Anyone who is involved with the military or knows someone who is involved with the military has probably heard of USAA.
While you don’t necessarily have to be in the military to take advantage of their services, USAA is mainly a financial services company for people in the armed forces.
They offer a few different credit cards as of right now, but one of the best cards they have is the USAA Rewards American Express Card.
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The Cash Back Rewards Program
The USAA Rewards American Express Card uses a tiered system for the rewords program, and there are some interesting features for the cash back program. Let’s take a look at the general rules associated with the cash back program of the USAA Rewards American Express Card:
- You can earn up to 1.25% cash back on any purchase that you make with the card, and there is no maximum amount that you can earn with the card. While this is a feature that is found on all of the USAA credit cards, the American Express Card is the only one that also gives you double cash back when you shop at gas stations and grocery stores.
- One drawback of this program is that you get your cash back rebate once per year. This means that you will get all of the cash back that you earned throughout the entire year in one lump sum. The rebate is paid out in January.
- There is no annual fee attached to the USAA Rewards American Express Card.
To fully understand the cash back program associated with the USAA Rewards American Express Card, you also need to take a look at how the tiered cash back system works.
Although the card comes with “up to” 1.25% cash back on all of your purchases, the fact of the matter is that you only start earning 1.25% cash back after you have already spent $17,000 during the year.
Here is how the tired cash back system works with the USAA Rewards American Express Card:
- For your first $5,000 in purchases, you will be able to earn 0.45% cash back every time you use the card.
- For the next $5,000, you will earn 0.85% cash back.
- For purchases that bring your annual total between $10,000 and $17,000, you will be getting 1% cash back on your purchases.
- Finally, you will be able to earn 1.25% cash back on all of your purchases once your total spent for the year has gone over $17,000.
As you can see, this is not exactly the best card to choose if you are looking to get a lot of cash back on your purchases throughout the year.
Even if you are someone who uses their credit card for the bulk of their purchases throughout the year, you won’t be able to see a very large rebate in January when everything is said and done.
The Rewards Points
In addition to getting cash back, the USAA Rewards American Express Card also comes with a rewards program. All of the credit cards offered by USAA follow the same rewards program, so there is really no difference between any of the cards from USAA in this department.
Here is how the rewards program works with the USAA Rewards American Express Card:
- You get one point for every dollar that you spend with the USAA Rewards American Express Card. The one perk of getting the American Express Card over the other credit card options from USAA is that you will get double the points when you shop at a grocery store or gas station.
- There is no maximum number of points that you can earn throughout the entire year.
- Once you have collected a good number of rewards points, you will be able to use those points to get cash back or get the usual merchandise and travel perks that are offered with other major cards from American Express.
What Can You Do with the Reward Points?
What you can do with your points really depends on how many you have saved up. When it comes to getting cash back, you will actually be able to get a much better return for your points when you wait until you have 20,000 or more points saved up. You will actually get less than a penny for every point that you trade in if you trade in the points before you have earned 20,000.
The gift cards and merchandise rewards are not a very good value, so you are usually better off going with the cash rather than trading your points in for a physical good or gift card. You will never be able to get even a penny’s worth of value for the points that you trade in unless you are willing to trade those points in for cash.
The one area where you do get some extra value for your rewards points is when you trade them in for cruise vouchers.
You can actually get up to 1.18 cents per point when you trade them in for certain cruise rewards, so this is the best route to take if you are going to use this rewards program.
It should also be mentioned that you will be able to get a penny for every point if you trade your points in for rewards related to airlines; however, it should also be noted that you will only be able to get a penny per point on airline rewards if you have at least 15,000 points to spend.
The General Terms of the USAA Rewards American Express Card
Although these cards are not that great for racking up rewards and using the cash back program, the one good thing about this card is that you can usually get a low APR attached to the card.
If you are in the military, then you will definitely be able to get a better discount on your APR than you would be able to find anywhere else. Some military personnel may not even be able to get another card outside of the USAA financial network.
You also get purchase protection when you use the USAA Rewards American Express Card, which is extremely helpful in a situation where something goes wrong with something you purchased.
Whether an item was stolen from you or simply broke too easily, American Express will be able to give you your money back in certain situations. It should be noted that there are certain exceptions to this policy, such as motor vehicles and medical equipment.
One last perk to mention when it comes to the USAA Rewards American Express Card is the extended warranty program. American Express will actually double the length of the warranty of any item that you purchase as long as the original warranty was for five years or less.
There are also exclusions for this policy, but they are mainly limited to things like living pets, perishable items or buildings.
Should You Get This Card?
Most people are not going to be able to find much value in the USAA Rewards American Express Card.
The fact of the matter is that this is basically a bare bones credit card that is really only useful for military members with low credit scores.
If you are someone who has a good credit score, then there are plenty of other cards out there that could provide you with three to four times the kinds of rewards that you would get with this card.
While USAA is a fine financial institution, the fact of the matter is that their credit cards are not built for basically anyone to use them. These cards are mainly for people in the armed forces who are looking for access to a lower APR on their credit card. If you are not in the military, then there is really no reason for you to even apply for this card.
You will probably get accepted, but there is not much you will be able to do with the card in terms of benefits once you have it.
While the USAA Rewards American Express Card is definitely the best card offered by USAA, the reality of the situation is that none of their cards are really worth your time. Here is a quick review of the main problems with the USAA Rewards American Express Card:
- You only start reaching the full potential of the cash back program after spending $17,000.
- You earn less than 0.5% cash back on your first $5,000 worth of purchases.
- The rewards program really has nothing of value in it. The cruise rewards are the only item that give you more than a penny per point.
At the end of the day, the only person who should even think about getting the USAA Rewards American Express Card is a military member who is searching for a way to lower their APR.
Anyone else would be better suited to look elsewhere for a credit card, even if they have bad credit. No need to search endlessly for other cards. Simply use the FREE and easy credit card chaser tool located above!
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