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USAA Rewards American Express Card Review

overall rating

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The USAA Rewards™ American Express® card allows you to earn 3 points per dollar spent when dining out and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and grocery purchases. There’s a modest one-time offer of 2,500 points after you make your first purchase. The card has no annual fee.

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

Overall Rating
USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
On USAA Savings Bank's Secured Site.
Current Offer

2,500 bonus points after your first purchase.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.65% - 29.65% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points per $1 on gas and groceries, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount of each transfer.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

The USAA Rewards American Express Card is not one of our top picks for rewards credit cards. You can review our list of the best rewards credit cards for what we think are better options.

Full Review of USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

  • Decent rewards on dining

  • Minimal fees

  • USAA customer service is well-regarded

  • Multiple options for redeeming rewards

  • You must be from a military family to qualify

  • Rewards value is unclear at best

  • Small one-time offer, even for a no-annual-fee card

Pros Explained

  • Minimal Fees: The USAA Rewards™ American Express® card is light on fees and charges. It charges no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or penalty APRs. USAA also waives the cash-advance fee when transferring funds electronically to a USAA deposit account. Additionally, fees that are charged are on the modest side. Unlike with many cards, the cash advance and balance-transfer fees have no minimums, and instead simply charge a flat 3% of the transaction amount, regardless of the amount—which is a plus if you’re advancing or transferring smaller amounts. 
  • USAA Customer Service is Well-Regarded: USAA has a strong track record for customer service. Since its offerings are limited to a certain population, USAA isn’t included in the rankings of J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. If it were, though, it would top the list, with a J.D. Power score of 860 out of a possible 1,000—even higher than the scores for Discover and American Express.
  • Earn the One-Time Offer With a Single Purchase: While its value is unspecified, the bonus with this card is easily obtained. While other cards may require you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to earn a one-time offer, it requires only a single purchase to earn the 2,500-point bonus of the USAA Rewards American Express card.
  • Multiple Options for Redeeming Rewards: Cash-back cards often limit your redemption options to a check, statement credit, or direct deposit. This card offers many other redemption choices, including airline travel, cruise travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash back and more.

Cons Explained

  • You Must Be From a Military Family to Qualify: This card is only available to current USAA members and those that can become USAA members. You can become a USAA member if you fall into one of the following categories:
  • Active duty, National Guard and Reserve officer and enlisted personnel
  • Former spouses and adult children of USAA members
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs
  • Rewards Value Is Unclear At Best: The highest rewards earning rate on this card is 3 points per dollar spent, and that is only for those made at restaurants. USAA does not identify the value of its point rewards. Other sources, though, have suggested it is low—no more than a cent per point, and sometimes less. If that is the case, this card falls short of the many that offer 2% (or even 1.5%) cash back on all purchases, and sometimes higher rates in certain categories such as gas or dining.
  • Small One-Time Offer, Even For a No-Annual-Fee Card: The value of this card’s one-time offer of 2,500 points is not clear. However, there’s reason to believe it could be worth no more than $25 or so. That’s far below the bonus values for many other cards, including some with no annual fee that offer bonuses worth $100 or more.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist

The USAA Rewards™ American Express® card is best suited to military families who want a card with many options for redeeming point rewards. It’s also a potentially good fit for such families seeking decent, if hardly outstanding, rewards on dining out through a card that charges no annual fee and doesn’t limit the points you can earn at that rate. 

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card Bonus

This card offers a one-time offer of 2,500 points after you make your first purchase with the card. Worth no more than about $25, by some estimates, this bonus falls well short of those offered by some other rewards cards with no annual fee. That said, it’s a plus to be able to earn the bonus with your first purchase, rather than having to spend thousands of dollars, as many cards require.


All About Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards Earning Details

The USAA Rewards™ American Express® card allows you to earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining purchases as well as 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. 

Dining purchases are considered those made at merchants who primarily sell food to consumers, such as restaurants and fast food restaurants; other dining options such as supermarket deli counters or convenience stores may not qualify. Groceries include purchases at stores that primarily sell food, and exclude discount stores, wholesale stores, and warehouse clubs such as Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club. Gas purchases are considered those made at merchants who primarily sell gasoline to consumers, which means that truck stop transactions are not eligible for the bonus rate.

