Posted by William Charles on December 8, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on December 8th, 2016 | by William Charles


USAA Credit Cards – Everything You Need To Know (List & Rules & Best Offers)

USAA offers a few different credit cards, I thought it would be interesting to have a central place these cards can be discussed and also list of all the cards they offer, the best offers (both current and historically) for each card and also rules and things you should know about USAA

List Of Cards

Best Offers

The majority of the above cards do not come with a sign up bonus, or come with a small 2,500 point sign up bonus. The exception are the cards we’ve listed below:

Rules/Things To Know

Eligibility Requirements

USAA is not an open credit union and they have strict eligibility requirements. In fact they are not a credit union at all, but a federal savings bank. You’re eligible if you fall into any of these categories:

You’re eligible if you fit in these categories:

  • Active, retired and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military.
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS).
  • Adult children whose eligible parents have or had a USAA auto or property insurance product.
  • Widows and widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.

More information here.

Final Thoughts

There is still so much we don’t know about USAA and I’d like to build up that information here. If you can answer any of the following questions, please do so in the comments below:

  • How do annual fee refunds work if you cancel the card?
  • Do they match bonuses? (doubtful since they typically only offer targeted bonuses)
  • Do they combine inquiries if you make multiple in the same day?
  • Do they offer retention bonuses on their AF products?
  • Is there a limit to the number of cards you can have with them?
  • Do they reopen closed cards?

You can also read other posts we’ve done in this series below:


36 Responses to USAA Credit Cards – Everything You Need To Know (List & Rules & Best Offers)

  1. Cole says:

    Any way to check for pre-approved offers?

    The easiest way to see, is to use the internal search tool and search for “offers” and select the “My Offers” page.

    On this page you can see what they call “pre selected offers” (credit card, auto loans, personal loans, etc)

  2. Josh says:

    Been with USAA for years. Really great company always accommodating. When my debit card stopped working overseas, they waived my CA fee when using my USAA American Express at ATMs. When they recently switched to Visa for their debit cards and I was in Argentina, they rushed me a new card free of charge. I know these are not the DPs you asked for, but I think most people will agree… USAA will pretty much do anything, within reason, to make you happy.

  3. secstate says:

    Note your list of who is eligible is actually a subset of who is actually eligible. USAA used to publish a more complete list: . However, when USAA became more military focused they quit publishing the more complete list though I believe most or all of those groups are still eligible though US Aid foreign service officers are not (USAA refused to extend access to them when they merged with the Dept of State). I am eligible for USAA because one of my parents was a Foreign Service Officer.

  4. Matt says:

    Can you ask for a credit limit increase? Hard/soft pull?

    You can apply for a CLI increase via the website. It will always result in a hard pull on Equifax IIRC. In my experience they don’t auto CLI and the requested CLIs are typically tiny.

    Can you reallocate credit limits? Hard/soft pull?


    Do they allow product changes?

    No. But the secured / credit building cards “graduate” to a cashback card after a year or two. You can’t product change otherwise.

    • Thanks, Matt! Just the type of information I love.

    • Tory says:

      They definitely auto-CLI. It’s slow, though, took years for me. There’s even an option to stop auto-CLI on the website.

      • Ben says:

        Same – My old USAA rewards card was at $3k in 2008 and is now at $4.2k. Not a huge jump by any stretch, but they did that CLI on their own.

    • Gadget says:

      I’m not so sure Matt is correct on USAA allowing product changes. Around last Christmas they were offering $200 for $500 spend on their 1.5% card. I did the promo requirements, got the bonus, then closed the card – I did not sock drawer it. When I called to close they offered for me to get another product, but I declined. I can’t promise they weren’t going to do another pull to open a different account, but they did not make it sound that way on the phone. Maybe because I got a bonus they wanted to keep me?

      • Would love more datapoints on this!

      • Darvin says:

        They do NOT allow product change. I tried getting my very old Cash Rewards Mastercard that earned “up to 1.25% cashback” into the Preferred Cash Rewards that has “1.5% cashback” and they said they do not allow product change, and that I have to apply for a new card if I want that card.

        Also, when I asked if they can at least upgrade my mastercard from a platinum to a world mastercard, they said they do not do that either. BUT a few months later, when they transitioned my card from a Mastercard to Visa, my account (online) now says WORLD Mastercard instead of Platinum Mastercard. Then a Signature Visa was mailed to me.

    • Ryan says:

      I had a USAA secured card for almost 5 years and they repeatedly refused to upgrade it. Perfect payment record and was at 750 fico when I finally gave up and closed it after applying for, and receiving, the CashBack Rewards Plus. I don’t hate them for it but I don’t see why they couldn’t upgrade to a no fee card.

    • Darvin says:

      They do Auto-Credit Limit Increase. The auto-increase is usually every 12 months from last Credit Limit Increase. They normally increase my card by around $1200 – $2000 every year.

      I’ve noticed some patterns though:
      A. They will increase your credit limit if you always pay your balance in full.
      B. If you do keep a balance, they will still increase your credit limit -as long as your balance keeps dropping in a constant rate. (In short: you’re paying off more than you are buying.)
      C. If you have constantly have zero balance in your bill, they will give you higher credit limit increase. So, the higher your debt-to-credit ratio is, the lower amount of CLI they will give you on the 12th month.

