As a way to say thank you to members of our armed services, many top travel rewards credit cards offer waived annual fees for active-duty military members. In some cases, this benefit will even apply to the spouses of active-duty military members.
It’s one of the lesser-known credit card benefits out there, and it can provide serious value if you serve in any branch of the armed forces. This will put money right back into your pocket each and every year of card membership.
Here’s a list of our favorite travel rewards credit cards that provide waived annual fees for active-duty military members.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
It’s no secret that the Platinum Card® from American Express is one of our favorite travel rewards cards. But with an annual fee of $695 per year, it’s not for everyone (see rates & fees).
But active-duty military members can get that fee waived. And that allows you to come out far, far ahead every year with the card.
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership. But check to see if you’re eligible for the 150,000-point targeted offer via CardMatch.
- Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- Earn 5x Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- Complimentary Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status.
- Get complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection. That includes Delta Sky Clubs, Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and many more.
- Get Uber VIP status and up to $200 in credits for Uber rides or Uber Eats orders in the U.S. annually. You’ll receive $15 each month, then $35 to use in December each year.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually.
- Cell Phone Insurance Protection: If your phone is stolen or damaged (damage even includes a cracked screen), Amex will reimburse the cost of repair or replacement for up to two approved claims for a maximum of $800 per claim.
- Up to $200 Airline Incidental Fee Credit
- Up to a $100 Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. Membership in either program is good for five years.
- Up to a $200 Credit for Prepaid Hotel Bookings
- $179 Credit for CLEAR Membership
- A $240 Entertainment Credit, doled out in $20 monthly installments for purchases with Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, and the New York Times.
- Up to a $300 Equinox Gym Credit, with $25 a month
- Premium private jet program: 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships.
- $695 annual fee. See rates & fees.
Make sure to read our post on 9 Great Ways to Redeem an Amex Platinum welcome bonus offer.
Active Duty Military Benefit: American Express completely waives the $695 annual fee and any associated late fees when you’re on active duty with any branch of the U.S. Military. They will even waive the annual fee if the active-duty military member is registered as an authorized user on a spouse’s account.
And not only does American Express waive the annual fee on the Platinum Card for active-duty military members, but they will waive the annual fee on all of their personal cards. That includes the American Express® Gold Card which we feel is well worth its $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).
You must request the benefit from American Express after you receive your card, as they need to validate your military service via an automated system with the Department of Defense. You’ll then receive a statement credit within a few weeks for the amount of the annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another top dog in the world of credit card travel rewards. While the card has an annual fee of $550, the $300 annual travel credit it provides drastically reduces this. With waived annual fees for active-duty military members, this card will essentially put $300 cash back into your pocket each year of card membership – not to mention all of the other benefits it provides.
- Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in purchases in your first three months of card membership.
- $300 Annual Travel Credit
- Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points For 1.5 Cents Per Point through the Chase Travel Portal, making the welcome offer worth up to $900 towards travel
- 3x Points On Travel And Restaurants Worldwide after using full $300 travel credit.
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
Active Duty Military Benefit: Chase completely waives the $550 annual fee and any associated late fees when you’re on active duty with any branch of the US Military. They will even waive the $75 fee for adding an authorized user. Chase will not wave late fees and/or non-sufficient funds fees.
Chase reportedly will credit your annual fee automatically as the bank compares social security numbers to the Department of Defense databases. No action should be required on your part, but if the credit doesn’t come through, you can always call the number on the back of your card to get this taken care of.
Click Here to get more information about the Sapphire Reserve
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards. The card has a $95 annual fee and earns 2x Venture miles on every dollar spent which can be redeemed for a fixed one cent towards travel. Because of this, Venture miles are great for travel expenses that can’t be covered with traditional points and miles.
- Earn 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $750-plus in travel
- Earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. That means spending the money to earn the bonus nets you at least 66,000 miles
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years
- Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
Active Duty Military Benefit: Capital One removes all fees for active-duty military members. This includes credit card annual fees, late fees, and balance transfer fees.
Click Here to Learn More About the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
While all of these are fantastic credit card products, the American Express Platinum Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card should be your choice if you are an active-duty military member. There are simply no other cards that stack up to these in terms of benefits – especially when you’re not paying an annual fee.
Citi and U.S. Bank may also waive annual fees on their credit cards, but these are simply the best options.
Not paying an annual fee on these credit cards is an unbeatable perk and will allow you to put money right back in your pocket each year. Make sure to take advantage of this fantastic benefit of serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your service!