About USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Apr 5, 2017

Military-focused credit union USAA made big news this past fall when they announced the release of their Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card.

The 2.5% cash-back rate the card offered was an industry leader. Until Limitless, the standard was 2% on all purchases and most cards hovered around 1%. Plus, the card has the added advantage of no cap on rewards.

We’ll admit that the Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card is unprecedented for cash-back cards, but it will take some investigation to find out what other benefits this card has, as well as its rates and fees.

To know how good this card actually is, it’s important to read through consumer reviews, too.

We’ll work through each of these different areas and give you some actionable tips about this card. At the end of the review, we’ll give you our general thoughts and provide a few other recommendations for popular cash-back cards.

A Quick Word About Who Can Join USAA

USAA credit union memberships are available to active and retired members of the military and their families.

Also, it’s important to note that this card is only available in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, MN, ND, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX and WA.

USAA says the card will become available in more states at some point in the future.

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card’s Benefits

The main benefit of this credit card is the 2.5% cash-back rate, which means that every time you use your card to pay for something, you get 2.5% of it added to you rewards balance.

Now, there are a few transactions that won’t earn any rewards:

  • Gambling/gaming transactions
  • Money transfers
  • Truck-stop transactions
  • Finance charges
  • Cash advances

Everything else will rack up 2.5%. To redeem those rewards, all you have to do is log into your USAA account and, in increments of $1.00, select how much you want to add to your credit card statement.

USAA Direct Deposit Required

Now, this reward system comes with a huge caveat. You have to have $1,000 of direct deposits sent to your USAA checking account every 30 days. If you fall short of that $1K requirement, your rewards rate will drop to 1.5%.

As soon as USAA sees another $1,000 in direct-deposit deposits in your account, they’ll reinstate the 2.5%, but, USAA’s fine print says, it can take up to five business days to process the change.

To give you an idea of how the 2.5% compares to the leading cash-back rewards cards, we went back to our Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Card of 2017 guide and created a quick table:

Card Cash-Back Rate
BofA Cash Rewards 1%
Capital One Quicksilver 1.5%
Citi Double Cash 2%
AmEx Blue Cash Preferred 1%
Discover it 1%
Chase Freedom Unlimited 1.5%

As you can see, the only credit card that gets close to the USAA Limitless is the Citi Double Cash, a card that gives you 1% on purchases and 1% on balance payments.

The Discover It cash-rewards card gives you 2% the first year, but only because they run an intro offer where they double your rewards the first year.

Some cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited have rotating categories of purchases that can get you 5% cash back, but those categories rotate every three months and don’t, in most cases, make up for the difference between the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% regular rewards rate and the USAA Limitless’ 2.5% rate.

Reduced Interest Rates and Rebates for PCS or Deployments

If cardholders are active members of the military and they’re deployed or moved to a different base (known as a private change of station or “PCS”), then USAA grants them a 4% interest rate (more on that later) and reduced fees “for up to 12 months when you PCS or up to 15 months when you deploy,” their website says.

If, during the course of service in certain campaigns, you’re awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal or the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, USAA may rebate you all the interest you incurred during your campaign.

In order to be eligible for this rebate, you need to notify USAA within 180 days of getting back from or finishing the campaign.

These two perks are, in our opinion, incredible. As we’ve said in other reviews, credit card companies structure their fees and rates to get money from you. To see a financial institution lower rates for service members is a welcomed change.

Visa Signature Shopping and Travel Benefits

Because the USAA Limitless Cash Rewards card is part of the Visa Signature program, you get a pretty comprehensive suite of travel and shopping benefits.

Shopping

First and foremost is Visa Signature’s zero liability feature, which means you aren’t liable for any fraudulent purchases made to your account.

Cardholders also get one-year extended warranties on certain items and reimbursements if the price on an item you bought goes down.

Each of these features comes with certain time limits and reimbursement limits, so make sure you review the benefits guide you receive along with your USAA Limitless Cashback card, or click here for the online version.

Travel

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card’s travel benefits are far superior to its shopping benefits.

With this card you can get reimbursements if your luggage is lost or late, your trip is interrupted by sickness or injury or your trip is canceled, travel assistance if you need advice abroad and car rental insurance.

