Published on July 4th, 2017 | by William Charles26
Credit Card Annual Fee Waivers & Other Benefits For Those On Active Duty (SCRA Benefits)
It’s 4th of July & Independence day, I’m always grateful to those who serve this country so I thought I’d highlight a few credit benefits for those who serve us.
A lot of this information was originally covered on the following sites, if you’re a member of the military I’d strongly recommend signing up to both sites RSS feed’s:
- 1 Benefits Under The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
- 2 Annual Fee Waivers & Other Benefits
- 2.1 American Express – No Annual Fees
- 2.2 Barclaycard – Standard SCRA Benefits
- 2.3 Capital One – No Fees, Interest Capped At 4%
- 2.4 Chase – No Fees & Capped At 4% Interest
- 2.5 CitiBank – No Annual Fees For Cards Opened Before You Joined The Military
- 2.6 Discover
- 2.7 US Bank
- 2.8 Other Card Issuers
- 2.9 Not Part Of The Military?
Benefits Under The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
In 2003 Congress passed the SCRA, this act was designed to postpone or suspend civil obligations that Active Duty military members have . This allows them to devote their full attention to serving their country without having to worry about credit card fees and other obligations.
If you’re currently Active Duty you are entitled to the following benefits, among others:
- Interest rate on all debt incurred before deployment is capped at 6%, for the whole period of your active duty. This includes all debt incurred jointly (e.g with a spouse). This is extended for one year after service for all mortgages and trusts, credit cards are extended for a period of 180 days.
- Monthly minimum payments must be reduced by the interest saved
- Cannot be evicted from housing due to non payment of rent during active duty. On leases up to $2,932.31 per month (adjusted annually for inflation)
- Service members who receive permanent change of station or are deployed to a new location for 90 days or more have the right to terminate their lease without penalty
This is usually reserved for Active Duty, but some Reservists & Guard members are also able to get these benefits. This is up to individual financial institutions and they are not required to do this by law. To get these benefits you must get in contact with your financial institution, they will then verify that you’re eligible for the benefits before applying them to your account. Any interest or other fees you paid, which you shouldn’t have will be refunded into your account.
Annual Fee Waivers & Other Benefits
Credit card companies are not required to waive annual fees under the SCRA, fortunately a lot of credit card companies have decided to offer annual fee waivers to everybody who’d usually be eligible under the SCRA. This is done as their way of thanking those who serve this great country, it is also a great public relations opportunity for them.
Regardless of the interest rate a bank offers you, it’s never advisable to carry a balance on your credit card unless absolutely necessary. It’s also worth considering credit unions that are catered specifically to those in the military, such as USAA and NFCU.
American Express – No Annual Fees
American Express will provide the following benefits, for as long as you’re active duty:
- Annual fee waiver/refund on ALL of their credit cards
- No over limit, late payment, returned payment or statement copy request fees
They will also refund annual fees that have been previously charged whilst you’ve been Active Duty, some people have been able to get 10+ years of fees refunded. To get them waived you need to do the following:
- If overseas call collect on 1-336-393-1111
- If within the United States call 1-800-253-1720
Once you’ve called you need to tell American Express that you’d like to have your annual fees waived as you are Active Duty, you might need to mention the SCRA as well. If they seem like they don’t know what you’re talking about, ask politely to be escalated to a supervisor. American Express will then ask you a series of questions (approximately 10, such as when you entered active duty & how long you’re commitment is). They will then verify your details with the Department of Defense (this verification usually takes 4-8 weeks). Previously charged annual fees will then be refunded and will be waived for the duration of your Active Duty.
Cards To Consider:
All of the card benefits will still apply (e.g free lounge access and $200 airline fee credit that the platinum card offers) . This is pretty amazing considering the annual fee on one of these cards is a whooping $475.
- American Express Platinum, usually an annual fee of $450. benefits include:
- 40,000 Membership Rewards points as a sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
- Up to $200 in statement credit for incidental fees (e.g checked bag fees, flight change fees, on board snacks & drinks)
- Club lounge access with: Priority Pass Select & Airport Club Access Program. Which give you access to over 600 domestic & international lounges.
- Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, usually an annual fee of $475. Benefits include:
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points as a sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months
- $1000 certificate each year you charge $5,000 in purchases, good toward the future purchase or lease of a new Mercedes-Benz
- $100 certificate at renewal of your Card account, good toward Genuine Mercedes-Benz Accessories
- Up to 2,000 excess miles waived at lease-end on leases through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express, usually an annual fee of $450. Benefits include:
- Earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles and 10,000 bonus miles after your first purchase on your Card
- Delta Sky Club® Access
- Receive a domestic first class or economy class companion certificate each year upon renewal
For additional card holders (e.g spousal accounts) it seems to vary whether the annual fee waiver will cover these accounts or not. We suggest calling the helpdesk first before applying for additional cards. If you’re not Active Duty it seems to be a your mileage may vary situation, we suggest calling the above numbers to find out as it’ll depend on a variety of factors (such as if you’re currently deployed).
These benefits will also carry over to business cards as long as you applied for the card using your SSN and not an EIN. These benefits will only apply to credit cards issued directly from American Express, it will not work on cards issued by other financial institutions that use American Express as the payment processor.
