scenario you are on the hook for a few annual fees, but you can close the other cards before the fees hit.
How to Get Military Spouse Fees Waived on American Express and Chase Credit Cards?
I am active duty and have the AMEX platinum card already. What is process for my spouse to get it with fee waived as well?
It's a very simple process to get your military spouse annual fees waived. Go to AMEX's SCRA page. Submit the active duty servicemember's orders through that link but specify you want the benefits applied to the spouse's accounts. Include the account numbers to make it easier.
If AMEX does not waive the fees initially, then add the active duty servicemember as an authorized user to the spouse's accounts. Go through the SCRA process again and with the servicemember on the account there should be no issue with the fee waiver.
Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course
If you want to learn more about how to maximize your military credit card benefits, sign up for my 100% free, 5 day Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course.