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I am a firm believer when used properly, credit cards are a good financial tool to have at your disposal. Credit cards offer users a variety of benefits, including consumer protections such as fraud and theft protection, extended warranties and the ability to dispute charges.
In addition to these benefits, many credit cards offer a variety of rewards including cash back, member rewards, airline miles, membership programs and other discounts. These benefits can be very valuable, but I do not recommend using credit cards if you carry a balance.
Featured Cash Back Credit Cards
We have done some of the legwork for you – these credit cards all meet the criteria listed above and are good credit cards for military members. They offer a variety of cash rewards programs and are some of the best credit cards available.
We have done our best to find a variety of cards, but it’s impossible to list every card on the market. Because of this, we have focused on the major credit card issuers and a few of the major military banks. What follows are some of the best cash back credit cards on the market.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Military Members
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers an excellent rewards program, and while it does have an annual fee (), American Express waives annual fees for active-duty service members through the SCRA program (See Rates and Fees; terms apply). You will need to contact American Express for more information regarding waived fees.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express rewards program:
- Six percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% cash back after that.
- Six percent cash back on select U.S. streaming services.
- Three percent at US gas stations and on transit (taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- One percent cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Cash back is awarded in the form of Reward Dollars which can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift cards, or shopping through the American Express portal.
Again, there is a $95 annual fee, but it can be waived for active-duty members. The fee is not waived for veterans or traditional members of the Guard or Reserves. Even so, I personally use this credit card as I find the cash back I receive by using this card more than covers the cost of the annual fee.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
We ranked this card high, but would even consider ranking it higher if American Express was accepted at more overseas locations. The is similar to the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and offers excellent cash back in different categories including on U.S. online retail purchases, U.S. gas stations, and more.
On top of that, there are no annual fees, no minimum spending requirements to earn the highest rewards and no rotating rewards categories (See Rates and Fees; terms apply).
Here are the rewards offered with the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express:
- 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases, up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
- 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
- 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on eligible purchases, up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
- 1% Cash Back on all other eligible purchases
- Cash Back is awarded as Reward Dollars which can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift cards or shopping.
- No annual fee.
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
PenFed recently launched the . This card offers a flat cash back reward of 1.5% on all purchases, with no limits and no rotating categories, as found on many other credit cards. PenFed members can receive a total of 2% cash back on all purchases if they have a PenFed Access America checking account or if they have served or are currently serving in the US military.
The additional rewards are available through PenFed’s Honors Advantage Program. There are no limits, spending caps, hidden fees or revolving categories. The card currently features a and a APR.
Please visit the PenFed website to view additional information, including balance transfer terms, bonus offers, interest rates and other terms.
MILITARY STAR Card
The MILITARY STAR Card offers users cardholders rewards that work out to 2% on your purchases at the Exchange facilities and Armed Forces Recreation Center resort hotels. The same rewards points arrangement applies for online shopping at shopmyexchange.com, myNavyExchange.com and shopCGX.com.
The card features low interest rates and no interest at all on up to $500 purchases at clothing sales. You can learn more about the MILITARY Star Card in our review.
Other Excellent Cash Rewards Credit Cards
Fidelity Investment Rewards Signature Visa Card. Earn unlimited 2% cash-back on every net purchase, with no annual fee, no limits on reward points and no restrictive categories and your points will never expire.
You can have your rewards deposited into your Fidelity investment account, split it among several Fidelity accounts, or even have it deposited into a loved one’s account. Your rewards can be deposited into a Fidelity brokerage account, retirement account, 529 plan account, or other options. Apply for the Fidelity Investment Rewards Signature Visa Card.
Check with Your Local Bank and Credit Union
There are many military and local credit unions that may offer a great credit card for your needs. We recommend any of the cards above, but as always, do your research and find the best card for your specific situation.
Don’t forget to look for debit card offers. We know not everyone likes to use or carry a credit card. In that instance, I recommend looking into a debit card with a cash rewards program. Most major financial institutions have done away with rewards debit card programs, but you may be able to find one that offers some rewards. We recommend checking out options at your local bank or credit union.
What to Expect from a Cash Back Credit Card
It wasn’t long ago most major credit card companies offered credit cards with 3-5% cash back on all purchases. Unfortunately, those cards are no longer around. Most cards offer a similar cash rewards program which starts at or around 1% cash back, with additional cash rewards or bonuses which may be added to sweeten the deal.
Some of these additional cash rewards include bonuses for shopping through the credit card company’s online portal where you can get additional discounts from select vendors. Some credit card issuers also offer bonus cash back for making purchases in select categories. Many issuers rotate bonus cash categories on a monthly or quarterly basis. With a little planning, the savings can add up.
What to Look for in a Cash Back Credit Card
Not all credit cards are the same, so it pays to know what to look for. We recommend using a credit card from a major credit card issuer or a trusted financial institution. Sometimes the best deals come from the major credit card companies; other times the best cards will be from local or regional banks or credit unions.
When shopping for a cash rewards credit card, pay attention to the rewards program, interest rate, bonus categories, rewards eligibility, etc. You will also want to determine if the rewards have an expiration date and in most cases avoid any annual fees.
The Military Wallet has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Military Wallet and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on The Military Wallet are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear, but does not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations. The Military Wallet does not include all card companies or all available card offers.