(Thank You Veterans) Which Issuers Waive Annual Fees & Other Perks For Military Families

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Credit Cards waive annual fees for military

Which Credit Cards Waive Annual Fees for Military? Here’s a Look.

I previously highlighted American Express and its program for military members’ benefits. However, other banks’ credit cards waive annual fees for military, and some do other things while not waiving annual fees. Policies vary by credit issuer, so let’s look at the differences.

Thank you to all the Veterans out there. Your service is appreciated more than you will ever know.

SCRA Recap

Financial protections for the military fall under The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003. The law covers military in times of active duty, meaning those who are full-time and those who are Reserve / National Guard during times they’re called to active duty. The law also covers spouses during these times.

Cards that waive fees for military

These Credit Cards Waive Annual Fees for Military

There is a caveat to the SCRA. Not everything is free. According to the letter of the law, these benefits are meant to help military members with debts taken on before entering active duty. That’s key, because some issuers have different policies for cards you opened before going on active duty vs. cards you opened while on active duty. Here’s the breakdown:

American Express

  • Types of Fees Waived: annual, over limit, late, returned payment, ATM & duplicate statement request
  • Interest Rate Perk: 6% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-800-253-1720 or apply online
  • Learn More

Capital One

  • Types of Fees Waived: All fees
  • Interest Rate Perk: 4% APR on balances prior to active duty PLUS 1 year after leaving active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-855-227-1645 or apply online
  • Learn More

Chase

  • Types of Fees Waived: All fees (but not for business cards)
  • Interest Rate Perk: 4% APR on balances both new and prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-877-469-0110 (here are their instructions to apply)
  • Learn More

Citi

  • Types of Fees Waived: All fees (but maybe not the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard)
  • Interest Rate Perk: 0% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-877-804-1082 (here are their instructions to apply)

Discover

  • Types of Fees Waived: late, over limit, interest (none of their cards have annual fees)
  • Interest Rate Perk: 0% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-844-337-4645 or apply online

Cards that waive fees for military

These Credit Cards Do NOT Waive Annual Fees for Military

Other issues do not waive the annual fees on credit cards for military members, but they may offer other perks. These can included reduced interest rates, certain types of other fees being waived, etc.

Bank of America

  • Types of Fees Waived: none
  • Interest Rate Perk: 6% APR on balances prior to active duty PLUS 6 months after leaving active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Not included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-877-345-0693 (here are their instructions on how to apply)

Barclays

  • Types of Fees Waived: all transaction fees
  • Interest Rate Perk: 0% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Not included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-866-918-5212

U.S. Bank

  • Types of Fees Waived: none
  • Interest Rate Perk: 6% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Not included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-800-934-9555 (here is their information page)

Wells Fargo

  • Types of Fees Waived: none
  • Interest Rate Perk: 6% APR on balances prior to active duty
  • Cards Opened While on Active Duty: Not included
  • How to Claim SCRA Benefits: Call 1-855-872-2932 (here are their instructions to apply)

Special Note About Financial Institutions With Military Ties

Banks like USAA (who I bank with), Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (AKA PenFed) and others have strong ties to the military already. Among the 3 of them, there’s a total of 1 credit card that has an annual fee to start with. The pro-military perks at these financial institutions go beyond the normal scope, but their welcome offers are not on par with what we look for in this hobby.

Final Thoughts

Many credit cards waive annual fees for military members and their spouses. Others do not. Any fees not listed as waived will still fall under the normal policy of the bank. It’s important to note that the SCRA language does not obligate banks to waive fees of any type, only to cover other things like APR, rights to certain protections from foreclosure, etc. Policies vary greatly by bank, so this information should help you understand the offerings from the most common credit issuers in the points & miles hobby.

Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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18 COMMENTS

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Here are something that I know about these annual fee waiver from experience.

    Chase: Will waive annual fee for all accounts (service member and spouse) under MLA if opened after Sep 20th, 2017. Since this is when MLA comes in effect. Accounts opened after joining and before Sep 20th, 2017 won’t be waived. Just downgrade to Freedom and open another one if 48 months had passed.

    US Bank: Same application date rule as Chase for both service members and spouses.

    Citi: Same application date rule as Chase and US Bank with a twist. On your first statement, and your anniversary statement, your balance needs to be not $0 but less than AF / 0.36. Example, when your first Premier statement cuts, a balance between $1 and $263 will have the annual fee waived. I learned this the hard way. Confirmed with 3 accounts.

    AMEX: They are the most generous, waiving annual fees without regard to application date.

    Citi and US Bank changed their policy a while ago to waive the annual fees. I stumbled upon them accidentally. Can any one confirm Capital One AF waiver under MLA? I’m eyeing the new Venture X

  2. Active duty military, citi told me in writing none of my cards qualified for MLA including ones I opened after oct 2017. I sent the provided email a copy of my eligibility for MLA benefits.

      • “Doesn’t qualify for coverage since you weren’t a covered borrower at the time the account was opened.” Includes 2 personal citi card accounts, one opened in 2018, another in 2019. Have been serving in active duty since 2002.

        Separately, my wife was denied her personal citi card MLA benefits because she got the card in 2019, but we got married in 2020.

        AMEX on the other hand had no issues extending my wife MLA benefits.

        Tough times for Citi it seems…

        • The one for your wife with Citi sucks when you know Amex is nice on it, but those are technically the rules. However, telling you that you’re not eligible when you clearly are is confusing. Push back on Citi. You can obviously prove you’ve been active duty during the time in question.

  3. When did Citi start waiving fees? I’ve had a Citi Prestige that I cancelled last year after paying annual fees for 3 years. My understanding is that Citi only waived fees for cards obtained prior to active duty.

  4. I just came off of a two year activation and Chase waived all my fees including my business cards. They also waived the fees for my United Club Card so nice to have free lounge access. Maybe they were just being overly generous, but I’ll take it.

    • Could you explain what you mean? I just reconfirmed all of the information right now after seeing your comment.

    • TMK it would be more useful if you can say what you found incorrect or has been updated so we can learn from each other. These blogs should not be finger pointing it should be a gathering place to learn from all our experiences.

    • So are mine. Interestingly, when I notified them in 2014 I was leaving the military, they never reset my APR on the card I had open at the time. It’s still 0% APR. However, their process seems spotty. They waive the fees pretty regularly, but I couldn’t get anything in writing that confirms this policy across the board.

  5. Oh wow! I belive i may have opened it up just before that date in 2017. Im about to call right now and see if they can waive my IHG cards. If so I’ll open up one of their premium cards. Thanks!!

  6. What is “all fees” does that included everything besides the annual fee? I had experience with Chase I have both IHG cards but Chase will not waive the annual fee on cards obtained after active duty. Same experience with Citi I had the Prestige card but closed it after the denied waiving fees. Hands down AMEX is the best I have 7 different premium AMEX cards annual fees waived.

    I never knew about capital one maybe I’ll give them a try by opening a card with them

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