Review: USAA Rewards American Express

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USAA offers credit card users an alternative to major banks. But is it a good deal?

Some credit card users have simply had it with banks. Banks behaving badly was one of the major causes of the financial meltdown, as well as an irritating source of fees.

If you can relate, you might find privately held USAA to be an attractive alternative. San Antonio-based USAA was founded in 1922 to provide car insurance to soldiers, and today offers a full range of financial services to members of the Armed Forces, as well as their immediate families. But anyone can apply for a credit card or open a checking or savings account with USAA regardless of whether they have served in the military. The USAA Rewards American Express card offers competitive rewards with no annual fee.


  • Earn rewards. One point is earned for each dollar spent on all purchases, with double points from gas stations and grocery stores.
  • Redeem reward points. Once earned, points can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, or travel rewards. Points are worth less than one cent each for cash and merchandise.  On the other hand, airline travel rewards return 1 cent per point in value.
  • Low fees. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a 1 percent foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside the United States.


  • Low sign-up bonus. New cardmembers can earn 2,500 points after their first purchase. This is worth $25 at most.
  • No promotional financing. Many credit cards offer 0 percent  APR promotional financing offers on new purchases and balance transfers. This card does not.
  • Variable return on awards. Their award chart offers different levels of value depending on how many points you redeem. This makes it more complicated while returning less value in many cases.

Bottom line

Get it if: You are looking for an alternative to credit cards from regular banks but still want competitive rewards.

Forget it if: You want a strong promotional financing offer or a big sign-up bonus.

This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. Also note that any terms, rates or other features described in this article can change without notice. Always double-check everything with the issuer before applying for any credit card.

Stacy Johnson

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