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Review of the USAA Secured American Express® and Secured Visa® Credit Cards

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jun 25, 2014 | Updated May 31, 2017

Although Smashed media does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our overall judgement of a card, or how one card is compared to another. USAA, Visa and American Express have not endorsed this content in any way.

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USAA currently offers two versions of a secured credit card, the USAA Secured Card American Express® and the USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum®.

Secured credit cards are designed to help you build or rebuild your credit when you won’t qualify for better options. They don’t come with the best terms, and they require a security deposit at the outset. Learn more about secured cards here.

USAA cards are only available to members of the military, active or honorably discharged, as well as certain members of their family. Click here for details on USAA eligibility.

These cards are very similar, with the same interest rates and fees. Read on to learn if one of them might be a good way for you to build up your credit.

USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 10.40%-20.40% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.
USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 10.40%-20.40% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.

The Rewards

Neither of these cards offer rewards, like points or cash back. Instead, they’re meant to help build up your credit as you use them responsibly.

The Benefits

These cards share almost the same set of benefits. You won’t find the Concierge Service on the Visa card, however, and you won’t find the Satisfaction Guarantee on the American Express card.

In some cases the benefit will be serviced by the card’s particular network (Visa or American Express) and in those cases the details may differ slightly. Check your Guide to Benefits to learn exactly what your card offers.

Perks

  • Concierge Service

    Call to get personal help with all sorts of tasks, like travel planning, making restaurant reservations, finding hard-to-find items, and finding convenient services nearby, wherever you may happen to be. (Amex only)

Military Benefits

You may or may not qualify for some of these benefits; click here to learn more and see if you qualify.

  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

    The SCRA provides help to active-duty service members, and includes benefits like protection for life insurance policies and reduced interest rates on debts incurred before beginning active duty. USAA will provide an interest rate of 4% for pre-existing USAA credit card debt and loans, and a rate of 6% for other debts like credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and others.

  • Deployment Discount

    Members of the military who are deployed or deploying can have the interest rate on their USAA card reduced to 4% for current balances, new purchases, and cash advances.

  • Permanent Change of Station (PCS)

    Active-duty members with permanent change of station can have the interest rate on their USAA card reduced to 4% for current balances, new purchases, and cash advances.

  • Qualifying Campaign Level

    Members who receive a qualifying campaign medal can receive a rebate for all of the interest incurred during their campaign. The qualifying campaign medals include the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Shopping Protections

  • Price Protection

    If you find an item you bought being advertised for a lower price within 120 days of the purchase, you could be reimbursed for the price difference (up to $250 per claim, up to 4 claims per year).

  • Extended Warranty

    Doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty, up to a maximum of 2 years for most items.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee Coverage

    If you want to return an eligible purchase but the retailer won’t take it back, you could be eligible for a refund up to $250. (Visa only)

Travel Protections

  • Travel Assistance Services

    Available when traveling 100 miles or more from home, provides help like information on travel requirements, locating documents or lost items, or arranging emergency money transfers.

  • Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident, Baggage Delay and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

    Provides insurance in case of a tragic accident, funds to reimburse purchases if your bags are delayed, and reimbursement if your trip is interrupted for eligible reasons.

  • Rental Car Insurance

    Provides coverage against damage and theft of rental vehicles, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Security Benefits

  • Identity Theft Resolution Services

    If you become a victim of identity theft, this service provides help with contacting the credit bureaus, getting a new credit card, and going through the proper legal proceedings.

  • Identity Fraud Expense Reimbursement

    You won’t be held liable for unauthorized charges as a result of identity fraud.

The Costs & Fees

These are secured credit cards, so they require a security deposit when you’re approved.

When you get your card you’ll need to open an interest-bearing Certificate of Deposit (COD) account of between $250 and $5,000. The amount you deposit will become your credit limit, and you can add more later on to increase your limit if you’d like.

Your deposit will actually earn interest over time, and when you close the card you’ll be able to get your money back. Interest will initially accrue at a rate of 0.54% (Variable).

Card Annual Fee Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
Secured Card American Express $35 10.40%-20.40% (Variable) See Terms See Terms
Secured Card Visa Platinum $35 10.40%-20.40% (Variable) See Terms See Terms
Card Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Secured Card American Express See Terms See Terms See Terms
 Secured Card Visa Platinum See Terms See Terms See Terms
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Secured Card American Express See Terms See Terms See Terms
Secured Card Visa Platinum See Terms See Terms See Terms

The Bottom Line

The USAA Secured Card American Express and the USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum are great secured credit cards for military service members and their families. They have lower-than-average interest rates, though yours could be as high as 20.5% if your credit is on the worse end.

More than just building your credit, the American Express and Visa benefits can be very valuable, especially for frequent travelers. Automatic insurance, damage waivers, and purchase protection can be great to have in a pinch, giving you added security and assistance.

Benefits as good as these are pretty rare to find on secured cards, so if you’re eligible you should definitely consider them. USAA has good options for military members and their families, in this case providing a real helping hand to give you a way re-establish credit.

Want to apply for or learn more about one of these cards? Just click the card’s name below.

USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 10.40%-20.40% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.
USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Interest Rate: 10.40%-20.40% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit.
  • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you travel outside the United States.

How do you like your USAA secured credit card? Leave your own review of the American Express or Visa version!

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