As long as your account remains in good standing, you can earn unlimited rewards points on all qualifying purchases. As with most cards, if your account is found to be violating the terms of the credit card rewards program, has suspected fraud or is in default, your ability to earn or redeem points may be limited or prevented. If you decide to ever proactively close your account, you can redeem your points for 90 calendar days from the date your account is closed, but you must call 800-980-8722 to do so.

Rewards Redemption Details

You can redeem your rewards points for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash rewards, or charitable contributions. You can do so by logging in to your USAA account and visiting the USAA Rewards Service Center or calling 800-980-8722. If you want to redeem your points for a cruise, you have to call 800-571-4208.

The value of your reward points varies based on the reward you choose, as it does for most points cards. Unfortunately, USAA does not provide insight into the value of their rewards points to non-members but are generally assessed to be valued at a penny a point for most redemption options.

If your account is in default or you are delinquent, you can only redeem your reward points for an account credit by calling 800-980-8722.

Transferring Points

As long as your account is open and in good standing, you or any cardholder may transfer the points earned with the account to any other cardholder with a USAA Rewards credit card. It appears that no transfers are possible to other loyalty programs.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

To rapidly get value from this card, immediately make a purchase to earn the 2,500 point one-time offer. Then put all dining purchases on this card to earn 3 points per dollar spent on those purchases, the card’s highest rate. You should also consider using the card for gas and groceries, as purchases in those categories earn 2 points per dollar spent. And, then put all other purchases on the card to earn 1 point per dollar if you don’t have another card that earns more for non-bonused spending categories.

When redeeming rewards, make sure to consider all redemption options to find the highest value at the time you redeem your rewards. You’ll need to call USAA for this information, since it is not provided online. Be aware that redemption values may change without notice at any time, so it always pays to make sure you’re getting the highest value before you redeem your points.

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card’s Outstanding Benefits

  • Baggage-delay reimbursement: As long as you pay for your passenger fare with your credit card, you can get reimbursed up to $100 per day for up to 3 days for essentials, such as clothing and toiletries, should your checked baggage be delayed for four or more hours.
  • Coverage for trip cancellation and interruption: If you pay for your non-refundable prepaid passenger fare with your card, you’re covered for up to $1,500 per person if your travel is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason.

Standard Benefits

  • Secondary auto-rental collision damage waiver
  • Concierge services for reservations and concert tickets
  • Extended-warranty protection
  • Travel-accident insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance

Cardholder Experience

USAA received a score of 860 out of a possible 1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Despite this being the highest score in the survey, by 22 points, USAA was not included in the rankings because its availability is restricted to a certain population, in this case military families.

You can contact USAA at 800-980-8722 or manage your account by using USAA’s iOS or Android apps. You can also send a secure message or chat with a representative online after logging in to your USAA account.

Security Features

USAA offers biometrics, Quick Logon, CyberCode text, and computer recognition, which the company claims are all industry-leading security measures.

If you’re a victim of identity theft, USAA has the standard benefits that should be able to help. Identity-theft resolution services can help you place fraud alerts, dispute incorrect information on your credit reports, get replacement cards, and more. The personal-identity-theft benefit can help reimburse you for up to $1,000 in covered expenses to help you restore your identity after a covered stolen identity event, too.

Our Verdict

The USAA Rewards™ American Express® card is potentially very inexpensive to carry; there’s no annual fee, penalty APR, minimum interest charge, or foreign transaction fees. Some competing credit cards have one or more of these fees. While point values are hard to glean, it seems also to offer respectable rewards on dining purchases. And its redemption options are varied. Otherwise, though, this card is at best unremarkable. Most potential applicants for this card would be better served by choosing a card with no annual fee that offers significant cash-back on all purchases. One candidate is the Citi Double Cash card, with which you earn 1% on all purchases when you use the card, then an additional 1% when you make payment.

Next Steps
For USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
on USAA Savings Bank's Secured Site.
Compare This Card
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USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card
overall rating
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.65% - 29.65% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points per $1 on gas and groceries, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.