Looking for a few good financial products?
Unfortunately, steady paychecks, frequent deployments, and potential inexperience with personal finance put military members and their families at higher risk of being the targets of scams. Rules and regulations have put a stop to some of these tricks, for example, selling military members high fee investment products with a 50% sales charge in the first year. However, there are still many ways that service members are duped into paying more for products and services than they should.
Instead of focusing on the scams, I want to highlight some of the companies that offer exceptional benefits to service members.
American Express will waive the annual fee on its credit cards for active duty military personnel. To receive this benefit, service-members must request the benefit from American Express either online or by phone. After your service is validated, you’ll receive a statement credit for the annual fee (Disclosure: I used to work at American Express until 2016).
This means that active-duty service members who are approved can obtain the American Express Platinum Card without paying the annual $550 fee. The benefits on this card could easily pay for themselves even with the annual fee, but the card is a steal with out it. Benefits include:
$200 yearly statement credit for ancillary charges on a single participating airline
$200 yearly Uber credit
$100 Global Entry credit
Access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs
Access to other lounges via Priority Pass membership
Chase also waives the annual fee on credit cards for active duty military service members, including the $450 annual fee on its premium card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. According to The Points Guy, as of September 20, 2017, Chase is also waiving authorized user fees ($75) and all other account fees, except late and non-sufficient fund fees. Similar to the American Express Platinum Card, this means that a service member could get all of the benefits of the card for no annual fee. These benefits include:
$300 yearly travel credit (note that this credit is much less restrictive than the American Express Platinum card. It isn’t limited to a single airline and isn’t limited to ancillary expenses, which means it is much easier to use).
$100 Global Entry credit
Access to lounges via Priority Pass (note that unlike American Express, Chase does not have any proprietary lounges).
PNC lowers the monthly direct deposit thresholds to avoid monthly service charges on some of its checking products. For example, a regular customer who opens PNC’s “Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend” would need $2,000 in total qualifying direct deposits each statement period to get the $15 service charge waived. For military members, the requirement is half, or $1,000 per month.
Fifth Third Bank
The monthly service fee for Fifth Third Bank’s “Essential Checking” account is $11 per month. Regular customers can reduce this to $8 per month with monthly direct deposits of $500 or more. However, current or former U.S. military members enjoy no monthly service charge with monthly direct deposits of $500 or more.
Navy Federal Credit Union
Among many benefits, the Navy Federal Credit Union provides loan discounts for active duty and retired military members. For example, members can get 0.25% off certain loans (not including mortgage loans)
USAA’s field of membership is open to “active military, former military, an eligible family member, or a cadet or midshipman. It provides myriad benefits including discounted insurance and banking products.
Besides financial services, active military members can receive discounts on hotel rooms and flights and at a variety of places including museums and movie theaters.
Putting patriotism over profits is admirable and it’s good to know there are many institutions that honor the men and women who serve in our armed forces.