Author’s Note: I have not been able to get a “copy” American Express’s policy. All of what I discuss here is from what I have been told and have read in other places. Here is American Express’s interpretation of the SCRA policy. I simply called them up and they walked me through the process. This article is based on MY experience. I wrote it because it has been an awesome financial tool for our family and I have realized that this benefit hasn’t been as wildly publicized as I thought it was.
Update: The 0% is only from when the turn on the SCRA. It is NOT for life!!!! So don’t leave a balance on their thinking it is 0% like I did! Its still a great deal as long as you treat it like any credit card and pay it off at the end of every month.
We heard through the grapevine a year ago that if you are a military service member, American Express will waive all yearly fees AND give you 0% interest for the life of your service. Although we only have the American Express Hilton card we were told that this applies to all brands of the American Express card. I called the credit card, filled out a credit form and they have retroactively refunded all fees and any interest.
Special Military Offering Details In A Glance
- Waive of All Fees – Yearly Fees, Interest Fees
- 0% Interest
- Retroactive – They retroactively reimburse us for all interest, fees that you have paid for the life of the credit card.
- Military Service Members ONLY– Although the Credit card must be in name of the service member; dependents are allowed to be “authorized users”. Therefore spouses can “use” our husbands’ accounts with our own credit card number. We cannot qualify for this deal on our credit alone.
- Must Be Active Duty– You have to provide orders to prove that you are active. For Reservists, etc, you will have to call the company to see how/if you qualify.
- Monthly Payment– Although you are allowed to max the card and pay 0%, they do require you pay the monthly payment. That is the same as any other credit card. Therefore you still have a monthly obligation.
- Qualify – You have to qualify for the credit same as any other credit. We have had this credit card since the beginning of our service.
- Carrying a Balance Affects Your Credit – Remember the amount you have on your card versus the amount of credit used affects your score. For example, for a period of time we had the card maxed as we moved money around. At this time my husband’s score temporarily went down 40 points. So make sure you are aware of how moving money on the card affects your ability to qualify for a loan as one’s credit score is an important piece to the mortgage puzzle.
- Only Good For the Life of Your Service – Once you leave the service this deal expires. Therefore it is very important that you watch your time in service to make sure you aren’t suddenly paying 15%+ on the credit card.
- Paperwork can “Expire” so one needs to watch the paperwork – We recently had our paperwork expire without any notice. Therefore we started racking up interest and fees. Of course my husband was deployed and I didn’t have a copy of his orders, therefore we had to wait till he returned to have it retroactively changed.
Remember this is still a credit card. You will still be responsible to pay back all the money. You should not be using this on consumer debt. This should be a tool in your frugal living/ financial planning tool box. We have used it when we are trying to move money around for home purchases. We have also use it as a back up to our “emergency” fund since it is 0%. This allows us to have less cash on hand while still protecting our assets. Again, this is not for everyone! You need to assess YOUR financial situation and determine if it works for you.
Knowledge is POWER if USED correctly therefore make sure you use this to your benefit NOT your detriment.
Why We Love this Deal
We absolutely adore our Hilton Honors Credit Card. It allows us to earn Diamond level status with everyday spending with no fees. We are able to take advantage of the 0% card for financial planning and Empire building. It allows us to travel and stay at hotels for free. Last April, I stayed in Helsinki, Finland with my girlfriends for a week. It was one of the reasons why we could afford to do 3 Port Calls while my husband was deployed. Our suite at the Conrad in Singapore was on Hotel points.
I have heard rumors of Capital One offering the same deal. Do you know of any other credit cards that offer this deal? Do you also have a 0% card? How do you use it?27