Barclaycard – Standard SCRA Benefits
Barclaycard used to have one of the most generous policies for those in active duty. Sometime in November of 2016, they dramatically cut benefits. They now offer what is required of them under the SCRA and 0% APR on balances as well as transaction fee waivers.
To get these benefits you’ll need to call 1-866-918-5212, often they can just process the request over the phone but sometimes they’ll require you to fax your orders in or LES. These benefits will last for the duration of your active duty (using the furthest date on your papers).
Capital One – No Fees, Interest Capped At 4%
Capital One offers the following benefits to Active Duty members:
- Reduced Annual Percentage Rate of no more than 4%
- No Past Due, Overlimit or Membership Fees (also known as annual fees)
- No minimum finance charge
To get these you’ll need to do one of the following:
- Call 1-855-227-1645 (1-855-CAP1-MIL)
- Send a secured message asking that the SCRA be applied to your account and that you have the annual fee waived
- Fax 1-866-516-4023
- Use online intake form
- Via regular mail: Capital One, Attn: SCRA Request, P.O. Box 30285, Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0285
Cards To Consider
Unlike other providers Capital One does not have a lot of high annual fee cards with large benefits. As such there is only one real card you should be considering.
- Capital One Venture, usually an annual fee of $59. Benefits include:
- Sign up bonus of 40,000 miles ($400 statement credit)
- Earn 2x miles on every purchase (miles are worth 1 cent each, making this a 2% cash back Visa card)
Chase – No Fees & Capped At 4% Interest
Chase offers more benefits than other card issuers, here are the benefits they offer :
- All fees waived/refunded, including:
- Annual fees
- Foreign transaction fees
- Maximum APR of 4%, including new purchases (SCRA only includes credit card debt incurred before enlistment. We do not recommend carrying a credit card balance, even at 4%)
Note: for some people you’ll only be eligible for these benefits if your Chase account was opened before you entered active duty. We suggest calling to verify before you sign up for cards with high annual fees.
To get these waivers, you need to do one of the following. Make sure you mention the SCRA and that you want your fees refunded/waived:
- Call Chase on 1-877-469-0110
- Send Chase a secured message by logging into your account
Chase will verify your information with the Department of Defense and get back to you in around 4-8 weeks depending on how busy they and the DoD are. People have reported that they were able to get this benefit if they were not Active Duty (e.g Reservists) but this seems to vary on a case by case basis. This will work for Chase business cards as well.
Cards To Consider
- Chase Sapphire Reserve, usually an annual fee of $450. Benefits include:
- $300 travel credit
- Airport lounge access
- Ultimate Rewards are worth 50% more towards travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred, usually an annual fee of $95 (waived first year). Benefits include:
- Sign up bonus of 40,000 Chase UR Points when you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months
- Authorized user bonus of 5,000 Chase UR points when they make their first purchase
- United MileagePlus® Club Card, usually annual fee of $395. Benefits include:
- United Club Membership
- $100 statement credit after first purchase
- First & second bag checked for free
CitiBank – No Annual Fees For Cards Opened Before You Joined The Military
- Annual fee waiver
- No late fees or balance transfer fees
- 0% APR during Active Duty
CitiBank will waive annual fees for Active Duty members, but it will only do so if you opened the credit cards before your entry to the military. They’ve also told consumers that certain cards aren’t available for this fee waiver (e.g the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard). This seems like an odd requirement to have and isn’t in the spirit of annual fee waivers that other credit card companies offer.
To request these benefits you need to do the following. Send one of the following original documents, ensuring that they include your original enlistment & release dates.
- Your original enlistment papers, specifically forms DD 4/1 and/or DD 4/3
- A copy of your Active Duty papers if you are currently serving on Active Duty in the Reserves
- A Proof Of Service letter from your Commanding Officer that includes your original enlistment or Active Duty date & release date
- A Leave and Earning Statement (LES)
- Letter(s) from your recruiter(s) with specific start/stop dates
You can send one of the above to CitiBank, either by post or via fax.
- By post: Military Response Unit, PO Box 790398, St Louis MO 63179
- By fax: 1-866-533-0503
You’ll receive written notification within 30 days of CitiBank receiving this information. Any and all annual fees will be waived (or refunded if already charged), as well as all of the usual benefits under the SCRA.
We haven’t listed any credit cards to consider as this fee waiver only exists for cards you had previous to your military service.
According to reader Alex, Discover will waive all fees & interest.
US Bank gives military members access to their Platinum Checking Package free of charge.
- No checking account fee (usually $17.95 per month if you receive online statements)
- No annual fee for a Home Equity Line of Credit
To enroll for this package you should call 1-800-398-0371 and ask to open a Platinum Checking Package and that you qualify for the fee waiver due to your military status. This is a pretty average offering considering Active Duty will also have access to checking products from USAA.
Other Card Issuers
The following card issuers will only do what is required of them under the SCRA:
- Diner’s Club
Not Part Of The Military?
If you’re not part of the Military then we suggest sharing this information with friends and family members that are. You can also express your gratitude that credit card issuers are going above and beyond what’s legally required of them by choosing card issuers that give these benefits to those in the Military or by sending them a simple thank you note.
I’d like to personally thank all of those that risk their lives to keep this country safe & free. Hopefully you found this information useful and were able to get some benefit from it. If you have any additional information about card issuers not listed, please let me and others know in the comments section below.