USAA Rate Advantage Review: An Extra-Low APR for a Select Few

It offers one of the lowest potential ongoing interest rates on the market — but you must be a USAA member to apply, and there's no guarantee you'll qualify for the low end of its APR range.

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
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.

Jump to: Full Review
USAA Rate Advantage Platinum Visa® Credit Card
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
6.90%-23.90%, Variable
Intro APR
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • No rewards

Alternate Pick: Cash-back rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 
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.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99%-25.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.74%-26.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.49%-25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Full Review

The primary selling point of the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card is right there in its name: a potentially low interest rate.

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months that post to your account within 90 days of account opening, then an ongoing APR of 6.90%-23.90% Variable. 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.

Rewards: None.

APR: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months that post to your account within 90 days of account opening, then an ongoing APR of 6.90%-23.90% Variable. Active duty service members may qualify for slightly lower rates. More on that below.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Balance transfer fee: 3%.

Visa benefits: 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

As of February 2022, the average APR charged for credit card accounts that incurred interest was 14.56%, 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.

Nerdy tip: The USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card currently offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months on new purchases.

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 8.50%, Variable. There are membership eligibility requirements, but anyone can join with a $5 donation to the ALS Association. The annual fee is $0.

Nerdy tip: Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), if you have an existing balance on any credit card upon entering active military duty, you can qualify for a 6% APR on that existing balance until one year after you complete active duty.

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.

No rewards

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 on new purchases

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 new purchases. If you're looking to  finance a large purchase, you could instead consider the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card. It offers an intro 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74%-26.74% Variable APR.

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.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.