USAA Rate Advantage Review: Extra-Low APR for Military
This card offers one of the lowest ongoing interest rates on the market — for those who qualify. Only military members and their families are eligible to apply.
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- Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
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The Bottom Line: This card's value rests with its potential to give you an interest rate in the single digits. That's valuable if you consistently carry a balance from month to month. But if you always pay in full, look for rewards rather than a low rate.
- 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
- No rewards
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.Read our review
The low ongoing interest rate on the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card can be a serious money-saver if you're eligible for membership and you’re in the habit of carrying a credit card balance.
The card is available only to active and former members of the military and their family members, but you’ll get a travel-worthy companion if you qualify. You can also choose from different card designs.
Consider this card if you want a simple, low-interest option with good customer service that specializes in serving military.
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card: Basics
Card type: Low interest.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: None.
APR: The ongoing APR is 9.15% - 26.15% Variable APR. Eligible military members may qualify for even lower rates. (See 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 low ongoing interest rate, if you qualify. It's rare to find a credit card with an APR as low as what the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card can offer to eligible applicants, depending on creditworthiness: The ongoing APR is 9.15% - 26.15% Variable APR. The average APR charged in 2017 for credit card accounts that incurred interest was 14.44%, according to the Federal Reserve. So if you usually carry a balance on your credit card, the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card can save you money on interest.
Special lower rates, if you qualify. Certain military members can qualify for even lower rates.
For deployment or a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Get 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or PCS. After that, the regular APR will apply.
On debt 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 on the lower side when compared with 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
Only USAA members qualify: Qualifying for membership in USAA membership isn’t as easy as it is for credit unions that offer shortcuts to join. Membership is limited to active military members, retired or honorably discharged service members, service academy students, and eligible family members such as spouses or children.
No 0% intro APR: Although the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card offers a 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 HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card. It offers 0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months from account opening, then a 14.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% variable APR.
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.
You can get cheaper balance transfers: You might be able to make larger strides toward paying down debt with other credit cards. For example, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® lets you choose either a $0 balance transfer fee or an introductory 0% APR for balance transfers. It offers an intro 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% Variable APR. If you choose this introductory APR, you’ll pay a 2% balance transfer fee, which is lower than the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card’s fee.
Is the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card right for you?
You won’t gain much from this card if you pay off your credit card bill in full every month to avoid interest. In that case, you’re better off with a rewards credit card that offers value in the form of cash back, points or miles.
But if you keep an ongoing balance on your credit card, you’ll benefit from the low ongoing APR that the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card can offer, assuming you qualify.
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