  5. Clay says:

    A couple of months ago I attempted to product change my Rewards Visa to Cashback Rewards Plus American Express with no luck. I cannot remember whether or not the CSR said that no product changes were ever allowed or if it was just for this case. I will probably attempt another product change once the Limitless Cashback Rewards card becomes available in CA, but I’m not optimistic.

    • Charlie H says:

      I already tried that when the card became available in WA. CSR said there is no way to product change to the limitless card.

  6. Garrett says:

    Echoing the above that USAA in general has great customer service. Another note is that if you’re in the U.S. Department of State as an FSO, you’re also eligible for a USAA account.

    • secstate says:

      USIA FSOs are also eligible but USAID FSOs are not (USAA and the Foreign Service Protective Association got into a pissing match over the latter back in the early 2000s and USAA won after threatening to drop eligibility for USIA and State FSOs). Ex-spouses of USAA members remain eligible for USAA as well as my ex still uses them. I also believe a number of federal law enforcement officers remain eligible (e.g., FBI, SS, etc.).

  7. john deere says:

    weaseltown on FT says “DP: USAA restricts members to a maximum cumulative credit limit of $50k across all USAA credit cards. If you already have an open card or two with USAA and if those cards have high limits, you may need to call customer service if you want to apply for this product. They’ll be able to free up available credit for you. ”

  8. Ellie Arroway says:

    I am a long time USAA member and it is the bank I trust the most. Their customer service is excellent and the website and mobile apps blow away what the big banks offer. One additional bit of information about their credit cards is that they all have no foreign transaction fees. Even the low end secured ones.

  9. ChrisB says:

    Couple data points, but all but the first are 2-3 years old:

    1. They regularly send out spend incentives, but they are usually not more than 1-2% extra.
    2. My wife and I have both product changed. IIRC they may have an issue with this on AF cards.
    3. They do offer retention bonuses, but they are really bad. Think an extra 1% on 2k spend or something.

  10. Gary says:

    I have a Visa and checking with USAA. If you have checking with them, you can take a cash advance for no fee directly into your checking account (there are daily limits); OD protection transfers for your checking are also no-fee. The cash advance interest rate is the same as the purchase rate (but no interest grace period on cash advances or OD advances).

    I received an auto-CLI once my account was a year old; it went from $7k to $8400. Since I got my USAA Visa I’ve acquired better cards, but you can’t beat free easy access to cash and free OD protection so I keep it around. I’m hoping I’ll qualify for the 2.5% card once it’s available in my state. :o)

  11. weaseltown says:

    No love for the shopping portal? 🙂

    One great thing about this portal is that you don’t need to pay with a USAA card at checkout. For example, start with the portal but use an unbranded Amex card at the payment page, and you’ll get the portal’s cashback incentive *on top of* relevant Amex Offers at the merchant. (If you’re lucky, maybe even stack both of those on top of a Visa Checkout promo.)

  12. Arneal says:

    “USAA is not an open credit union and they have strict eligibility requirements.”

    Yes, they’re not an open credit union because they’re not a credit union at all. They’re a federal savings bank, a type of entity completely separate from both credit unions as well as national banks (e.g., Bank of America, US Bank, Citibank, etc.).

    For some reason, people think that just because they have eligibility requirements that makes them a credit union. They’re not.

  13. Darvin says:

    @William Charles –

    1. You get your cashback as soon as the transaction’s status changed from “pending” to “posted.” So, you do not have to wait until the end of your billing cycle just to know your cashback earned.

    2. you can add sort of “double dip” in cashback with their USAA American Express Cashback cards. You can combine it with “AMEX Offers” on Facebook or Twitter.

    3. All their Visa and AMEX cards have no foreign transaction fees.

    4. Their old Chip and PIN (with pin as priority form of CVM) has been phased out.

    5. Now, ALL their cards are Chip and SIGNATURE cards with PIN as secondary form of CVM. So you can still use them overseas, But i places where there’s a human at the register (ex: grocery stores, dine-in restaurants, train station ticketmasters) signature will be preferred. The card will force the register to spit out a receipt for you to sign. Just be ready to get the “what the heck is this?” look from European cashiers when that receipt spits out, as they are more used to chip and pin cards. LOL.

    6. The CVM priority list are as follows:

    1: Signature (paper)
    2: Enciphered PIN verified by ICC
    3: Plaintext PIN verified by ICC
    4: No CVM required

    1: Signature (paper)
    2: Enciphered PIN verified online
    3: Enciphered PIN verified by ICC
    4: Plaintext PIN verified by ICC
    5: No CVM required

  14. Gene says:

    I JUST applied for this and was APPROVED. A little about my background. EX: 638 EQ: 668. TU:660. Inquiries 10, 15 and 11. Three missed payments in 2014 on a student loan but no other missed or late payments since then. 2 Closed Accounts (Negative. One being an old USAA plat. card). 1 Closed Car Loan Account (Paid in Full, NEVER missed a payment during the 2 years I had it)……If your credit profile looks like this or better, you will most likely get approved. I was approved for $2000 for the Amex Rewards Card. I STILL don’t know how that happened but I’m not Got my ‘foot in the door’ with Amex and look to use this to eventually get a better card. Hope this helps. USAA ROCKS!!!

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