Full Review of USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card
Very low APR if you have strong credit
Relatively few fees to watch out for
Decent benefits for a no-annual-fee card
USAA customer service is exceptional
No rewards or one-time offer
Must be a military family to apply
- Very Low APR If You Have Strong Credit: This credit card offers a single variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances that can be very low with rates as low as 6.90% for those with excellent credit, which is far lower than the norm, even for those customers. Of course, not everyone will qualify for the best rates and rates can potentially range as high as 23.90%. Still, that rate is still competitive, if not better, for those with less-than-stellar credit histories. You may even qualify for better rates than these if you have an existing balance on another card from before you began your service. In particular, if you qualify and submit a request within the correct time frame, certain existing balances you incurred before active duty may qualify for a 4% APR. (The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act only requires a reduced interest rate of 6% on credit cards when you qualify, so this 4% APR offer is a better benefit.)
- Relatively Few Fees to Watch Out For: This credit card doesn’t charge an annual fee, foreign transaction fees, minimum interest charges or a penalty APR. The other fees with this card are either in line with, or slightly more favorable, than the industry norms. For instance, USAA waives the cash-advance fee if the cash advance is electronically transferred to a USAA deposit account.
- Decent Travel and Purchase Benefits for a No-Fee Card: Some benefits offered with the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum are far from universal for cards with no annual fee, especially when considered as a whole. These pluses include auto-rental collision damage waiver, baggage-delay reimbursement, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, and travel-accident insurance.
- USAA Customer Service is Exceptional: While it’s rare to contact customer service for a credit card, you’re often in some distress when you do, having lost a card or had it stolen. That makes outstanding responsiveness and competence all the more important in a credit-card issuer. Since its offerings are limited to a certain population, USAA isn’t included in the rankings of J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. If it were, though, it would top the list, with a score of 866 out of a possible 1,000—even higher than those for Discover and American Express.
- No Rewards or One-Time Offer: This card does not offer any credit card rewards or cash back. This isn’t uncommon for credit cards focused on offering low APRs, but it is still a drawback. The USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum does not offer a bonus of any kind. Most rewards credit cards offer a bonus of at least $100 or more to entice people to apply for the card.
- Must Be From a Military Family to Apply: You can’t apply for this card unless you’re a USAA member. To qualify for membership, you must be an active-duty officer, trainee, officer-candidate, veteran, or enlistee in the Armed Forces or National Guard and Reserve, or be a former spouse or adult child of a USAA member. If you don’t meet any of these criteria, you’ll have to find another credit card.
This Card is Best For
Motivated to create positive credit history
As its name implies, the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Signature card is designed for military families who seek a credit card that, above all, has favorable rates and fees. It’s especially suitable for customers who are highly creditworthy, for whom the card offers exceptionally low APRs. But even those with ho-hum credit scores are likely to get as good a rate with the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Signature card as with any other card.The card is also ideal for those who own no other credit cards with handy purchase and travel features. The USAA Rate Advantage Visa Signature provides extended warranty coverage on the items you buy, along with accident insurance, rental-car insurance, and emergency assistance when you travel—all at no annual fee.
The card could also be a gateway to other financial products and services offered by USAA, including insurance, banking, investing, and loans. The company’s customer-service record is strong in all of these products and services, and it tends to rank highly, too, on the price and features of those offerings.
USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card’s Outstanding Benefits
- Baggage-delay reimbursement: Get reimbursed up to $100 per day for up to three days to get the essential items you need if your checked baggage is delayed for four or more hours when you pay for your passenger fare with your card.
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage: Get up to $1,500 per covered person for non-refundable prepaid passenger fare if your travel is interrupted or canceled when you buy your ticket with your card.
- Auto-rental collision damage waiver
- Concierge services for concert tickets, reservations, and travel
- Extended warranty coverage
- Travel accident insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance
USAA has an outstanding reputation for customer service. The company received a score of 866 in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. This is the top score of all issuers surveyed, and significantly exceeded the average score of all national issuers, which was 806. USAA was not eligible to be ranked because it did not meet the study award criteria.
You can contact USAA by calling 800-531-8722. When logged into your account, you may be able to communicate via chat messages as well as by sending secure messages through your account. USAA also has mobile apps for iOS and Android you can use to manage your accounts.
USAA claims to have industry-leading security measures including secure and fast logon options such as biometrics, Quick Logon, CyberCode text, and computer recognition.
USAA also offers the usual industry capabilities to help you get back to normal if you’re a victim of identity theft. Those include identity-theft resolution services that help put fraud alerts on your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, dispute inaccurate information due to fraud, and replace your credit and debit cards. They also offer personal identity-theft reimbursement of up to $1,000 for covered expenses you pay to help restore your identity after a qualifying stolen identity event.
Fairly Standard Fees
While some of the fees the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum card charges are fairly standard, others are notably absent. The card has no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, minimum interest charges, account maintenance fees, or penalty APR.
Other fees are lower than the norm. The balance transfer- and cash advance fees are 3%, no matter the amount of the transaction, where many cards impose minimums for these, such as $5 or $10. Additionally, the cash-advance fee is waived if money is transferred electronically to a USAA deposit account.
The USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum card is purpose-built to minimize fees and charges. The card foregoes such niceties as rewards and a one-time offer in order to keep a lid on the cost of carrying a balance, getting cash advances, and other transactions. In part, it accomplishes that goal by having a single—and, for many customers, notably low—APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. There are better cards, however, for military families who pay their bills every month and don’t anticipate needing cash advances and the like. If that describes you, a card that offers rewards might be a better fit. For instance, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature, another card with no annual fee, has some slightly higher fees and rates than this card but provides the same benefits and adds 1.5% cash-back rewards on all purchases.