Military Finance Report: February 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

USAA Limitless Rewards Card - 2.5% Cash Back REVIEW!

Actual Review - Not a Paid Post
After running in a pilot program, the USAA Limitless Reward card is available to USAA members with direct deposit to a USAA account (of at least $1,000). I was able to sign up for the program in the pilot phase because Louisiana was one of the four test states. The states available keeps increasing, so call USAA and see if your state is available. The card has no annual fee and offers 2.5% cash back on all purchases. It's been 60 days and the card works as advertised.

Prior to this card, I had a MasterCard through the Air Force Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) fund. There was an $11 monthly fee, and 2% cash back on all purchases on a military installation and 1% on all other purchases. Personally, I believe the military (especially the Air Force) has lost its emphasis on MWR programs, so by switching credit cards, I saved the $11 monthly fee and I don’t feel too guilty. Additionally, we did very little shopping on base, so on average I was only getting 1.1% back on all purchases-- approx. $30 a month, less the $11 monthly fee; only $19 in monthly rewards total.

Since the USAA Limitless Reward card has no fee and offers 2.5% on all purchases, I've been able to increase my monthly rewards to approx. $80. I maximized it by placing all purchases and bills on my rewards card too.

Many cards offer a 5% cash back on different purchases like gas, restaurants, groceries and then rotating commodities, and then 1% on everything else. 5%/1% sounds better, but it typically doesn't offer the same return as a flat-rate on all purchases program. 2.5% is one of the highest rewards plan that I've seen and it's limitless. Also, many credit cards offer other rewards instead of cash back. I've never been a fan of using credit card rewards for anything other than cash back. Typically, you're paying 1-for-1 the cost of the commodity (airlines, Amazon gift cards, etc.) so it's technically the same as cash back. Also, it's encouraging you to spend money by pigeon holing you into one option.

Other-than cash-back rewards are great when the cost of the commodities are cheaper by using the rewards. For example, when you can buy $100 worth of airline rewards for only $75 worth of "cash value" rewards; or a $25 Amazon gift certificate for only $20 of "cash value" rewards. The disadvantage is typically that you can only use these types of cards for airline rewards or a specific company's gift cards.

Another thing I like about USAA accounts is when I pay off the credit card every payday from my checking’s account, it brings my balance to zero and the payment is taken out of my checking’s immediately. With previous credit cards outside of USAA, the payment would take one or two days before both transactions were displayed.

BL: 60 days in and I highly recommend the USAA Limitless Rewards card. I recommend you check your current credit card, calculate what your monthly reward rate is (less the annual fee if you have one), and see if it beats USAA's 2.5% cash back amount. If not, then I recommend you switch to the USAA Limitless Rewards card.