Like the shopping benefits, these various features have their own exclusions and limits, so refer to your benefits guide for more details.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at some of those exclusions and limits:

  • Up to $100 reimbursed for expenses per day for baggage delays
  • Up to $500,000 for trip interruption due to severe injury or death
  • No payout if interruption is due to a pre-existing condition
  • You must call 1-866-200-9866 to file a claim

The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card’s Rates and Fees

The Limitless features a pretty decent APR spread: 14.40%-20.40%. Many of the credit cards we review have APRs that start at 15% and higher and end at around 23%.

Your credit history and credit scores determine your APR, the better your credit, the better chance you have at the lowest APR.

If you make a late payment, you’ll be charged $25 for the first late payment within a six-month billing cycle. Your second late payment will be $35.

Balance transfers will cost you 3% of the transferred balance with a max fee of $200. There is no penalty APR or foreign transaction fee on this card.

What People Are Saying about the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card

The USAA Limitless started out as a targeted offer card, which means the only people who were able to get the card were those that USAA chose.

As news spread of this new cash back card, message boards buzzed with enthusiasm. One such board on MyFICO.com had 10 pages of replies, with many cardholders hoping to get the card but disappointed it was targeted.

One commenter wrote, “Would love to have this card but as I have no direct deposits with them I don’t think I’ll ever be qualified.”

Another person said they loved the card and that it seemed better than Citi’s Double Cash.

The Limitless’ release to a wider audience sparked an active thread on Reddit. Hundreds of comments played out, with many people praising the card’s cash-back rate.

The tough part about the card is that it’s limited to service members and their family, which led one Redditor to write, “I'm relatively new to credit cards … but I feel like that 2.5% is pretty insane. Is it a trade-off for USAA being inaccessible to the public?”

As for the experts, they were buzzing with excitement, too. Magnify Money’s Taylor Gordon said the card was a “game changer.”

Gloria Manzano, a senior communications partner with USAA, told Gordon, “We believe this new product can provide our members better value and reward them for their loyalty to USAA.”

Doctor of Credit offered great insight, too. The website said the card’s benefits will lead to losses for USAA (“loss leader”) sort of the same way that the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s extensive benefits probably lost money for Chase.

Despite the losses on the card, the site said, USAA will probably gain its money back through fees it charges the company sending your direct deposit.

Our Final Thoughts on the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Limitless card presents consumers like you and me with a very interesting card – the 2.5% “limitless” cash-back rewards are industry leading. No other card offers rewards above 2%.

Plus, the reduction of the interest for service members changing their station or being deployed is incredible, as is the ability, in certain situations, to be reimbursed for accrued interest.

However, this card is bittersweet because it’s only available to USAA members who are, by definition, members of the military or family members of those who are active duty or veterans.

As one person on Reddit pointed out, the card can be bittersweet for USAA members, too.

Texas and California are not on the list of states who can get this card even though their home to more service members than any other states in the country.

How the Card Compares to Other USAA Cards

The Limitless is by far the best credit card, rewards-wise, offered by USAA. The credit union has four other cash-back cards, and none of them offer consistent cash-back rates higher than 1.5%

The only card that comes close is the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express card, which offers 5% cash back on the first $3,000 on gas and purchases made on base, 2% on the first $3,000 in grocery purchases and 1% on everything else.

How the Card Compares to All Cash-Back Cards

Based on our research, the USAA Limitless offers the easiest way to earn consistent cash-back rewards. Cards with rotating rewards categories can offer temporary 5% bonuses, but you’ll need to keep track of which categories are part of the bonus.

If there were one big advantage to the non-USAA cards, it would be the cash bonuses you get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited ($150), the American Express Blue Cash Preferred ($100), the Capital One Quicksilver ($100) and the BankAmericard Cash Rewards ($100).

However, even with those bonuses, the Limitless still gives the better deal. At the end of one year of $24,000 in spending, you can earn $600 with the Limitless, compared to only $510 with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and $460 with the Capital One Quicksilver.

Final Thoughts

In our opinion, the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card is a no-brainer for USAA customers who want a top-notch cash-back rewards card.

Keep in mind that this card will require great credit scores. If your score is under 700, you might have a hard time getting the Limitless. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t get the card if you’re below 700, but it would benefit you to cross that threshold.

Our guides to credit scores will help you do just that. We’ve done a lot of research on how credit scores came into being, what contributes to bad scores and what habits you can adopt to build good credit scores.

Also, our credit card guide has multiple cash-back credit cards that might interest you should you be unsure about the USAA Limitless card.

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