The bottom line: This card's value rests with its potential to give you an interest rate in the single digits, but not everyone will qualify for the card or its lowest rate. And if you always pay in full, look for rewards rather than a low rate.
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card
8.40% - 25.40% Variable APR
Recommended Credit Score
- Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card
- No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
- USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
Pros & Cons
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
Alternate Pick: Cash-back rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Earn 2% back on all purchases
If you don't carry a balance from month to month, a low interest rate doesn't provide any benefit, and you're better off with a card that offers rewards for spending. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy something and 1% when you pay if off. The annual fee is $0.
The primary selling point of the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card is right there in its name: a potentially low interest rate.
The ongoing APR is 8.40% - 25.40% Variable APR. That looks enticing if you're in the habit of carrying a credit card balance (and if you're eligible for USAA membership).
But keep in mind that not every applicant will qualify for the low end of that range. Your actual APR will depend on your creditworthiness and other factors, and you won't know your rate until you're approved. Even if you're confident that you'll qualify for a low APR, only active and former members of the military and their family members are eligible to apply.
If it's a low ongoing interest rate you're looking for, you may find better options elsewhere.
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card: Basics
Card type: Low interest.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: None.
APR: The ongoing APR is 8.40% - 25.40% Variable APR. Certain military members may qualify for even lower rates. More on that below.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
Balance transfer fee: 3%.
Visa benefits: Extended warranty, travel accident insurance and baggage delay insurance, among others. Terms apply.
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card: Benefits
A potentially low ongoing APR, if you qualify
In the third quarter of 2019, the average APR charged for credit card accounts that incurred interest was 16.97%, according to the Federal Reserve. That's far higher than the lower end of the APR advertised by the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card. Again, though, there's no guarantee you'll qualify for the card's lowest rate.
Nerd tip: Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), if you have an existing balance on your account upon entering active military duty, you can qualify for a 4% APR on that existing balance until one year after you complete active duty.
Low or no fees
The USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card has an annual fee of $0, it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, and while there is a balance transfer fee, it's in line with what you would find on other cards. For those who are forgetful, you also won't face a penalty APR should you fail to pay your bill on time (although you may be subject to a late fee and potential damage to your credit scores).
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card: Drawbacks and alternatives
There's no guarantee you'll get a low rate
If you know you'll carry a balance and you want a card with a clearer value proposition, consider the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card. Its ongoing APR is phrased by the issuer this way: The ongoing APR is 6.25% Variable. There are membership eligibility requirements, but anyone can join with a $5 donation to the ALS Association. The annual fee is $0.
Only USAA members qualify
Becoming a member of USAA isn’t as easy as it is for credit unions that offer shortcuts to join. Membership is generally limited to active military members, retired or honorably discharged service members, service academy students and eligible family members such as spouses or children.
If you pay your bill off in full every month, the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card has little benefit for you. You’ll get more value from a rewards credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. It offers a flat rate of 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you spend and 1% when you pay your bill.
There's no 0% APR offer
Although the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card offers a potentially low ongoing interest rate, it doesn’t offer a 0% introductory APR period for purchases or balance transfers. If you're looking to fully pay down existing debt or finance a large purchase, you could instead consider the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card. It offers an intro 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card is also a good option. It offers 0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening, then a variable APR of 12.99% - 22.99% will apply.
Is the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card right for you?
If you keep an ongoing balance on your credit card, you could perhaps benefit from a potentially low ongoing APR offered by the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card — but that's assuming you qualify for both a USAA card in general and this card's low rate specifically.
If you just need temporary breathing room on interest for a new purchase or an existing balance, a 0% intro APR card may be a better fit. And if you already pay off your credit card bill in full every month to avoid interest, you’re better off with a credit card that can reward you for that good habit.
NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.