How Your Credit Cards Can Pay You Back
It’s Military Saves Week and boy do we have some great tips for you! You would probably think we’re crazy if we told you that your creditors will lower your interest rates, waive annual fees or even reimburse you hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars if you asked them to. In fact, you’re probably raising an eyebrow right now, thinking that we’re full of it. We can explain.
Thanks to the Service Member Civil Relief Act (SCRA), military families are protected from certain legal and financial burdens that might happen during active military service. This law doesn’t just protect active duty service members, but Reserve and National Guard members who are on active orders, as well. In most cases, it protects military spouses, too!
The SCRA has many different protections, but the one we think you should know about is the 6% interest cap on credit cards and loans. Generally, this 6% interest cap is reserved for debt incurred before entering active duty. Per the law, creditors are not obligated to cap interest rates below 6%.
But that’s exactly what many of them have been doing.
We’ve come across many credit card companies and banks who are going above and beyond the legal requirements of the SCRA, and are expanding their benefits to include debt incurred even after entering active duty status. Some companies even extend these benefits to military spouses without requiring that the service member be on the account!
We compiled a list of financial institutions that tend to go above and beyond what the SCRA requires, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. We encourage you to look beyond this list by contacting your creditors and see what, if any, additional military benefits they offer.
Discover’s benefits include both service members and their spouses/domestic partners, and provides a reduced interest rate of 6% or less on purchases and cash advances. They also waive all late fees, and this coverage applies retroactively to the start of active duty. Once you request these benefits, they will automatically be extended to other Discover products you have, like student, home, and personal loans.
To apply: Login to your account through their military benefits portal.
Synchrony has taken over what used to be GE Capital. These would most likely be any ‘store cards’ you may have. For example, Amazon and Walmart fall under Synchrony. Any current accounts with Synchrony, or previous accounts with GE Capital, will be reviewed…even closed accounts! They will then reduce all current and previous interest rates to 6%, and waive all associated fees.
To apply: Call 1-800-232-6954 to begin the process of requesting your benefits.
American Express will waive all fees related to annual membership, over limit, late payments, returned payments, and statement copies for active duty military service personnel. For example, the AMEX Platinum card has a $450 fee associated with the privilege of being an account holder, but they will waive this fee completely under their expanded SCRA benefits.
To apply: Go online or call 1-800-253-1720 to submit a request.
Citi will waive all fees and reduce your interest rate to 0% for all Citi card accounts opened prior to active duty service.
To apply: Call Citi at 1-877-804-1082 or go to their website to learn more.
BBVA Compass Bank
BBVA not only offers special banking products to their military members, but they also provide a reduced interest rate of 6% and waive all fees.
To apply: Call 1-800-266-7277 and speak to a customer service representative.
USAA offers 3 different programs:
- A 4% interest rate reduction for any credit card debt incurred before active duty service began; which carries through up to 6 months after separation from service.
- A 4% interest rate reduction and some fee waivers for new balances and purchases for up to 12 months for PCS moves or up to 15 months for deployments.
- USAA members who were awarded a qualifying campaign medal can get all interest that accrued during the campaign refunded to their USAA credit products.
To apply: Go online to submit required documents. You can also call 210-531-USAA (8722) for more information.
Bank of America
Bank of America will waive all fees and lower interest to 6% on all balances before and during active duty. They will also do this for up to 180 days after military separation.
To apply: Go online to learn more about requesting benefits.
Barclaycard waives all fees and will even lower your interest rate to 0% for balances accrued both before and after entering active duty!
To apply: Call 1-866-918-5212 to request these benefits.
Chase will waive all fees, lower your interest rate to 4%, and you can even use this benefit for one year after military separation. They will also refund all interest and fees incurred during deployment if you have any of their military specific products.
To apply: Log into your account online and go to ‘Secure Message Center.’ When you send a new message, make sure the inquiry says “Military Service Members Civil Relief,” and complete the process from there. You may also speak to one of their military customer service specialists by calling 1-877-469-0110.
Through Capital One’s SCRA Program, both active duty service members and their spouses are eligible for a 4% interest rate and a waiver of all fees. This includes spouses who are sole card holders on the account.
If you have a current balance on your card, they will apply the refund to that and cut you a check for anything over that amount. (My husband requested Capital One’s SCRA benefits and they retroactively reimbursed him over $800!)
Posted February 27, 2017